Jan 31, 2012

If you made it through Michigan State-Illinois, pat yourself on the back

If the 42 combined points in the first half, handfuls of fouls, turnovers and clock malfunctions during the 10th-ranked Michigan State Spartans 42-41 loss to the host Illinois Fighting Illini (16-6, 5-4) didn't lull you to sleep Tuesday night, good for you.

The Spartans (17-5, 6-3)  opened the second half by stumbling, fumbling and then finally, senior Draymond Green, who had three fouls in eight minutes played during the first half, gave the Spartans a 36-35 lead with just under five minutes to play.

Tuesday night's bout between two of the Big Ten's best looked more like a sad exhibition rather than a meaningful conference road game for the Spartans. Sure, Green suffered from the flu, and guards like Keith Appling, Travis Trice and Brandan Kearney had trouble establishing any type of tempo, finding an open teammate, making a crisp pass, and playing with any type of intensity.

That covers it, right?

Dare I say this was the worst televised game since 2011's memorable Connecticut-Butler NCAA National Championship Game? UConn won that 53-41, and sadly, I must say that game took away hours from my life that I wish I could get back.

And after watching Green, who averages over 15 points and 10 rebounds per game for the Spartans, hobble off the court after twisting his knee, I started to feel the same way Tuesday night as I did back in April -- what a lackluster game. With the exception of freshman Branden Dawson's put-back which gave the Spartans a 40-37 lead with 2:23 to play, it looked like the Spartans were allergic to the paint for most of the night. Adreian Payne caught a nice lob from Trice early in the second half, but there were virtually no plays to reference in this one, or individual highlights other than Dawson's team-high 12 points.

Save yourself the trouble if you like to talk college basketball with your buddies: Don't even bring up the Michigan State-Illinois game. And if you do, there are a few stats that might make the discussion interesting. But you might as well say you caught the end prior to watching Vanderbilt-Arkansas.

Field goal percentage...

It was embarrassing for each team. The Spartans shot about 25 percent from the floor, while the Illini finished with a staggering 31 percent conversion rate. At one point, I bet myself on how many consecutive shots the Spartans would miss, which was five. I called four. Can't win all the time, right?

3-point shooting...

Each team made three from beyond the arc. No need to really count how many they missed, but if you were to do that, you'd come up with a number close to the amount of points the Spartans scored.

Typically I'm not one of those tongue-in-cheek guys, but really, if you watched Tuesday's game, you were probably left feeling the same. At least there is Michigan State-Michigan coming up this weekend.

Adam Biggers has followed NCAA basketball for over 20 years, specifically the Michigan State Spartans. He can be reached by e-mail at Adam.Biggers@Yahoo.com, or, by Twitter @AdamBiggers81.

Jan 28, 2012

The fire still burns in Michigan State Spartans coach Tom Izzo's belly

This article was originally published on Yahoo! Sports by Adam Biggers

During the LeBron James-Cleveland Cavaliers saga two years ago, there was speculation that Michigan State Spartans basketball coach Tom Izzo wouldn't be in East Lansing for long.

In fact, many thought that Izzo, who was offered the Cavaliers coaching job by Spartans alum and Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, would bolt for the NBA to coach James in Cleveland. It was valid speculation, too. Izzo had been offered a job by the Atlanta Hawks just a handful of years prior, and the thought of Izzo coaching at the highest level of basketball had been thrown around by pundits and analysts alike.

Well, the James saga ended with the now-infamous "I'm taking my talents to South Beach" televised event, and Izzo stayed put in East Lansing, winning his 400th game Wednesday as the Spartans coach with a victory over the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

It would be somewhat logical to assume that Izzo, who had twice flirted with the idea of leaving Michigan State, could, in theory, leave the program in the near future. But that's not so. This season, Izzo looks as if he's having fun again, and he has no exit strategy or plan to leave the program -- in the near future, at least -- that he built into a national powerhouse.

"I don't have a game plan," Izzo said during a recent radio interview. "Everyone says you should have one, but I really don't have one. I think as everything else, it's a feel. There's nothing that feels in the near future."

