I Was Wrong to Admire Michigan State
Many times over the past decade or so, I found myself marveling at the job Mark Dantonio was doing as the Michigan State football coach. It got to a point where I had a reputation here at BS as having a bit of a mancrush on the coach and how he handled things. He appeared to be a no-nonsense, down-to-Earth kind of guy who didn't care what their history had been or what limits had previously existed at MSU.
In fact, we even sometimes found ourselves comparing MSU to Purdue and saying that if they could become such a double powerhouse in football and basketball, there was really no reason that Purdue couldn't be exactly what they were.
It turns out, I was very, very wrong to admire MSU.
As one of my BS compadres often likes to say, it's not that hard to not be an awful person.
The Larry Nassar sexual abuse storyline is only one of the stories of internal rot and disgusting, depraved behavior at Michigan State. Perhaps just as depraved as some of the actions reported by ESPN's Outside the Lines has been the behavior of the adults, coaches and administrators who have it among their job responsibilities to protect the well-being of young people. When you think about it, we all have the responsibility to protect young people. Whether it's young boys at Penn State, young girls at Michigan State or college-aged girls at places like MSU, Minnesota and Notre Dame, we as humans and functioning members of society have a responsibility to protect; to take care of the vulnerable or powerless among us.
I understand that not every person within Michigan State is a reprehensible person -- just as not every single person at Penn State probably was. And in fact, I believe some of those in power probably aren't all awful, either. But whether they are or not, once you attain any level of power, you also have a responsibility -- a responsibility to protect others and to understand that even if you did nothing wrong, there may come a time when something awful will happen on your watch and you'll need to face the consequences. This is something that appears to have completely escaped those in power at MSU -- particularly AD Mark Hollis and President Simon. As was said in a BS group chat, "What ever happened to 'the buck stops with me'?"
Michigan State has been doing things the wrong way for a long time with regard to sexual assault and generally amoral behavior. They are not an institution or set of athletic programs to envy in any way. In fact, it's quite the opposite now -- I'll gladly take the bad Purdue football years and intermittent basketball success if it means people aren't being treated the way victims have been treated at Michigan State.
We've discussed this many times within BS, especially recently as well as in the past after he PSU/Sandusky revelations -- if this kind of thing happened at Purdue, we would be just as critical, if not more so. How people justify this -- even if you're a loyal alum -- is something none of us can get our heads around.
You should go read the OTL report or Deadspin's coverage and you should also do all that you can -- even if it risks your career -- if you learn of someone being abused, assaulted, violated, intimidated, threatened....especially by people with considerable power. It's alarming to consider how much this is happening in the college sports world -- and the world in general.
There's an old quote about how character is doing the right thing even when no one is looking. Well, more of us are looking now so let's all demand better.