31 July 2008

Channeling the Crazy Spirit of John L. Smith

Mark Dantonio Plays Russian Roulette With the Karma Gods

Any tried and true Michigan State Spartan football fan remembers the bad old days of John L. Smith. The much hyped former Louisville coach brought in a spirit of mountain climbing toughness to East Lansing and made a boatload of coaching mistakes. One of Smith's most egregious errors was his decision to play 4 star recruit quarterback Drew Stanton on special teams in a bowl game, a decision which of course ended up with Stanton horribly injuring his knee. Stanton was a pro-style quarterback who should have been practicing his 5 step drops and taking snaps, but Smith wanted to institute toughness in his team. Similar coaching missteps helped land Smith a pink slip out of East Lansing.

Now Coach Mark Dantonio, who as by all accounts done things the right way every since coming to Michigan State, is tempting fate by seriously discussing the possibility of playing All-World halfback Javon Ringer on Special Teams as a kick returner. And although a stud running back holds up better on special teams than a drop back QB, here is some advice for Coach Dantonio:

Please God, don't put your All-Big 10 halfback on the kick return unit. 1) Unless he is the next Devin Hester, there won't be a marked difference between Ringer and the next guy. 2) You're in perfect position to beat Michigan and possibly pull a 10 win season off. A veteran QB leads the offense and the defense should be solid. The only thing that could derail you instantly is, of course, injuries. And God knows the last thing you want to see is Ringer getting crackback blocked to the turf by some 250 lb special teams demon running full speed down the field. 3) You have made excellent decisions at every turn in East Lansing: you brought in solid players at the line positions and you didn't spout off to the media or make wild predictions...you even pulled an Elite 11 quarterback to headline your next recruiting class. Take a lesson from the missteps of John L's past and leave Ringer off the field for one extra play.

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