EAST LANSING - One major goal down. One bigger one to go. That's the way Mark Dantonio described things on Monday, the day before the first practice of spring football 2011 at Michigan State.
"Our goal when we came here was to become Big Ten champs, that was our number one goal, and to go to the Rose Bowl," Dantonio said. "We have been able to accomplish one of those goals this past year. Now we begin to prepare for the Rose Bowl. That's where we're at. The foundation has been laid."
The Spartans will begin spring practice on Tuesday without sophomore linebacker Max Bullough and senior tight end Brian Linthicum. They are suspended for two practices as a result of being arrested while spring breaking in Aspen, Colo., earlier this month.
"They will not practice the first two days of practice, and we have taken internal action as well," Dantonio said. "They have missed time in addition to that."
Linthicum was charged with misdemeanor third-degree assault and eluding police. Bullough was charged with being a minor in possession of alcohol and eluding police. They are scheduled to appear at Pitkin County Court on April 19.
Both players are strong candidates to win starting jobs this fall. Bullough served as the back-up to Greg Jones last season, and Linthicum backed up Charlie Gantt. Gantt and Jones are expected to be selected in the NFL Draft this spring.
But they will have to work their way up from the bottom of the depth chart, when they return to the practice field next week. Bullough (6-3, 240) is listed No. 3 at Mike linebacker in the official depth chart that was released on Monday, behind junior Steve Gardiner (6-1, 215) and sophomore TyQuan Hammock (6-0, 227).
Linthicum, who had 18 receptions last year and secured the Big Ten championship by recovering an onside kick at Penn State in November, is listed No. 6 on the depth chart at tight end. Senior Garrett Celek (6-5, 247), who missed all of last season with an injury, is No. 1 on the depth chart at tight end.
"Fans were disappointed in those headlines, much like myself," Dantonio said of the arrests of Bullough and Linthicum. "You have to do is look deeper into the situation and evaluate the situation. I'm sure not all those fans were packed into Aspen. The only people that really know what went on there were the individuals that were there and the investigation that was after that.
"We have done the very best we can to look into this situation but this is real life, real life situations. You can't control other people, whether it be players or non-players and the actions they take as well.
"I'm disappointed in it. And as far as how we have handled ourselves beyond that scope of things, I think we have tried to do the very best we can. We have constantly challenged our players to react morally. I think we are doing some good things in the community. We are constantly challenging our players to make good choices as individuals, whether that's academically, on the football field or off the football field. We will continue to do that and try to impact this community in a positive way.
"I know sometimes it seems like two players out of a hundred get into a problem but we also want to focus on those 98, 97 others that do an outstanding job here. But just like society, there are going to be problems. And we all recognize that fact, that things are going to happen for you."
Sims Reinstated For Spring
Sophomore tight end Dion Sims has been reinstated for spring practice, after being sentenced in September to one year of probation and 15 hours of community service for his role on the periphery of a crime ring which resulted in the theft of laptops from Detroit public schools.
Sims pleaded guilty in September to receiving and concealing stolen property. The crime ring stole 104 laptop computers from Detroit schools, valued at more than $158,000.
MSU official learned of Sims' involvement in February of 2009, at which point he was removed from the Michigan State basketball team after seeing action in one game earlier in the year. Sims was suspended for the 2009 football season.
MSU officials stopped short of stating that Sims is fully reinstated for the 2011 football season. He is no longer a part of the basketball team.
"Dion, we reinstated for spring ball," Dantonio said. "Based on what happens here in the future, much like many of our other players, he will remain in contention. Whether he is on this football team or not, (is) based on the future.
"At this point in time he has done everything we have asked him to do. He has had an excellent semester in school, academically. He has been compliant in every respect, both in-house and out-of-house, I mean judiciously as well."
Dantonio was asked if all of Sims' legal hurdles are cleared.
"To my knowledge, at this point," Dantonio said. "But I'm not sure the answer on that question. At this point in time, that's where it's at."
Sims (6-5, 277) is listed No. 2 on the depth chart at tight end.
SpartanMag.com will have coverage of depth chart moves and notables later today, in addition to video of Dantonio's press conference, and video of roundtable interviews with offensive coordinator Dan Roushar and defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi.