The Score doesn’t Tell the Outcome! The Spartan Nation Won Here at the Champs Sports Bowl

Hondo S. Carpenter

The Spartans won tonight here at the Champs Sports Bowl long before the ball was kicked off for several reasons.


 

  1. Hollis has ammunition now! New MSU AD Mark Hollis gets all the credit in the world as the new leader of Spartan athletics (and deservedly so) for being proactive and having vision. He now has in his arsenal of weapons the fact that the Spartan Nation not only bought tickets, but they showed up in huge numbers and spent cash. Make no mistake that other than BCS bowls, it is all about dollars to bowl committees and as good as Hollis is, he can now show them real numbers as to how the Spartans travel. He sold them (to his credit) on faith…his faith in the Spartan Nation. The fans may have done more for MSU than anything that happened on the field. The football team did its job to be eligible to get here, and so did the fans. Up until this point, Hollis sold what they call in business “Blue Sky” or potential. Now he has real ammunition and that makes him even more of a player at the table.
  2. Extra Practice! This is in no way disrespectful to the Champs Bowl. It is a great bowl and a great group of people that put it on. With that said, this program has goals that are a lot higher than the Champs Sports Bowl and those extra practices got a lot of reps for young guys. It essentially gave the Spartans an extra spring practice and all of those practices will simply help MSU next season. I for one think when you aren’t playing in a major bowl that the practices are more valuable to a program than the game itself.
  3. Alumni/fan/donor good will! With a vast majority of the crowd being Spartans (MSU SID John Lewandowski estimated it at 25,000) the atmosphere was electric and alumni, fans and donors got a big, warm party in the middle of the holiday season and that can only improve and expand relationships. Make no mistake that this is a public relations bonanza for the University and Hollis and Simon (AKA Team MSU) made the most of it. You couldn’t go anywhere in or around Orlando and not see Spartans, let alone the MSU billboard that greeted everyone proclaiming Spartan Pride!
  4. Reputation! Nobody really wants to admit it, but nationally the reputation of MSU is one that they collapse when adversity hits and are their own worst enemy. In the past the reputation has been well deserved. When it was announced that several players wouldn’t be available for the bowl game for grade and/or off field issues, there was a collective sigh of, “Here we go again.” There was a mind set among many that the Spartans had once again hurt themselves. Well the Spartans not only didn’t quit, they played harder and the outcome wasn’t what showed that. They played a very good defensive game, and although the offense struggled, they showed a nation the direction the program is headed. They are tough, they do not quit, and they showed the resiliency that has been missing in the Spartan Nation for a long time.
  5. Foundation! Tonight the Spartan Nation on national TV declared that the Spartans aren’t a laughing stock. From the President, to the AD, to the Coaches and fans, the Spartan Nation shouted out that MSU football is back. The fans bought the tickets, the players didn’t quit, and the Spartan Nation has a national audience talking about things like support, heart, diligence and not things like slaps, and melt downs. Tonight MSU sent a message. Would a win have been nice? Of course. The loss cannot overwhelm the much bigger purpose and success of tonight. On the football field there are NO moral victories. In marathons there are however, and MSU won that one. It is now clear even to the most negative Doubting Thomas out there that a foundation has been laid. We can look back and second-guess play calling, or plays. That is good and part of sports. What we can’t forget is that Mark Dantonio gave us all back something this season, something that I would have loved to have added…a Champs Sports Bowl championship, but we can’t. It is however much bigger than that. He gave us back a foundation to MSU football, one that has been missing a long time.


When Mark Dantonio came to MSU he made it abundantly clear that our biggest rival was also our measuring stick. Is there any Spartan that can’t look at those two programs tonight and not say that the Spartan Nation’s future looks brighter? I can. And with that, this season ends a success!

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