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MAKE PLAYS — An Ode to Mike Valenti’s 2006 MSU-Notre Dame Rant

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A decade after a generation defining loss we pay tribute to the masterpiece it inspired

NCAA Football - Notre Dame vs Michigan State - September 23, 2006 Photo by S. Levin/Getty Images

This Saturday, Michigan State and Notre Dame will renew a rivalry that dates back to 1897. The series has included the “Game of the Century” and “Little Giants” but no game has given a gift like the one that took place a decade ago.

Of course, I’m referring to the epic rant radio host and MSU Alum Mike Valenti delivered the following Monday morning. Diehard Spartan fans can probably quote the painfully true lines in their sleep, but for those who have not experienced this incredible piece of high art, I ask you to journey back to 2006 as we set the stage for arguably the greatest sports rant ever.


September 23rd, 2006 — East Lansing, Michigan

12th-ranked Notre Dame, led by quarterback Brady Quinn, came into Spartan stadium on the 40th anniversary of the 1966 “Game of the Century” for a primetime tilt against 3-0 Michigan State.

The Fighting Irish looked vulnerable after suffering a 47-21 beatdown at the hands of Michigan but were out for revenge. After their win in South Bend the year before, the Spartans had brazenly planted a green and white flag at midfield which, shockingly, did not sit well with the Domers.

On the other sideline, Michigan State Head Coach and noted own-face-slapper John L. Smith was squarely on the hot seat after back-to-back losing campaigns. Beating the Irish would help instill some much-needed confidence in his program.

Despite the horribly rainy and windy conditions, MSU raced out to a 17-0 lead and eventually went into the half up 31-14. The Spartans found themselves ahead 37-21 heading into the final stanza when not only did the wheels fall off but the entire wagon exploded.

Senior quarterback Drew Stanton turned the ball over on the Spartans final three possessions and MSU lost 40-37, completing a collapse that defined a generation of MSU Football.

The silver lining is that it made Valenti’s rant, which perfectly encapsulated that generational frustration, possible.

BEHOLD!!!

All 18 minutes are gold but lets break down the highlights in (mostly) chronological order. All emphasis by yours truly.

FROM THE TOP!

On Choking and Stereotypes...

Mike Valenti — Let me start by saying this, there is a 50-50 split with blame for Michigan State’s outright choke job — let me repeat that for ya — choke job. You wanna see the definition of choke in the dictionary, you will see the Michigan State Spartans.

What I saw on Saturday night, in a driving rain, with my onions SOAKED, with my voice SHATTERED, was an out-and-out choke job.

*HORRIFYING CHOKE NOISE*

Co-Host Terry Foster — We didn’t need that this morning buddy boy

MV — CHOKE

From the very top to John L. Smith to the very last player on this football team with an irrelevant number and no name. It was an out-and-out choke job.

You will NEVER sell me that Notre Dame won that football game. On the contrary mon frère. Michigan State handed it away like a nice three-button coat at the Salvation Army.

Coming in HOT. Calling out literally every member of the team and code-switching within the first 30 seconds. An impressive start.

Now let’s play the blame game. Everybody wants to know “Oh, what does Mikey V think? Woah woah Mike must be real upset!”

...Well?

Yeah, No really!? I’m ABSOLUTELY FURIOUS.

Seems about right.

EVERY SINGLE STEREOTYPE about Michigan State University football came true on Saturday night. They CHOKED. They ABSOLUTELY GAGGED. While Notre Dame played with fire, emotion, poise and tact. Michigan State sat there and CHOKED ON APPLESAUCE

*MORE INCREASINGLY HORRIFYING CHOKE NOISES*

How has he not passed out?

THEY CHOKED.

TF — Sounds like you’re choking bud

MV — THEY CHOKED. So no I’m not gonna name names but THEY ABSOLUTELY CHOKED

Valenti vs Foster Round One: Old Ass Jamboree...

Valenti’s co-host, Terry Foster, tries to jump in. Let’s see how that goes.

TF — Ok hey hey let’s..

MV — SHUT UP I’M NOT FINISHED

Predictably!

TF — You’re not gonna be able to finish Mike!

MV — IF YOU WANNA KNOW WHY MY VOICE IS GONE

TF — Mike, stop! You’re losing your voice already!

