Team preview: Michigan State

Blue Ribbon Yearbook previews the 2005 college football season, exclusively on Insider.

Originally Published: July 19, 2005
Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook
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(All information as of July 1, 2005)


All the turnovers, gaffes and blown assignments that plagued Michigan State's team in 2004 paled in comparison to the news coach John L. Smith learned before the season -- that his wife, Diana, had terminal colon cancer.

A second opinion at the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis reconfirmed that even the removal of a baseball-sized tumor didn't improve her prognosis. The situation was so dire that the Smiths and their three children began arranging a funeral site back in Idaho, where John and Diana met four decades ago in junior high school.

Then in September, a trip to the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor produced miraculous news: Not only had the variety of Diana's cancer been misdiagnosed, but she likely would recover without any debilitating chemotherapy.

As thankful as MSU's coach was, the depressing months had transformed him. No longer would he be the typically obsessed football man. Now he vowed to place more emphasis on his family.