By Stephen Brooks
Last updated: 11/14/13 8:41pm
Jay DatBull is now a Bronco.
Jay Harris, a former MSU recruit in the class of 2013, has committed to play football at Western Michigan. He never played in East Lansing in the wake of releasing a music video in which he was seen smoking marijuana under the name Jay DatBull, called “DatBull 4 Life.”
Harris, a three-star wide receiver prospect, tweeted the news Wednesday night:
MLive reported Harris returned to football via junior college and a prep school. Rivals.com now lists him as part of the 2014 class.
By Stephen Brooks
Last updated: 11/11/13 9:38pm
Much has been said and written about the outstanding MSU defense this season, which remains the No. 1-ranked unit in the nation.
But one of its biggest assets, junior punter Mike Sadler, quietly has put together an exceptional season and was honored as a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award, which is given to the top punter in the country each year.
He leads the nation in punts downed inside the 10-yard line with 15, and is tied for second place with 22 kicks pinned inside the 20-yard line. Even more impressive, six of his 47 punts have been downed inside the 5, including a pair on the 1-yard line.
The Grand Rapids, Mich., native averages 42.8 yards on his punts, ranking him second in the Big Ten and No. 25 nationally. In 2012, Sadler was a first-team All-Big Ten selection with an average of 43.3 yards.
“Mike Sadler has helped make us a great defense with his precision placement of punts this fall,” defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi said in a release from the athletics department. “… That gives our offense a short field to work with.”
In MSU’s 42-28 win against Indiana, Sadler notched a career-high average of 59.2 yards on four punts, highlighted by a season-best 69-yard boot.
Freshman Cameron Johnson from Ohio State and Purdue senior Cody Webster round out the Big Ten semifinalists.
By Dillon Davis
Last updated: 11/10/13 6:09pm
After a 1-8 start to the season, Eastern Michigan fired head football coach Ron English last week, ending a five-season run for the former Michigan defensive coordinator.
However, the Detroit News reported a story Saturday that leaked audio of an epic tirade by English directed at his players played a role in his dismissal.
During the meltdown, English tells his team they’re playing “shitbird football,” later referring to the team as a group of “quitting ass bitches.” English also tells his team he does not respect them and calls them “f****t ass motherf***ers.”
Eastern Michigan Director of Athletics Heather Lyke released a statement about the audio, making it clear that type of behavior is not welcome in the program.
“I received a tape of a situation in which Coach English had addressed the team and used wholly inappropriate language,” Lyke said in a statement. “We hold our coaches and staff to high standards of professionalism and conduct and there is no place, particularly in a student environment, where this language is appropriate. The statements made by Coach English are absolutely unacceptable.
“My decision to make a change in leadership of our football program was the culmination of a lot of factors including the comprehensive review of our program, the competitive performance and this tape. Our primary interest is in the well being and success of our student-athletes and this will continue to be our priority in every decision we make and every action we take.
“My focus moving forward is on the quality of our student-athletes’ experience as well as the search process for the next leader of our football program.”
English later apologized for the language in an interview with the Associated Press.
“As a man who has coached 21 years, obviously, on this occasion and particular meeting, I lost my poise, got upset and used language that was inappropriate, particularly as it pertains to homosexual slurs. I regret that,” English told the AP in a telephone interview on Saturday. “I apologize to the university for putting it in this position and tarnishing its reputation. I look forward to continuing a career that has been marked by molding men of integrity, passion, and intensity for 21 years.”
The team already experienced a large blow this season with the death of EMU receiver Demarius Reed.
Reed was found dead outside his off-campus apartment on Oct. 18 from multiple gunshot wounds. His death came one day before the team was scheduled to play the Ohio Bobcats.
By Stephen Brooks
Last updated: 11/06/13 5:10pm
Mark Dantonio is the 51st-highest paid head coach in Division I, according to data released Wednesday by USA Today.
The newspaper created a database showing Dantonio’s 2013 compensation of $1,959,744 ranks him ninth among Big Ten coaches. He also can make an additional $650,000 in bonuses. Among the coaches in front of him are first-year men Gary Andersen at Wisconsin and Purdue’s Darrell Hazell.