In the past, Izzo has said that he would like to win another national title with the Spartans before considering vacating his post as the mayor of East Lansing, rather, the head coach at Michigan State. Six Final Fours, a national title in 2000 and runner-up status in 2009 fuels the fiery coach. He has his team in great position to capture a Big Ten title, but, perhaps more importantly, make another deep run into national tournament known as March Madness.

"Really it comes down to how you feel and what your energy level is," Izzo said. "I think one thing that I promised myself is the day I don't want to go recruit all 20 days of the summer, time for me to get out. There are certain things that are part of these jobs you got to do 'em. If you don't want to talk to alums, you don't want to go out and recruit, you probably shouldn't have the job."

And Izzo is right. If a coach feels that he's lost the ability to draw in top talent, he probably should hang up the whistle. However, Izzo has brought in the likes of Keith Appling, a savvy guard who is most definitely the future of the Spartans offense; and Branden Dawson, a freshman who is a "star" in the making, according to the 17-year veteran coach.

Adding to his recent recruiting success is Gary Harris, one of the top players in the 2012 class who recently committed to Michigan State. Harris has been on Izzo's radar for some time, and landing the Indiana prep star only shows that Izzo hasn't lost that fire that he's become revered for.

Izzo, who will soon turn 57, has at least 10-15 years of coaching left. There have been several coaches who have stayed on the sidelines until their 70s, and Izzo most definitely fits that mold. Basketball is in his blood. Michigan State is in his blood. He won't stop until he's satisfied.

Adam Biggers has followed NCAA basketball for over 20 years, specifically the Michigan State Spartans. He can be reached by e-mail at Adam.Biggers@Yahoo.com, or, by Twitter @AdamBiggers81.

Jan 19, 2012

Michigan State Spartans right where they need to be in Big Ten basketball standings

This article was originally published on Yahoo! Sports by Adam Biggers

The Northwestern Wildcats' Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Ill. is a challenging venue to play at, and so is the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, home to the Michigan Wolverines.

And coach Tom Izzo's Michigan State Spartans, who were ranked ninth in the most recent Associated Press polls, found that out the hard way, dropping consecutive games to the Wildcats and Wolverines within the past week and snapping a 15-game win streak.

While the Spartans (15-4, 4-2) could have used at least one win during that stretch, they're still in the thick of an early race in the Big Ten that promises to play out to a memorable finish. Just six games through the conference slate, for most teams, anyway, the Spartans are among a group of four two-loss teams, and the likes of Indiana, which has lost four, and Wisconsin, which has three losses, are essentially clinging to slim chances of catching up to conference-leader Illinois, and contenders Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State.

In the grand scheme of things for Izzo's Spartans, early road losses could prove to be a positive, energizing the team for an important five-game stretch, which includes four at the Breslin Center, where they've yet to lose this season (11-0).

Michigan State will likely benefit from hosting a struggling, but unpredictable, Purdue Boilermakers (14-5, 4-2) squad in East Lansing, and then Tubby Smith's equally perplexing Minnesota Golden Gophers (14-5, 2-4), who have shown signs of life. While each team is capable of giving the Spartans fits, it's unlikely they'll come out with wins at the Breslin Center if Michigan State returns to form.

A road trip to Illinois is the obvious, glaring hurdle for the Spartans, who will have to endure trips to Indiana and Ohio State—assuming they win-out at home—in order to get their first Big Ten title since winning back-to-back crowns starting in 2008-09.

One has to like the Spartans' chances of escaping a rigorous conference slate with five or less losses, possibly four, given their history at the Breslin Center under Izzo. Two early losses may be cause for some to to worry, but rest assured that getting road games at Michigan and Northwestern out of the way somewhat lessens the load—Welsh-Ryan and Crisler are both arenas with somewhat mysterious home-court advantages.

The Buckeyes still have trips to Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, among others, left on their schedule. Don't forget a date at Northwestern, either. Among those four, Ohio State, assuming it can win-out at home, would have to take two, in all likelihood, to win the Big Ten.

Indiana, with four losses already, has to go to Purdue, Wisconsin and Michigan—and with four losses, the likelihood of the Hoosiers running the table, especially with its upcoming road opponents looming, is very slim.

Wisconsin, with three losses, has a road duel with Illinois, the Big Ten's only one-loss team, on Sunday, along with trips to East Lansing and Ohio State to contend with. Again, assuming the Badgers win-out at home, getting away with less than five road losses will be a task.

