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October 31, 2003 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-10-31

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I

FRIDAY FOCUS

The Michigan Daily - October 31, 2003 -10

'Third Trojan
War just the
latest Sparty
spectacle

SPXKZTN

SMNCK

Light up the
scoreboard,
give me just
one second

4

J. BRADY MCCOLLOUGH
The Michigan Daily
fter the dramatic success of the
"Cold War" and his guarantee that
the "BasketBowl" will be "one of
the signature moments in Michigan State
history," Michigan State Athletic Director
Ron Mason is ready to announce the next
big Spartan spectacle.
"I see 'The Third Trojan War' as a fitting
end to this historic trilogy," Mason said.
"Please take note that after next year's game
against the University of Southern Califor-
nia Trojans in Troy, Michigan State Univer-
sity will be in the Guinness Book of World
Records three times!"
The Michigan State and Michigan hockey
teams squared off in October 2001 in front
of 74,000 fans at Spartan Stadium, setting
the world record for hockey attendance. On
Dec. 13, 2003, Michigan State and Ken-
tucky will play the "sequel" at Detroit's
Ford Field, which will break the world
record for basketball attendance with an
excess of 75,000.
Needless to say, Michigan State saved its
best and most gaudy for last. "The Third
Trojan War" will pit the Spartans against the
Trojans in front of more than 200,000 fans
in a stadium modeled after the Roman
Colosseum.
"Our players will feel like cowboys in
there" Michigan State football coach John
L. Smith said. "I mean gladiators."
In the meantime, the Michigan State ath-
letic department is busy trying to figure out
where Troy actually is.
"These kinds of details aren't our strong
suit," said Mason, whose players, just two
years ago, almost had to play hockey on ice
in 60-degree weather. "But I'll tell you this
- we aren't talking about Troy, Michigan."
Michigan State has sent out renowned
archeologists to confirm that the original
site of the first and second Trojan wars is, in
fact, modern-day Canakkale, Turkey. As
soon as the Spartans receive word, they'll
break dirt on the Colosseum. The building
of this state-of-the-art football stadium is
just another momentous occasion for these
Spartans, who when asked to jump,
inevitably respond, "How high?"
In an attempt to test the waters of their
journey, officials left the Detroit harbor on a
boat a week ago, hoping to chart the entire
trip to Troy firsthand and let Mason know it
is a "go." Shocked after the St. Lawrence
River ended in the middle of Canada, Spar-
tan officials told Mason the bad news.
"Luckily, the football team had a bye
week, so I could concentrate on tweaking
our original plan to sail out of Detroit,"
Mason said.
As always, the athletic department came
up with another gem. To honor their Spartan
roots, Mason said the team, its coaches and
fans will march from East Lansing to the
New York harbor in a gigantic phalanx, tak-
ing out anything in their path.
"We will again take control of the Missis-
sippi," Smith said. "I mean the Aegean. It's
a river, right?"
Once at the harbor, Michigan State is
arranging for a fleet of warships to escort
the Spartan contingent to Troy Mason,
wearing his patented green blazer, will cap-
tain one of the ships and the Michigan State
marching band - flustered that it can't
march all the way to Troy - will play the
Spartans' circus-like fight song constantly
throughout the voyage.
"I'm currently taking sailing classes,"
Mason said. "I'm a hockey guy - I'm used
to the water being frozen. Just in case I'm
not sailing smoothly, we'll distribute barf
bags to the passengers. I'm also worried
about fans having to hear the band for such
a long time."
Southern Cal., like Kentucky, was hesi-
tant when it first heard the Spartans' offer,
and even after they accepted, the Trojans
refused to sail from Los Angeles to Troy.
They'll stay in a team hotel and will take the
opportunity to go sightseeing.
"We'll treat it like a bowl week," South-
ern Cal. coach Pete Carroll said. "We're

going to be flying, instead. Sailing will
probably take them a week or two, and it
just didn't make sense for us to sail, espe-
cially when we'd have to go around Asia."
The Spartans, on the other hand, will stay
in tents a few miles from the stadium once
they reach Troy. They're expecting to bring
more than 50,000 fans, with each fan
responsible for slaying his own meals.
"That's a lot of mouths to feed," Mason
said. "Building the stadium and renting the
warships has cost us a pretty penny."
"Good thing there's a lot of turkey over
there, or else we'd be screwed," Smith said.

