Before The Final Jump
Jan 9th, 2018 by Jeffrey Lubeck

Alabama finished the season at #1 again.  While the CFP Final was exciting, you knew the eventual outcome, I knew the eventual outcome, and Georgia knew the eventual outcome.  Alabama knew the eventual outcome as well.  I have been told the Crimson Tide had their kicker miss the FG attempts to garner higher T.V. Ratings for the repeats on the SEC Network.

As The Marine pointed out in a comment on the last post, the 2018 Too Early Polls are out in abundance.  MSU is ranked #10 in the USA Today version.  However, many including Sports Illustrated do not even mention MSU.

Finally here is the AP from the Preseason as compared to the Final.


Optimism, Hype & Reality – Two Sports Same Time
Jan 6th, 2018 by Jeffrey Lubeck

2017 is barely put to bed and 2018 is racing out of the barn with what appears to be no harness.  At least that is how it feels for the Men’s Basketball and Men’s Football programs at Michigan State.

TUS membership would (possibly in consensus)  agree there is reason for optimism for both programs in 2018. The support for such optimism is substantial and quantifiable.

As for the hype.  Most of TUS Membership dislikes our teams and players being hyped in the media. Our midwestern public school foundation does not allow us to feel comfortable with monikers such as Elite.  Cannot [sic., They] simply say MSU is arguably one of the best instead of labeling us as Elite?

As for basketball, the hype from the media is usually centered on Tom Izzo and MSU’s uncanny runs deep into March Madness.  This year, the return of a key player moved the hype and attention to a particular player.  Now many MSU players are getting some hype (e.g., Jackson, Ward).

The football program at MSU rarely gets any type of hype and usually has to over perform to gain credit and receive accolades.  Well, for 2018 MSU is smack dap in the middle of the pre-season hype.  To my surprise it comes from ESPN.  To my greater surprise, ESPN tells the king of hype (Jim Harbaugh) effectively to move out of the way.  The story is [here].

Eventually, reality comes a calling.


MSU basketball was a (if not the) favorite to take the NCAA title for 2018.  With the regular season at the half-way mark MSU is 15-1 and appears to have strengthened its position as the favorite.  TeamRankings lists MSU as the clear favorite – 78% to make Sweet 16, 38% to make Final Four and 17% to win the title. TeamRankings’ methodology is better than fuzzy math, but the games have to be played.

Usually a good dose of hard reality for MSU basketball is playing a game on the road in Columbus, Ohio at Value City Arena against the Acorns on a cold dreary overcast Sunday afternoon in January on national T.V.  More often than I would care to remember, the MSU squad for which we are optimistic seems to lose its skills and mental focus.

The hard reality is that for any team to take the NCAA Crown in April, it needs virtually everything associated with basketball and the human condition to fall in its favor for six straight games.  The 2015-16 MSU team was about as good as the college game can produce.  It was a Spartan squad that was a fun, versatile and was viewed in a similar light at this same point in the season as our current edition.  The 2015-16 team was the clear favorite to take the title at the start of the NCAA Tournament.  The team fell victim to Middle Tennessee State in arguably the biggest upset in tourney history.  Is this team different?


MSU football 2018 is now on the radar as a possible title contender.  The media is using phrases such as “MSU is back at the top”, the 2016 3-9 season “turns out to be a blip” for the Dantonio administration.  With 21 of 22 starters returning from a 10-3 Holiday Bowl winning team what MSU fan would not be excited?  While MSU’s schedule in 2018 is favorable, the Spartans play in the B1G East and right now that means Penn State, Ohio State and even the bumbling, stumbling, overrated, over hyped Michigan are big blocking events in the route to a national title.  Yes, I said it; a national title.

The scene is already changing.  Backup QB Messiah deWeaver is transferring and Co-Defensive Coordinator Harlon Barnett is leaving MSU for a bigger pay-day and the full DC title at Florida State.


The federal tax legislation changes of 2017 include some material changes to college (amateur) sports.

  1. Individuals may no longer deduct the cost of season-tickets or seat license fees paid to said institutions.  Prior to 2018 these amounts were fully deductible.
  2. Not-for-profit institutions paying individual staff more than $1m a year in salary are no longer tax exempt on these salary’s.  For example, Alabama pays Nick Saban $7.2M a year.  Now they will have to pay an additional $1.2 million in tax.
    1. Breakdown for JJ to consider. Using our 11 minutes of play per game 12 game season analysis, Nick makes: $54,545.45 per minute of action. $3,636.36 per play of action (assuming 4 second average). $909.09 per second of action.  The only kind of people I know that make this kind of money are Fighter Pilots, State Police, IT Security Experts, Supply Chain Distribution Experts, Restaurant Owners, Commercial Real-Estate Developers and Doctors.
  3. For more the story is [here].

