You are what your record says you are!

The Spartans were beaten 29-7 by Michigan and in so doing, Mel Tucker now has a 1-4 Big Ten record and fading fast!

Of course, it was Bill Parcells who famously said: “you are what your record says you are” and there is not a truer description of Mel Tucker and Michigan State Football.

In Big Ten competition, Michigan State has yielded 167 points while scoring just 81 points, or a humbling 86-point differential (-86).

Bill Parcells of course is the inimitable 2-time Super Bowl Coach and NFL Executive whose famous quote was telling the world that if a coach posts a losing record, it doesn’t matter how good his plan was, whether he works hard, whether he has emotional mantras like “relentless”, or “keep choppin’”, or how many of his players were injured, or whether a coach is lacking talented players, or what a coach promises for the future and whether he has good values and a plan to rebuild the culture, because the coach was hired to win now…but Mel Tucker isn’t winning.

In fact, with nothing else to celebrate Michigan State fans have resorted to celebrating an 11-2 record from last year and trying to rationalize a losing record this year.

Meanwhile, #14 Illinois will host the Spartans this forthcoming weekend, while #16 Penn State will host the Spartans in the final game of the season and the outlook in those two games is dire.

That means Mel Tucker is on a collision course for his 2nd losing season in just 3 years at MSU, and 3rd losing season in just 4 years as a head football coach.

Let’s be honest, that is the very definition of Bill Parcells famous words “you are what your record says you are” because Mel Tucker isn’t suffering a few close losses, rather his team is getting taken the “woodshed”.

The Spartans 1-4 Big Ten record also means they are in a 3-way tie with lowly Indiana and Rutgers for “dead ass last” amongst 14 Big Ten teams and you can’t describe it any other way, but the Spartans are a poorly coached football team with deplorable stats on Offense, Defense and “dead ass last” in Time of Possession and that underscores their losing record.


Spartans beating themselves:

The Spartans had a chance to regain a measure of respect against Michigan, but the Spartans failed to take advantage of multiple scoring opportunities and so Michigan happily beat the Spartans 29-7.

Let’s be clear, due to Spartans lack of discipline compounded by poor play calling, the Spartans are essentially beating themselves, so let me point out just 2 scenarios that seemingly are repeated each week.

There were a multitude of “bone headed’ penalties on the opening drive, and a series of bad play calls early in the 2nd Qtr that erased a viable scoring opportunity, but let’s start with penalties on the opening drive:

Opening Drive penalties:

The Spartans received the opening Kickoff and gained 24 yards in two plays, and the ball rested 1st & 10 at MSU 49.

  • Then the Spartans gained 5 more yards and the football was at Michigan 46, but the Spartans were flagged for an “Out of Bounds/Unsportsmanlike Penalty” so after the penalty was assessed, the Football rested 2nd & 20 at MSU 39.
  • Then the Spartans were flagged for “False Start” and the Football reverted 5 more yards and rested 2nd & 25 at MSU 34.

Then Thorne was thrown for a 4-yard loss and the football rested 3rd & 29 at MSU 30, and the Spartans lost the script because they were going in reverse.

  • Then Thorne completed a pass to Reed for 10 yards, but Spartans were cited for “Illegal Shift” which was declined and so the football rested 4th & 19 at MSU 40.
  • Then the Spartans were cited for “Delay of Game” and the football rested 4th & 24 at MSU 35, and the Spartans were forced to punt.

So, let’s summarize the opening drive: the Spartans moved the football 29 yards from their 25 to Michigan 46, yet after being cited for 4 “bone headed” penalties in just 7 plays, the football was moved all the way back to the Spartans 35-yard line and the Spartans were forced to punt.

By any description, that’s lack of discipline and that’s a lack of proper coaching, and that defines losing Football.

Missed scoring opportunity:

Michigan scored early in 2nd Qtr and held a narrow 10-7 lead.

After the ensuing Kickoff, the Spartans took possession at 11:58 of 2nd Qtr and smartly moved 61 yards in 6 plays including two impressive pass plays to Keon Colman for 27 and 22 yards respectively.

The drive also included 3 rushing plays for 12 yards, but clearly the Spartans were having more success passing than running.

Nevertheless, the football rested 1st & 10 at Michigan 14 and the Spartans were in the Red Zone with a tremendous opportunity to take the lead.

Curiously, after incredible success passing the football to Keon Coleman for 49 yards on the drive, the Spartans abandoned their passing offense in favor of 3 consecutive running plays.

Think about that? The Spartans are averaging just 2.4 yards per carry in Big Ten competition and yet the Spartans decided to abandon the Pass and defer to running the football inside the 15? In simple logic, 2.4 Yards rushing average won’t move the chains in 4 plays, so what in the world was Mel Tucker and Jay Johnson thinking? Were they simply “spinning the wheel of fortune” and hoping for a miracle?

A more viable option would be taking advantage of their pass catching capability and personnel matchups.

After all, the Spartans have 4 “Tall & Big Bodied. Possession Receivers” including Maliq Carr (6’5″), Tre Mosley (6’2″), Daniel Barker (6’4″), and of course, Keon Coleman (6’4″), all of whom have the physical wherewithal to “High Point” the football on short “curl” routes in the End Zone which would have enabled the Spartans to score and take a 14-10 lead.

Yet, the Spartans chose to pound the football into Michigan’s Rushing Defense, one of the best Rushing Defenses in the country. Call it what you like, stubbornness, stupidity, or obstinacy, it was a bone headed coaching decision to ignore the passing options.

