Feb 5, 2008

Farewell to a Great Bulldog

This week, it was announced that Michael Henig was leaving the MSU football team because of a hip injury that affected him most of the season. While the stats may not show it 20 years from now, the Michael Henig era was one of the most important ones the Bulldog team ever had. A small kid from Montgomery was a member of Coach Croom's first recruiting classes. He didn't have the stature or stats to be recruited by most SEC schools, but he did have the heart.

During Henig's freshman year, starting quarterback Omar Conner went down with an injury and in stepped this unassuming freshman. He wasn't surrounded by a huge talent pool. There wasn't a lot of anticipation among Bulldog fans to see him in the game. But he stood in there and made pressure throws and took the big hits. As a freshman, he led State to beat Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl. As a sophomore, he pushed senior Omar Conner to the WR corps. Henig had the heart and determination of a winner.

In the first game of his sophomore season, he broke his collarbone against South Carolina. When he went off the field, the air deflated out of most MSU fans. He fought back and later in the season led the Bulldogs to a victory over Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium against one of the teams from his home state that overlooked him. I was at that game and saw again the heart of a champion on display.

Henig started this last year running for his life and throwing six interceptions to eventual national champion LSU. Two weeks later, he broke his hand against Auburn, giving way to freshman Wesley Carroll. He spent the rest of the year in recovery and in a backup role.

I was never angrier or more embarrassed as an MSU fan this year than at the Tennessee and Ole Miss games when I heard many boos when Michael Henig came in to try and jump start a stalled offense. Many MSU fans took a step back into some of the classless levels of some SEC programs that have booed their players in the past. Most of them showed their ignorance of the situation, not knowing that Henig was coming into the game with a slight hip fracture. I hope I never hear another instance of a Bulldog player being treated so bad.

Here's to you Michael Henig! Thanks for being a winner, no matter what the win-loss record may indicate. Thanks for always giving your best. Thanks for performing above the level of your physical ability. Thanks for playing with a broken hip, broken hand, or broken collarbone. Thanks for always being a model of the character needed to be a Bulldog.


Anonymous said...

Against UT he went in because Carroll had a mild concussion.

Matt Haines said...

you are right, I remember Coach Croom saying that. The offense was also having some problems and I think that's why most fans thought Henig was coming in.

Nevertheless, the boos I heard were very disappointing. Especially considering this news about having an injury all year.

Michael said...

too bad Mississippi will always be the second best bulldogs in the SEC.

UGA all the way.

Haines said...

Dude are you gonna post againg? I know you are busy. I'm just yanking your chain!

BTW.. I have ordered the tix for the banquet so I should have them anyday now... :)