So what is your take?

Rate the 2017 Spartans Football Experience
Dec 29th, 2017 by Jeffrey Lubeck

The Michigan State University Football team completed its 2017 season of games with a 42-17 victory over #18 Washington State University Cougars at the Holiday Bowl in San Diego California.  The Spartans finished 10-3 for 2017.  Mark Dantonio recorded his 100th victory as Head Coach at MSU (11 seasons).

So lets answer some Polls Question and make some comments about the season just completed.

Read the rest of this entry »

College Football Conference Championship Saturday
Dec 2nd, 2017 by Jeffrey Lubeck

A boatload of title games to be played today.  Their outcomes will have a material impact on the College Football Playoff.  If the favorites win the current top 4 in the CFP are pretty much locked in to play for the title and MSU is likely headed to the Citrus Bowl (top non 6 bowl for B1G).  Upsets and it could be a mad scramble.

Your picks?  Your thoughts?

Read the rest of this entry »

Bowling from the Couch potato–Interruption thread
Nov 30th, 2017 by Kindle

From G. Couch on bowling:

The Spartans are not a part of the College Football Playoff picture. Nor do they have any shot at one of the other New Year’s Six bowls. That leaves their own bowl fate somewhat at the mercy of the teams that are part of New Year’s Six picture, before knowing where they’ll land in the Big Ten bowl-affiliated bowls.

MSU will be in either the Citrus Bowl, Outback Bowl or Holiday Bowl, which are considered the Big Ten’s three “top tier” games. That’s a lock after the Spartans beat Rutgers on Saturday to finish 9-3.

Here’s what’s new after Tuesday night’s rankings: If Wisconsin beats Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game, MSU is likely headed to the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1 in Orlando. That’s the top Big Ten game below the New Year’s Six bowls.

If Ohio State wins, MSU is probably playing in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1 in Tampa or the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 28 in San Diego.

Let’s start with how this plays out if Wisconsin wins Saturday night in Indianapolis, sending the 12-0 Badgers to the College Football Playoff. Tuesday’s rankings, which have Wisconsin at No. 4, confirmed that.

Where this impacts MSU is how Wisconsin winning affects the Orange Bowl. If a Big Ten team is in the Orange Bowl, a Big Ten team won’t be in the Citrus Bowl. The Orange Bowl this year features an ACC non-playoff team against the highest-ranked non-playoff team from the Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame.

Notre Dame is ranked No. 15 and its regular season is over. So the Irish are out of this conversation. Ohio State is No. 8 and Penn State is No. 9, while the SEC’s Auburn (2), Alabama (5) and Georgia (6) are further up the rankings.

If Wisconsin wins Saturday, Ohio State will probably fall a spot or two, but not quite out of the New Year’s Six games. Penn State doesn’t have anything to add to its resume.

Meanwhile, Alabama and/or the loser of the SEC championship game between Auburn and Georgia would be ranked higher than any non-playoff team from the Big Ten. Thus, the SEC would take the Orange Bowl spot, with Wisconsin, Penn State and Ohio State still in other New Year’s Six games.

Michigan (8-4) and Northwestern (9-3) are the other two Big Ten teams in play for the Citrus, Outback and Holiday bowls. Maybe Iowa, as well, for the Holiday Bowl. Michigan played in the Citrus Bowl just two years ago and, with Big Ten-affiliated bowls required to select five different teams in six years — a rule that went into effect in 2013 — the Wolverines aren’t an ideal fit for the Citrus Bowl. Northwestern’s smaller fan following makes it unlikely the Wildcats would be chosen ahead of MSU.

College football reporter Brett McMurphy, formerly of ESPN, wrote in his latest projections that the Wolverines were “pretty much a lock” for the Outback Bowl. McMurphy projects MSU for the Citrus Bowl, but again, that’s not entirely in the Citrus Bowl’s control.

MSU athletic director Mark Hollis said Tuesday night via text that there are “too many variables” to predict where the Spartans might land.

