Spartans Must Make Alamo Bowl Trip About the Program and Respect, More Than Fun and Games!

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The Spartans Are Playing For A Lot More Than a “W” Here in San Antonio


Mark Dantonio and his staff face their biggest task at MSU since their arrival.  Photo courtesy of Bill Marklevits.

Mark Dantonio and his staff face their biggest task at MSU since their arrival. Photo courtesy of Bill Marklevits.

This week will be filled with fun activities for the Spartans. There will be press conferences, an NBA game, Sea World and a lot of feel good events, the River Walk and the nigh life of San Antonio. All of those are a part of the trappings of the reward of a bowl game.


The Spartans most important trip and learning experience should be to the Alamo. I am saying that they need the inspiration of the Alamo as their driving force. The Spartans need only look a few short blocks to a group of men who when facing insurmountable odds and a certain massacre fought valiantly into the history books. Most do not remember that those men lost. They only remember their valor, character, and courage.


I was in San Antonio less than an hour and a person said to me when they noticed my son’s MSU sweatshirt, “Let’s hope your boys behave.” Really? 


Our Spartans are going to have to face a lot of scrutiny here in Texas. They will be watched, and people will be making comments and judgments against the players here in Texas. The people who committed the acts that have hurt this program have it easy. They are at home. As is usually the case, those children don’t have to face the music. The ones who behaved, the ones who were intelligent enough to either not go to Rather Hall or didn’t associate with those who would, will face the jeers and the questions from the national and local Texas media. It is reality, but it isn’t right. 


The Spartans have made their goal, since before the season started when last season ended, to “Win our last game next year.” Mark Dantonio said it, the players said it (it is too bad that some made decisions that put gaps in our starting lineups), and it is their own self-imposed (albeit correct) mantra.


With the off field ignorance committed by some, this year’s task went from bad to worse. Before the off field issues, had I given you a chance to pick out the Spartans bowl opponent, all of us would have quick avoided the Red Raiders. They are the team that the Spartans match up against the worst in all of college football. Now, the Spartans who are coming off a disappointing 2009 season will have the unenviable task of taking on the Red Raiders, a team who has no problem running up scores and in fact likes it. 


The Spartans need to be all business this week. It is here in San Antonio that this program’s perception will continue to improve or take a set back. It is right here and right now, this week. I am not saying this team shouldn’t have fun while they are here. I am saying that they need the inspiration of the Alamo as their driving force. This trip, for the sake of the program, has to be about business. It has to be about the Red Raider game. 


What they are playing for is respect. A nationally televised beat down would hurt this program. People will remember the off field issues, but look at a beat down as “the program” and not the reality of rebuilding.


Come January 2, 2009, on ESPN at 9 p.m. a group of great kids, led by a great man in Mark Dantonio, will take the field and the eyes of the nation will look down on San Antonio. People love boxing and MMA for the brutal knockout, NASCAR for the crashes, and they will be tuning in to see what many think will be the beat down of the bowl season.


This year, more so than a win, this team is fighting for respect. The Spartans can’t suffer a blow out loss. That’s why usually you can argue a bowl game is about the fun and events. It isn’t this year. Six months from now people will remember a blow out loss but if the Spartan players and coaches can make a respectable showing, six months from now will be about the fight of this program and its character.


Just like their predecessors mentioned above, this group of men need to take their cues from the Alamo. Win or lose, this is about fight and I don’t mean the Rather Hall kind. This is a gut check. This is about showing the nation that a disappointing season on and off the field ends here at the Alamo.


Six months from now, six years from now, people will remember. Last time it was the injury of Drew Stanton and off field issues. Here will it be a blow out or a fight of character and will?


Is it fair this week that these young men have to battle for a lot more than a win or a loss? No. Life isn’t fair. 


One of the Spartans said it best when I asked about the mood of this team towards those involved in the Rather Hall incident, “I had one of them early when Rod and Glenn were let go tell me he couldn’t believe that they did that. Then I found out he was there. I am glad those guys aren’t here.”


Football is about winning and losing. This week it is about the size of the fight in this team. It is about them overcoming a bad 2009 and coming together for one last game. The history books will record the final score, but people will remember how the Spartans fought even more than a win or loss.


This week needs to be all about business. The game is about the program and the future. It is about the size of the fight in these Spartans more than anything else.


Remember the Alamo!