On January 2, 2012, in Spartanology, The Spartan Life, by Scott Westerman

By Scott Westerman
There was a moment in the Outback Bowl that you probably missed. Right before Kirk Cousins threw the miracle touchdown pass that took us into overtime he walked a few steps away from the knot of Spartans who were discussing what to do next. He knelt down, and as is his practice in times of trial, he prayed.

Whatever your spiritual beliefs, that one activity probably did as much to help us win the game as did the extraordinary stamina of our superb defense. We struggled on offense. But the team, our entire team, from the student managers all the way to the thousands of Spartans in the stands kept the faith and kept us in it.

At the height the unbelievable pressure that has been placed on this singular young quarterback all season long, he stopped, re-centered, re-focused and calmly went out and made history.

The power of prayer (and meditation) is in how it can clear your mind. Trusting that things will work out as they should. I’m not inside Kirk’s head, but I bet his prayer wasn’t for an outcome, but for the strength to do his best. Finding our center in trying times, however may choose to do it, is a worthy practice.

Faith made all the difference today.

It began with the faith that Mark Hollis had that magical day when he picked an upcoming coach, that few knew well, to lead this team.

It’s been at the center of Coach Dantonio’s program from the moment he arrived on campus. He had faith in his fore bearers, bringing back the traditions that were the foundation of MSU’s football greatness during our glory years. He had faith in young men who often stumbled, some badly, giving second chances when the fans were screaming for blood.

It has been inculcated into the minds of a team that believed that they could beat Michigan four times in a row. A team who ignored ESPN and a BCS who didn’t think we had a chance for a significant post season appearance. A team who, but for an official’s myopic judgement on a final play, deserved to be in Pasadena.

Since Mark Dantonio came to East Lansing, this team, from the top down, has always had faith in one another. Faith that they would beat the odds. Faith that they could do what everyone else said was impossible.

And, is as so often the case in the greatest heroic stories, their faith sustained them. They knew they could win the game. And they did it.

There’s a lesson here. You don’t have the be the richest to win. You don’t have to have Heisman candidates to win. You can make many mistakes and win. You don’t have to cheat to win.  The secret is to carefully choose who will earn the right to join you in your quest, set high standards.. and have faith.

As I look back over the greatest achievements in the history of Michigan State University, this plot line plays out again and again. From our beginnings when a nation that was still 7 years away from enacting a The Morrill Act had faith in some educators on the banks of the Red Cedar and chartered a new college, to the Hannah years, when MSU rose to become an international force for educational good, to today, when President Simon is charting a course that will ensure MSU’s legacy of excellence for the next generation.

Faith was at the center of our victory today. Faith will be the fuel that will inevitably take us to Pasadena. Faith is what will put Spartans at the center of every important problem that faces our world, Spartans who will make that critical contribution toward a better life for everyone, everywhere.

Faith is the secret.

Faith is what Spartans have. And great things are what Spartans do.

Go Green!

Scott Westerman is the Head Servant at the MSU Alumni Association.



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