KEVIN HARDY
The State News

RYAN WEINER/Daily
Above: Michigan State Marching Band members have set up camp to defend their precious
Sparty statue. Of course, when it began raining, the students fled for cover and were
nowhere to be found. Left and below: Crunchy's, a bar In East Lansing, didn't hesitate to
display Its feelings about the Wolverines and Ann Arbor
s .
4.
at

ANN

AKBO KS ANSWEKZ

t should only take a second to dismiss
you, Wolverweenies. Light up Spartan
Stadium's scoreboard and put me on the
clock for a single tick - that's all you're
worth.
Oh, get uncomfortable. Peel off those
North Face bubble jackets and have a go
with me during this so-called historic rival-
ry weekend and let me break you down. I
don't need you distracted by your fashion
sense. This isn't a formal affair - your
Seven Jeans will do, but don't think this is
your Naked Mile, either. This rivalry draws
new state lines within the mitten state -
you either bleed green or feel blue. It's
been that way since 1898. A 4-foot wooden
statue dubbed the Paul Bunyan Trophy is
bestowed upon the winner of the falling
timbers matchup. Michigan Fan, you've
had the best of State Fan, 29-19-2, since
the introduction of this trophy in 1953 -
and you've owned the series 62-28-5 in our
95 contests.
But ownership of this state has been
changing sport by sport. Your banners
fall in Crisler Arena as ours rise in the
Breslin Center. And tomorrow, you
come into Spartan Country with twice
as many losses.
Michigan Fan, you're an unfortunate
soul. You never attended the University, but
you persevere by painting your cheeks
every autumn Saturday and rolling your
rusted chariot out of Downriver and 8 Mile
down 1-96 and M-14 to Ann Arbor, hoping
a lifetime dedication to a school you never
could afford and never had the grades for
will accept you like one of its own a half
dozen times a year or so.
You blend in with your maize-and-blue
camouflage with all the other trailer park-
ers who could keep their blood-alcohol
level under .08 for the ride over. You cele-
brate in the preseason like the paper cham-
pions you are, thinking this will be the year
when you run the table and put Ohio State
in its place.
But it never is ... not since your beloved
Bo.
But if it weren't for you, the Big House
would sound like the Ghost House. You're
the best fan the University has and practi-
cally the entire denomination of Wolverine
nation. You're the ones who punch in Mon-
day through Friday generating business so
the Ed Martin types can afford your ath-
letes. Maybe if you wouldn't have wasted
so much on the Forgettable Five, you
wouldn't have quarterback John Navarre
under center. And does Marlin Jackson still
play for your team?
Michigan students don't deserve you,
and they don't notice you unless you
sport a Sorostitute-Utilized Vehicle -
that of the BMW class. Maybe a X5 3.Oi
or a X5 4.6i.
Oh, hello, Michigan student. I was
just writing about you. I'm honored you
put down your "Cliffs Notes" on Emily
Bronte's "Wuthering Heights," and
picked up this protested paper - don't
let these 18,000 rags go to waste. Don't
worry, you'll be able to impress a pre-
frosh later tonight. Heathcliff dies in the
end. Besides, acknowledge her kate
spade bag, and you'll roll with more
than digits.
Consider this a public service
announcement: Ahem. For those of you
who can make it over to Main Street to
Espresso Royale for a little dark grounds
to wake up Saturday morning, there's a
football game at noon: your school ver-
sus mine.
Now, I realize most of you don't
understand your university has a football
team until the Ohio State game or you
don't comprehend why the football has
to be made from animal and not a
polyurethane because it's noted for its
ability to withstand repeated impact
under pressure.
But maybe even you can show a little
school pride before you graduate. School
spirit is more than hanging your sheepskin
on the wall or your sorority letters on the
back of your Beamer.

