Earn it, prove it and own it: What it means to be a Little Brother on Saturday
Kirk Cousins’ speech at the Big Ten kickoff luncheon in July has drawn rave reviews for months and has more than 150,000 views on YouTube.
“The truth is, privilege should never lead to entitlement,” he said in that speech.
In a sense, this means even once you have accomplished great thin, you are not going to be simply handed what you want when presented with opportunities. What you already have done, does not entitle you to have your next goal served up on a silver platter.
You don’t see a sense of entitlement from this bunch of green-clad warriors. They have earned everything every step of the way. The stories have been written again and again about how Cousins was not highly recruited, nor likely to be the starter at Michigan State, and even once he has earned that — and won games — he still is pegged as the second-best quarterback on the field on a large number of Saturdays.
Cousins came to East Lansing as part of a recruiting class with B.J. Cunningham and Joel Foreman, also not highly rated recruits, and with the feeling of having something to prove and a desire to prove it. This deep desire drives the individuals that compose this team and is visible to all (see the manhandling they handed Michigan this year), that in just about every big game and difficult matchup, these Spartans have not been expected to succeed by those outside the program. Yet through that doubt, a sense of unwavering confidence emanates from these Spartans.
They have bought into this program, its goals and its ambitions, and, more importantly, themselves.
They decided that was enough, that outside doubt and questioning would not define them.
They decided that being slighted by the BCS last season as conference co-champions, they would come back harder in 2011 with even more to prove. With a bigger chip than before.
Cousins said this earlier in the season, ” ‘I saw a preseason magazine cover which said in the bottom corner, ‘Title time for Spartans?’ I wanted to tell them we won the title last year, title time was last year. We’re looking to repeat, so we do still feel overlooked and that Big Ten championship was somewhat forgotten by a lot of people, and that’s fine. I’m going to try to do it again. I think we do need some people to doubt us. That is a good thing to have, a healthy thing to have.’ “
Fact is, under the old Big Ten system, Michigan State already would be headed to the Rose Bowl as outright Big Ten champions. Under the new divisional system, there is one more game to be played. Another title to earn. For Michigan State, it means beating Wisconsin for the second time.
Might as well. Why not? If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing the right way. It’s worth fighting for. It’s worth earning. It’s worth taking it as your own to the level where no one can dispute that it is yours.
That is what this Big Ten Championship Game is for this team. It’s the ultimate opportunity to prove their mettle in the face of their goals and in the face of doubters. And if they win Saturday, they will have earned another title and a Rose Bowl bid. They will have proved themselves yet again. They will own their goals.
They will show the nation what everyone in Spartan Nation knows, this is a group of young men that has done exceptional things on the football field and it is a privilege to watch them on fall Saturdays.
But, maybe at the end of the day, all they need is the backing of Spartan Nation and the belief in themselves and their accomplishments.
They certainly are entitled to that.