Michigan State Football: Season In Review

By Jeff Ghiringhelli

The 2009 Michigan State Spartans football season came to an end on Saturday night, and one word can be used to sum it all up: Frustration. This frustration lasted from the second week of the season all the way to the Alamo Bowl against Texas Tech.

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What did I miss?: The Favre who? edition

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By H. Jose Bosch

In just its fourth installment, What did I miss is tweaking itself a bit. For the first three weeks we’ve been very newspaper dependent with the links. This week we’ll try being more blog orientated for two reasons: 1. Blogs tend to be more interesting and funny 2. Blogs tend to be more interesting and funny.

That’s not to say we’ll ignore papers (we will for this week only). But from now on this weekly feature will be drawn primarily from the blogsphere with a sprinkling of interesting feature-style stories from the main stream media. Now back to you regularly scheduled post.

Wow. Minnesota has been tearing it up in the sports world this week. First was the return of Brett Favre, this time in a Vikings jersey. Then our boy Andy Weise and his well-placed sources informed the world that Ricky Rubio just might be coming to Minnesota after all.

fargoI don’t think Minnesota has received this much attention since Frances McDormand won an Oscar for her role in Fargo; which, by the way, was mostly filmed in North Dakota even though it’s set in Minnesota. So enjoy the attention Minnesota. It might be a while before you have another week as eventful as this.

As for the rest of What did I miss, this is what went on in the NFC North/Big Ten foot print that didn’t have to do with Favre-Rubio.

If you like poetry and like Chicago sports, then you’ll love this new blog at Chicago Now, which combines sports blogging with haiku. Nothing I read about the Bears’ 27-20 loss to the Bills sums up the experience quite like this:

High expectations
Lead to high disappointment.
But who is to blame?
-Andrew Braverman-

This might become my new favorite blog to stop by. Funny and original. You should take a look.

Crocs, the company that manufactures those annoying-looking but incredibly-comfortable shoes, is teaming up with new Piston Charlie Villanueva to donate their shoes to children in the Dominican Republic.
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I can’t help but think: “Leave it to the U.S. to peddle its no-longer-useful-fads onto poorer countries. All kidding aside, it’s really a great gesture from one of Detroit’s newest pro athletes.

Speaking of the Pistons, the fellow (fellers?) at Life on Dumars has been running an interesting little series called Forgotten Pistons. Here’s a link to the first one posted last Sunday but they’re all fun, short reads. I didn’t think players so irrelevant could make for a good blog post, but they do.

We have a little Michigan State presence here at The Sports Bank and by little I mean zero. So here’s some (gulp) Spartan love. The Other Side of Spartan Sports (an interesting take on MSU sports if you ask me) likes Michigan State’s agreement to play the three Michigan directional schools 12 times in the next 10 years. The news is significant because the Spartans have agreed to one road game for each series, which is rare for a Big Ten team to do.

The blog Girafinha threw out a very interesting nugget: Ann Arbor is currently under consideration as a venue for the U.S.’s 2018/2022 World Cup bid. Interesting read.

TCW at the Bucks Diary has called his shot early and says the Bucks will win AT LEAST 40 games this season. How many other bloggers will follow suit?

Cubby-Blue’s reaction to Tuesday night’s loss is horribly disturbing yet hilarious all at the same time. This kind of Web site makes me wish I knew how to do something other than write.

Good news Packers fans: Via Ticket News, those scalped tickets you’ll want to buy for Favre’s return to Lambeau Field will now be easier to buy!
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The sad thing about this video, via Total Packers, is that it might be the only time Ashton Kutcher has been funny in at least five years.

The Hour announces that UConn will christen the newly renovated Michigan Stadium in 2010 and will host the Wolverines in 2013, when I’ll invariably still be looking for a journalism job.

The college football season hasn’t even begun but we already have a playoff-is-better-than-the-current-system blog post, courtesy of the Phoenix Club. But, this post is worth reading because it’s the most creative playoff system I’ve ever seen proposed.

It’s essentially based on the European soccer champion’s league format, which could never work in the U.S. I love it and it’s interesting to see how the brackets would play out based on last season. Why is this relevant? Four Big Ten teams (Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa) would be in the playoffs under this system.

Last but not least is just a random video that you can forward to all your friends at work. Sometimes it’ll be sports related and sometimes it won’t be. This week it won’t be. Enjoy!

Brett Swenson: Big Ten’s Best Placekicker

Michigan St Indiana Football

By Paul M. Banks

Football placekickers play an interesting role in pop culture. This derives from their real life role as occasional scapegoat/pariah amidst their usual pattern of anonymity. Art imitated life in Adam Sandler’s comedic rock song “The Lonesome Kicker” and “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.” The latter reference contained a villain, Ray Finkle who was something like a demented Scott Norwood gone especially psycho. But Michigan State’s Brett Swenson defies the placekicking stereotype.

“I really feel I’m a little different from the typical kicker…I’m real outgoing. I’m a social person. I get along with everyone,” Swenson said at Big Ten Media Day. It’s true- this special teams guy is assimilated with the offense and defense guys. He’s one of the boys. He even mentioned his favorite movie being “Dumb and Dumber.” It doesn’t get any more regular guy than that.  So what’s a typical kicker like? Often neurotic at worst, eccentric at best; except for the kicker Swenson looks up to. “{Adam} Vinatieri, cause he’s obviously a solid kicker. He’s always consistent in pressure situations and he’s done some great things,” Swenson told me at Media Day. brettswenson

And Vinatieri is indeed the rock star of kickers, perhaps the only rock star of kickers. His unique role was assured by two pressure kicks: the snow globe moment in the 2001 AFC Championship game and the kick heard round the world in the Super Bowl that year. I asked Swenson what NFL kicker he models his game on. “There’s really no one I model myself after because everyone for the most part has their own flair, their own kind of technique they do. I watch other guys kick and see what works for me,” Swenson said. finkle-back-fold_1

It seems to be working quite well because the 5’8” 169 pound senior already holds a couple school records as he enters his final season, including consecutive field goals made (15), and field goals made in a season (tied with 22). Some of the records he broke once belonged to a guy his exact size, Paul Edinger. Like Edinger, Morten Andersen, and Dave Raymer, Swenson may go from kicking in Spartan Stadium to kicking on Sundays. MSU’s current kicker was All-Big Ten last season, and made the preseason All-Conference teams this season. He was fourth in the nation in field goals last year and has the second most 3-pointers of any current kicker in FBS. He finds himself fourth on the all-time Spartan scoring list heading into his final autumn.

He’s also missed just one extra point in his career (121 tries) and has currently made 66 in a row. Part of his success comes from knowing how to play with, not against Mother Nature. “Don’t ever judge the wind on the field, it’s the wind up there that matters,” he told me. When asked about what would be his favorite stadium to make a game winning kick would be, he naturally answered his home venue in East Lansing. But if that were not one of his choices he responded “whatever stadium has the least amount of wind that day.”