Outside of seeing the flailing arms of basketball head coach Tom Izzo’s wife, Lupe Izzo, while shooting a video of the final defensive stop, head coach Tom Anastos didn’t see much of senior linebacker Kyler Elsworth’s Rose Bowl-clinching stop.
However, the image left a mark on Anastos, as he sees the MSU football team’s improbable run to the 2014 Rose Bowl championship as a learning mark for his own team.
Anastos traveled to California with his wife to witness the Spartans’ 24-20 victory against Stanford in the Rose Bowl, initially making the trip simply to support the team but leaving with plenty of lessons that can translate from the gridiron to the ice.
“It was a great takeaway to come back (with),” Anastos said. “Immediately, I talked to our team about so many things we can learn from what took place just a block away from (Munn Ice Arena).”
Anastos said one of the biggest things he believes football head coach Mark Dantonio instilled was the belief that nothing is impossible and to pursue the highest goals.
“It’s always in the back of my mind to think big,” Anastos said. “I heard Mark talk about that many times when he came in and took over the football program. He had some very ambitious — some would say audacious — goals, and I think that’s really important to have high expectations and then the belief to pursue them.”
Anastos also used senior quarterback Andrew Maxwell and Elsworth as examples of what his team needs to be successful. Anastos said Maxwell was the perfect example of being a team player and leader by contributing in non-conventional ways. He also said how important it is to have everyone ready to step in whenever called upon, like when Elsworth filled in for suspended senior linebacker and two-time captain Max Bullough.
Many of the players were able to watch some of the game, including senior defenseman Jake Chelios, who was lucky enough to catch the final moments.
“We all went to the Winter Classic as a team, so we hit some bad traffic on the way back,” Chelios said. “We got to catch the end of the game, the part where we won, so we got the gist of it.”
Senior forward and captain Greg Wolfe also watched the end of the game at his apartment with teammates, and said although he probably wasn’t as excited as those who take to burning couches after victories, he thought the outcome was incredible and proved anything is possible for his own Spartans.
“If anything, it just shows us that anything can happen and we just got to believe,” said Wolfe, adding that at the beginning of the year few expected MSU could win the Rose Bowl. “We have a group that does right now and a whole coaching staff that does, so it’s all about just taking care of business on the ice.”