It was not long ago the Michigan State fan base was standing on top of Mt. Everest along with all of their athletic programs. What a year 2015 was for those that bled green and white. Former Spartan great Connor Cook and head coach Mark Dantonio were leading the front to Jerry’s world to take on Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide in the second year of the College Football Playoff. Denzel Valentine was in mid-season form and had his troops sitting atop of the college basketball universe with the #1 ranking. Even the women’s cross-country team were coming off their first ever national championship. Oh what a time it was to reside in East Lansing, Michigan.
And then the fall……
It started on New Years Eve, Dec 31, 2015. It was Michigan State’s time. Their chance to show the rest of the country that they were for real and not just a team that wins off “luck”. The beginning of Sparty’s fall from grace began before anyone could even say “Happy New Year”. Michigan State was blown out on national television against the mighty tide and subsequently became a laughing-stock to many, most residing in Ann Arbor and Columbus.
Not long after in the month of Izzo, Mar 18, 2016. As one of the top picks to bring home a national championship, which would have been Tom Izzo’s third, the Spartans were knocked out of the NCAA tournament by an unknown assassin. The greatly named Giddy Potts and the #15 seed Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders shocked Sparty in possibly the biggest upset in NCAA tournament history as well as ending the college career of Valentine among others.
Winter didn’t end well, Spring began on a poor note, and the Summer followed right behind them.
June 13, 2016, Former Michigan State Hockey coach Ron Mason passed away. Mason was one of the most successful college hockey coaches in history and was inducted into the US Hockey Hall Of Fame in 2013. During his time leading the green and white Mason won the school’s first two national championships.
Just over a month later tragedy struck East Lansing.
July 23, 2016, beloved former Michigan State punter, Mike Sadler died in a car accident along with former Nebraska punter Sam Foltz. Sadler’s success on the gridiron was matched by his success in the classroom becoming the school’s first four-time academic all american. The Big Ten honored Sadler as well as Foltz throughout the regular season using a commemorative coin during games that involved Michigan State or Nebraska.
Sep 2-Nov 26, 2016, Ahhh the smell of football was back in the air in East Lansing. With the smell of the pigskin came the smell of speculation in Spartan Stadium. Connor Cook was gone and it was fifth year senior Tyler O’Connor’s team. It was safe to say that O’Connor and the rest of the Michigan State football team as well as the fans would love to forget the season.The Spartans finished 3-9, lost to both of its rivals Michigan and Ohio State, lost three out of its four trophy games, and missed a bowl game for the first time under Dantonio. Everyone expected a decline, but the fall from Mount Everest for Michigan State Football came fast and left a lot of bruises on the program.
Sep 25, 2016, tragedy strikes again upon East Lansing as former football player Mylan Hicks dies in a shooting. Hicks spent time in the NFL with the 49ers after his time in East Lansing and then moved on to the Canadian Football League playing for the Calgary Stampeders.
Dec 18, 2016. We jump ahead 12 games into the college basketball season. The Spartans already held losses to Arizona, Kentucky, Duke, and Baylor, all ranked teams. Centers Ben Carter and Gavin Schilling have been out since the start of the season with knee injuries and star freshman Miles Bridges joined them while being sidelined with an ankle injury. In came the Northeastern Huskies, a mid-major who has already beaten a perennial power in UCONN. Michigan State was outmatched losing 81-73 in one of Tom Izzo’s worst home losses as a coach at MSU. For the first time since 1997 MSU was in danger of missing the NCAA tournament.
We are down to the final home stretch Spartan Fans as we enter the final week of 2016. At rock-bottom in our top athletic programs, we look to climb back up that mountain in 2017.