More from the tireless ESPN.com blogger Adam Rittenberg. Here is a small piece from his interview with Spartan coach Mark Dantonio:
AR: You’re focused on Cal, but you and the players haven’t been shy about talking about the Michigan game and building that up. How important was that when you came in, stressing that game?
MD: Any time you’re in a program, I don’t care what program it is, a high school program, a college program, there are certain teams that are rivals. They become rivals through the years. You have to recognize that fact. History demands that you recognize that fact because of the players who have played that game in the past. Wherever I’ve been as a head coach, at Cincinnati and now at Michigan State, we’ve done that. We did that at Ohio State, we did that at Youngstown [State] when I was there. We did that at Michigan State when I was here before, we did it at Kansas when I was at Kansas. The history of who I’ve been with as an assistant coach and then my time as a head coach has been about taking one game and making it a little bit more special, providing a little bit more of a sense of urgency for. Right now, we focus on the task at hand, but in the off times of the year, when we reflect back on what’s happened, we want to look back and say, ‘How did we play against this team?’ You need to have games that measure your program and I think that’s one of them that does.
AR: You got a little emotional last year about the post-game stuff with Mike Hart. But did that need to happen, some fire from the Michigan State side?
MD: I don’t know about that. I just reacted. Internally, I don’t need to show that to the public. I need to show how I feel to our football and our players. They got the best of me, the reporters, so I reacted. Any time you’re a competitor, any time you compete, you want to win and you want to do well. When you make things a little bit personal, it means a little bit more to you.
Elsewhere: Michigan Football Saturdays provided links to the media guides of each Big Ten school.