Saban Selebrations, Edition #1

Saban Selebrations, Edition #1

Football

Saban Selebrations, Edition #1

Saban’s Spartans came up short in 1996 Norwest Sun Bowl

Contact @crowleysullivan

We’re excited to introduce a brand new feature within the SpartansWire platform with this initial offering of “Saban Selebrations.”

While Spartans are well aware of the fact that Nick Saban spent five years as Michigan State’s head coach many years ago, there are folks out there who actually think that Nick Saban was born raising National Championship trophies for the Crimson Tide.

Saban’s five years in Green & White seem like a lifetime ago.

There are some who think back to the Saban Era and remember not much more than extreme frustration.  And by “some” I mean to suggest all Michigan State fans who were breathing and had eyesight.

But amidst the consistent inconsistency, the astonishing lack of discipline, the freakish ability on the part of Saban’s Spartans to grab defeat straight from the hands of sure victory, the amazing penchant for earn penalties that would change the course of games and seasons, and the general malaise that blanketed the program for Saban’s entire time in East Lansing, there were brief moments of proud mediocrity.

The 1996 season was Saban’s second at the helm after a somewhat encouraging premiere season in which Michigan State managed a skittish 6-5-1 final record that included a genuinely celebratory win over UMAA sandwiched by maddeningly strange performances.  By the end of the 1996 slate, Saban and his band of Spartans had earned themselves a trip to El Paso, Texas for a late morning/early afternoon tussle with the Stanford Cardinal on December 31st.

Perhaps Stanford’s game plan flummoxed Saban.

Perhaps some of the Spartans woke up groggy thanks to the El Paso nightlife.

Whatever was in the soup that day, it didn’t get State over the hump and the Spartans headed back to East Lansing after a 38-0 shortfall and a final season record of 6-6.

Stanford played well, to be sure.  Chad Hutchinson led their offense and earned MVP honors.  The Cardinal recorded scores on offense, defense, and through Special Teams play over the course of the afternoon.

In hindsight, there is a very good argument to be made that the game was much closer than the final score would indicate.  That argument would have to be made by a person without a functioning brain or at least with a very serious form of dementia – but the argument could be made, nevertheless.

Decide for yourself by settling into a nice game recap below that showcases the CBS Sports announcing team of a young and scrappy Gus Johnson with broadcasting icon, The Coach, Artie Gigantino.

In the next installment of “Saban Selebrations,” we’ll chronicle the 1998 season opener when the Colorado State Rams visited Spartan Stadium.

In the meantime, let’s give credit where credit is due – it was Nick Saban who brought Mark Dantonio to East Lansing in the first place as one of his key assistants during that indescribably peculiar five year stretch of football for Michigan State.  For that, I’d relive this 1996 Norwest Sun Bowl over and over again….

 

 

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