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November 04, 2002 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-11-04

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November 4, 2002





Varsity sends its rival
spinning out of control
By Joe Smith

State's top,
tailback is
from team
Smoker seeks help for
substance abuse problem
Just hours after the Spartans were
embarrassed 49-3 at the Big House,
Michigan State senior tailback Dawan
Moss was dismissed from the team.
This came after the captain was
charged with a felony and two misde-
meanors early yesterday morning,
when police say he resisted arrest.
Moss, 22, was charged with drunken
driving, having an open alcohol con-
tainer in his car and fleeing and eluding
a police officer.
"This type of behavior will not be tol-
erated in this football program, regard-
less of the players' status,' coach Bobby
Williams said in a statement.
Another Michigan State captain, sen-
ior quarterback Jeff Smoker, is battling
substance abuse problems and is seeking
help, Michigan State officials said in a
statement. Smoker was suspended for an
unspecified violation of team rules on
Oct. 24. He has refused comment about
his situation since then, but his family
released a statement last night about his
struggle with substance abuse:
"Jeff apparently has been fighting
this battle alone for some time. When
Bobby Williams and the rest of the
staff became aware of Jeff's problem,
they responded immediately and for
this we are grateful."
The family said they "had hoped to
keep this matter private until Jeff was
well and ready to speak about it, but it
appears that we cannot have that luxury."
Michigan State spokeswoman
Becky Olsen told The Associated
Press last night that the family was
not immediately releasing further
details about the type of care Smok-
er was receiving or the exact nature
of the substance abuse.
Michigan. State Athletics Director
Ron Mason said that, as of last night
"absolutely nothing" related to Smok-
er's situation indicated a violation of
NCAA rules.
- From staff and wire reports

Daily Sports Edi0tor
For the second straight season,
time became an issue for Michigan
in a game against Michigan State.
But it wasn't because there was a
clock controversy, a last-minute
drive or a costly penalty.
The Wolverines, who pummeled
the hapless Spartans mercilessly
into further oblivion with a 49-3
whipping at the Big House, just
wished they had a few extra ticks to
pour on some more points.
"Yeah, guys were chanting 'Go
for two!' at the end," Michigan sen-
ior safety Charles Drake said.
"Hey, it's a state rivalry, you want
to rub it in their face. I'm sure
they'd do it to us. One of the Ohio
State coaches a long time ago went

for two points against Michigan, we
all know that story."
The Ohio State coach Drake
referred to was, of course, Woody
Hayes. In 1968, with his Buckeyes
leading 50-14, Hayes told reporters
the reason he went for a two-point
coversion with just seconds left was
because, "I couldn't go for three."
Drake said he wished he could
have gone for a lot more than three.
"I wouldn't have minded scoring
50 more points if we could."
The Spartans, who lost their
fourth straight game by more than
20 points and the sixth of their last
seven, wouldn't have minded if the
game ended after the third quarter.
Some Michigan State players said
they felt their teammates played like
the game was over.
"It's the same problems," Michi-
gan State tight end Jason Randall
said. "We can't convert from the
practice field to the playing field.
After a team starts scoring on us,
people give up. That's what Coach
(Bobby) Williams is searching for
right now - people that will stick
with it. We have people giving up on
the field."
After watching his Spartans'
worst loss to Michigan since 1947,
star wide receiver Charles Rogers
said it's too late for the Spartans to
save their season.
"It's too far gone," said Rogers,
who was stifled by Michigan's sec-
ondary for just 75 yards on four
catches with no touchdowns. "You
can't turn this around. It's too late
for a turnaround. We'll be lucky if
we win another game the way things
are going right now."
Rogers was the Spartans' only
hope, as their running game
crashed and burned against the
Wolverines' defensive front. Michi-
gan State managed minus-3 yards
in the first quarter and just 53 for
the game. Damon Dowdell, making
his second consecutive start at
quarterback after taking over for
suspended star Jeff Smoker, was
forced into countless third-and-
long situations and converted on
just two of 14 third-down tries.

Left: Michigan State cornerback Roderick Maples can't do anything but watch as the Spartans were dominated by Michigan. Top: Michigan State coach Bobby Williams
looks on as his team falls to 3-6 on the season. Right: Michigan senior B. J. Askew breaks through one of many attempted Michigan State tackles.

