The time is NOW, Spartan Nation. One cannot deny the effervescent ambiance of fall football dawning upon us. With every rising of the sun, we stand a nanosecond closer to kickoff.
This year, we don’t even have to wait until Saturday morning. It’s not even like Christmas Eve when you’re parents let you open just ONE present before Christmas morning. We’re going to tear the whole lot before everyone else (almost, there are Thursday games)!
Ladies and gentlemen, the Michigan State game is scheduled under the Friday night lights of Spartan Stadium at 7:30 p.m. EST. I don’t know about you, but when I get out of work on a typical Friday before the season opener (or any other Friday), I just don’t know what to do with myself until Saturday morning.
There is no other discourse this time around but to go straight to the bar, grab a cold one and claim some prime real estate. Happy hour has never been so giddy!
If Michigan State has been “green from the beginning,” I can’t think of a better way to open up the highly anticipated 2011 campaign, then to bow our heads, with a word from Walt Whitman.
Now in those camps of green—in their tents dotting the world;
In the parents, children, husbands, wives, in them—in the old and young,
Sleeping under the sunlight, sleeping under the moonlight, content and silent there at last,
Behold the mighty bivouac-field, and waiting-camp of all
Of corps and generals all, and the President over the corps and generals all,
And of each of us, O soldiers, and of each and all in the ranks we fought,
(There without hatred we shall all meet.)
—Walt Whitman (a passage from “Camps of Green”)
Seven stanzas to get us started. I’d like to break ‘em down individually, so you can join the little picture in my brain.
“Now in those camps of green—in their tents dotting the world”
Bleacher Report editors and fans alike should appreciate the fine usage of the em dash. It’s the most wonderful time of year for Spartan sports fans. The stale summer scent of Bell's Oberon and Irish Spring are washed away by a chill in the air transitioning coffee shops away from iced drinks and into steam cappuccinos and other hot delicious beverages to caffeinate the ferocious masses. When you first eat a bowl of soup in August, you know it’s on! Fans in green migrate from all over the world to East Lansing, Mich. for a Spartan Stadium showdown!
“In the parents, children, husbands, wives, in them—in the old and young”
Perhaps it’s my bias, but I just feel a stronger sense of family tradition when it comes to being a Spartan. In my family, every generation, every level, every cluster on both sides, dons Michigan State representation. That can’t be said about Grand Valley, U of M, or even Central Michigan. The Spartans are strong with this one.
My first memories of Spartan saga caliber involve going to football games with my grandfather, a wise man (and '50s-era Spartan) passing it down to little blonde-haired Ryan. He’d buy me a program, hot dogs, hot chocolate and whatever souvenir I wanted. He’d tell me stories about Duffy Daugherty and George Perles (who was the coach at the time). Then, we’d walk around campus, and I swear to God I can’t remember anything more beautiful.
“Sleeping under the sunlight, sleeping under the moonlight, content and silent there at last”
Those familiar with the logistics of football practice will most likely follow me here on the pain and reward of “two-a-days.” This team during the heat of the summer has been getting up for a morning practice, a break with some film (ha!) and then going back out there for an evening practice. These boys are working and now it’s time to collect the spoils.
“Behold the mighty bivouac-field, and waiting camp of all”
Bivoauc, for those that don’t know (I didn’t), means: a military encampment made with tents or improvised shelters, usually without shelter or protection from enemy fire. Spartan Stadium is this field and the team will come out to play without that preseason shield—unless you watched the spring game four times, you haven’t seen them yet. The great thing about college football is everything changes so much from year to year. Everybody in the “camp” is curious what it’s all going to look like this season.
“Of corps and generals all, and the President over the corps and generals all”
The president is fearless leader and savior of Spartan football, present day, Mark Dantonio. The generals are the assistant coaches, defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi and offensive coordinator Dan Roushar. The corps detail the team and featuring three peer-elected captains; three-time captain and fifth-year senior QB Kirk Cousins, senior FS Trenton Robinson and senior G Joel Foreman.
"And of each of us, O soldiers, and of each and all in the ranks we fought”
The stage is set. The band starts playing. Spirits are high. Let’s make some NOISE! It’s time to follow Sparty onto that field and do battle!
"(There without hatred we shall all meet)"
See you there Spartan fans. Oh, and keep it classy. This is our chance to show the other guys from down state the proper way to act while “on top.”
I’m going to be here all season long, folks, breaking the football action into digestible chunks, separating the compost from the notable trials and tribulations for the camp of green—who like me can’t get enough this gridiron vivification.
All in all, everything has set itself up nicely for a stellar season, as the Spartans have arguably, wall-to-wall, their most talented squad in recent memory. With that said, I expect better football to the tune of more losses than last year’s breakout effort. It seems counterintuitive to suggest such shenanigans, but when you look at the schedule with four tough road games—Notre Dame is not a joke this year, Michigan should be better, the addition of Ohio State and Nebraska (both on the road!) instead of Illinois and Penn State—tends to leave fans lofty expectations out to dry and the forecast is calling for rain.
Factor in an inexperienced offensive line and all this talent becomes exposed and ripe to serve up an enemy feast. I remain steadfast with my concerns. Sorry.
I will break down my talent versus offensive line concern (and others) prior to Friday’s opener in a unit-by-unit dissection. Stay tuned.
Now, find the closest person to you, O bountiful Spartans, and give them a thunderous hug and a “Go Green!”
If you liked this piece and you find yourself wanting some more sports and music hysteria, pop on over to my blog, appropriately titled: www.ryanczerfas.blogspot.com