If there is one thing that Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook has handled incredibly, it's his rise to success on the field and in leading the Spartans to a Rose Bowl victory last season. On Monday, Cook showed that he has just a bit more ways to go when it comes to dealing with the media and watching what you say.
Monday was Big Ten Media Day in Chicago, and a number of players and MSU coaches took the stands to answer questions from the media concerning the upcoming season. For a major portion of the event, all eyes and ears were upon the Spartans' quarterback in Cook, who catapulted to success last year after taking the reigns at the QB spot.
Naturally, the questions gravitated towards Michigan State's rivalries and upcoming match ups throughout the season. The questions started with inquires on MSU's growing rivalry with Ohio State.
“I feel like it’s getting there," Cook said. "Obviously, we have Michigan, that’s been the rivalry for however long the teams have existed, but from playing Ohio State in 2011, we beat them at their place, and then in 2012 they came to our place and beat us, and then we beat them this past year in the Big Ten championship game. And the games have been so close. But we respect them. I think they respect us, we respect them, and the rivalry’s getting there.”
Naturally the tone of the comments involving respect brought up immediate thoughts concerning the Michigan Wolverines and the much more strained rivalry the Spartans have with their in-state foes. A reporter asked if the growing Buckeye rivalry felt different than that of the Wolverines/Spartans one.
“Yeah, um, I feel like the rivalries are a little different, just because Michigan, that’s been the rivalry for however long, and Ohio State, that’s just kind of growing each and every year," Cook said. "I think that’s all I want to say about that.”
Cook had clearly been told to watch his tongue concerning bringing up the boys from Ann Arbor. It's almost as if anytime any Michigan State player has made a comment about a Michigan player, or the team as a whole, it ends up somehow biting them in end - at least, most of the time it seems like it does.
Enter the "Little Brother" comment; in which a reporter asked Cook about the utterance from Mike Hart that predated the young quarterback by a number of years (the comment was made in 2007). Cook was asked if the comment still "ticked off" the players and staff as much as it used to.
“Yeah. It (ticks) off the coaches, (ticks) us off, (ticks) me off as a player. But I mean, who hasn’t seen that video a million times? And it just isn’t right. You don’t say stuff like that, you don’t talk to the media like that. But that’s Michigan. (Pause). Sorry, can you guys not use that? That’s really bad. Please. I probably shouldn’t have said that.”
To be completely fair, Cook was merely responding to a question, and his comment about "That's Michigan" shouldn't be taken out of context. His comments will cause a bit of an uproar here before the season starts, but when has that ever been a bad thing?
Who knows. Cook may have finally popularized a common saying around East Lansing and throughout the nation with his little public relations goof. When green and white fans are confronted by their Wolverine brethren out on the streets and labeled their "little brothers", perhaps the best response a Spartan can give is just that: "That's Michigan..."
You can follow MSU writer, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.