By Scott Westerman (head of the MSU Alumni Association)
The following is my personal opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.
Looking back on these last two years of MSU football, I have never been prouder to be a Spartan.
It wasn’t fair. Last year another team in our league broke some major NCAA rules. It was decided to wait to impose sanctions and they got a BCS game that many now believe they didn’t deserve. That knocked us out of the Rose Bowl. This year, we had the best record in the Big 10. We beat everybody who was important. Under the old rules, we would be Pasadena bound.
But now there is this conference championship thing where had to play the team we already beat, again, to see which one of us would go to the Rose Bowl.
We didn’t win that game. And because of the machinations within the BCS calculations, that team down the road, who we have beaten four years in a row, will probably get the second BCS bid.
It would be easy to be angry about this if you were a member of the MSU football team. You’ve played your heart out for two straight years, fighting from behind to win the tough ones, slowly and surely improving with every game. You’ve demonstrated that you can learn from your mistakes. Every one of your key players is academically eligible, didn’t break any rules, and came back to the fight, again and again, even as the sports media failed to believe in you and forces beyond your control conspired to keep you from the prize.
This is how life works. You can do your best work. You can be the best. And despite all of this, you may still not be recognized as the best.
There will be those who will beat you fair and square. This is how you learn. And some who others may call “winners” will bend the rules, perhaps even break them. But history will ultimately paint the true picture. And the hearts of those who deviate from the right path will inevitably know the truth. As Joe Paterno apocryphally put it,”Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won’t taste good.”
It turns out that those who don’t exhibit the outward signs of what others call success, are often the ultimate victors. T.J. Duckett is one of those guys. After a stellar college and NFL career, he came back to East Lansing to build businesses, to finish school and to use his influence to address some of societies most pressing problems. I’ve seen him on his way to class. In many ways, he looks just like any other Comm Arts student at MSU. But he is one of the best examples I know of what a true Spartan can ultimately grow up to be.
Kirk Cousins is another example. According to his bio on the MSUSpartans.com website, he has helped lead the Spartans to 21 victories in 24 games during the past two seasons. He has completed 64.3 percent of his passes ranking first in MSU history and tied for third Big Ten history. He has thrown the most touchdown passes in Michigan State history. He volunteers at the pediatric ward at Lansing’s Sparrow Hospital, participates in the Athletes in Action sports ministry and will likely be able to choose between an NFL shot, a broadcasting gig or a career in kinesiology. His keynote speech at the 2011 Big Ten Kick-off Luncheon was hailed as one of the best ever given.
You don’t need roses to prove that Kirk Cousins is a winner.
Wisconsin won tonight and deserves congratulations for playing a terrific game. The MSU Football Team did not take home the Big 10 Championship trophy, even though by every traditional standard we deserved it. We will probably have to wait another year to play in Pasadena. These Spartans Will continue to improve and I believe we Spartans Will end up in California on New Year’s Day. And, even thought we didn’t “win” tonight, our football team of Spartans Will be playing in the post season, just as we’ve done every year since Mark Dantonio became our head coach. I will be there to cheer them on. If you are a true Spartan, you will, too.
But don’t forget what’s most important.
We will graduate one of the highest percentage of senior athletes in Division 1. The vast majority of these young men and women will live Spartan Lives. Some may not be stars by the media’s definition. But nearly all will do good things, be great role models, and inspire the next generation to work harder, reach higher and dream bigger.
In all honesty I don’t have anyone I am jealous of… I’ve had times where I have momentarily wished I was in the situation of another person but I don’t know…I have a lot of short comings but jealousy just isn’t something I’ve been aware of in myself….