While Illinois has just one loss, games at Ohio State, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin have yet to be played. The current scenario suggests, if both teams remain steady, that Michigan State, Michigan and Illinois could be considered the Big Ten's front runners based on remaining schedule and number of losses to this point.

Considering the fact that the Spartans are a relatively young team with just one senior with considerable experience in Draymond Green, Michigan State should consider itself somewhat fortunate to be in the position it's in. Ohio State was the preseason pick to take the Big Ten, with Izzo's Spartans picked to finish in the top four. Somehow, like in 2010, when Izzo's team isn't expected to do much, it does the opposite. A trip to the Final Four might be a year or two away for Michigan State, but a third Big Ten title in the past four years is certainly attainable.

Follow Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

Jan 16, 2012

Michigan State Spartans-Michigan Wolverines' clash will say plenty about Big Ten basketball race

This article was originally published on Yahoo! Sports by Adam Biggers

The ninth-ranked Michigan State Spartans (15-3, 4-1) likely don't need much motivation heading into Tuesday's match with the 20th-ranked Michigan Wolverines (14-4, 4-2).

No, an 81-74 road loss Saturday to the unranked Northwestern Wildcats, which snapped its 15-game win streak, and two losses to the Wolverines last season are enough for Michigan State to put its best foot forward Tuesday at Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor—and so is holding its top position in the Big Ten.

Perhaps the Spartans were due for a road loss Saturday. Maybe they were flying too high after posting 15 straight wins, their most since 1998-99, and needed to be knocked down a notch. Either way, with one loss, the Spartans now join the ranks of the blemished, no longer owning the conference's only perfect record.

"A good coach always has to find somebody to blame," Spartans coach Tom Izzo told reporters. "It's usually an assistant. But I don't blame any of my assistants. But I did have a problem with my scout team this week. I did not think they did the job that we needed to do the day that we left (for the Chicago area). And I let them know that after the practice. They're very valuable, too.

"People have trouble understanding how certain players that don't really play can have an impact on a team. And we didn't simulate (Northwestern) as well (as we needed to)."

A three- or four-loss record, like in years past, will probably be good enough to win the league. With Ohio State, Indiana and Wisconsin having early slips, and Illinois right in the mix, Tuesday's game between the Spartans and Wolverines will be an early indicator of which team wants to hoist a Big Ten banner the most.

A win for the Spartans would create a cushion between their competitors, while another loss for Michigan would lump it with the majority of the pack. Suffering a setback Tuesday would make life difficult for the Tim Hardaway, Jr.-led Wolverines, who have dates with Ohio State and Indiana in the coming weeks, to make it through the conference schedule with four or less losses.

Keys to victory


Draymond Green scored 14 points Saturday against Northwestern, but he didn't lead the offense like he usually does. With just eight field goal attempts, Green was far below his average of 14 per game. While the Spartans' problems weren't solely Green's fault, the senior didn't play up to par—and that was one of the many reasons the Spartans lost their first Big Ten game of the year.

Green has to be, well, Green, on Tuesday. He has to control the boards to the best of his ability. He averages just over 10 rebounds per game, best in the Big Ten, to go along with 15.8 points.

Despite a loss Saturday, Michigan State shot 50 percent from beyond the arc (9-for-18) and committed just 13 turnovers. The Spartans will need another showing like that Tuesday at Crisler. Shooters like Brandon Wood and Keith Appling have to be sharper than they were Saturday if Michigan State wants to snap a two-game losing streak to Michigan.


Tim Hardaway, Jr. is one of the Big Ten's most prolific scorers and is capable of changing games' paces with his athleticism. Averaging about 16 points per game, Hardaway, Jr. has to lead the Wolverines offense if Michigan wants to go 3-0 against MSU in the past three meetings. Freshman phenom Trey Burke averages just over 14 points per outing, and if he gets clicking with Hardaway, Jr., problems could mount for Tom Izzo's Spartans.

