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Arrogance and Scheming in the Big Ten: Michigan State's Quest for Membership and Michigan's Powerful Opposition Paperback – March 15, 2012
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About the Author
David J. Young, M.D. grew up in East Lansing, Michigan. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame, Wayne State University Medical School, and completed his Internal Medicine residency at the University of Minnesota. He is married, has three sons and maintains a medical practice in Holland, Michigan. Dr. Young, in his free time, enjoys reading history, writing on various topics and playing golf. This is his first book.
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The background of the story, however, is filled with twists & turns and endless obstacles for MSC. Dr. David Young has done an exhaustive amount of research to disinter what, exactly, happened back in the 1940s and early 50s which led to the Spartans becoming a member of the B10. He has dug up so many nooks & crannies, in fact, that I'm convinced that he was momentarily the only person on the planet who was aware of many historical nuances that were lost-in-time for the past 60+ yrs!
MSC is hardly the only "player" listed in the book. MSC was indirectly competing against the university of Nebraska and (more profoundly) the university of Pittsburgh to claim the 10th slot in the conference. The university of Minnesota & the university of Notre Dame both assisted MSC, while Ohio State lobbied to add Pittsburgh. The book goes into great detail on how the B10 political machinery ultimately played in MSC's favor.
Meanwhile, the "villain" in the plot is MSC / MSU's arch-rival, the university of Michigan. U-M's Ralph Aigler and Fritz Crisler did everything in their power to prevent the school that bore the colors of the Green & White addmittance into "their" conference. The author details how telling the misanthropic hypocrisy of U-M was. Michigan constantly derided MSC for "not playing by the rules" whilst they themselves dropped out of the B10 for a decade because they didn't like having their own(!) football program scrutinzed. They also fudged their entry standards for their 1st Heisman Trophy winner (Tom Harmon).
Ultimately, this is a book that pays homage to the tenacity, resilience and determination of John Hannah. "Mr. MSU" was rejected time & time again by the B10, but he perservered. In the bigger picture, he was a pioneer who transformed MSC from a humble agricultural college into a world-class institution. Anyone who is unaware of this pioneer's accomplishments is sure to be mightily impressed with him by the time they finish the present book. It's little wonder his name is in the Spartan Stadium RING OF HONOR, even though Hannah was not an athlete himself.
For me, the biggest surprise of the book was how little was spent on the assistance of Notre Dame. This is especially curious, given that the author is an ND grad! The story I'd always heard was that Notre Dame lobbied on behalf of MSC's admission to the B10. The author does discuss how ND helped increase the visibility of MSC by once again scheduling the Spartans on the gridiron, but does not mention any proactive lobbying on the Fighting Irish's part.
On the other hand, while I was aware that the university of Minnesota was a great asset for MSC in its attempt to take UC's vacant slot in the conference, I was unaware just HOW much Minnesota assisted the MSC cause. After reading the author's words, it's evident that Minnesota was MSC's ONLY active ally in the Big 10!
Fans of Michigan State are sure to find this book illuminating. Minnesota & Notre Dame fans will be apt to read this book as they will take pride that their institutions took part in a worthy cause. Beyond that, fans of college football in general would have a lot to gain by perusing this book as it goes into great detail into the concept of the athletic scholarship from a historical perspective. Regardless of your "angle" I believe you'll find this treatise to be a fascinating read.
Though one might say that it is not the best written summary of the course of events, the compilation of information, combined with Mr. Young's summary, is an interesting read. Based on the writing, I might have rated it only 3 stars, but the level of research merits that the marking be given 4 stars.
If you are a sports fan, especially one in the Midwest, you will want to read this book. I found it especially enlightening to understand the character of some historical figures (some who have their names on arenas and stadiums some decades later). These men, like all of us were flawed. And Mr. Young's book really helps us to understand not just the course of events, but the personality of the people involved, and the ultimate determination and leadership that came into play from MSU.