Foster: In a snoozefest, EMU shows how far it has to go

Terry Foster

East Lansing — This was a good day to go to the apple orchard instead of a football game.

My guess is most of the Michigan State student body had better things to do watch the Spartans mop up on Eastern Michigan, 73-14, on Saturday at Spartan Stadium.

The school never announced the attendance to the crowd or even in the packet given to the media. My guess is it was not a figure MSU wants everybody to know about.

There wasn't much to see. It was the third-highest point total for a Michigan State football team.

There were acres of empty seats. And who can blame the students? Eastern Michigan was one of the worst football teams to ever step foot in Spartan Stadium. In the first half, the Spartans scored a touchdown every 4.5 minutes and every yard gained by the Eagles was like pulling a wisdom tooth.

In the first half, the Spartans had more points (49) than Eastern had yards (1). The Spartans used more quarterbacks than Eastern rushing yards (-14). It was a blood bath.

The only benefit for EMU was a big payday to help out its athletic program. But other than that, it was another embarrassing day for a school where the big debate at the Side Track is not whether it can have a winning season, but whether it should even keep the football team.

EMU embarrassing

I am all for big schools giving Mid-American Conference schools a chance, but the MAC teams need to be competitive.

That is the challenge for EMU coach Chris Creighton. It is not to come into East Lansing and beat MSU. He needs to build his team so it is simply more competitive on the big stage. If that happens, then MAC title runs will take care of themselves. But this season, EMU has lost to Florida and Michigan State by a combined score of 138-14.

"There is going to be a day where we are going to be excited we get an opportunity to play these games," Creighton said.

He said it more as a promise and a challenge to his team. Creighton appears to be a guy with a vision and a promise. The question is: Can he pull it off at EMU, which has become the grave yard for coaches?

There is an expectation for MAC teams, even when they play the big boys in East Lansing and Ann Arbor. You must play hard and entertain folks. EMU failed, even though it scored two touchdowns in the second half.

Here is the big picture coaches miss: Why would you want to pay to see this if you were a fan?

It was not entertaining. It was not interesting. And there was no point to this game outside of filling out a 12-game schedule.

I don't totally blame Michigan State for this. That is what big schools do. They schedule mid-majors to work on their timing.

I do not blame Creighton. He must finally realize the enormity of what he must overcome to win at EMU. He's only been here for nine months, charged with fixing a decades-long problem. What is the old saying? Rome was not built in a day?

"To do something special at Eastern, it is not going to be easy and this is as hard as it gets," he said. "You have to be able to endure real hard times, really hard times to achieve something special. That is why we are undeterred. I am not raising my hand to get beat badly like that. No one wants to go through tough times but the reality is you have to go through tough times to get somewhere special."

MSU does its job

It was a near-perfect day for Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio. He got to play guys you've never heard of, and that works great for team bonding. We even got to see world famous Tommy Vento at quarterback. And, yes, Michigan State scored when he was behind center.

I cannot sit here and tell you MSU was great on offense or defense. There was not enough competition standing in the way of it.

"You are chasing perfection," Dantonio said. "It wasn't about running up the score, but you run the play to its fullest."

That is exactly what MSU did. It did not run up the score as much as it ran through that brick wall EMU loves to talk about.