Keeping each team's stars out of the game is an obvious key to victory. However, Michigan is more than Hardaway, Jr. and Burke—Zack Novak, Evan Smotrycz and Stu Douglass are dangerous 3-point shooters (each better than 35 percent from 3-point range). When the Wolverines get hot from beyond the arc, they're hard to stop. And if the long ball fails, like it did last week during a 59-41 thrashing of the Wisconsin Badgers when they shot just 26 percent from long range, the Wolverines can always rely on Plan A: Hardaway, Jr. and Burke, like they did in the win over Wisconsin.

Jan 15, 2012

Spartan hockey on an aircraft carrier?

By Sean Gagnier

They brought you the first outdoor hockey game, before the NHL's Heritage and Winter Classics and before it became a yearly event for college and professional teams alike. It was called the Cold War, held at Spartan Stadium between Michigan State and Michigan in 2001.

And current Athletic Director Mark Hollis has proven that he is anything but unimaginative having staged a basketball game between his school and North Carolina on the U.S.S. Carl Vinson aircraft carrier in San Diego, Cali., earlier this year. He has also been known to talk about the possibility of playing the University of Southern California Trojans in Greece.

So it should come as no surprise when Hollis says that the possibility of playing a hockey game on an aircraft carrier is there. He has said that he has been approached with the idea and with his hockey coach Tom Anastos having been the Commissioner of the CCHA who brought the Frozen Four to Detroit it seems that Hollis has leverage in his corner.

Anastos said that he would be in favor of dropping the puck on the deck of an aircraft carrier.

“I just think when you can create good, unique experiences for the student-athletes, it is definitely worth exploring," Anastos said.

The opportunity is there, it's only a matter of the Michigan State athletic department reaching out and seizing the opportunity and if Hollis has proven anything in his tenure - it's that he is willing to reach.

Jan 6, 2012

Defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi staying at Michigan State

By Sean Gagnier

Michigan State announced on Friday that defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi will be staying with the football team.

Narduzzi had interviewed over the last week with Texas A&M University for the defensive coordinator position which brought with it a substantial pay raise. Reports had put the salary being offered to Narduzzi at $750,000, almost triple what he was making at Michigan State.

But despite the increased salary Narduzzi decided to remain in East Lansing with Coach Mark Dantonio and the Spartans.

"With the success we've had as a football program, especially the last two years, people around the country have taken notice," Narduzzi said in a statement. "So when provided a professional opportunity like Texas A&M, I owed it to my family to investigate it because my first obligation is to take care of my wife and children."

"I share the same feelings that our players and coaches have that there's some unfinished business to take care of here," Narduzzi said. "We're all driven to win the Big Ten Championship and win a Rose Bowl."

Head Coach Mark Dantonio said that pay raises for his coordinators are already in the works but declined to indicate how much Narduzzi or his other coordinators will be making going into the upcoming season. Athletic Director Mark Hollis has previously stated that he has set aside a fund in order to make sure that the coordinators are paid respectably, although he has yet to comment on this latest development.

"We're excited about keeping the coaching staff intact," Dantonio said. "Staff continuity has been a key component in our sustained success. There's no doubt that Pat will be a head coach sometime soon, but for now, we're excited that he remains a Spartan as we continue our pursuit of another Big Ten Championship and our first trip to the Rose Bowl."

Jan 4, 2012

DeAnthony Arnett chooses to play for Michigan State

By Sean Gagnier

It's official, Saginaw's own DeAnthony Arnett will be staying in Michigan and playing for Michigan State.

The University of Tennessee granted Arnett his release to either Michigan or Michigan State on Tuesday after having previously released him to any of the Mid-American Conference schools in the state of Michigan. Arnett had asked for a release from Tennessee to be able to be closer to his family and ailing father back in Saginaw, Mich.

As a true freshman with the Vols' Arnett caught 24 passes and was a major part of the Tennessee offense last season. Arnett will seek a hardship waiver to be able to play with the Spartans next season.

Classes at Michigan State begin on Jan. 9th and Spartan students will have a new classmate as Arnett will begin attending the school on Monday when students return from winter break.

"It was tough from an emotional standpoint, going through things with my father," Arnett said. "The choice of going to State wasn't hard at all."

Arnett said that he had to wait until Tennessee released him before he could talk to anyone from the University of Michigan or Michigan State University. Once he was released to choose a school Arnett said the choice was easy.