Hollis said he liked several things about MSU’s resume, beginning with Tuesday’s No. 16 ranking. That’s five spots ahead of Northwestern. Michigan isn’t in the playoff committee’s top 25 rankings. He also pointed to the Spartans’ tied-for-second-place finish in the Big Ten East, arguably the toughest division in college football, along with “good TV ratings numbers, 51,000 enrollment and a huge alumni base.” That includes in Florida.

“We are an attractive bowl team,” Hollis said.

If Ohio State beats Wisconsin, that attractiveness could be tested. The Buckeyes might or might not get into the playoff. If they don’t, they’ll be ranked just outside the playoff at No. 5 or 6 and in position to wind up in the Orange Bowl, which would take away the Citrus Bowl as an option for MSU.

Then, if Michigan is truly Outback-bound, the Spartans would be headed to San Diego for the Holiday Bowl.

Outback Bowl representatives were at MSU’s home finale against Maryland when Spartan Stadium emptied to all but about 10,000 fans in the second half. Surely their analysis would be deeper than that. The Spartans were at the Outback Bowl five years ago, beating Georgia in three overtimes, and brought a decent fan showing, considering the Spartans had just packed Indianapolis and had their hearts ripped out.

MSU has never played in the Holiday Bowl.

If the Buckeyes beat the Badgers, that might change. Perhaps a Rose Bowl rematch with Stanford a couple hours down the road.

Two Topics for One: Lack of Depth on the Bench and MSU Men’s Basketball Gamethread (Stoney Brook)
Nov 19th, 2017 by Jeffrey Lubeck

Topic #1:  Lack of Depth on the Bench.

MSU’s victory in College Football left a lot to be desired.  However a win-is-a-win and there should be no discounting the Spartans turn-around.  Go Green!

However, can the broadcast networks be doing a poorer job of providing sportscasters and commentators for these regional\national contests? And the half-time talent?  Big names with little-to-no background covering and commenting on the college game.

Let us put the subject of bias off to the side.  Way off to the side!

Tim Brando and Spencer Tillman were about as bad as it gets.  Both were ill-prepared. Their game-call was mistake-ridden from start to finish.  It would probably be easier to count the number of times a play sequence did not include some type of announcing error.  And hey,wasn’t it great that MSU Alum Holly Sonders was the field reporter!  Did we get a report from the field? Seriously! Other than the self engrandizing “coming home” half-time segment, did Holly actually make a report from the field while the game was in progress?  Holly covers golf (with a good deal of competence).  College football?  Shame on you FOX!

As we are all aware, the issue is not isolated to this game or FOX.  What has happened?  Not enough money left-over after the payment to the conferences to hire good talent?  Too many games broadcast and not enough time for preparation?  Potential Announcers know that USMC(retired) and JerseyJohn are going to offer public ridicule so they have chosen another profession?  For example, where are the days of ABC Wide World of Sports and Jim McKay, Bill Flemming, and Chris Schenkel.  Gosh, Chris Schenkel’s call made bowling exciting! Do I have Rose Colored Glasses on this topic?

Topic #2: MSU Men’s Basketball Gamethread (Stoney Brook)

The Spartans take on Stoney Brook.  The Seawolves play in the American East Conference.  They are 0-3 so far this year – losing all games by double-digits.

If you are saying to yourself “hey why I am thinking Stoney Brook as being a pretty good team.”  Stoney Brook used to be a good team.  The Seawolves jumped into Division 1 basketball at the turn-of-the century (gosh that sounds weird).  Coach Steve Pikiell was retained soon after and Stoney Brook starting winning at a high-level.  From 2009-2016 Stoney Brook almost always finished around 22 and something, play in the American East Conference Title Game (usually losing to Vermont) and go to the NIT\CBI.  In 2016 Stoney Brook won the American East Title and made the NCAA Tournament – losing to Kentucky as #13 seed.  Pikiell was hired by Rutgers.  Jeff Boals left his position as an Assistant Coach at the Ohio State and was named Head Coach at Stoney Brook last season.  The Seawolves finished 17-12.

The Seawolves lost 76-61 (in Uniondale NY) to the team representing the heritage of Henrietta Maria of France and Queen Consort of England and Ireland.

Visitors Representing Mary’s Land Travel to East Lansing – Spartan Football Gamethread
Nov 18th, 2017 by Jeffrey Lubeck

Henrietta Maria of France – Queen Consort of England and Ireland. Mother of the Maryland Terrapins.

The up and down and highly unpredictable Terrapins of Maryland (4-6) are in East Lansing take on the Spartans of Michigan State (7-3) in college football.  The Terrapins need to win both games in order to become Bowl Elegibile.  That is unless there are not enough eligible teams and Maryland is at the top of the losers bracket (best 5-7 record and best graduation rate).  The Spartans are playing for bigger prizes.

