Saturday, December 4, 2021

Football writers recall lighter side of season

December 4, 2000

We realize MSU’s fantastic basketball team has stolen everyone’s attention, but we’ve got a few final thoughts for you on the football season.

Although the MSU football team didn’t have the success it enjoyed in 1999, there were several interesting and humorous moments along the way to a 5-6 campaign.

Life in the press box

  • In the third quarter of the Sept. 16 Missouri game, freshman quarterback Jeff Smoker lost the ball when he was hit by defensive end Justin Smith while attempting a pass. The officials ruled it a fumble to the chagrin of MSU head coach Bobby Williams.

    Next thing we knew, the referee inadvertently connected his microphone to the press box loudspeakers while explaining the logic of his call to Williams.

    “I could be wrong Bobby, but I didn’t think his hand was going forward when he threw the ball,” the zebra said as the press box erupted in laughter.

    At least one ref will admit to making bad calls.

  • At Iowa on Oct. 7, we had the unique pleasure of sitting next to the coaches’ box where offensive coordinator Morris Watts and defensive coordinator Bill Miller, among others, signal the plays in to Williams on the sideline.

    Though we were physically separated from the Spartan think tank by a glass wall, their rants and chants were easily heard throughout the disastrous 21-16 loss.

    After a young defensive player sacked Iowa quarterback Jon Beutjer, the Spartan defender proceeded to perform a celebratory dance that normally draws a penalty flag.

    No flag was thrown, but that was hardly consolation to the discipline-driven coaches, who instructed Williams to “Grab that $!@-of-a-#&%@! by the neck and get him off the field!”

    It makes you wish ESPN or ABC would have a microphone set up in the coaches’ box along with the standard camera.

    Favorite moments

  • Junior wide receiver Herb Haygood going 68 yards to score the game-winning touchdown for the Spartans’ fourth-straight win over Notre Dame on Sept. 23.

  • Special teams superstar redshirt freshman Monquiz Wedlow fielding squib kicks only to get smacked.

  • Watching Iowa’s 260-pound linebacker Aaron Kampman latch onto sophomore tailback T.J. Duckett’s legs, then get dragged for 6 yards.

  • Senior linebacker Drew Young chasing a scrambling Drew Henson from the weakside and pulling the Wolverine quarterback down by his collar for the sack against Michigan on Oct. 21.

  • Witnessing the young Smoker begin his road to success in the world of college football, and do it with humility.

  • Seeing a hammered Iowa fan take a spill on the steel bleachers of Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa. “He was drunk and the same thing happened the last time I was here,” a veteran Spartan beat writer said after checking to see if he was OK.

    Laugh riot

  • The first annual Moe Syzlak award for funniest player on the team is a tie between senior safety Richard “Skiddy” Newsome and sophomore offensive tackle Ulish Booker.

    Keeping in the laughter while watching Newsome riding his bike and yelling as he exited the Duffy Daugherty Football Building after practice was no easy task.

    Booker is 6-foot-7, 290 pounds and hilarious, and should go professional with his impersonation of former MSU head coach Nick Saban. Also, during post-practice interview sessions, Booker walked through Duffy singing “Who let the press in?” to the tune of the now-annoying stadium anthem “Who Let the Dogs Out?” by the Baha Men.

    Most interesting stat of 2000

  • Iowa City; Columbus, Ohio; Columbia, Mo.; Ann Arbor and State College, Pa.: 3,568 miles round-trip. One victory and four losses. Lots of turnovers. More penalties.

    In closing we’d like to thank the players and coaches for dealing with guys like us before and especially after the tough losses. Talking after a win is easy, but facing the media after blowing a win is not something anybody enjoys. And special thanks to senior cornerback Renaldo Hill, who always managed to keep a smile on his face, even after the U-M game.

    Arthur Alcid, State News football reporter, can be reached at alcidart@msu.edu.

    Jeff Karzen, State News football reporter, can be reached at karzenje@msu.edu.

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