As the newest member of the Spartan Nation list of writers and contributors I thought my first official article would be about the experience behind the scenes at Spartan Nation.  I have done many radio shows with Hondo and only one previous article.  I thought a peak behind the scenes may shed some light on the inner workings of Spartan Nation.

 

Championship Game Day started on Thanksgiving Day when I was at my sister’s home down in southern Michigan. My cell phone rang and it was Hondo.   “Coach, are you interested in going down to Indy for the B1G Championship Game?”  I hurt myself answering quickly, “Yes, I sure am.”  “Great I’ll call you later with the details,” Hondo said.   Hondo and I talked later that week and put together Plan A in which we all drive down in one car, and all systems are go for the big weekend.

 

Plan B happened on Wednesday.  We had a snow day at school and that afternoon the roads were clear enough that I got out hunting.  As I snuck around the woods looking for Bambi, my cell phone vibrated and again it’s Hondo.  “I am going down on Friday.  There will be open practices and interviews.  Can you get away and go?”  “I would love to, but too much going on at school,” I said.  So we were now at Plan B.  I would drive down and pick up Mark Boomgaard, the photographer, and meet Hondo down in Indy.  

 

Mark and I had a great trip down with hardly any traffic and we met Hondo and decided to go out to get something to eat before the big game.  Hondo took us to a place called Bub’s Burger in Carmel, Indiana.  This place has been featured on some cooking show and the specialty there is hamburgers.  That’s the only thing on the menu, but not just any burger, a thing called “The Big Ugly”.  It is a one-pound burger after it is cooked and if you eat one you get your picture taken and put on the wall.   The walls were plastered with pictures of people who have eaten one of those burgers.  Now, if you eat four of them you get a poster made and put on the wall, and maybe the name of a local heart surgeon too.  Well, there was no way any of us were able to order a “Big Ugly,” so we just ordered burgers that were a quarter pound and we got root beer floats to drink. This was a great meal to eat before a game and a special place to eat on a special day.  We left the restaurant and headed to Lucas Oil Stadium. 

 

At the stadium, we found a sea of fans wearing green. Everywhere we went, the sounds of Go Green Go White were echoing through the streets of Indy.  We parked our car and as we walked to the stadium, we came across Blair White and his family tailgating and talked with them for a short time.  Mrs. White and I talked (we have never met before) and she was so nice. We talked as if we had been friends forever. 

 

We went through security at the stadium and took the elevator to the press box level.  We found our assigned seats on press row and set up our computers for the games.   The stadium had Wi-Fi and we connected to the Internet.  Waiting at our seats were folders with information that the B1G hands out to the reporters.  Rosters, rules, information, and things like that, and during the game quarter-by-quarter stats were distributed also.  We were all set up and there was three hours to go before the kick off.  We talked to other members of press row and wandered around to see and take in everything possible. I liken this to the first Super bowl and thought to myself this is what those who attended that event may have thought as history was being made.  As it got closer to game time, the stadium furnished food for the media.  It helped to make our anxiety less of a burden as we waited.   Lots of food, no alcoholic drinks, and the media truly put a hurt on the buffet line. 

 

The stadium was empty and the teams would occasionally have players come out to do some warm-up activities, which helped to not only pass the time but also ease the nerves.  At 6:15 the announcement was made that the fans would be allowed to enter the stadium and there was a steady flow of fans that entered and found their seats.  We were located on the MSU side of the field and we could see red t-shirts draped over the back of the Wisconsin seats.  The MSU seats had white towels draped over them.  The players and coaches came out about an hour before the game and started their pre-game warm up. They left the field about half an hour before kickoff.  The bands, one at a time, entered the field and performed.   They left the field to the sidelines not to their seats.  At eight o’clock both bands took the field again and together played the National Anthem. Finally, the game was at hand. 

 

During the game it was my job to run the official thread on the Forum and Hondo posted information on the Facebook page.  Mark was down on the field taking photos of everything.  Hondo left the press box and joined Mark on the field for the fourth quarter.  I remained on the Forum posting observations and responding to those posting.  With about eight minutes to go in the game, I left the press box, took the elevator to field level, and walked out of the north tunnel in time to see the catch in the corner that eventually led to the go ahead score, lucky me.  I worked my way down the MSU bench side to find Hondo and Mark on the south end.  I stood with Hondo and talked with Jerry DiNardo along the sideline even with the Wisconsin punter when “THE CALL” was made and Kmart ran right by us. 

 

The game came to an end and we moved through the south tunnel to a room that was set up for the post game interviews of the coaches and some players.  In another room down the hall, members of the media waited and individual players were brought out for interviews, about twelve players four at a time.  There were four places, one on each wall with backdrops that say B1G Championship Game on them (you can see that by watching the videos) and a member of the Sports Information Department brought out each player. 

 

On a personal note, how this was done was somewhat distasteful to me.  Each player interviewed had his back against the wall and the press rushed right up into the players’ faces.  The microphones and cameras were literally inches from their faces.  They appeared to be trapped and surrounded by the media.  I guess this is how it has always been, but still, I thought it to be smothering. I must say the players took this in stride (I wouldn’t) and represented themselves and the university extremely well.  The questions were tough and the players answered honestly.  Two that truly stood out were Joel Foreman and Trenton Robinson.  These two will be missed not just for their putting on pads and playing, but because they are excellent people and leaders.  The interviewing process took about thirty minutes and then we took the elevator and returned to the press box level.

 

 Good news!  The stadium had set out snacks for the press (as if we really needed more).  If you leave one of these events hungry, it’s all on you.

 

There were some final notes and writing that took place and soon we were leaving the stadium to head for home.  Hondo dropped Mark and I at my truck and we headed back home. It was one AM and the trip home would take at least four hours.   After I dropped Mark off I pulled into my garage and turned the engine off. The time was 6:29 AM.

 

I put this in because I think it is important for you to see the amount of time that it takes for Hondo to be able to gather the information he does and the time and effort he puts forth in giving you the information you are privileged to with his reporting on MSU athletics. 

 

So much time that he puts in at practices, games, travel on the road, and time away from his family.  Not trying to make him the martyr because this is the job he has chosen to take, but simply a heads up to SpartanNation to recognize and appreciate what it takes to get the best inside information in Spartan athletics anywhere.  I hope my article has given you an inside look that maybe you were not aware of and it is now a clearer picture of what goes on behind the scenes.