Leaving Behind Allows for What’s Ahead
Nov 5th, 2017 by Jeffrey Lubeck

It is November 2017 and football at MSU is relevant in the B1G and national landscape.  This condition is Mark Dantonio’s stated position – has been for some time. With its seven hour walk off field-goal 27-24 victory over Penn State  the Spartans control their destiny for a B1G Title in November for the 5th time in the last 7 seasons.

If the media and television Accounts of MSU were to be believed you would think the Spartans had returned from 100 years of isolation on the Front and that all other appearances on the national stage were rare flukes. A number of TUS members hint at and or openly claim a Media Conspiracy.  I do not.  The Media – on the whole – ain’t smart enough.  For the most part, the Media is just lazy and sloppy.  It is easier to follow what is being fed than actually covering the event.  It is easier to play to the masses (e.g., Walmart Wolverines who tune into Fox in Michigan or Fastfood Buckeyes who watch ESPN in Ohio) than actually provide intelligent insightful coverage.

All the positives of the Mark Dantonio Era at MSU up to New Years Eve 2015 seemed to evaporate before the eyes of its fans during the CFP National Semi-Final. The off-season, and 2016 season were the equivalent of driving into a parked car on a dark street at night in an unfamiliar city and living through an endless wait to establish clarity on the implication.

The very public and seemingly rapid demise of what we had come to know as MSU football left many in shock and disbelief.  Worse, this situation was occurring on Dantonio’s watch. Also it was hard not to believe it could be foreshadowing of misery to come.

Were the ghosts of Denny Stolz, Muddy Waters, and John L. Smith rattling their chains with great effect?  Where were Biggie and Duffy?

In the 22 months since the CFP wipeout in Dallas the Dantonio Administration has been subject to the grist-mill of life.  Events and situations highly uncharacteristic of the Dantonio program became fodder for the sports blogs.

It would have been easy for Mark Dantonio to use the current trick of diversion – claim fake news or the old one – claim it is the fault of all others.  Dantonio is above those lame tactics.

Instead of falling victim to tactics used by true losers, Dantonio played things straight and for the long term.  Ever the honest broker Dantonio while not lying or providing what would prove to be dishonest or mis-leading statements – laid low and provided information and thoughts when appropriate.  While not sexy, flashy or Breaking News worthy – it was smart.

Dantonio used the time to restore the foundation of the team and also make adjustments (play Freshman and pass the ball) where appropriate.  While never dramatic or fast enough for fans the return to a good foundation and changes are proving to be beneficial.

It is November. MSU heads to Columbus in control of its destiny.  MSU is the perceived underdog.  Few expect MSU to win.  The perfect Dantonio formula.  What could be better?  Ohh… BAD WEATHER!

Spartans at Wildcats Football – Gamethread.
Oct 28th, 2017 by Jeffrey Lubeck

MSU takes on Northwestern in college football.  Game time 3:30PM (EDT) on ESPN.

Hoosiers at Spartans Football – Gamethread
Oct 21st, 2017 by Jeffrey Lubeck


Liberty University takes on Monmouth (1PM ET ESPN3) and Indiana travels to East Lansing, MI to take on the Spartans (3:30PM ET ABC).  Those are key college games for TUS Membership.  The Astros host the Yankees in game 7 of the American League Championship Series (6:08PM ET FOX).  UofM takes on Penn State (7:30PM ET ABC) and Notre Dame and USC battle (7:30PM ET NBC).

So there are lot’s of events of which to focus and comment.

Also high on the list of things to do, is continued projections of what The Marine will ultimately settle on as the Moniker for Tigers Manager Ron Gardenhire.  Dr. Real Irony of the Naming Institute For Society (NIFS) says that Vegas betting had established “Forest Fire” as a early 3-1 favorite followed by “Plant Manager” at 7-1.  However Irony feels USMC(retired) ultimately will settle on a better Moniker given his skill of blending the arcane with the notable.  She thinks that Hortus Conclusus might prove to be a solid choice given the limitations Gardenhire might experience with Detroit.

The IU sports beat writer for the newspaper in Bloomington Indiana say the Hoosiers have been focusing during practice this week on:

1. Containing MSU’s Quarterback

2. Stripping the ball from MSU’s Running Back.

The Spartans are favored by 6+

Go Green.

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