Since 2008, MSU has won more Big Ten games than any program.
The entire list can be found here.
Former Spartan coach Nick Saban, now in his seventh year at Alabama, is the nation’s highest paid coach, raking in $5,545,852 this year.
Urban Meyer and Brady Hoke, the head coaches at football powerhouses Ohio State and Michigan both rank in the top 10 nationally. Meyer, who remains undefeated since taking over the Buckeyes program, will make $4,608,000 while Hoke rakes in $4,154,000.
Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz, the longest tenured coach in the Big Ten, will make $3,985,000 — putting him ninth in the country — despite not winning a conference championship since 2004.
The remaining Big Ten coaches rank: No. 14 Bill O’Brien (Penn State), No. 18 Bo Pelini (Nebraska), No. 41 Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern), No. 43 Hazell, No. 47 Andersen, No. 60 Tim Beckman (Illinois), No. 66 Kevin Wilson (Indiana) and No. 67 Jerry Kill (Minnesota).
By Dillon Davis
Last updated: 11/05/13 4:19pm
One thing I’ve discovered about covering MSU football is that fans have two primary interests: beating Michigan and uniform combinations.
A video released Tuesday gives them the best of both worlds.
Produced by Second Wind Creative with additional work from MSU video producer Ryan McPhail, the video hypes up MSU’s jersey combinations, showing sophomore defensive end Shilique Calhoun, junior safety Kurtis Drummond, sophomore quarterback Connor Cook and others modeling the uniforms.
The video shows MSU in the standard home green with white pants combination, the all white uniform with the green stripe on the shoulders, the Nike Pro Combat uniform from 2012 and the all green look from the weekend’s win over Michigan.
And not to mention, a powerful shot of Calhoun sacking U-M quarterback Devin Gardner as the music crescendos to the finish.
In a week of interesting videos of the MSU football team — of course I’m talking about the one of head coach Mark Dantonio dancing to “Type of Way — this one definitely is interesting as well.
By Darcie Moran
Last updated: 11/04/13 9:19pm
After a 29-6 win over Michigan on Saturday, MSU’s football team was so happy they could dance — and they apparently did, alongside head coach Mark Dantonio.
In an Instagram video posted on Saturday, the typically solemn coach is seen jumping and dancing to Rich Homie Quan’s “Type of Way” while surrounded by his players and grinning ear to ear.
After beating the Wolverines for the fifth time in six years, some might say the celebration was well-deserved.
To check out the video of Dantonio’s Spartan spirit, click here.
By Dillon Davis
Last updated: 10/30/13 7:24pm
Think back to 1988.
A gallon of gas cost 91 cents. Michael Jackson, U2 and Enya were atop the music charts. And not to mention, the MSU football team won the Rose Bowl — their most recent one to date.
Now, as the Spartans are chasing a trip back to Pasadena, a video resurfaced on Twitter this week showing a behind-the-scenes look at the Spartans’ locker room following the 1988 triumph over Southern California.
The video definitely is a throwback to a different era in college football, one that’s remembered fondly in East Lansing and the surrounding area. Let’s review.
First of all, MSU’s jerseys are phenomenal. It’s a different, slightly brighter shade of green than the current jerseys and features the throwback block S logo with a rose intertwined in the font. Most teams use a patch to denote a special occasion so I’m a huge proponent of integrating the rose into the logo.
Moments into the video, cornerback Craig Johnson enters the frame with his helmet off and his arms up in celebration, yelling “Yeah! Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah — Rose Bowl champs!” Following Johnson, linebacker Tony Briningstool yells “there’s nothing greener than Pasadena,” which receives a warm reception in the locker room.
One minute in, there’s a Bullough sighting — linebacker Chuck Bullough, who’s the uncle of current senior linebacker Max Bullough and freshman running back Riley Bullough. This family seriously is fueling the MSU football legacy. Keep mating, Bulloughs!