"State is home. They were one of the teams that recruited me the hardest. I didn't talk to anyone from (University of) Michigan. I wasn't able to talk to Coach (Mark) Dantonio. I had to wait until Tennessee released me. When that happened, everything else happened right away. It was an easy choice. State is only a 50-minute drive from my house."

The transfer had been on Arnett's mind since September, but he had only asked Vols' head coach Derek Dooley for the transfer just before winter break. When he was being recruited Arnett's father had been doing alright health wise but recently has had heart surgery and has had to undergo dialysis. Because of his declining health, Arnett's father was not able to travel to Tennessee to see any of Arnett's games, something Arnett says is important to him.

While Michigan State may have snagged an impressive receiver, things are not finished - Arnett has to apply for and be approved a hardship waiver by the NCAA. But regardless of if he is approved he will be donning the green and white next season. If his hardship waiver is approved he will maintain all three years of eligibility but if it is declined, according to Arnett he will use his redshirt year in 2012 and will still have three years of eligibility remaining.

Arnett is joining a Michigan State team with a wide open wide receiving corps situation - with B.J. Cunningham, Keith Nichol and Keshawn Martin all graduating this year. Should Arnett be eligible to play next year the Spartans would field a formidable receiving corps of four-star recruit Aaron Burbridge, Arnett, who was ranked as a four-star recruit when Tennessee recruited him, and Juwan Caesar.

With Arnett joining the Spartans he will be joining a team that will be lead by former Midland high school quarterback Andrew Maxwell. Arnett should be familiar with Maxwell as the two played each other when they were both in the Saginaw Valley League in high school.

"I'm walking into a beautiful situation," Arnett said. "I talked to Andrew. We talked about things. I'm ready to roll. We've played against each other. He beat us every time. But the Midland High game when I was a sophomore was one of my best games. It was the game that got my name out there."

Michigan "wins" the Sugar Bowl despite false start

By Sean Gagnier

I'm going to start this by saying that I am a Michigan State student, but in writing this I am putting on my unbiased journalist hat and taking an objective look at what could have been the worst played and officiated games of the entire bowl season.

To start, having to watch Denard Robinson "play" quarterback is like having sand ground into my eyes; it's painful. Every time he rolls out of the pocket, which is most of the time, and lobs a water balloon down the field he insults every person who has every played the quarterback position. And when he tucks the ball and takes off in his Velcro cleats because he can somehow make it to the University of Michigan but can't figure out how to tie his shows, and is celebrated for it, he shows that he has the capability to run and change games, but shows just why he is not a quarterback. 

There is no way that Robinson will amount to anything as a quarterback in the NFL, if he is drafted it will be as a running back or a wide receiver, but he will not be a quarterback. In fact, Mel Kiper has him listed as a WR on his chart, despite coming back to Michigan for another season as a "quarterback" the NFL doesn't even consider him that.

The Sugar Bowl was an abomination, terrible officiating across the board and even worse play by both teams involved. Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer made horrible decisions all game long - Michigan couldn't do anything against them and he went for a fake punt that ended up giving Michigan the opportunity to hit a field goal to take the lead. Not to mention when the fake was sniffed out the Hokies punter still tried to punt the ball into the face of the rushing defenders.

Then when Michigan tries a fake field goal only to have the ball float through the air like a bloated bumblebee so that the Virginia Tech player mistimes it only to have a 300+ pound lineman grab the ball and rumble to the end zone is horrendous. 

But the coup de gras of mediocrity was the overtime, Virginia Tech drove to the red zone and tossed a touchdown that would have won the game - it was called a touchdown on the field, which is a major point. Then it was reviewed by the booth and after watching every angle multiple times it may have not been a catch, the ground may have helped him hold onto that pass, but in no way did any of those replays display the indisputable evidence needed to overturn a ruling that it was a touchdown on the field.

After robbing the Hokies of a touchdown the officials managed to overlook a false start on the part of the Michigan kicker on what turned out to be the game winning field goal. It was called a "stutter step" and was noticed by the media who brought it up on the air, but on second look the ball had not been snapped when Gibbons began his "stutter step," maybe his thoughts about brunette girls distracted him too much. That should have been called and that field goal should not have counted.

