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Posted on Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 5:58 a.m.

Q&A with Scott Westerman: MSU alumni association director talks about bowl picks and the Michigan rivalry

By Lucy Ann Lance

As the Michigan Wolverines get ready to taste the sweetness of the Sugar Bowl (January 3, 8:30 p.m. on ESPN), some Michigan State Spartan fans are feeling a little sour. Not the executive director of the Michigan State University Alumni Association, however. Granted, Scott Westerman did grow up here in Ann Arbor and graduated from Pioneer High School, so perhaps that’s why he is one Sparty who takes a statewide view when it comes to college rivalries.

After the bowl picks were announced this past week, he sent this email: "Both MSU and UM are playing football in the post season! As a Spartan, I always hope we are the winners when our two teams face one another, but two great teams make both of us better competitors and better sportsmen."

Dean Erskine, and I interviewed Scott this past week on 1290 WLBY.

Westerman: I am so proud of what Coach Hoke has done in one year in Ann Arbor. I’m an Ann Arbor boy -- I grew up in the shadow of the Big House. I remember when the capacity was only 101,001.

Dean: Hey, do you remember getting in for a buck?


Scott Westerman grew up in Ann Arbor, but graduated from Michigan State.

Westerman: Yeah, well I don’t know if you were a Boy Scout but there were probably times when I was on the 50-yard line sitting on the cement as an usher in those days. I’m so proud that we have two fantastic football teams playing post game bowls and actually the fact that U of M has been chosen by the BCS to play in the Sugar Bowl. What an affirmation of the turnaround that’s happened down there. I couldn’t be prouder of those guys.

Lucy Ann: There are some Spartan fans who are a little bit disappointed how it worked out, but it’s just the way the bowl allotment fell. (MSU had the best record in the Big 10 conference, but failed to finish in the top 14 of the BCS standings.)

Westerman: Our football banquet was 24 hours after Indy (where MSU lost to Wisconsin, which now heads to the Rose Bowl), but it was not at all what I thought it would be. It really was a celebration, and part of the tradition is the seniors hand a rose to the person that has been most influential in their MSU life. There were tears, but they were tears of joy where people were talking about lifetime friendships made, about lives changed. I mean there were a few of these kids who definitely had inner city backgrounds who learned not just how to be good students, not just how to play great football, but how to be productive adults and they said that. The coolest thing was the biggest ovation of the night was for Isaiah Lewis, #9, that poor kid who got to the kicker just a second too late and got the flag thrown in the last minute and a half. Everybody stood up and cheered him like he was (MSU quarterback) Kirk Cousins, like he was a superstar.

Lucy Ann: That’s the sign of true sportsmanship.

Westerman: Well I think that’s what Michigan, if you talk about our state, is all about. When we’re at our best, it’s about making men and women who are going to be great contributors to the world.

Lucy Ann: What’s your perspective on the money that factors into where these teams go, like Michigan going to the Sugar Bowl, and how much money plays into the selection.

Westerman: The greatest thing about how the Big Ten works with all of this is that we all benefit when somebody goes to a bowl. So we’re going to be playing in the Outback Bowl, U of M in the Sugar, there will be money coming back to the conference from that game and that will be spread equally around all the teams. I mean that is not something that happens in other conferences. It’s unique to the Big Ten and I think that’s part of what makes us great.

Lucy Ann: You posted an interesting blog this week that has close to 100,000 page views now following that MSU football banquet. What did you write about, Scott?

Westerman: I wrote about what winners really are, and the reality of the world is that you can be the best and not be recognized as the best. For example, I think Denard Robinson is a very strong Heisman Trophy candidate no matter what anybody says. I mean there aren’t many quarterbacks in the history of the game that are as good as he is. You know, he may not get the Heisman Trophy, but does that mean he’s not a winner? I think absolutely it does mean he’s a winner and that’s what we can’t forget about in this whole thing is that there are a lot of great programs, the rules are the rules, and this is how life works. You may play your best and it might not be good enough that day, but that doesn’t mean you should stop exhibiting the behavior of a winner and living what I call “The Spartan Life.” You could probably call it “The Wolverine Life,” but I mean, that is what it’s all about. It’s about making a difference in the world, making the world a better place, and passing it on to the next generation, and that’s the magic of what our athletic traditions both at Michigan and Michigan State do. For generations people have been proud of our institutions because our athletic programs are so superb.

Lucy Ann: You can’t let a setback determine the entirety of who you are, and it’s how you handle that setback that really tells a lot about who you are inside.

Dean: I guess if you’re a fan of a school, like Michigan State for example, if you feel like you’re being disrespected by the bowl committees, you just have to say, “You know what, it is what it is and it’s all politics” because realistically Michigan State should have been much higher up. Nebraska should not have been picked before MSU to go to the Capital One Bowl, but again it’s because Nebraska has never been there and they “travel well.” If anybody is feeling like they’ve been disrespected, what do you say to them?

