In my opinion, traditionally, the beginning of football camp has been truly the best time of the year for the upcoming football season.Â Optimism and anticipation are at their very highest.Â At MSU, all summer long young men have been lifting weights, running countless miles and sprints, viewing hours in film study, and participating in drills with other members of their respective football positions.Â All of that hard work done with the hope, the dream, and the anticipation of a having a successful season and maybe a second Big Ten Championship.Â
Players are excited, coaches are excited, and fans are excited.Â The energy on the practice field is phenomenal and every drill, scrimmage, and question that is asked is pointed to one final goalâ€¦to be a big part of another Big Ten Championship.Â Being a starter is also a top priority of each player.Â Competition will always bring the cream or talent to the surface.Â Competition is essential in building a championship caliber football team.Â
Competition for positions is what Coach Dantonio has brought to MSU football.Â The number of highly talented players on this team has grown each year through his recruiting and leadership.Â One needs only to look at the two deep charts and see that in each year the talent level has risen.Â
With this much talent, unfortunately, many problems could arise.Â All these young men came to MSU as athletes with talent.Â They were the best football players on their team and rarely left the field during their high school games.Â Now, they are at a major university where talent is everywhere and to start they will not only have to be talented and the best, but the best everyday.Â There are only so many starting positions on a football team and opportunities for playing time.Â To work so hard and not achieve that goal of starting or even to get much playing time can be devastating. Problems on and off the field caused because of jealousy or resentment and player discontent could possibly destroy the upcoming season like a cancer.Â
So, is there a concern from within, is there reason for alarm?Â No.Â As I talked with coaches and players alike on Spartan Media Day the message came through loud and clear.Â Let the best man win.Â The message was clear from the top on down to each individual player.Â If youâ€™re the best then you play.Â To a player this mandate is accepted for exactly what it means.Â The players talk of the culture at MSU as caring and of building a trust between all involved.Â The coaches truly care for the players and the players truly care for each other.Â Players are willing to help each other to be the best that they can even if that means helping the man that they are competing with to become better and capture that treasured position.Â
Coach Barnett put it this way, â€œIf the team wins, then we all winâ€.Â Â This attitude of unselfishness and respect for the talent of fellow teammates, to push a player in front of you, and to be pushed if you are number one at that position, prevailed with each player and coach I talked with.Â It certainly appears that the focus and mindset of the players and coaches are one and healthy.Â That each is a piece to a very complicated puzzle and that the end results will be to their satisfaction of a job well done and a championship season.Â They have a goal and they are willing to do whatever it takes to reach that goal.Â In some cases, even if that means to sacrifice a dream.