Many Michigan fans will shake their heads when a current or former Michigan State Spartan does something stupid. Most will make a comment like, "Sparty is showing it's true colors" or "That's the difference between East Lansing and Ann Arbor."
Michigan State has always had a problem playing second fiddle to Michigan. Even their famous coach Nick Saban left for LSU so he could be at the top school in the state.
So when Mike Hart leveled the "little brother" comment on them a couple of years ago, State was really pissed, and continues to be pissed, because they know it's true.
So when former Sparties do something stupid, like shooting themselves in a club or getting arrested for drugs, it's news. What's strange is, these players don't lack talent, they just lack some type of gene above the neck that has an adverse effect on making right and wrong decisions.
In other words, Sparty being Sparty.
The latest case in point is Andre Rison. The AJC caught up with him recently and, of course, he had a lot to say. This quote stands out the most:
“Best receiver to ever play the game. I can’t show my highlights because I don’t own NFL Films, but all my coaches in college, in high school, in junior college, they all told me I could be the best. But they must’ve lied, because that title was already given to Jerry Rice.
"Just because you have stats doesn’t mean you’re the best. Can’t nobody tell me that Andre Reed isn’t better than Jerry Rice. I’m seeing cornerbacks on the 75th anniversary team that I used to demolish. But I’m coming out with my own Hall of Game.”
Of course, we have to put this in perspective. This is Andre Rison we are talking about: One minute, he was the highest-paid receiver in the game. In another, he was being jailed for failing to make child-support payments.
One minute, he was about to marry TLC’s Lisa ‘Left-Eye’ Lopes. In another, she was burning down his mansion and getting probation.
One minute, he was celebrating a Super Bowl in Green Bay and a Grey Cup in Toronto. In another, he was firing a gun outside a Kroger.
Michigan State needs an out-placement program for its high profile athletes. They need more Magic Johnson's and less Andre Rison's. More Steve Smith's and less Charles Rodgers.'
The key is, the basketball program turns out well-rounded kids that do well after college and in professional life. The football program doesn't. Why, you ask? That's a good question.
MSU may recruit kids that are talented but come from a questionable background? Maybe the money goes right to their head? No matter the reason, MSU is not getting its players ready for the big stage as well as other programs.
It's too bad Michigan State can't fine its former players for making them look bad after life in East Lansing. We all know one of Bo's goals at Michigan was for his group of men to be well-rounded leaders off the field when they left Ann Arbor, whether it was playing in the NFL or working at a Ford Dealership.
It seems Michigan State needs to find a similar direction.
If I'm a big-time high school WR recruit and thinking Michigan State, I would take a serious look at how Michigan State prepares its football athletes for the NFL. I think the track record speaks for itself.
Maybe get a mentor from the basketball program?