East Lansing – — At least 200 fans waited in freezing cold weather to welcome Michigan State University’s football team back to campus Thursday night from its stunning Rose Bowl victory.
The MSU fight song blared repeatedly from loud speakers and the crowd cheered lustily as the coaches and many of the players arrived at the Skandalaris Football Center about 8:30 p.m.
Braving single digit temperatures that felt below-zero with the wind chill, fans alternated between chanting “Go green, go white” until the team arrived from Capital City Airport in six charter buses.
“We wanted to be there to welcome them back,” said Dave Carlson of Potterville. He attended MSU in the early 1980s and welcomed the team with his wife, Gail, and son, Joel, 11. “My boy really wanted to see them, so we drove in from (home).”
Lansing resident Eric Cochrane didn’t attend MSU but said, “I’ve attended so many games and spent so much money there, I might as well have gone to MSU,” he said.
Wednesday’s Rose Bowl victory over Stanford was a long time coming for Cochrane. He was 4 when the Spartans last won the Rose Bowl in 1988. Cochrane said he didn’t want his daughters, Sidney and Morgan, 6 and 11, and son, Isaac, 8, to miss an opportunity to see the team.
“We were born Spartans,” said Cochrane. “I’ve got a green and white sweat shirt I can’t wear anymore.”
MSU head coach Mark Dantonio was all smiles for the homecoming. “The fact that this many people showed up, shows the passion they have Spartan football,” he said.
Players posed for photos with fans before going inside to get their belongings.
“I been sick since Sunday, but I didn’t want to miss it,” said Jamie Jacobs, who received her bachelor’s degree from MSU in 2008 and master’s in 2011. “I went through six years of student section football and six years of almost winning time after time after time. Now we are winning.”
Unlike last month, East Lansing was “fairly quiet” after the Spartans’ victory, East Lansing Fire Department Lt. Chuck Gagnier told the Lansing State Journal. WLNS-TV reported five fires, mostly furniture burned outside.
In December, a rowdy celebration of Michigan State’s victory over Ohio State in the Big Ten championship included dozens of fires and prompted arrests.