There’s a few moments of NSFW language, including a brief comment from free safety Maurice Chamberlain who enters the room with a zinger, “Pac 10, smack 10. They can all kiss my ass,” before whipping his head around to make sure no authority figures were in the room. But seriously, would it have mattered if they were?
Several minutes in, head coach George Perles enters the room, making his way past goofy glasses wearing assistant Nick Saban — whatever happened to that guy? — while the team circles around the longtime Spartan coach. Perles can’t quit smiling, obviously a little overwhelmed by the gravity of the moment. But before speaking, Perles and the team share the Lord’s prayer.
Then, center Patrick Shurmur leads the team in a group count to 20, which the only obvious explanation would be the amount of points the Spartans scored in the game, followed by MSU’s Fight Song. Even the traditional way of singing it saying “weakening” rather than a loud “weak” the way the crowd does now is refreshing.
But then it was Perles’ turn.
“Alright fellas, congratulations on the conference and congratulations on the Big Ten champs. You guys played a hell of a football game. It was tough; they’re a good football team. We can’t say anything but good things about them but today, you did it. It doesn’t matter if you did it by one point, three points, 30 points, 100 points — a victory is a victory. You take them one at a time; they all count one. This will be one great, great, great big one. But it proves one thing, it doesn’t matter if you stay on the beach, it doesn’t matter if — I’m awful proud of you and I’m proud the way you acted this whole week. It’s hard for me to say that kind of stuff. I can’t do it. But I’m very proud of you for the way you carried yourself and now, let’s not do anything to change that in the last day.”
OK, there’s a ton of coach-speak there — the “they all count one” remark has been a staple for current head coach Mark Dantonio since he joined the program in 2007. It’s almost eerie how similar they sound. But I really like this remarks by Perles.
It’s a candid moment before telling the team he doesn’t “give a shit” how they get back to East Lansing, so long as they get there. From there, the team proceeds to celebrate for another minute or so before it cuts to footage of another game that season at Spartan Stadium.
This video is an amazing flashback to a different time in Spartan football — one not experienced by myself of any member of the current team. And with the Spartans taking aim at another trip this season, it will be a treat to see what kind of footage comes out of that moment in time.
By Stephen Brooks, Travis Baugh
Last updated: 10/18/13 6:21pm
1-5 Purdue will be making its way into Spartan Stadium tomorrow morning looking to upset MSU at home. However, just because the record is sub-par doesn’t mean people still don’t want answers about this Boilermaker team. In an exchange between The State News’ Stephen Brooks and the Purdue Exponent’s Travis Baugh, five questions are broken down and answered for Saturday’s game.
Obviously the 1-5 record isn’t pretty, but how has first-year head coach Darrell Hazell changed this program?
Hazell injected a lot of enthusiasm into the program after he was hired in December; he said and did all the right things to resurrect a fan base that had dwindled under Danny Hope. That enthusiasm was reflected in season tickets numbers, which rose for the first time since 2007. He’s placed an emphasis on the program’s discipline, which was highly scrutinized under Hope, with his 533-page “A” Players Manual that talks about how to excel on and off the field. Fans have been disappointed with Purdue’s on-field performance in 2013, but aren’t giving up on Hazell after one year.
Now, on to the record, what has been going wrong for the Boilermakers this year? Have there been bright spots or is it a total mess?
Purdue has lacked in all dimensions of the game – the Boilers rank near the bottom of every major statistical FBS category. On offense, it starts with the underwhelming performance of the offensive line. Purdue quarterbacks have had little time to throw the ball, and holes have come few and far between for Purdue’s running backs. Neither member of Purdue’s undersized running back duo in Akeem Hunt and Dalyn Dawkins has shown the ability to be an every-down back. Purdue has talent at receiver, but they lack experience. True freshman quarterback Danny Etling has shown promise but is making the typical freshman mistakes after taking over for struggling senior Rob Henry in the fifth game of the season.
One of the few bright spots has been the emergence of talented true freshmen. Etling and wide receiver Deangelo Yancey, have shown they will be one of the top QB-WR tandems in the conference for the next four years, combining for over 200 yards in the last six quarters. Five true freshmen saw extensive time on defense against Nebraska and held their own. Hazell will try to get his young players as much experience as he can this season as the team looks to build for the future.
