The Rose Bowl.
Growing up in the Midwest, it’s the event that became our first memory of each New Year. For sports fans, it continues to be that special tradition that proves to us that no matter how much we may change as a person from New Year to New Year, there are some things that just need to stay the same. Sure, we watch the Rose Bowl a little differently than we did when we were kids. Instead of hot chocolate fighting off Jack Frost in our tippy toes, copious cups of coffee fight off the champagne in our heads and our stomachs, for example.
Tradition is tradition.
My friend Michael once told me that his dad taught him two things growing up: (1) Hate Ohio State and (2) Hate Brent Musburger. And as funny as both notions are to our Midwestern ears, the reality of Brent Musburger’s love for Ohio State and the SEC, and his ageing filter don’t outweigh how that grizzled grandpa voice is still perfect for verbally ushering the Grand Daddy of Them All into our ear-holes.
This New Year’s, I couldn’t be happier to hear Brent Musburger call the Rose Bowl. Because, this year was different. This year was the culmination of years of my team coming up short, and watching the Rose Bowl wondering what it would be like to be a fan of Wisconsin or Ohio State or the University of Michigan, knowing that there was almost no way in hell that I was ever gonna see my team in the Rose Bowl.
Then, Mark Dantonio happened. Pat Narduzzi happened. Connor Cook and Darqueze Dennard happened. Guys with overlooked talent started to buy into a system and believe in themselves, and Mark Dantonio delivered a promise: his team won the Big Ten Conference and were playing in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.
I was so happy, I didn’t care if the Spartans won or loss in the Rose Bowl. Until I woke up on New Year’s Eve. I woke up and decided that getting there wasn’t enough. I didn’t want my Spartans to be the ’87 Tigers or the ’09 Red Wings, the ’09 Spartan Basketball Team or John Beilein’s 2013 Wolverine squad. I didn’t want this team—this team that I had spent so much time watching, pulling my hair out over, traveling to Indianapolis and blowing a fifth of a paycheck on scalped tickets for—to come up short and be remembered 20 years from now as the “Oh, yeah. Remember that team went to the Rose Bowl?” team.
I wanted this silly song from an up-and-coming Atlanta hip hop artist to be forever remembered as that song the 2013 Spartan Football Team rallied behind to win the Rose Bowl.
It’s amazing how some media attaches to parts of our lives in unexpected ways. No special sports season is truly complete without a song to rally behind. Sure, the MSU fight song will be there forever as the song to celebrate with, but the Spartans took Rich Homie Quan’s song, “Some Type of Way” and made it their “Another One Bites the Dust” (1970’s Lions) or “Bless You Boys” (1984 Tigers) or “I Want Stanley”.[youtube http://youtu.be/2GrY8AyH3JQ]
I would love to know where this started. Did Max Bullough get the team together in training camp and lead them in song to get them pumped? Did Darqueze Dennard have it on repeat during workouts and showed the rest of the secondary how it helped him get stronger and faster? Or did Mark Dantonio’s daughter have it playing in the house one day and MD thought, I gotta show the boys this song?
However it started, Spartan fans were first introduced to this team’s phenomenon after its crushing defeat of U of M. There was a certain type of locker room celebration:
We saw it and fell in love with this team and its coach. The celebrations in the locker room only grew from win to win, with “Some Type of Way” leading every post-game celebration, full of dancing and partying. It seemed to be part of a philosophy that the players were digging. Mark Dantonio would allow them to have their fun if they put in a week’s worth of worthwhile practice leading to a dominant win. And he would participate with them! It reminded us what separates college from the pro’s; it reminded us that these kids were in it for the passion of the game, for the comradery, for school pride and personal achievement. Mark Dantonio reminded his players that you could go climb mountains you never thought you could climb; they’d be convinced it had to be destiny.[youtube http://youtu.be/h3ppYodyWN4]
And the fans bought into it as well. I bought into it. My friends bought into it, and “Some Type of Way”was the anthem of our 2013 winter. We played it at every game, every get-together, learned every lyric, and even blasted it out of our car windows on the streets of Indianapolis before the Big Ten Championship game.[youtube http://youtu.be/8CIekUCH3lM]
A new tradition had been created. He probably had no idea when his song first hit the internet, but Rich Homie Quan’s “Some Type of Way” would become the soundtrack of the 2014 Rose Bowl.
His song, the sounds of the Spartan Marching Band, and “Go Green! Go White”‘s that roared from the 70,000 Spartan faithful at the Rose Bowl, mixed with Brent Musburger’s commentary, the Christmas tree stadium of Stanford Cardinal Red and Michigan State Green, and a slow-motion shot of a backup, fifth-year senior, spot-started linebacker defying the laws of physics to end the game will forever be the sights and sounds that stick with me 20, 30 years down the line when I think of the 2014 Rose Bowl.[youtube http://youtu.be/biXaQk-TDJk]