We have a hard time coming to grips with change in our sports culture.
How can a free agent choose the Capitals over the Red Wings?
We also have a hard time being convinced of that change in the sports landscape. With Mark Dantonio at the helm, the Michigan State Spartans have become a force in the Big Ten, and college football.
Many may not buy in or want to believe it, but it's a reality.
Dantonio provides Michigan State with the perfect mix of passion, insecurity and loyalty to the school and the head coaching position. His passion is undeniable. He seems to genuinely love his players, and they, in turn, truly respect his methods.
His insecurity is not for his job, but for the program. And it's a good thing. He seems to preach, "Never be satisfied, don't rest on your past accomplishments." In other words, stay hungry. It sure seems like the Spartans play and practice with that mindset.
The loyalty he shows is aided by the contract he owns. But he and his staff call East Lansing home. They aren't looking toward the next gig or a better opportunity. They all seem genuinely happy where they are. It's an envious situation for many programs.
More important than all, there are their results. With a record of 13-1 last year, a B1G championship, a Rose Bowl victory and #3 final BCS ranking.
Three of the last four years with double-digit wins, that included bowl victories over an SEC team (Georgia) and a physically-imposing PAC 12 team (Stanford).
They have more wins in the league than any other team since 2008.
The athletic department has made a commitment to it's staff and facilities. They are also garnering more and more recognition for their recruiting prowess. I'm not suggesting they will ever beat teams like Alabama, LSU, Florida or Notre Dame in the battle for high school players, but they've created a buzz that is impossible to ignore.
You can ignore the trend that MSU is on if you wish, and you can try to give me reasons why it's not sustainable. I would ask how big of a sample size do you need?
As far as I'm concerned, Michigan State is the team to beat. They have a chip on their shoulder because so many have picked against them -- again -- and they have a proven method that works.
That's enough to make me a believer. What more are you asking for?
Matt Shepard is the play-by-play voice of University of Michigan basketball, Eastern Michigan University football and the Detroit Lions television network. He can also be found on TV locally on Fox Sports Detroit and nationally on the Big Ten Network for college hockey and baseball.Learn more.