MSU head coach John L. Smith never wanted to play the game in the first place and losing was bad enough, but then former Lions offensive coordinator and current Hawaii head coach June Jones said in post game remarks that the sixteen penalities called against the Spartans weren't enough. That was the match that lit the fuse. Smith replied in his post game remarks that he "didn't care for" Jones anyway.
Let those bad feelings stew on a 12-hour plane ride back home after a loss that sent his team to a sub .500 finish and its clear; MSU just doesn't care for Hawaii or it's program.
The taste was so sour that speculation is that MSU will cancel a return trip to Hawaii scheduled for 2007.
But just when it seemed cooler heads would prevail, the rhetoric between the teams and the coaches intensified yesterday when Jones accused MSU coach John L. Smith of lying to the Kent State coaching staff.
"The Michigan State coaches asked the Kent State coaches not to send [game tape] to us because we wouldn`t send them ours," Jones said. "I have no idea why they would lie to them. It`s kind of a bad deal. But you do what you do to win, I guess."
Smith responded to Jones accusations by simply stating, "We`re not sending tapes. They`re not sending tapes. It`s that simple."
A juicy rivalry? Yes. A recipe for an out-of-control street brawl? Also, yes. That's why MSU can't afford to get caught up in all talk against what should be an undermanned and overmatched Hawaii squad with nothing to lose.
The Spartans (1-0) simply need to put in a workmanlike effort, get the win and get ready for what looms as a super tough game in South Bend, IN against the suddenly resurgent Fighting Irish led by former Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis.
Heading into Saturday's contest against Hawaii, Michigan State head coach John L. Smith explained the dilemma of trying to game plan for a team without having game tapes.
"We only get to see the TV copy at this point," said Smith. "We don't have film on them, yet. What they're doing is running a two quarterback system. They're alternating quarterbacks in and out. They're still the same as far as formations and motions looks and routes and protections and all that. Quarterback Drew Stanton said he heard about the bad feelings but didn't notice anything out of the ordinary when the MSU offense was on the field.
"Not really, a lot of those guys were real friendly," said Stanton. "You can get into trash-talking and stuff like that against some teams, but honestly those guys played hard and they weren't trash-talking or cheap shot-ing anybody as far as it goes from the defensive standpoint, I don't know what was going out there on offense. But you know I don't have any remorse for what happened out there against those guys. I'm looking forward to seeing some of those guys again."
Stanton acknowledged their might be some bitter feelings remaining but didn't want to overplay it. "It's not that personal. They're the next team on our schedule and that's who we want to beat. That's all we're worried about right now."
But MSU defensive captain, strong safety Eric Smith said the defense would be ready to give a little payback on Saturday. "Yeah, I expect everybody to be ready to play. We shouldn't need much motivation at all. I'm looking forward to it."
With the fires buring this hotly between the two head coaches, it wouldn't take much for the fuse to get lit and turn this one into a game that could be costly for both squads.
MSU's offensive line must be careful not to allow Stanton, the one player they can not afford to lose to take unnecessary hits or cheap shots by the Hawaii team.
Despite Jones' incendiary remarks, the smart course for the Spartans would be to come out put in a workmanlike effort and get the win.....and, OK, then call time out at :01 and kick a field goal.