2014 Michigan St. season preview with Steve Mariucci

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steve mariucci

As has been well documented, NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci is a big time Michigan State guy and close personal friend of Tom Izzo. So when I caught up to Mariucci at NFL Network Media Day, I couldn’t help but talk some Sparty. After we discussed some NFL of course, Mariucci used to coach the San Francisco 49ers, and they play in the league’s toughest division, the NFC West.

So in this exclusive interview we talked about the Niners as well as the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks.

Hey, the NFL is a copy cat league and right now everyone is trying to copy the winning hand possessed by the Seattle Seahawks. And that includes the Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams and even the Niners. But after we talk NFC West, we get into the MSU Spartans.

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Maybe the media believes Ohio State to be the favorite, but I’m still picking Michigan State to win the East division. And that’s not a homer pick. Remember, I called the Spartans upset of Ohio State in the Big Ten title game last December. I said they would win, and win by 10. I was totally going out on a limb at the time. But we saw Mark Dantonio deliver.

Mariucci agrees with me that we’ll find out what the Spartans truly are, and what they truly are not in week two versus Oregon.

The Ducks will be the litmus test. And Mooch is a Spartan through and through, as his Dad was a boxer and wrestler at Michigan State.

Iron Mountain, Michigan is a unique place. Rarely, does a small town like this produce two individuals who achieve such a high level of success; in such similar fields. And it’s even rarer that the two individuals maintain a close friendship for many decades. However, NFL Network’s Steve Mariucci and Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo, are certainly two unique, outstanding individuals. And during the 2010 NCAA Tournament, “Mooch” came to see his best friend when his star was shining brightest.

I caught up to Mariucci in the Spartans’ locker room following State’s win over Northern Iowa that night. I asked him about following his close friend as becomes “Tournament Tom” during the NCAA tournament.

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“It’s just fun to watch. Every year in my mind, I say maybe this is Tom’s best coaching job. And this coaching job is right up there because it’s been a tough year on a lot of different fronts, to try to hold it together and win enough games to win that Big Ten again- a very difficult conference,” Mariucci.

I asked “Mooch” how he’s able to keep up (text, Facebook, Twitter, etc) with Izzo given how busy both of them are. He gave me this answer, and also a light, friendly punch on the arm.

“I’m not as busy as he is. We just stay in touch, you stay in touch with your best friend, don’t you? You just do.”

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The exchange made me realize how stupid my question was, even though it seemed to make perfect sense at the time. But I have no regrets. It’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last, that I say something stupid in an interview.

At the Saturday press conference the next day, I asked Izzo what Steve Mariucci said to him as he victoriously came off the court and about having his good buddy around for March madness.

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Izzo’s response:

“Well, he’s just so excited to be here. I think when you’re in pro ball for so long and you get the college atmosphere, he loves all the NCAA tournament games, and he flew in all day from Iron Mountain. He was up visiting his dad and on his way back. And he was just proud of all of us. I think he loves the atmosphere. You know, it’s kind of different than the NFL in a lot of ways and pro ball in general, I guess.

So he loves being around the locker room. He loves being in the film room. Last night he watched film with us until wee hours of the morning. He kept telling me to run the fly pattern. I don’t know what the hell he was talking about. But other than that he’s pretty good.”

Paul M. Banks owns The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports and Yahoo! He’s been a guest on news talk shows all across the world and serves as a special contributor to the Chicago Tribune RedEye edition. Banks has been featured in numerous media outlets including NFL.com, Forbes, Bleacher Report, Deadspin, ESPNNBCCBS, the History Channel and more. Follow him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)

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  1. u’r obsessed w/ bff’s

  2. paulmbanks says

    if only someone woudl write as story about me and my BFF

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