Tomorrow MSU will take the field for the start of another year at Spartan Stadium. This year will be like so many years with fans debating about the
coach, the team, the players. It is a right of passage that begins every fall.
For me it probably began in the fall of 1965. As a 12 yr old Boy Scout my troop as did many others used to work the MSU home games for free and help
folks find their seats. Every once on a while some of the scouts would be able to go down on the field during pregame warmup and meet some of the
players and coachs. It was one of these times when I got my turn to go on the sidelines and meet Duffy Daugherty. My Dad was the troopmaster and I can
remember standing there with a few other kids watching Duffy place his hand on my dads shoulder and shake his hand. He then shook the hand of each of
us and when he got to me he smiled at all of us and had that wink in his eye and said, Boys we are gonna have some fun today!
And boy did we have fun! It was 1965 a time when Giants walked the earth. And they held high court at Spartan Stadium. We called them Bubba or
Washington or Webster or Mad Dog. When they ran out of the North tunnel the ground shook and the crowd roared. Many teams were afraid to face these
giants and righty so as they turned out to be one of the greatest teams in College to play the game. My Dad would sit with me during the games
teaching me about the game. What a Safety blitz was, how a QB checks off, how a middle linebacker reads thru the guards and backfield to follow the
flow of the play. Things that fathers and sons have done since the game first started.
I was hooked. From that day forward I have always loved and followed MSU football. When I wasnt here in Michigan I followed thru the papers or TV.
Every Sept when autumn would approach my thoughts always turned to football at Michigan State. It seemed that some of my happest times were spent at
Spartan Stadium. And every fall my dad and I would talk MSU football and try to catch a few games together.
Then came that day a few years ago when I was stationed as a medic at a military base and called and told to come home. My dad had been battling
Cancer and the end was coming soon. When I got to the hospital my mom and brother were exhausted and went home to get some much needed rest. I took
the night shift. My dad was in and out of it. Not really knowing who was there. After a few hours he woke up, sat straight up in bed and said Hi kid
when did you get in. He was experiencing that surge of energy that termial patients sometimes do. Like a lightbulb that burns its brightest before it
flickers out dad began to talk to me and share stories of past adventures long forgotten by myself. I had snuck in a bottle of his favorite whiskey,
(the Doctor had said OK) and we drank and laughted and talked for hours. The time when I was a kid and hooked a large bass and in the excitement my
dad kicked the net over the side of the boat. The first time we went deer hunting together and I got a bad case of buck fever when a go
od size buck come over the hill not 25 yards from me and I put my gun down and jumped up and yelled Buck! Dad its a Buck! My dad sitting about 20
yards from me bend over and laughing until he cried. And of course we talked Spartan Football. We spoke of great players and teams and coachs. It was
all good. After a while my dad looked at me dead in the eyes and asked...kid Im not gonna whip this thing am I? To this day it was the hardest thing I
have ever had to do. I swallowed the lump in my throat, looked at him thru watery eyes and said no dad your not but I love you and we are gonna ride
it out together.
Looking back at that night I now realize that my father was doing more than sharing stories of my past. He was inparting to me his wisdon, his
courage, his sense of humor and his love. Things that a young person hopes to achieve when he becomes a man. Things that since I have tried to give to
Tonight my son will come over to the house after work and we will sit outside for hours and talk about the upcoming season and the players and the
coachs. We will talk defenses and spread offenses and I will teach him the game. As I was taught the game. We will talk well into the night because we
both will be pumped up and will not sleep much tonight.
Tomorrow he will come to my house at about 9 oclock and my son, my daughter and my wife will head to the stadium about 9:30. We will park at the State
Police post lot because we like to walk and enjoy the sights and sounds. You all know what it will be like. The smell of food cooking, the flags
flying from cars, the music coming from a dozen radios.
Ths sound of people laughting sharing a drink waving to passersby.
We will walk by the house of Izzo and Munn field to the running track. There a local radio station always has a tent with free food. I will stand
there and soak it all in. People talking to others they dont know or have never met. Talking about the team, the coachs, the players.
About a hour and a half before kickoff they will open the gates to the stadium. The excitement will be starting to build. We get to our seats and then
I always walk down to the bottom by the field when the team comes out for pregame. I will talk to whoever is there and we will watch certain players
and compare notes. Boy TJ looks big, Smoker seems to be on the mark with his passing today...Jarrett is booming his kicks. After a while I will go
back up to my seats my the family and have to tell them everything I saw. My son and I along with other men sitting by us will pick out the prettiest
motion girl or cheerleader. Much to the rolling eyes and shaking heads of my wife and daughter and other women in the group. Oh well it is always good
for a laught.
As the teams leave the field one can feel the excitement in the stadium. As the time gets closer to kickoff a sound of drums come from the north
entrance of the field. 300 strong the MSU marching band takes the field. You cant help but come to your feel and hear the roar of the crowd. They play
their pregame and even if you are talking to someone you will notice that your foot is tapping to the music. We all stand for the Star Spangle Banner
and I always get a lump in my throat and a little water in the eyes. Of course they introduce Sparty and the Spartan Chariot and the crowd goes wild.
And then from the north end of the endzone the team explodes on to the field. They run to the sideline with the coachs and are going crazy jumping up
and down and on each other.
Thru all the pregame the crowd has been cheering and having fun. But now as the team comes onto the field the cheering is different. It is a ROAR. It
is a loud continuing sound that builds from the throats of everyone who is there. It is as if the curtain of time is being parted and the giants of
years long past are being told to awaken from their slumber and to inspire the team as they inspired many of us so long ago.
As the teams line up for the kickoff I will look around the stadium at all the colors and sights and sounds. I will look at my wife and daughter and
son and realize how much I love them all and will say a silent prayer to God thanking him for giving me much more than I deserve.
As I pan back to the field for an instant time will stop. I know that the spirit of my dad will be with me and I will thank him for what he taught me.
As the father passes on to the son the son passes on to his children. The good things in life are constant.
And finally my mind will flashback to a day in 1965 when a skinny 12 year old kid was looking up at Duffy Daughery and remembers Duffy smiling at him
and winking and saying...Boys we gonna have some fun today.
Yes Duffy we are gonna have some serious fun today. Because today is the start of a new season, of new hope. Today is the first game of the year at
Spartan Stadium....and there is no place in the world that I would rather be.