2016 was a season to forget if you’re a player, coach or fan of Michigan State.
A year after winning the Big Ten title game, the Spartans may not have been regarded insanely highly heading into this season (ranked No. 12 by the Associated Press), but any casual college football fan wouldn’t have guessed the green and white to finish 3-9.
After winnings its first two games of the season over Furman and an under-achieving Notre Dame team, Michigan State’s only win came in a lopsided victory over Rutgers, 49-0. After the team’s final game of 2016, a 45-12 loss to Penn State, Spartan players and coaches talked about where the team’s minds are at.
“We came into the locker room after the game and our mindset right now is this season is over, it’s in the past,” said junior linebacker Chris Frey, via msuspartans.com. “We’re 0-0 as of right now and 2017 starts today.
“This will never happen again. We have to be better than that. We’ve just got to be better at every position. Guys have gotten better throughout the season and they’ve made big strides, but we’re still young. Guys coming in next season aren’t going to have that excuse. They’re going to have their second spring under their belt, they’re going to have a regular season under their belt and they just have to keep making strides to get better every single day.”
Head coach Mark Dantonio talked about the injuries the team has had to endure throughout the course of the year.
“That’s been the tale of the season to some degree,” Dantonio said in a postgame interview on the Spartan Sports Network. “But 2017 starts (on Sunday) for us. Our seniors have had great seasons in the past, but this one doesn’t cut it. We will start back here on Monday and wish our seniors the best.
“It was a disappointing season. The bar was set very high; it had to be based on where we were at last year.”
Finally, fifth-year senior linebacker Riley Bullough talked about not only the Penn State game, but his time as a Spartan.
“It’s obviously disappointing,” Bullough said. “I wanted to come in here and get a win and I think we played well in the first half. We were up by two and just didn’t get it done in the second half.
“But I’ve had some great times here at Michigan State and love this place to death. It’s been an awesome five years. I’ve met some of my best friends and have had some of the best moments of my life (as a Spartan), played in some awesome football games and won a lot of them. To be able to wear the green and white for five years has truly been a blessing.”