Team preview: Michigan State

Editor's Note: ESPN Insider has teamed with Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook to provide a comprehensive look at all 119 Division I-A teams. To order the complete 2005 edition of Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook, visit www.blueribbonyearbook.com or call 1-866-805-BALL (2255).

(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.