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Game Thread: Spartans vs. Tar Heels. With bonus Linking Laconically and Rather Hall commentary.

Pregame Linking Laconically:

Regarding that other bit of breaking news:

With the individuals involved in the Rather Hall incident now outed, I stand by my previous statement:

If there were, in fact, one or more football players involved in what, if the initial report is at all accurate, was a premeditated act of pure thuggery (and all signs point to yes on players being involved) those players need to be dismissed from both the team and the university with all dispatch.

I don't care if there was only one football player in the group. I don't care if none of the players involved were the individuals wearing the ski masks. I don't care if a player just happened to tag along because he ran into the group as it walked to the dorm. I don't care if dismissing a player is likely to lead that player down a path toward lifelong ruin. And I certainly don't care what impact any player's dismissal will have on the team's fortunes in its bowl game and/or the 2010 season.

Further, a clear message needs to be delivered to the entire Michigan State football team that the level of tolerance for violence and any other form of law-breaking is now exactly zero. No more second chances. You get a first chance. And then you're done.

If Mark Dell and B.J. Cunningham were, in fact, dumb enough to be involved in this thing, then I look forward to seeing Kirk Cousins throw the ball to Keshawn Martin, (the other) Chris Rucker, and our plethora of tight ends (about 15 times a game?) in the bowl game and the 2010 season. And whatever consideration Ashton Leggett earned to be a starter for the next two years with his on-field performance late in this season was forfeited when he entered Rather Hall with a group of ski mask-wearing thugs.

Will I root for the team--and by extension the suspended players--if they're reinstated? Well, of course, I will. Being a sports fan is an inherently irrational endeavor. But I honestly believe that a fresh start is going to be much better for Mark Dantonio's tenure as MSU head coach in the long run, even it means a losing 2010 campaign. More importantly, the reputation of the university, and it's alumni/supporters, should come first.

Me, from last week, again:

I can only hope that, beyond the simple issue of integrity as it relates directly to the football program, the impact of this incident and those that have preceded it on the broader reputation of the university and its alumni/supporters will figure prominently into the thinking and decision making of Mark Dantonio, Mark Hollis, and Lou Anna Simon as this situation moves forward. In fact, strike the first two names on that list of decision makers. Mark Dantonio may (or may not) know what's in the best interest of his team or a given football player. But responsibility for protecting the image and integrity of the university rests with its president.

OK, with that off my chest, on to the basketball game!

Regarding which, I have to admit, I'm also feeling fairly negative. The first five minutes may tell the story tonight. Can this team come out and show it's capable of holding on to the ball against a quality opponent? If so, we could be in for a treat. If not . . . well, I don't know what--an even more downtrodden game recap than the Florida one, I guess.

For now, let's hear people's pregame gut feelings in the space below.

Go State. Beat Carolina.