ESPN: Michigan State #17 In CFB Futures Rankings

ESPN: Michigan State #17 In CFB Futures Rankings

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ESPN: Michigan State #17 In CFB Futures Rankings

ESPN has the Spartans back – and with force – in it’s annual College Football Futures Rankings.

Contact @crowleysullivan

It’s been a while since we gave some attention to the Green & White Moon Howlers.

The Moon Howlers, of course, are the folks who love to howl at the moon in protest of the countless ways the boogeymen out there are scheming and coordinating and strategizing all day, every day in their ongoing efforts to be mean to Michigan State.

These Moon Howlers are out there and they make their collective voices heard everyday in any number of ways.

The Green & White Moon Howlers asserted themselves in a more robust way than ever before when ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” team dared to suggest that Michigan State’s football and basketball programs had potentially not dealt with sexual assault allegations and actual incidents by following the proper protocols and so forth.

ESPN’s reports were published in the immediate aftermath of the revelation that Michigan State University had allowed Larry Nassar to sexually assault female student athletes for twenty years right on the MSU campus, despite at least 14 MSU administration officials being aware of the fact that there were many complaints from the sexually assaulted student athletes themselves.

As has been reported many times, the entire series of crimes perpetrated by Nassar represents the largest and most egregious collection of sexual assault crimes on a college campus in American history.

And ESPN – with very credible sources and reporting that has yet to be fully countered by Michigan State other than the typical “ESPN is being mean to us” type of statements – dared to suggest that a culture has existed within Michigan State’s athletic department that has allowed coaches and administrators to, at the very least, treat sexual assault without the necessary vigor.

That culture that ESPN suggested existed has, in various reports and interviews along with tangible revelations and admittances from interim president John Engler, has shown itself as having, indeed, existed in ways that are not up for debate.

The Moon Howlers will immediately point to specific details about photos of Spartan coaches being integrated into an on-screen graphic that included Larry Nassar.

The howling, of course, stems from the notion that placing a photo of someone on the same graphic as Larry Nassar makes people think the coaches are business partners with Nassar.

“Journalism Malpractice” is a term I’ve heard from some (and, it should be noted, the term is used by people who’s experience in analyzing journalism includes following Bar Stool Sports on Twitter).

I’ve asked the question before – Do the Moon Howlers expend the same amount of energy with their foot stomping and pitch fork wielding when ESPN demonstrates its obvious “meanness” in other areas of its giant news and information operation?

Bashing ESPN has, in recent years, become a sport unto itself.

The Bashers and Moon Howlers are not necessarily in the same fraternity – but they certainly live in the same gated community.

Do the Moon Howlers yell and scream about the mean ways in which ESPN’s “30 For 30” film series chronicles just about every meaningful and iconic moment in sports over the last thirty or forty years?

Or, do the Moon Howlers love to join in on the discussions about the greatness of the “30 For 30” films when they’re at their backyard barbecue parties with their fellow Moon Howlers, all ignorant of the fact that the “30 For 30” series is an award-winning series that shows that ESPN is the very best in the business when it comes to “Journalism?”

What do the Moon Howlers think of ESPN’s annual College Football Futures Rankings?

My guess is that a year ago, the Moon Howlers yelled and screamed about how unfair the Futures Rankings system was and how ESPN’s very obvious agenda to tear down Michigan State was continuing with its insistence on leaving Michigan State out of the Futures Rankings Top 25.

ESPN’s leaving Michigan State out of last year’s Futures Rankings probably had nothing to do with the fact that the Spartans had just soiled themselves all season long and finished with the worst season in more than thirty years of Spartan Football.

And, in the release of ESPN’s 2018 College Football Futures Rankings (accessible in ESPN’s mean, capitalistic Insider “pay service” that is a part of the strategy of the mean people at ESPN to make money), Michigan State is firmly and forcefully back in the Top 25.

I wonder – will the Moon Howlers happily read this, see this, recognize this and not recognize that the ranking of Michigan State here is not a show of a coordinated takedown of Michigan State?

Recently, the University of Southern California made headlines when it was revealed that the lone gynecologist who has worked in the USC on-campus medical center (their equivalent of the Olin Health Center) has been sexually assaulting USC female students for decades.

USC has been the target of news reporting that is comparable to what occurred in the news media immediately after the Nassar revelations.

I shared the news of USC’s problems with a friend and the friend (who might not have full membership status as a Moon Howler but would have a relatively easy time earning the status) immediately replied with the quip, “I wonder if ESPN will implicate USC’s coaches for improperly handling sexual assault.”

Here’s why that question reeks of Moon Howling:

USC’s “situation” is completely independent of its athletic department while Michigan State’s was fully, completely, and egregiously within the athletic department.