Complete collapse means Williams'days are numbered

A fter Michigan's 49-3 victory over
Michigan State, a throng of reporters
icked their chops outside the Spar-
tans' lockerroom as they waited for Michigan
State media relations to let them talk to coach
Bobby Williams. When the door was finally
opened for Williams' press conference, a
mad rush ensued, as if the reporters feared
that Williams would no longer be the Spar-
tans' head coach by the time they got to him.
It was a moment that some writers had
been waiting weeks for: to question Williams
after his team's complete collapse in the
biggest game of the season.
This game was Williams' chance to partial-
ly redeem Michigan State's most disappoint-
ing season in recent memory. Instead, the
game sunk the Spartans even lower to depths
that only Fraggles survive and what Williams
admitted was his lowest point as coach.

Before any fingers are pointed at Williams
- and there will be plenty - one should
take a look as the way
Michigan State played
against the Wolverines.
His players admitted
that they were embar-
rassed and that some of
their teammates have
quit playing. Tight end
Jason Randall said that
the Spartans "have peo- JEFF
ple giving up on the ILLIPS
field." Star wide receiv-
er Charles Rogers said Ramble
that only five of 11 On
players on the field are
committing themselves on every play.
This troubling deterioration of the players'
attitude cannot be completely blamed on

Williams. But a problem lies in Williams'
leadership and how he reacted to the media
He blamed the media for distracting
the team following the suspension of
starting quarterback Jeff Smoker -
which Rogers confessed to reporters was
indeed a distraction.
"Ninety-nine point nine percent of the
things you are writing about aren't even
true," Williams said.
The rumors "are so far out in space, they
aren't even worth dignifying."
Deflecting the blame to the media isn't
going to help his team on the field. The
majority of the rumors have come on mes-
sage boards and sports talk radio. If Williams
want to clear the air, he can tell everyone why
Smoker is suspended.
Those rumors finally built up to a point that

forced Smoker's family to release a statement
on his entry into a substance abuse program.
The vagueness of Smoker's suspension
breeds this kind of speculation from fans and
the media. If Williams wants to eliminate
rumors, then he should come out and say
why Smoker was suspended. He isn't helping
his cause by refusing to comment.
What is worse is that Williams lacks the
confidence in himself and his team that is
necessary to coach. When asked whether he
has lost his players, Williams said, "I don't
know" He refused to comment on whether
the Spartans are playing for next season with
three games remaining on the schedule.
This kind of behavior and lack of decisive-
ness is what produces such a backlash from
the media and fans.
When Williams was initially given the job

A week of reckoning
It seems like it can't get any worse for Bobby Williams and
the Michigan State football program. In the past 10 days,
Williams has seen players suspended, quit and get arrest-
ed - along with getting embarrassed by the rival Wolver-
ines at the Big House on Saturday.
Suspended: Star quarterback Jeff Smoker saw his season
blow up in smoke as he was suspended on Thursday, Oct. 24
for an unspecified violation of team rules. Smoker's family
released a statement last night stating that their son has
asked for help dealing with his substance abuse problem.
Defensive end Greg Taplin was also suspended last Tuesday.
Quit: Just five days after Smoker's suspension, two redshirt
sophomores - fullback Jason Bradley and linebacker James
Cooper - quit the football team.
Dismissed: After being charged with a felony and two misde-
meanors - for drunken driving, having an open alcohol con-
tainer in his car and eluding a police officer - senior captain
and starting tailback Dawan Moss was dismissed yesterday.

Women capture Big Ten championship

By Mustafizur Choudhury
Daily Sports Writer

lackluster performance at the
NCAA Pre-Nationals on Oct.19,
nobody expected the Michigan
women's cross country team to
shine any brighter at the Big Ten
Championships yesterday. That is,
nobody except Michigan coach
Mike McGuire, who never doubted
that his tem mwc anahle of mwin-

ago behind us because we didn't
commit ourselves," McGuire said.
"It was non-indicative of how we
had been racing and training up to
that point. Our (goal) for today was,
to go out, commit and compete, and
we did.
"We had kids that were hurt and
some that were hanging on, but at
the end, everybody had fire in their
eye and they stormed for home.
Once you're committed, it just fires
vn un and keene the momentum

conference going into the race
behind No. 9 Wisconsin, No. 18
Indiana and No. 23 Michigan State.
But a few Wolverines stepped up at
key moments, helping the team cap-
ture its fourth Big Ten title and its
first since 1994.
Rebecca Walter and Lindsey
Gallo ran side-by-side, pushing
each other throughout most of the
race. With about 200 meters left in
the race, the duo passed several
other runners including Michigan

"Gallo and Walter did a great job
at the end," McGuire said. "Walter
has been an absolute anchor in the
lineup; she's just been so steady.
Lindsay's a talented runner and
hopefully, next year, she can even
compete for the individual title. The
expectation of the program and the
athletes is to step up, and I would
say someone who did step up was
Chelsea Loomis, who struggled
with her races this year, but came
up big today."



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