Michigan student, the first time I con-
versed with one of you on the Ann Arbor
campus, you had the aspirations of playing
bongos on a Californian beach after gradu-
ation. Let's just say I could'hear the ocean
crashing between your ears. I thought
maybe this was an exceptidh until I saw
your faculty walking toward the drum cir-
cle by your Diag to celebrate Hash Bash.
The leaf doesn't fall far from the plant,
apparently.

4

SHUB RO ,I _top) anlU TTI MOUNTAIIN ight)/Daily
Above: Nursing junior Jesse Szczak, a dedicated Michigan fan, sets up shop at the center of the Diag to guard
the 'M,' which is usually the target of Michigan State students prior to the game. Right: A Michigan fan at the
Purdue game last week Isn't afraid to show his feelings about Spartans quarterback Jeff Smoker.

Stupid questions aside, Smith building a winner

40

By Kyle O'Neill
Daily Sports Editor
EAST LANSING - He was outside the press
conference, shaking the shoulders of a friend, pat-
ting him on the back ... just having a good ol'
time.
John L. Smith, the savior of the 2002 train
wreck that was Michigan State football, grabbed
a glass of grape juice, went up to the podium and
asked all new media that come with the Michi-
gan-Michigan State game to introduce themselves
personally.
He quietly said he was joking, threw on his
patented grin and quickly went into his analysis
of the previous week.
"We had a good week last week - we beat B-
Y-E, and we got healthy," Smith said.
There aren't many coaches out there like
Smith. He carries around the professionalism and
fire of any coach, yet exudes a childish quality -
a quality needed when playing any kids' game.
But ask him something unintelligent, and
"Now that's a stupid question" will pop out of his
mouth in a non-childish tone. While he might
belittle the question, though, he still answers it
instead of hiding behind a wall of insults and "no
comments."
In fact, Smith rarely hides behind anything.
He's not a sugar-coater.
"He just sat us down," said Michigan State
running back Tyrell Dortch of Smith's first meet-
ing with the team. "His voice was at a high level,

from what I saw last year, if I was a fan, I'd be
mad, too. I don't think we were giving them
Michigan State football last year."
So the search began to find a replacement for
the fired Bobby Williams.
Defensive guru Marvin Lewis was rumored to
be offered the job, but he ended up with the
Cincinnati Bengals.
Michigan State began to scramble as it was
heading into the final months of the recruiting
season.
Then-Louisville coach John L. Smith was
announced with little fanfare, but now he's lead-
ing the biggest party in the Big Ten.
And it's no secret why.
Jeff Smoker is hardly trying to force bombs
down the field to Charles Rogers, and Smith has
his team believing in his system.
"I thought there were going to be guys still
hanging on to coach Williams," Dortch said. "I
was kind of frightened that might happen. But
everyone seems to like the coaches and have good

relationships with the coaches. It's a great situa-
tion around here.
"We do workouts more as a team now ... more
unity."
Smith explained loyalty to his system in the
simplest terms: There were those who would
jump on his bandwagon right away, those who
would be indifferent and those who would be
loyal to Williams' style of ball no matter what
happened. Smith knew his job was to convince
those in the middle to believe in him.
It's like Hall of Fame baseball manager Casey
Stengel used to say: Keep the five players that
hate you away from the five who are undecided.
At 7-1, it is safe to say that Smith's mission has
been accomplished. His spread offense has ...
well, spread like his offense. Even his running
backs enjoy using it - and they aren't running
any more.
"In my situation I love it a lot," Dortch said.
"Coming of a leg injury, it takes a lot of wear and
tear off me. I've seen what T.J. (Duckett) went
through. He had to fight to get through Sunday
mornings cause he couldn't move. Mondays and
Tuesdays he'd be jogging, but by Wednesday he'd
be alright. He was never really recovered from the
bruises from the wear and tear of the Big Ten. But
having a spread offense can take a lot off me."
It's not only made Dortch's life easier, but its
success has removed any dark clouds that were
looming over the team after last season.
"What he's done is what we all have to do,"
Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo said.
Cc. . W L _. .. . L _. ... a1 ... . . .... ..7: .,

_________________ice:___X__..:.____}_________

AW

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