Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Bandwagon fans need to toughen up after loss

October 2, 2000

The honeymoon is over.

After starting the season 3-0, MSU head football coach Bobby Williams suffered the first loss of his career, preventing him from becoming the first coach in school history to win the first four games of the season.

Going 3-0 in his first season is still quite an accomplishment.

The sports radio shows, magazines, Internet sites and newspapers - including this one - have finally begun to cease the constant comparisons and differences between him and former MSU coach and current Louisiana State leader Nick Saban.

Some MSU fans haven’t.

After a 37-17 clawing by the Northwestern Wildcats on Saturday, it was evident that there are some green and white faithful out there that are spoiled - spoiled from experiencing one of the greatest eras in Spartan athletics history last season.

Some fans simply don’t know how to handle losses.

The holy trinity of MSU sports - football, hockey and basketball - is now a big green, money-making machine thanks in part to victories last year at the Florida Citrus Bowl, CCHA Tournament and NCAA Tournament.

Plastering Nike swooshes on athletes and stores within a three-mile radius of campus and selling $3 sodas and $5 pieces of pizza at concession stands doesn’t hurt either.

Granted, it felt like Northwestern tailback Damien Anderson, who ran for a career-high 219 rushing yards, belonged on the Ralph Young Track outside the stadium rather than on the turf, but as a real fan knows, there is always hope for a better day.

If Spartans can learn how to stop rioting in drunken stupors, then they can learn how to be real fans.

I shared some of the frustration spectators felt, watching MSU’s offense go 0-12 on third-down conversions and seeing Northwestern gain a whopping 507 yards of total offense, leading to the largest margin of defeat by the Wildcats in 24 years.

But some of the students at the game Saturday seemed to take last year’s incredible accomplishments for granted, feeling obligated to share their frustration with more than 72,000 disappointed fans.

“Go green, go white” chants were replaced with random comments such as:

“What time is the Michigan game?”

“Let’s go drink!”

“Nice call Bobby, just like Saban.”

These are probably the same people miffed about a Northwestern defeat that were pumping their fists in appreciation last year after every Plaxico Burress touchdown or Morris Peterson dunk.

Glad to see those people have finally wiped the green paint off their faces from March.

This isn’t last year, this is a new era.

With the song “Who Let the Dogs Out” blasting through the stadium speakers Saturday as MSU players emphatically bolted through the tunnel going into the second half, there was hope by many that the boys in green could turn the game around.

Unfortunately that wasn’t the case and with that increasing score on Northwestern’s side of the ball, Spartan fans began to disperse.

With seven games remaining in the season, including a challenging schedule against perennial powerhouses Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State on the road, support from fans will be key.

It definitely spread like wildfire last year.

I remember a time when being a Spartan fan wasn’t even considered cool, during the days of the U-M’s self-proclaimed inner-city felony tour, otherwise known as the “Fab Five” or their knack of finding ways to recruit Heisman trophy candidates to cause havoc on MSU football defenses.

As a kid playing in pickup games it seemed as if every basketball player tried to mock Chris Webber’s swagger on the court and every football player would emulate Desmond Howard’s Heisman trophy pose.

Can you imagine that in MSU head basketball coach Tom Izzo’s first year there were chants of “Tom Fizzo” and that in 1991 and 1992 we lost to Central Michigan in football?

One was hard pressed to find any type of MSU paraphernalia on the eastern side of the state, which was considered biased to the maize and blue. Look at Detroit newspapers now compared to ten years ago; the tables are slowly turning.

Remember this, fans: Unlike countless fad phenomena such as Used Jeans, Pogo Balls, Skidz shorts and M.C. Hammer, Spartan pride isn’t expected to go out of style anytime soon.

The dogs will be let out again.


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