Being a Spartan has never been so Refreshing…..

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By Aaron Cooley-Themm

Football in East Lansing, it hasn’t always been something to get excited about. In fact, up until Mark Dantonio and his staff arrived, as a fan I cringed at the fact football season was getting underway with the Spring Game and such. As we all knew deep down inside no matter how exciting the first 6 games of the season were the last half we would lose every one of those games and miss a bowl game all together. It was like being on a roller coaster every season; players having on and off the field issues, coaches never seeming to have control of the team, crazy play calling…No matter what it was, Michigan State was walking up hill in 6 feet of snow, in their bare feet and could never seem to get over that hump. Until now…

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have never been so excited to be a part of Spartan Nation. What used to feel like an eternity getting THROUGH the season, now feels like an eternity getting TO the season. Mark Dantonio and his staff have started building something at Michigan State that we can be proud of and something that isn’t painful to watch. Why? Because Mark Dantonio understands what being a Spartan is all about. You can tell that in any recruit you talk to or any current or past player that has played for him.

One of the key things that Dantonio has built is a family, this has been reflected in many different ways but the biggest is accountability both on and off the football field. In a recent Interview with current 2010 commit DB Mylan Hicks, even he said it was a deciding factor in becoming a Spartan, “I really bonded with the coaching staff, it just made it feel like a family and I was like, yeah, this is a place I can play for the next couple of years.” Players that come to play for Dantonio know that mistakes will not be swept under the rug, though this a family. Families hold each other accountable for their actions because their actions affect everyone.

Last season I had my doubts about the outcome and whether or not the previous season was a fluke. Though I was optimistic, I had doubts but I think any true Spartan fan did. Early in the season, though, I saw something I had never seen before in a Spartan team and that was the ability to overcome adversity. The reason for this ability was because of the family holding each other up and not pointing blame. The Spartans started rough last season with the loss to Cal and could have crumbled at that point just like every other season. I even half expected it, but I underestimated Mark and his staff at the time. Instead, like we all know, the Spartans went on to a 9-4 record and a trip to the Capital One bowl. I was sipping the Kool-Aid at this point, but not gulping it, yet.

Once recruiting season came around I was fearful, no matter how good we were the last season, we wouldn’t attract the high profile recruits like we needed to sustain what was trying to be built. I was wrong from day one. Dantonio wrapped up commitments from many top players and guided us to our first Top 25 recruiting class in a long, long time. I was officially gulping the Kool-Aid that was being made at that point and will pledge to from this day forward, as long as Dantonio and staff are in the Green and White.

One thing that Mark Dantonio said in an interview with Hondo after Dantonio’s first season with the Spartans was, “Players will play for coaches and coaches have to coach for the players.” While it might not sound like much, it’s a comment like this that has brought the moral up at Michigan State and in the hearts of fans like myself because before this no other coach seemed to share this philosophy. In turn, we have witnessed something special here at Michigan State.

We are embarking on the heart of summer, and I can already hear the helmet straps snapping, the pre –game pep talks starting, and the fans starting to fill the stands. This isn’t a sound that we have heard before. I don’t think ever, this early, have I been so ready for a Michigan State Football season to start. We have come so far, from the depths of the sea to what looks like the sky being the limit. I am clamoring, and I know you are too, never having been so proud and humbled to wear the Green and White. Until the season starts, here’s a cheer to the Kool-Aid that we are able to drink now knowing that we are going to be proud of what is put on the field every Saturday. Ah, man, has it never been so refreshing to be a Spartan!