After the dramatic success of the “Cold War” and his guarantee that the “BasketBowl” will be “one of the signature moments in Michigan State history,” Michigan State Athletic Director Ron Mason is ready to announce the next big Spartan spectacle.
“I see ‘The Third Trojan War’ as a fitting end to this historic trilogy,” Mason said. “Please take note that after next year’s game against the University of Southern California Trojans in Troy, Michigan State University will be in the Guinness Book of World Records three times!”
The Michigan State and Michigan hockey teams squared off in October 2001 in front of 74,000 fans at Spartan Stadium, setting the world record for hockey attendance. On Dec. 13, 2003, Michigan State and Kentucky will play the “sequel” at Detroit’s Ford Field, which will break the world record for basketball attendance with an excess of 75,000.
Needless to say, Michigan State saved its best and most gaudy for last. “The Third Trojan War” will pit the Spartans against the Trojans in front of more than 200,000 fans in a stadium modeled after the Roman Colosseum.
“Our players will feel like cowboys in there,” Michigan State football coach John L. Smith said. “I mean gladiators.”
In the meantime, the Michigan State athletic department is busy trying to figure out where Troy actually is.
“These kinds of details aren’t our strong suit,” said Mason, whose players, just two years ago, almost had to play hockey on ice in 60-degree weather. “But I’ll tell you this — we aren’t talking about Troy, Michigan.”
Michigan State has sent out renowned archeologists to confirm that the original site of the first and second Trojan wars is, in fact, modern-day Canakkale, Turkey. As soon as the Spartans receive word, they’ll break dirt on the Colosseum. The building of this state-of-the-art football stadium is just another momentous occasion for these Spartans, who when asked to jump, inevitably respond, “How high?”
In an attempt to test the waters of their journey, officials left the Detroit harbor on a boat a week ago, hoping to chart the entire trip to Troy firsthand and let Mason know it is a “go.” Shocked after the St. Lawrence River ended in the middle of Canada, Spartan officials told Mason the bad news.
“Luckily, the football team had a bye week, so I could concentrate on tweaking our original plan to sail out of Detroit,” Mason said.
As always, the athletic department came up with another gem. To honor their Spartan roots, Mason said the team, its coaches and fans will march from East Lansing to the New York harbor in a gigantic phalanx, taking out anything in their path.
“We will again take control of the Mississippi,” Smith said. “I mean the Aegean. It’s a river, right?”
Once at the harbor, Michigan State is arranging for a fleet of warships to escort the Spartan contingent to Troy. Mason, wearing his patented green blazer, will captain one of the ships and the Michigan State marching band — flustered that it can’t march all the way to Troy — will play the Spartans’ circus-like fight song constantly throughout the voyage.
“I’m currently taking sailing classes,” Mason said. “I’m a hockey guy — I’m used to the water being frozen. Just in case I’m not sailing smoothly, we’ll distribute barf bags to the passengers. I’m also worried about fans having to hear the band for such a long time.”
Southern Cal., like Kentucky, was hesitant when it first heard the Spartans’ offer, and even after they accepted, the Trojans refused to sail from Los Angeles to Troy. They’ll stay in a team hotel and will take the opportunity to go sightseeing.
“We’ll treat it like a bowl week,” Southern Cal. coach Pete Carroll said. “We’re going to be flying, instead. Sailing will probably take them a week or two, and it just didn’t make sense for us to sail, especially when we’d have to go around Asia.”
The Spartans, on the other hand, will stay in tents a few miles from the stadium once they reach Troy. They’re expecting to bring more than 50,000 fans, with each fan responsible for slaying his own meals.
“That’s a lot of mouths to feed,” Mason said. “Building the stadium and renting the warships has cost us a pretty penny.”
“Good thing there’s a lot of turkey over there, or else we’d be screwed,” Smith said.
After finalizing their travel plans, the Spartans will concentrate on football again.
“There is still a game to be played,” Smith said. “We know the history of this rivalry, and we want to keep the Helen Trophy in East Lansing.”
Smith said he might even reintroduce the secret play that was used the last time the Spartans beat the Trojans.
“That Trojan cow could be the difference for us,” he said.
J. Brady McCollough can be reached at email@example.com.