But despite having watched the same game that the rest of the nation did, instead of calling it what is was, an abomination, Michigan fans will fly their pretentious flags of being "back" and how their BCS "victory" entitles them to talk like they could beat any team in the country. Yes, they "won" the Sugar Bowl. Yes, they have 11 wins on the season, but they could be some of the most hollow eleven wins of any team in the country. Did they play any team worthwhile? No. They played a Fickel-coached Ohio State team, which when Michigan State beat them Michigan fans deemed to be "in a down year, so the win doesn't count," but when the Wolverines beat them, it was a "program win." They did beat Notre Dame, but attempted many times to give the game to the Irish. Did they play Wisconsin? No, but Michigan State did - twice. Did they win the Legends Divison and play in the Big Ten title game? No. They were sitting on the couch watching the game. So how exactly is Michigan "back?" It seems like they took advantage of a favorable schedule and the fact that Walmart sells their shirts for $6.99.

But congratulations to Michigan for winning their 11 games and making it to a BCS game and winning it; but just like Michigan State heading into this past season, they have everything to prove. Michigan State won 11 games last year for the first time in program history and it was deemed a fluke, meaning that they needed to repeat the same feat this season in order to prove that they are truly a team to be reckoned with - they did that, by winning 11 games again and for winning the Legends Division and coming within a running into the kicker penalty of smelling roses. Michigan needs to do what Michigan State did in order to get the doubters off their backs -  and it won't be easy, they start the season against Alabama before heading into South Bend to take on the Irish and having to face the Spartans to try to stop them from winning their fifth in a row in the rivalry. The onus is on Michigan and I don't think that they have what it takes.

Michigan State Spartans DT Jerel Worthy declares for NFL Draft, makes right choice

This article was originally published on Yahoo! Sports by Adam Biggers, who can be followed on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.

It's no shock that the Michigan State Spartans' All-American defensive tackle Jerel Worthy opted Wednesday to enter April's 2012 NFL Draft.

No shock whatsoever. In fact, he probably could have left after his sophomore season, but fortunately for the Spartans, who won the the 2012 Outback Bowl by way of a 33-30 triple-overtime thriller over the 16th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs on Monday, Worthy stuck around and solidified the team's front four.

Walter Football projects Worthy as a late first-round pick, suggesting that the New England Patriots could select the 6-foot-3, 310-pound ferocious defender with the 31st overall pick. However, after a somewhat up-and-down junior season, Worthy dropped to the ninth-best defensive tackle, according to Walter Football, after being touted as a top-five talent just months ago by some draft experts.

But with a monstrous performance in the Outback Bowl, Worthy, who had five tackles and pressured Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray nearly to no end Monday, will probably move up a few spots once Walter Football revises its mock drafts.

Regardless of the outcome this season for Michigan State, which won the Big Ten Legends Division and reached the Big Ten Championship Game this season after a 10-2 regular season record, Worthy's declaration for the draft was expected by most.

Likely a first-round pick, Worthy has millions of dollars waiting for him—and that amount of money is enough to lure anyone out of college. He started 37 games at defensive tackle for Michigan State and is 12th in program history with 12 sacks. He's among the Spartans' leading tacklers and has several personal accolades highlighting an illustrious resume, which includes three 30-plus tackle seasons.

Not to mention, he was the first Spartans' first defensive lineman to earn Associated Press All-American honors since the great Bubba Smith did so in 1966. That's an incredible feat, considering the amount of talented players that have played at Michigan State.

"(Worthy is) a big, explosive athlete, who has the ability to make plays in the offensive backfield," said Spartans defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, according to Worthy's MSU bio page.

Spartans followers would have probably wished for nothing more than Worthy's return. The team is already losing senior quarterback Kirk Cousins, receivers Keith Nichol and BJ Cunningham, along with a handful of others.

Imagine Worthy's senior season, anchoring a defense that would feature a matured and improved Will Gholston, Chris Norman, Max Bullough and Denicos Allen. The potency of the Spartans' defense would theoretically grow exponentially, and with Worthy in the mix, benefit from a veteran's presence since senior
 Trenton Robinson also played his last game Monday with Michigan State.

