After getting off to a lightning fast 4-0 start and rising to as high as a #11 ranking in the polls, Michigan State has lost three straight games and is in free fall.
It can all be traced back to a familiar root cause, the all-or-nothing mentality that arises from Michigan State's deep seated inferiority complex. That complex is nurtured and grows to full bloom whenever the team loses to cross town rival Michigan.
It's time for this to stop once and for all.
See, it isn't surprising to long-time MSU observers that the team lost to Northwestern or even the fact that they were throughly routed. They've seen this happen to Michigan State time and again because the program simply places too much value on beating Michigan and nearly as much on Ohio State.
When that doesn't happen, (frequently) the team gets down, begins doubting itself and goes into free fall. A win over Ohio State could have cured some of the self-doubt, but when John L. Smith's coaching staff made several costly mistakes, the team snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. That only fueled the "we're done" loser's mentality.
I give credit to head coach John L. Smith for trying to eliminate some of that.
He's trying hard to get his players to be more mentally tough and hasn't always been pretty. Smith served up kicker John Goss on a platter in one of his weekly press conferences but showed restraint and balance in figuratively putting his arm around the shoulder of quarterback Drew Stanton after one of the worst games of his career in Saturday's loss.
Look plenty of teams lose to Michigan, they're a great program, that's why they call themselves the "Champions of the West", but do the Ohio State's, Iowa's and Wisconsin's of the world crawl up into the fetal position when they lose? Absolutely not, they go out and pound their next opponent and go on to appear in New Year's Day bowl games.
Before Smith gets this program anywhere, he's going to have to get his players to look at the Michigan game as just one of a number of big games.
Bandit SirDarean Adams admitted that the team was so peaked to play the game on Thursday -two days prior to game day- that they sort of shutdown mentally on game preparation. It showed. MSU didn't show up until the first quarter was almost over.
This team also has to learn how to stare adversity down and fight through it.
When the coaching staff messed up and sent the kick team on to the field resulting in the block that was returned for a touchdown, the halftime locker room was stunned silence. Not one MSU player stood up and said, "OK, we messed up, but we've whipped this team for 30 minutes, let's go whip 'em for 30 more." Instead, they simply rolled over and allowed the inevitable to happen.
Smith has promised to kick the players in the tail this week, starting with today's practice, but he follow that up by benching those who don't respond. That is the only way to get rid of the all-or-nothing, loser's mentalty. Weed the losers out of your program.
MSU needs better personnel on defense, yes. They need a few more blue-chip athletes, surely. They need the coaching staff admittedly needs to be better prepared. But more than anything else, MSU needs an attitude adjustment.
They own a victory over #9 Notre Dame and have five games left. They could finish the season 8-3 and play in a very nice bowl game, no, not the Rose Bowl, and not on New Year's day, but a bowl game just the same.
Remember sitting home for the holidays last season after turning tail in Hawaii?
This team can send its seniors out winners, they can eliminate the losers mentality, they can give the school and the alumni something to be proud of after turning so many of them off by failing to show up, on homecoming no less.
So how about it Spartans; are you going to fight or are you going to quit, again?