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December 29, 2010

Bobby talks! (plus MSU hoops and other stuff)

"That never happens. Has that ever happened?" exclaimed one of the dozens of reporters here in Orlando covering Alabama, after Bobby Williams took questions for a few minutes from the throng.

    Late in his tenure at MSU, Nick Saban started putting the kibosh on assistants talking to the media. The kibosh was apparently established right from the start at Alabama. So you can thank MSU, 'Bama media, for providing a reason for Alabama's tight ends and special teams coach to talk. Here are some highlights from MSU's 21st head coach, who made a triumphant trip to this city and bowl game 11 years ago with the Spartans:

    Asked if this is personal:

    "This will be a big game like all the rest of them, but it will have a little bit of sentimental value."

    On Mark Dantonio, who was with Williams on Saban's staff and coached defensive backs for Williams for a year before heading to Ohio State.

    "He's done a fantastic job. You know, the number of years and all the coaches that have gone through Michigan State and the struggles that they've had there, coach Dantonio has done a fantastic  job with the recruiting process, keeping everything intact and then putting together a winning football team."

    What does it take to be a coach at Michigan State?

    (Laughing) "Takes a lot of  nerves, that's for sure. You've got to deal with the media, for one. You have to deal with the ups and downs of winning and losing. And you know, you're always competing with your in-state rival all the time. And it's tough become sometimes they have a little tendency to look down on you. So you're always trying to be one better than them. They've done a great job and it looks like they're the team in the state right now."

    On preparing for the possibility of an MSU trick play in the kicking game:

    "Well, every week we're always trying to prepare for tricks in the kicking game and so we're gonna have to be alert at all times. They've done a great job and they've executed well. So we're gonna have to be ready for them."

     From where I stood, Williams looked older, calmer and happier than when we last saw him in East Lansing. Few people are going to dispute that MSU made a mistake in giving him the job after Saban left, but it wasn't his fault! Let's face it, the guy has taken an inordinate amount of abuse over the years.

    Moving on, today we have a look at the backs in this game, one superstar and one rising star. And we have notes on Charlie Gantt, Kirk Cousins, Jerel Worthy and shopping. And if you missed it late last night, Iowa won a big one for the Big Ten, and for its own embattled program.

    Nick Saban, Williams and some Alabama players talked after practice today (here are some Saban highlights), while MSU had a day off from the media. Coordinators and a couple players from each team will have a press conference Thursday, which also includes a morning parade and afternoon pep rally for fans. I'll put up the details in the morning for those who are in O-Town.

    Lastly, Denny Schwarze is holding it down in East Lansing, keeping up with Tom Izzo and Co. Schwarze also tells me that Derrick Nix and Korie Lucious are getting good reviews for their practice performances. Also, that Draymond Green is going to play the 4 more and do more work around the basket than on the perimeter. A good move, IMO. It sounds like Izzo is pleased with what he's getting out of these practices, so we'll see if there's a transfer to game performance on Friday against a Minnesota team very capable of winning in Breslin.

 

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Joe Rexrode
MSU Sports Reporter
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