Those are two very different situations and it’s easy to see the differences.

And so, ESPN reveals its College Football Futures Rankings and it features Michigan State skyrocketing with the very real potential for an even higher ranking a year from now.

Moon Howlers – you wanted to send Kim Jong Un to Bristol, CT some months ago.

You made it very clear that ESPN’s “Journalism Malpractice” meant that it was as credible as Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

You ranted and raved about the irresponsibility the ESPN machine was showing in the reckless way it was being mean and unfair.

Perhaps it’s time for another SpartansWire piece asking Tom Izzo why he STILL has not publicly addressed the ways in which he’s handled sexual assault allegations and actual incidents within his program, as reported by ESPN’s “Outside The Lines.”

In the meantime, let’s all take a look at the way the big, bad ESPN machine has recognized how Michigan State has worked its way right back into the mix of College Football’s power program status….

Michigan 16th, Michigan State 17th in ESPN’s future football rankings

According to ESPN, not much has changed when sizing up the Michigan football team’s future. Michigan State’s, though, appears to be brighter than it was a year ago.

Going from 3-9 to 10-3 can do that.

ESPN unveiled its overall “future power rankings” on Monday (pay site), projecting the outlook for college football’s top 25 programs through the 2020 season.

Not much separates Michigan and Michigan State — the Wolverines are ranked No. 16, and the Spartans No. 17 — in the rankings, which ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg says are the result of reviewing rosters and polling coaches, among other factors.

Both are in different positions than last year, when ESPN ranked Michigan No. 6, while leaving Michigan State out of its future rankings.

Rittenberg’s take on Michigan, though, had a familiar tone, with “few teams’ forecasts … tougher to peg than Michigan’s” in last season’s rankings.

This year, Rittenberg writes that, “after the top five to seven teams, Michigan could really end up anywhere on this list.”

“(Head coach) Jim Harbaugh has assembled enough talent — much of it from the 2016 recruiting class, which ESPN rated sixth nationally — to start challenging for Big Ten titles and ultimately the playoff,” Rittenberg continues. “Then again, Michigan needs to show more in college football’s most competitive division.”

Michigan ranks No. 21 in future QB rankings — which are over the next three seasons — No. 25 on offense, and No. 5 in defense.

“Don Brown’s defense has often performed at an elite level and should continue to do so in 2018 as Rashan Gary, Chase Winovich, Devin Bush and Khaleke Hudson headline an excellent front seven,” Rittenberg writes.

“Then there’s the offense, a unit that, as one Big Ten coach put it, ‘has more talent than what’s showing up on game day.’ Shea Patterson could be the immediate answer at quarterback, and Michigan should benefit from Tarik Black’s return at wide receiver. But the offensive line has got to start performing to its potential, as veteran assistant Ed Warinner takes over there. Michigan’s 2018 recruiting fell off a bit compared with Ohio State and Penn State, adding to the urgency for a breakthrough this fall.”

Michigan State, meanwhile, is among the top 25 teams after ESPN left the Spartans out in 2017, likely the result of a miserable 2016 season, in which they went 3-9.

The Spartans went 10-3 last season, including a Holiday Bowl victory and a win against the Wolverines — their eighth in the last 10 meetings with their in-state rivals.

“It’s as if 2016 … didn’t even happen in terms of affecting MSU’s trajectory,” Rittenberg writes. “A 10-win season in 2017 coupled with a roster filled with returning starters has put the Spartans back on track. Talented quarterback Brian Lewerke has two more years of eligibility left, and he’ll be throwing to a wide-receiving corps one Big Ten coach calls the league’s best.”

Lewerke leads a QB group that ESPN ranks No. 12 over the next three seasons. The offense ranked 11th, and the defense 15th.

Rittenberg quotes one unnamed defensive coordinator who face MSU last season, saying “They’ll be good on offense. They’ve got a slew of backs. All of the wideouts are young. They looked athletic.”

As for the defense, Rittenberg writes, “Michigan State should produce Dantonio-esque defenses for the next few seasons, especially with a secondary stocked with gifted underclassmen. The Spartans lack glitzy recruiting classes, which could ultimately hurt them in the Big Ten East Division, but they seem to be back to scouting and developing the right players for their identity.”

Alabama tops ESPN’s rankings. Ohio State is No. 3 — one of three Big Ten teams in the top 10, joining Penn State (No. 6) and Wisconsin (No. 9).

Michigan State opens the season Aug. 31 at home against Utah State. Michigan opens Sept. 1 at Notre Dame. The rivals meet Oct. 20 in East Lansing.

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