Bowl bigger than Harbaugh, MSU fans say

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

Dallas – The Michigan State basketball game was on the television Tuesday afternoon at the Quarter Bar in downtown Dallas, and the place was full of Spartan alums.

And even though they were in town for Michigan State’s matchup with Baylor in the Cotton Bowl on Thursday, most were still keenly aware of what was happening in Ann Arbor.

That doesn’t mean they especially cared.

“I’m perfectly content being here at a bowl game while they’re introducing their coach,” said Dustin Baker, who was in town from Washington, D.C., for the game on Thursday and was watching Michigan State play Maryland in basketball.

While the folks around the Wolverines are giddy with excitement, Baker feels like he’s seen this act before.

“I don’t think it’s that much different than when Rich Rod came in and when Hoke came in,” Baker said. “He’s had success everywhere that he’s gone, but that program right now is a dumpster fire. It’s not gonna be the quick fix that they think it is.”

He was, of course, referring to the last two Michigan coaches — Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke. Neither had success against Michigan State, with a 12-10 home victory in 2012 under Hoke as the only time the Wolverines have won against their in-state rival in the past seven seasons.

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio has compiled a 6-2 mark against Michigan, the first loss coming in Lloyd Carr’s last season leading the Wolverines. Since then, it’s been virtually all Michigan State.

“It’s been fun for seven or eight years, but I’m old enough to realize these things don’t last forever, and Michigan is a tremendous program with tremendous heritage, and I just look forward to beating them next year,” said Grand Rapids native Blake Krueger.

“But if you look at what Dantonio has done, on paper with not quite the recruiting classes of many other schools, and it’s been simply spectacular. There is no other way to put it.

“I’d love to have (defensive coordinator Pat) Narduzzi for another seven or eight years, but he deserves his shot as a head coach as well and I have all the confidence in Dantonio. I’m optimistic.”

And despite what some around Michigan might believe, as well as some of the national pundits, most Spartans fans aren’t about to cede control of the state.

“I’m tired of hearing about it, No. 1,” said Lori Baker, of East Lansing. “I hope he does well there, but I don’t think the Spartans are at all afraid or intimidated by it. I feel like Michigan thinks this is their savior and they’ll automatically probably win the national championship next year. I don’t think that is gonna happen.

“I’d really rather just keep beating them by 25 points every year. That would be fine.”

But even though Spartan fans are confident in their team, they accept the Wolverines will likely be better.

“They landed their No. 1 choice,” Krueger said. “So I think Michigan, they’ve got a very good coach now. I think they’re going to be more competitive in the future. I think they’ve had the talent the past four or five years, but it’s not gonna be so easy to outcoach them anymore.”