Worthy could help the Spartans go further next season, but he's already accomplished in three years what most college athletes could hope to do in four. Choosing the NFL Draft is the right call. Luck forbid an injury next fall, or some other catastrophe that would potentially impact his draft status. Worthy has to strike while the iron is hot, and won't get any hotter than it is right now.

Jan 3, 2012

Tennessee releases Arnett to either Michigan State or Michigan

By Sean Gagnier

Vols' head coach Derek Dooley has made and exception and WR DeAnthony Arnett is heading home to the state of Michigan. Arnett has been released by the Vols' to either Michigan State or Michigan, his release had previously only been to a Mid-American Conference school within the state.

Dooley stated that he made the exception for Arnett because of the failing health of his father in his hometown of Saginaw, Mich. Arnett's father has had surgery on his heart and another to impact a stent for dialysis over winter break and Arnett wants to be close to his family because of it.

That is what has been said publicly, behind closed doors some believe that Arnett is using his father's illness to get out of Tennessee after their receivers coach, Charlie Baggett, retired this off season. Baggett recruited Arnett out of Saginaw and was one of hs major reasons for choosing to head to Rocky Top, with his retirement it could be motivation for Arnett to head back north.

Michigan State had been a favorite of Arnett's all the way through the recruiting process and the receiving situation there could be appealing to the pass catcher. With the Spartans top three receivers in B.J. Cunningham, Keshawn Martin and Keith Nichol graduating it leaves wide openings in the receiving corps that Arnett could take advantage of.

If Arnett secures his hardship waiver from the NCAA he will be eligible to play next season and if he were to join the Spartans he would be competing for three starting WR positions against Bennie Fowler, Juwan Caesar, Aaron Burbridge and Keith Mumphery and he could easily come out on top of that battle.

Michigan State should go hard after Arnett because with his addition to the team they will be able to reload the receiving corps in one season while returning all three running backs, most of the offensive line and all but two of their defensive players. If Andrew Maxwell could step up and perform like they believe he can and the Spartans are able to snag Arnett Michigan State could easily be back in Indianapolis competing for another chance to smell the roses in Pasadena.

Jan 2, 2012

Family says there's "no chance" Arnett returns to Tennessee

By Sean Gagnier

The highly coveted 2011 wide receiver recruit out of Saginaw, Mich. will not return to the University of Tennessee under any circumstances; this according to a family member of Arnett's. Arnett has said that he will not make any public statemtns until the situation has been resolved with the Volunteers.

After a stellar true freshman season at Tennessee that saw Arnett catch 24 passes he has requested a release from his letter of intent to the university. Arnett is seeking a "hardship waiver" to be able to attend either Michigan, Michigan State or Notre Dame in order to be closer to his ailing father.

 14.2.5 Hardship Waiver. A student-athlete may be granted an additional year of participation (per Bylaw 14.2.4) by the conference or the Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement for reasons of “hardship.”

According to family statements, Arnett fully enjoyed his time at Tennessee and his request to be released has no basis in any dissatisfaction with the school or his coaches. It was also stated that he was happy with his playing time and that there was nothing the Vols' did that motivated his request, it has everything to do with his ailing father in Saginaw.

Since the beginning of winter break Arnett's father has undergone two surgeries; heart surgery and another to impact a stent in his arm for dialysis, which may need to be redone should it be unsuccessful.

Arnett is attempting to transfer schools without losing any eligibility; following his season at Tennessee he has three years of eligibility remaining. Due to Tennessee policies they have denied Arnett's request to be released to Michigan or Michigan State because they do not allow releases to any schools that they compete against or recruit against.

Although his request has been denied to head to Ann Arbor or East Lansing, the Vols' have released Arnett to play with any of the Mid-American Conference schools in Michigan - Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan or Western Michigan.  

Regardless of whether Arnett receives his release to Michigan or Michigan State he will have to fulfill his National Letter of Intent, which requires that Arnett have at least one year of education at Tennessee. Arnett will attempt to satisfy his letter of intent by taking online classes through Tennessee while remaining close to his father in Saginaw.

Depending on the release that Tennessee grants Arnett, he may have to pay his own way should he choose either Michigan or Michigan State, sit out a season, lose a year of eligibility or some combination of those. But Arnett has made the Vols' know that he will not be returning to Knoxville and his family has stated that the university understands.