Column: Harris’ comment accurate, MSU football isn’t elite


It’s not uncommon in a bitter breakup for people to say hurtful things they don’t mean.

But usually, the most painful pill to swallow is when the elephant in the room is harshly and bluntly stated as a matter of fact.

Ultimately, the truth hurts.

Grand Rapids star football recruit Drake Harris took that route in explaining his reasoning for decommitting from the MSU football program Monday night.

He wants to play for a national championship and isn’t likely to do that in East Lansing.

The reaction of Spartan fans to Harris’ comments was the expected outrage from a fan base that has often felt disrespected.

But anyone emotionally invested in the words and decisions of a high schooler they’ve never met, who believe berating a teenager online is appropriate behavior is at a level of lunacy and repugnance beyond dignifying.

Secondly, Harris happens to be correct.

It’s the blunt reality of Division I college football in the 21st century.

National championships now are reserved for two types of programs: bluebloods and cheaters. MSU certainly isn’t the former and there are no indications they qualify with the latter.

It’s been more than 45 years since the Spartans legitimately contended for a national title, unless you consider an 11-1 regular season capped off by being completely outclassed and embarrassed by Alabama in 2010 as contention.

This isn’t a knock on head coach Mark Dantonio and the program he’s built in East Lansing, but rather a criticism of the current state of college football.

It’s not close to an equal playing field and it seems few within the powers that be are remotely bothered by that.

Some MSU diehards cite the work of fellow Spartan head coach Tom Izzo in building up the men’s basketball program to a national power as an example of what’s possible for the football team.

Except this doesn’t take into account the inherent differences between the two sports, one where polls and perception determine champions and another where it’s largely settled through head-to-head competition.

It’s significantly easier for one player to change a program in a sport that relies on a seven-person playing rotation than one that utilizes a playing group of up to 30 people.

Dantonio has nearly reached the ceiling of this program’s potential under the current system, and that’s something to celebrate, not bemoan.

There is no shame in playing for Big Ten titles and Rose Bowl berths, certainly not within football’s current championship format.

It was Dantonio himself, along with junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell, who spoke about the importance of re-evaluating goals before last year’s regular season finale.

Alabama, Auburn, Florida, LSU, Texas, USC, Ohio State, Miami, Oklahoma and Florida State.

Those are the past 10 programs to win national championships, sending the message loud and clear.

National championships are reserved for two types of programs: bluebloods and cheaters.

MSU is neither, and it’s not Harris’ fault for saying so.

Josh Mansour is The State News’ football reporter. He can be reached at

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