Fans: John L.'s A Nice Guy, But He Needed To Go

By: Tony Tagliavia
By: Tony Tagliavia

It's a different sport, but, for the most part, the same fans.

"I went to my first [football] game in '52," John Banfield recalled at Wednesday night's Michigan State University basketball exhibition game in Grand Rapids.

Banfield is a football season ticketholder with, as he puts it, mixed emotions about the departure of John L. Smith.

"Because I like him as a person but I think it waas the right thing to do for the team," Banfield said.

The right thing, most fans told us, because of Smith's record so far this season: 1-4 in the Big Ten; 4-5 overall.

"It's been a disappointing season," Martha Farrington said. "Something's not working."

So fans like Farrington aren't surprsied to see Smith go. Neither is Carol Krieger.

"I'd be surprised if someone's surprised," she said.

Krieger says Smith deserved to go, despite the comeback conference win over Northwestern.

A disappointing end to Smith's four-year run -- one Robert DeHoek was initially impressed with.

"He started out with energy and enthusaism, but I don't think he could ever get over a .500 season," DeHoek said.

Still, most we spoke with say they're glad to see Smith will be able to finish out the season.

"If there is anyone who can do this at this time, it would be John L.," Tom Farrington said.

But fans say John L. Smith didn't have the leadership to guide the team's talent.

It's that talent fans say makes them optimistic about a better team -- and a better record -- next year.

"Well, I certainly hope so. I'm a season ticketholder. I'd like to see them win," Banfield said.

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