EAST LANSING, Mich. — 12 wins and a Big Ten championship – the type of success that has earned #4 Michigan State a trip away from the frigid temperatures in East Lansing to the sunny skies of Pasadena for a Rose Bowl match-up with #5 Stanford.
Now, Mark Dantonio wants to see how the Spartans handle their historic success.
“Every time you take a step forward – a big step forward, you have to evaluate,” Dantonio said at Tuesday’s Rose Bowl Media Day at Spartan Stadium. “You have to ask yourself, ‘Are we doing everything we can to get ready?’ and ‘What’s the attitude?’ We coach attitude.”
“A team can get lost in success,” senior linebacker Max Bullough said, “but when you have a coach that grounds you every week and says, ‘Can we handle this? It’s not just winning; can you handle everyone telling you how great you are and everyone saying this and that?'”
“I think when that’s brought to your attention, I think that allows you to be more aware of it and therefore handle it better.”
Sophomore quarterback Connor Cook says the team has stayed humble by embracing the doubters.
“We’ll have big-time games. We’ll be Michigan,” Cook said, “and then we’ll be the underdogs to Ohio State. We’ve been the underdogs all year.”
“We’ll be underdogs in big games and we’ll rise to the occasion.”
“‘Be humble or be humbled,'” quotes sophomore defensive end Shilique Calhoun. “I feel like that’s a motto for this team: always stay humble, because there’s gonna be a moment where you’re humbled. God is gonna humble you if you don’t stay humble.”
“If you think you’ve made it – if you think there’s nothing else to gain – that’s the wrong mentality,” senior cornerback Denicos Allen said. “We still haven’t been to the national championship, so there’s always something new.”
The Rose Bowl is new for this generation of Spartans – but not just this team. Dantonio says every team he’s coached in East Lansing has paved the way for this historic season. With that in mind, former Michigan State and current Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins will be an honorary captain in Pasadena.
Dantonio also refuted any discussion of him leaving East Lansing for another high-level coaching position this offseason. “I see Michigan State as a destination, not a stop,” he told reporters.