MV — I WAS BUSY FIRING UP MY SECTION! I DID MY JOB! I PAID MY 75 DOLLARS AND I GOT A BUNCH OF OLD ASSES OFF THEIR FEET INTO THE AIR AND GOT EM CHEERING THEIR ASS OFF! I DIDN’T CHOKE I SHOWED UP TO PLAY!

YOU WASN’T WITH HIM SHOOTIN IN THE GYM TERRY

TF — I know but bud..

MV — I’M NOT FINISHED

TF — We’re 12 minutes in you’re about to...

MV — DON’T WANNA HEAR IT.

TF — You’re gonna lose your voice

MV — JUST LET ME GET DONE WITH THIS

TF — You’re not gonna be able to finish

MV — IT DOESN’T MATTER

TF — Oh boy

MV — DOESN’T. MATTER.

Starring Mike Valenti as “Guy determined to finish the wing-eating challenge despite barfing” and Terry Foster as “Helpless voice of reason”

Drew Stanton needs HELP. He can’t do it alone and you know what I saw at the end of that game? I saw a kid that had an ENTIRE PROGRAM ON HIS BACK AND HE HAD THE OTHER 22 GUYS WHO PLAY BEGGING HIM! TELLING HIM “LOOK WE CAN’T DO ANYTHING! HELP US!”

On Making Plays...

YOU KNOW WHAT IT’S TIME FOR EVERYBODY ELSE TO STEP UP.

MAKE PLAYS!

YOU’RE AT HOME, AT NIGHT, THIRD LARGEST CROWD IN THE HISTORY OF THAT STADIUM, WITH A 37-21 LEAD.

A John L. team only gets up for a top two crowd. PERIOD.

MAKE PLAYS!!

DON’T SIT THERE AND PUCKER

But this team was so GOOD at sitting there!

MAKE PLAYS!!!

YOU DON’T SIT THERE AND TURN TO YOUR QUARTERBACK AND WITH A PUPPY DOG LOOK AND SAY “HELP US! WE DON’T KNOW WHAT WE’RE DOIN OUT HERE! HELP US!”

But how could Drew say no to THIS FACE?!

MAKE. PLAYS!!!!!

STAND TOGETHER AS A TEAM AND MAKE PLAYS!!!

Moral of the story: Make plays

Valenti vs Foster Round Two: Electric Boogaloo...

Now let me get to the coaches.

TF — Oh no...(pleads with Valenti to drink water)

MV — NO

TF (to producer) — We’re gonna have to get this guy some hot tea and honey

MV — I’M NOT FOOLIN AROUND

TF — I know you’re not but your voice is leaving Mike, you don’t realize it.

MV — You know what? I’ve been begging for a day off. GOOD. Now let me finish. Just sit BACK. Cause I ain’t foolin’ around, this weekend PISSED ME OFF.

TERRY JUST LISTEN TO YOUR CORNERMAN

TF — Obviously. (To producer) I tried.

Not hard enough.

On the Coaches and Clock Management...

MV — LET ME GET TO THE COACHES CAUSE IT’S 50 PERCENT ON THEM

Producer (Tom) — How about the good time you had with your dad this weekend?

MV — Tom, I’m not screwing around. This is what I discussed with you, SHUT UP.

That is the first and last time we will hear from Tom.

50 PERCENT IS ON THE COACHES. Let me start in the first half. Before the half ends Notre Dame has the football with a little over a minute.

TF — Told you. This is not gonna happen

MV — Let me FINISH.

TF — You’re not gonna be able to finish, Mike, listen to your voice.

Valenti finally steamrolls Foster into submission.

MV — Michigan State is POUNDING Notre Dame and they took their foot off the accelerator!

They mismanaged the clock, AGAIN

Well that’s not ideal, but surely they —

They didn’t use their timeouts right, AGAAAAIN

Ok, fair enough but —

And they allowed an opponent to get into halftime and MAKE ADJUSTMENTS, AGAAAAAAIIIINNN

Point taken.

On John L. Smith’s Cell Phone Usage...

Note to John L. Smith, LEARN THE EFFIN RULES AND UNDERSTAND THAT YOUR TIMEOUTS ARE NOT LIKE CELL PHONE MINUTES! THEY DON’T CARRY OVER!

18-year-old-frequently-scolded-about-cell-phone-minute-usage me identified with this but John L. may have genuinely been unaware of the rule.

On Notre Dame’s Preferred Mid-Game Snack...

Notre Dame got away! They had em by the throat and instead of cutting it real deep and watching the blood squirt all over you let em get into halftime so FAT BOY could feed em PUDDING.

