BIG PAYDAY FOR TWO FORMER SPARTANS

     Friday is usually payday for most Americans and it was a big day for former Spartans Ryan Miller and Devin Thomas.

     Miller, the 2001 Hobey Baker Award winner out of Michigan State, was a fifth round draft pick of the NHL Buffalo Sabres in 1999.  He has signed a five year extension for $31.6 million dollars.  Negotiations began back on July 1st and ended today, the day Miller is attending the wedding of his brother Drew.  Miller will receive $3.5 million this next season and had he not come to terms on a new deal he would have become a free agent.

     Thomas gave up his senior season at MSU after two years in green and white.  He opted for April's NFL draft and was chosen 34th over all, early in the second round, by the Washington Redskins.  Thomas has signed a four year $4.683 million deal with a $2.7 million signing bonus included.  That's guaranteed money.  Thomas wanted the deal done prior to training camp which begins in two days.  I claim MSU will sorely miss Thomas this fall and the Redskins' deal with him certifies his value as a great NFL prospect.

     Now to Michigan men's basketball coach John Beilein.  He needs players, right?  His first year, Michigan went 10-22, most losses in the school's 108-year basketball history.  He already has lost a new recruit.  German native Mark Benzing, who signed in May, has been declared ineligible by the NCAA.  Beilein was not totally surprised.  Benzing is 6-10 and the Wolverines need some inside help after the transfer of Epke Udoh after last season.

     Early betting line-- Cal is a 7-point favorite over Michigan State when the teams meet August 30th in Berkley.  Next week, all of the Big Ten coaches assemble in Chicago for the annual pre season media previews.  The sessions will be seen live on the Big Ten Network and ESPN News.

    Former MSU basketball coach Jud Heathcote, 81, was due to be released Friday from a Spokane, Washington hospital.  He underwent heart surgery there a week ago, the second such surgery for Jud this year.  His friends believe that he will be okay, but prior to last Friday's procedure Jud felt ill and never had any energy.  Whether he plays any more golf at his country club across the street from his beautiful home or not remains to be seen.

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