Yet, after 3 ineffective running plays, the football rested 4th & 1 at Michigan 5, and of course the Spartans could have deferred to an FG (tantamount to an XP) to at least tie the game at 10-10.

Yet they deployed Berger “7 yards deep” which was head scratching unto itself, and then opted to run Berger between the tackles in one of the slowest developing plays in history, of course Michigan wasn’t fooled and threw Berger for a 2-yard loss.

Editorial comment: after watching a multitude of bone headed coaching decisions this season, it occurred to me that perhaps Mel Tucker and Jay Johnson could enroll in an online course in play calling and effective game management. After all, Tucker and Johnson should be abundantly aware that their Rushing Offense is eking out just 2.4 yards per carry in Big Ten competition (only Indiana is worse) and given the Offensive Line is coached by Chris Kapilovic, we have learned time and time again the Spartans Offensive Line is poorly coached and “incapable” of pushing an opposing Defensive Line off the ball.

Regardless, Michigan took possession at their 7-yard line and 7 min later, Michigan kicked an FG and took a commanding 13-7 lead and for all practical purposes the game was over.


You are what your stats say you are!

In a slight twist on Bill Parcells famous quote, he could have also said: “you are what your stats say you are”.

By every single measure, Michigan State is an undisciplined program, losing Big Ten games by prodigious margins, and the stats underscore the misery.

When measured against 14 Big Ten teams, the Spartans rank #14 Scoring Defense…#14 Total Defense…#14 Rush Defense…#14 Time of Possession…#13 Scoring Offense…#13 Rush Offense and that’s the short list.

Moreover, the Spartans have lost 4 Big Ten games by a cumulative score of 139-47 or a double-digit losing margin of 23 PPG.

In terms of yardage, the Spartans are averaging just 280 yards per game, while yielding 467 yards per game or a negative 187 yards.

In addition, the Spartans are averaging just 16 Points per game while yielding 33 Points per game, or a negative margin of 17 Points.

In that losing scenario of statistics, Michigan game was a prime example of Mel Tucker deploying his losing script.

The Spartan Defense yielded 443 Yards of Total Offense to Michigan including an eye glazing 276 Yards Rushing.

Michigan could have posted more points if their coaches were inclined to run up the score, yet they seemed content to shut down the Spartans Offense as opposed to running up the score.

In so doing, Michigan yielded just 37 (net) Rushing Yards to the Spartans or just 1.6 Yards per attempt…so, let me ask this question: would someone please remind me how it is that Chris Kapilovic (O-Line Coach & Run Game Coordinator) is employed at Michigan State?

As it relates to dysfunction, Michigan Defense overwhelmed the Spartans Offensive Line and threw the Spartans for 39 Yards in “Tackles for Loss” which in turn rendered net 37 yards rushing.

And when we look at the Spartans dysfunctional Rushing Offense from another perspective, we should note, in 5 Big Ten games, the Spartans are averaging a dismal 56 Yards Rushing per game.

How bad is that?

Let’s remember, in Big Ten competition, the Spartans averaged a ridiculously bad 88 Rushing Yards per game in 2020, yet two years later forget about improvement because the Spartans are averaging just 56 Rushing Yards per game.

Think about that? That’s a decline of 32 Rushing Yards per game, and that’s going from horrible to deplorable.

I would mockingly argue that 11 players in a pickup game could draw plays in the dirt and gain more than 56 Yards Rushing per game, so why should Chris Kapilovic (O-Line Coach and Run Game Coordinator) earn nearly a million dollars per year for overseeing a dysfunctional Rushing Offense that averages just 56 Yards per game?


At the bottom line: disturbing brawl in the tunnel adds to the misery!

Apparently, the Spartans didn’t leave all their combative instincts on the football field because they had enough energy left over to participate in a post-game brawl after exiting the field.

Message Boards across the country suggest: “Michigan State couldn’t beat Michigan on the field, so they tried to beat Michigan in a brawl in the exit tunnel”.

Disturbing and shameful…

The post-game brawl has resonated across the country in the worst of ways, and good or bad, the video indicts several Spartan players and of course, 4 Spartan players have been suspended, and more could follow.

But a lack of discipline and poor coaching has been a hallmark of Spartan Football this season, so we have to ask: is Mel Tucker running a renegade operation…and has he lost control of his team?

Mel Tucker may not coach it, but apparently players that participated in the brawl were not sufficiently worried about consequences of participating in a post-game brawl.

Regardless, the post-game brawl is beyond “disturbing”, and Mel Tucker can give all the lip service he wishes about “our values” and “our culture”, but a brawl is a brawl, and the words of Bill Parcells resonate… “you are what your record says you are” …and a shameful brawl in the tunnel doesn’t change a losing record, it only adds to the problems.

Thank you for reading and I always welcome your comments and opinions.


1 thought on “You are what your record says you are!

  1. Dayne,
    Thanks for your summary. I agree that it was a distasteful game made even worst with a brawl at the end. I really can’t understand how Mel could let things go downhill so fast. The players played in an undisciplined way and afterwards they want to fight about it. How is it that Horst, a lineman with at least 3 unsportsmanlike calls still able to hold his position? What is that telling the team? As a former player I’m ashamed and embarrassed for MSU football. I watched the whole sorry mess. I’m also thinking the QB Thorn should be replaced as well. There’s backup Noah Kim, and he’s looking good. I think Thorn has had his opportunity and I say let Noah Kim have a shot.
    Thanks for your excellent summary and while it does make me sick to read it you’ve hit the nail on the head.

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