Hollis earns kudos from Knight, not interested in Texas

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Sparty takes the field ahead of the MSU players Saturday night against Oregon.

East Lansing – Phil Knight has been a part of his share of big events.

As the co-founder and chairman at Nike, Knight is also a huge Oregon Ducks fan and follows the football team as closely as he does his company's revenue stream.

Last Saturday, Knight was at Spartan Stadium for Michigan State's matchup with Oregon, and as he walked off the field he had a message for Spartans athletic director Mark Hollis.

"Phil came over to me in the tunnel as he was walking out and said this was the best environment of football that he's seen," Hollis said Thursday before the Michigan State Athletics Hall of Fame ceremony. "I just was stunned. He's a big Ducks fan, obviously, and he has seen a lot of big games. But it was great to have him on campus."

It was the culmination of what turned out to be a remarkable few days on the Michigan State campus, and Hollis simply sat back in amazement.

"I thought it was arguably one of the best weekends, start to finish, that you could possibly hope for or ever see or experience at Michigan State," Hollis said

It began Thursday when Draymond Green returned to campus and announced he was donating $3.1 million to the basketball program and continued into Saturday with ESPN in town for College GameDay, which led into a game that lived up to the hype.

It was also a huge weekend for nearly every program on campus as recruits – almost 200 for the football team alone -- lined the sidelines at Spartan Stadium before the game. And when it kicked off, the fans did their part by pulling off in impressive striping of the stadium by dressing in white and green in alternating sections.

Green's actions left Hollis especially impressed.

"Not only giving the gift but delivering a message that talks about the values, unscripted, about being a student-athlete was incredible," Hollis said. "I sat there just in awe listening to the words come from him."

It was just the beginning of a big weekend that was capped with a victory, though Hollis insisted it would have been a success even without a win.

"I would have said this win or lose," Hollis said. "We were sitting there at the end of the third quarter saying this is one of the best Saturdays ever of Spartan football."

Hollis intends to have more days like last Saturday, and they will happen at Michigan State. Several reports have mentioned Hollis' name as a potential replacement for Steve Patterson at Texas, but Hollis said on Thursday that possibility is nowhere on his radar.

Instead, his focus will remain on recapturing the atmosphere from last weekend.

"I thought the crowd was, start to finish, the best crowd I've ever seen since I've been back in '96," Hollis said. "Everybody stayed, it was still late and a somewhat long game but at the same time they were there until the bitter end and that's what it takes to win games and win championships

"It was a good Saturday to be here if you were looking at what Michigan State really means."