A lot of fans and media personnel have been critical of Max Bullough and from the outside looking in, it isn't hard to blame them. But like some have mentioned, no one feels worse or more disappointed about the entire situation than Max himself. This is a player who has started for the past three years and really helped establish a core on which the Spartan staff was able to build off of and produce the team you see today.
The third-generation Spartan has been dreaming of a Rose Bowl appearance from the day he stepped onto campus and came one penalty away from reaching one in 2011. This season was Max’s last shot; his last opportunity to reach the Rose Bowl and he along with his teammates accomplished that goal. But now, for reasons only truly known by his coaches, teammates, the school and possibly the police, Max is and will not be in Pasadena for the 100th Rose Bowl. I will not speculate on the reason but the reason does not matter. All that matters is the Spartan captain and leader of the defense will not be with his team.
He has been the “quarterback” of the defense for three years and has an amazing knack for recognizing offensive formations and the defensive audibles that would fit the given situation. Without him, many of the defensive audibles will most likely come from defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi himself. It looks like Darien Harris and Kyler Elsworth will both fill the void left in the middle by Bullough. Harris is a sophomore, while Elsworth is a senior who has really seemed to make an impact on special teams for the Spartan’s over the past few seasons. Both will probably play but look for the more impactful player to get the majority of the reps, it appears to be an “OR” situation on the depth chart for the Spartans.
Now, back to the suspension and why fans and media personnel alike need to realize that no one feels worse about this than Max. Some of you will point to the incident he had as a sophomore in Colorado, where Bullough and tight end Brian Linthicum were arrested for eluding police while Max was given a minor in possession because he was intoxicated at the time. Sure, that should have been a learning point in Max’s life but as a college student we all make mistakes. Some of us make multiple mistakes and unfortunately for Max and MSU, he has been given another life lesson in which he must learn from.
For an athlete, there is not much of a better life lesson than missing a game, let alone a game you have waited to play in for your entire life. I understand the pain that Max is going through right now. Oh sure I was not a college D1 athlete, but in my senior year of high school as a captain of our hockey team, I was suspended for the final 2 games of our season after an on-ice incident. Knowing that you are letting down your team and school is not a good feeling and surely one Max is experiencing right now. While I sat out and watched my team play those games, I became a better leader and was finally able to understand what it truly meant to be a captain. It was unfortunate that it took me missing games to realize this but I am better off because of it. Max Bullough will surely become a better person because of this incident as well; it is a humbling experience. Fortunately for me, I was able to come back for our playoffs and attempt to redeem myself. Max will not have that opportunity as a collegiate athlete, but will get that opportunity in the NFL. His playing days are not over and though it sucks that he will have to miss this game, he must take advantage of the learning opportunity he has been given.
In layman’s terms: Give the kid a break. He messed up, he knows he messed up and he knows that he let down his school and most importantly he knows he let down his teammates. Don’t think for one minute his teammates will forget about him, his suspension could be a big motivation for a team that truly doesn’t need much more motivation to win a Rose Bowl. These players, Max’s teammates will be playing for him on New Year’s despite the fact that he cannot return the favor.