From what I’ve watched, which is admittedly very little, it doesn’t seem like Hazell’s stuck with the traditional Purdue spread attack. Am I correct in that assumption? And are fans OK with that?
First-year offensive coordinator John Shoop scrapped Purdue’s spread attack for a pro-style look with multiple backs and tight ends. Unfortunately, trying to get dual-threat quarterback Rob Henry to run a pro-style offense was like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. The offense negated his best weapon, his 4.4 speed, and forced him to make throws he simply couldn’t make. Purdue inserted Danny Etling for Henry at quarterback midway through the Northern Illinois game and hasn’t looked back since. Purdue has run more four-wide, five-wide shotgun looks with Etling that people are more accustomed to seeing from the Boilermakers. Fans are excited by the new look and hope Etling’s strong arm and leadership make him the next member of Purdue’s storied Cradle of Quarterbacks.
Purdue is ranked 119th in rushing offense and MSU leads the nation in total defense. Do you think the Boilermakers will try to air it out against the Spartans? And are the equipped to do that?
Purdue has been unable to establish its running game in any game this season, and there’s no reason to think they’d do so Saturday against Michigan State. Purdue’s best bet to move the ball is to let Etling sling it around the field. The Terre Haute, Ind., native showed the ability to do this when he threw for 241 yards in just over one half against Northern Illinois two weeks ago. He’ll have to get rid of the ball quicker than he did against Nebraska when he was sacked five times.
Finally, how do you see the game going? And throw in a prediction if you’d like.
Purdue’s defense looked much improved in its new 3-4 and Nickel packages it used last week against Nebraska. I think it can limit Michigan State to less than 35 points. However, it won’t matter as Purdue’s inexperienced offense will experience more growing pains against the best defense its played all season. Michigan State 31, Purdue 7.
By Stephen Brooks
Last updated: 10/15/13 6:56pm
Lawrence Thomas is on the move again — kind of.
The sophomore is moving back to defensive end (the second of four positions he’s played since arriving at MSU) and slowly working his way on to the field for the first time all season, head coach Mark Dantonio said.
Thomas, a former blue-chip linebacker prospect from Detroit’s Renaissance High, made his initial switch to defensive end prior to the 2012 season after redshirting as a freshman. When a need arose at fullback last year, Thomas moved there before settling back on defense in the offseason at the tackle position.
An undisclosed injury has kept Thomas sidelined so far in 2013, but his inclusion on the depth chart this week could be an indication of his return against Purdue. He’s listed as third-string at one defensive end slot, behind sophomore Shilique Calhoun and senior Denzel Drone.
“We need to get him some active reps, some live reps,” Dantonio said. “I thought he could possibly have played on Saturday (against Indiana), but the way the game just went with the whole nature of it, we decided not to play him.
“He’s at defensive end right now just because it’s probably a little easier for him to play himself back into the defensive tackle. He’s athletic, he’s 290 pounds, he’s quick bodied. So he’ll be a big positive member for us as we move forward.”
Playing defensive tackle, Thomas notched three tackles and a pass break-up in the 2013 spring game.
On Tuesday, Dantonio wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Thomas returning to offense, either.
“I know he wants to play, and he’s excited about that opportunity,” Dantonio said. “As (is) our football team, his teammates and also his coaches. But it’s time now, and I think he needs to play.”
By Olivia Dimmer
Last updated: 10/14/13 7:13pm
The NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles recently signed wide receiver and former MSU standout B.J. Cunningham. Cunningham was released by the Eagles on Aug. 1 with a foot injury and spent most of last season on the practice squad.
Cunningham previously was drafted in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins, but later released.
During his time at MSU, Cunningham scored a total of 25 touchdowns and 218 receptions. Cunningham finished up his football career at MSU as the all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards (3,086). When he left college, Cunningham was ranked seventh in Big Ten History in receptions and ninth in receiving yards.