Westerman: In the first place I think respect is something that we earn every day and respect is given by people who deserve respect. I mean the kind of people who have negative comments to my blog posts are the kind of fans we do not want to have. Politics aside, I am glad we’re not going to Orlando. We’ve been in Orlando at that venue for the last three years. I don’t think the Citrus Bowl is a very big place to play football and I’m glad we’re in Tampa Bay. I think it means the most to the kids, I mean, everybody wants to go to the Rose Bowl, it is a Big 10 and Pac 10 tradition. That’s what it should be -- it should not be part of the BCS in my view, but, you know, that’s where we all want to be. That is, for us, the Super Bowl and one of the great things that several of the seniors said is they were looking at our underclassmen, and I know this is the same feeling that’s going on in Ann Arbor right now. If you look at this team Brady’s building, they were looking at the underclassmen and they were saying, “We are looking forward to sitting in the stands and cheering you on in Pasadena.” That is still the goal. No matter what anybody says; it’s not even the BCS Championship for us in the Big Ten, it is playing in the Rose Bowl.

Lucy Ann: The Spartans will be playing in the 26th annual Outback Bowl on January 2nd in Tampa, Florida. It will be televised nationally by ABC with kick-off set for 1 p.m.

Dean: And that’s one of the nicest things about it, is that they’ve moved the kick off of that game. It used to be the 11 a.m. game. Who in the world wants to get up that early for a football game?

Westerman: I think that is one of the more subtle things that show what a great year Michigan State has had is that No. 1, it was moved from ESPN to ABC, and No. 2, we get the Monday Night Football commentators who are doing the play-by-play. That says a lot about the kind of people they think will be attracted to this matchup.

Dean: Hey, just don’t tell your friends in East Lansing that (football broadcaster) Mike Tirico lives in Ann Arbor.

Lucy Ann: Go Blue! Go Green!

Westerman: Absolutely! Go Michigan!

Lucy Ann Lance & Dean Erskine own Lance & Erskine Communications, which produces “The Lucy Ann Lance Business Insider” (M-F, 8 a.m.-11 a.m.) and “The Lucy Ann Lance Show” (Saturdays, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.) on 1290 WLBY. The programs are live streamed at, and podcast on The above interview is a condensed version of a longer conversation that is edited for clarity. The complete audio interview is posted online at



Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 8:51 p.m.

I really appreciate this article because it is a welcome contrast to the divisive world in which we presently live and it portrays a much bigger picture. Let's not forget these are just kids playing football. The quality of the man is not measured by the 4 years he plays football, it is measured by the totality of his full life following the college experience. the coaches and universities can have a huge say in the quality of that man's full and remaining life. Scott W you are class all the way, man. To Scott W this wolverine says Go Green Go White. I hope, collectively in the first hour of television coverage during the bowls in which we are playing, BOTH U of M and MSU are topping their opponents 85-7 in stark contrast to last year's bowl games.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 3:14 a.m.

Well, Mr. Westerman, you have achieved partial success. In this day and age, I'm not sure that what used to be called good sportsmanship can ever make a full return. I sometimes wish we could be a bit more civilized, but it's hard to be unilaterally civilized, if you know what I mean. Ah, well. Maybe next century. I will be waiting for it. lol

Terry Star21

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 11:49 p.m.

In a perfect world, all Spartan Alums & fans would behave like this.


Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 1:52 a.m.

Yes because Michigan fans are NEVER in the wrong


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 11:31 p.m.

it's about saying the right things.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 10:54 p.m.

Six personal fouls and deliberate attempts to hurt Michigan players. Why do we let this representative of a dirty program run by a dirty coach have any voice. Michigan State is no longer a legitimate "student athlete" program. Sad how a coach can turn a program into something to loathe.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 11:23 p.m.

They even tackled people too!!!!!!!!!!!! The horror!!!!! <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Its called football, happens every game

Billy Bob Schwartz

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 3:15 p.m.

Great interview. I agree that, this time of year especially, it's time to pull for all the Big Ten teams. It's the way it should be, and every game won is a feather in the hat of the conference. This affects all the teams, including Michigan, in many ways. The only game that will be a killer for me is pulling for that one know the one...and I'm not sure I can do it. In any case, Go Blue! Go Big Ten!


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 4:55 p.m.

it seems that anyone who believes a B1G school should go the Mac would not have any credibility


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 4:25 p.m.

So Michigan has lost to state the last four years. So where does that leave Michigan deserving to be?


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 3:36 p.m.

It just seems to me that MSU is better off as a member of the MAC instead of the B1G.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 3:30 p.m.

LOL! just remember even they are part of the Big Ten.......O....I Can't!


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 2:43 p.m.

The &quot;urrgghhh&quot; comment was due to a bad flashback of seeing Gholston doing a 359 degree head twist on Denard.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 2:41 p.m.

Go Big Brother...Go Little Brother! Two brothers against the world! GO BLUE! Go...urrgghhh!, there I said it!


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 4:19 p.m.

way to be condescending in your statement. I mean really nice backhanded Go


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 2:32 p.m.

spoken like a man that loves MICHIGAN. a true michigander is one that wants both teams too win in the bowl games. i for one when it comes to bowl time. want both too win. great for recuriting for both schools. i just want ohio to go down next year.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 3:27 p.m.

Well Said!!

Theo's Brother

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 1:52 p.m.

Spoken by a man who plans to run for office one day...

Theo's Brother

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 4:36 p.m.

No that's just a very political response due to the polarizing fan allegiences in this state.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 3:11 p.m.