Charlie Weis Fat Joke. Drink.

On Puckering...

Second of all, shame on this coaching staff for PUCKERING. It is evident to me that they CANNOT COACH WITH A LEAD.

38-17 to Notre Dame last year.

*WORST KISSING SOUND IMAGINABLE*

PUCKER PUCKER PUCKER

Pucker up, change what you’re doing and allow the opposition back in

34-17 to Michigan two years ago, Pucker Pucker Pucker! It’s the SAME STORY.

Any advice for the coaching staff on how to avoid said puckering?

PUT THE BEST 11 GUYS ON THE FIELD!!!

Right!

(Running Back) JEHUU CAULCRICK WAS A BOWLING BALL YET JAVON RINGER SAW EXCLUSIVE CARRIES IN THE SECOND HALF. EXPLAIN IT!

Somebody in East Lansing today, have the balls to ask Dave Baldwin “WHERE THE HELL WAS JEHUU CAULCRICK?!”

Unfortunately for Baldwin, his milk carton ad wasn’t approved until after the game.

On Coordinators Dave Baldwin and Chris Smeland...

Second of all,

Counting was not important on this day.

WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING IN THE SHOTGUN IN A MONSOON?!

YOU’RE ASKING DREW STANTON TO RUN THE OPTION IN HURRICANE KATRINA. You’re coming out FIVE WIDE. RUN THE FOOTBALL!

Bad coordinators, worse weathermen.

Third of all, and this is where I really get upset,

Stunningly, everyone else has gotten off easy compared to what’s about to happen.

GET CHRIS SMELAND OUTTA TOWN. HE IS THE SINGLE WORST DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR EVER BORN INTO THIS WORLD.

BAH GOD THAT’S ROB RYAN’S MUSIC

This guy is absolutely ATROCIOUS.

HEY SMELAND, HERE’S AN IDEA, YOU’VE GOT YOUR SECONDARY FLOATING AROUND ON DINGY’S! MAYBE IT’S NOT A GOOD IDEA TO BRING BACK TO BACK ZERO BLITZES WITH NO SAFETY HELP. MAYBE!

LET ALONE THE FACT THAT YOUR STUPID ASS BLITZ PACKAGES NEVER GET HOME.

Neva?

EVER.

Neva-eva?

EVER!!!

Neva-neva-eva?

YOU ARE THE WORST DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR EVER!!!!

I WOULD RATHER HAVE H.R. PUFNSTUF WITH TEDDY RUXPIN AS AN ASSISTANT THAN TO HAVE YOU IN THIS BOOTH ONE MORE WEEK.

NIGHTMARE. FUEL.

YOU’RE ATROCIOUS. TAKE YOUR WRIST BANDS AND STICK EM!

THE SAME COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWNS THAT WE HAVE SEEN SINCE YOU GOT HERE END UP COSTING US ANOTHER GAME! NOT TO MENTION THE FACT THAT YOU PUT THE KIDS IN TERRIBLE SPOTS, WHAT ARE YOU BLITZING LIKE THAT FOR?!?

HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF A ZONE BLITZ? You know, the SAME THING Notre Dame did to Drew, dropping two d-tackles and getting a pick? HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF DISGUISED COVERAGES? How about giving you kids safety help IN THE MIDDLE OF A MONSOON? DON’T LEAVE EM ON AN ISLAND!

IF IT MEANS AVOIDING H.R. PUFNSTUF AND TEDDY RUXPIN I WILL GO TO ANY ISLAND AND I WILL GO RIGHT NOW.

On Overall Sadness...

I’m tired. I’m tired of it.

I just dropped my father off at the airport, the guy feels terrible about himself. He had to watch another one of these things, 640 miles — thank you Northwest — to see THAT. You know what the sick part is? He only gets to one game a year and this is at least the third time he’s caught this CRAP.

Pro Tip for Mr Valenti: Maybe stay home for any future MSU-Bama match-ups.

Lastly, when I speak of Michigan State and I talk about what they should be, what they can be, what they might be, it’s nights like Saturday, games like Saturday that are every reason they’re not.

Luckily for MSU fans, now most Saturday’s look a lot like what Valenti thought MSU “should be” than what they were. Have we started on the Dantonio statue yet?

I’m tired. I’m hurt, I’m emotional, I’m shot. I got nothing left. I got nothing left.

Neither do we, Mike. Neither do we.