Each time I refer to Michigan State as a “football school”, or as not being a basketball school — as I did at the end of Sunday’s LSJ column — I get a smattering of emails or tweets disagreeing or questioning my logic.
It’s never meant as a slap at Tom Izzo or MSU’s basketball program. It’s simply a matter of fact, at least by how I define a football or basketball school.
It has nothing to do with success. And everything to do with interest.
At Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Kansas, etc., more fans care more deeply about hoops than football. Therefore, they are basketball schools.
At MSU, as with Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Florida — all very accomplished basketball programs — the interest is more widespread and intense with football. You can be an elite basketball program and be a football school.
It’s regional, as much as anything. There are no basketball-first universities in Michigan. Not among those that play football.
Whereas, south of I-80 in Illinois and Indiana, there no football-first Division I schools (other than Eastern Illinois).
The internet age of journalism — for all of its detriment — has given us greater evidence of this. We see the stats.
MSU football stories, by and large, are far more read than basketball stories. Same for U-M, which is no surprise.
Fewer people view Illinois football content, however, than do Illini basketball.
So, when I write that MSU is a football school, I get that the Spartans have been to six Final Fours since the school’s last Rose Bowl. But I also know, as a whole, the fan base wishes it were the other way around.