The Heisman hopeful and senior at No. 2 Michigan State won't say who the best quarterback is in the Big Ten, but he has lofty goals for the season. Any doubt, just check his fridge.
DAN PATRICK:Would you have gone pro if Michigan State had won the national title last season?
CONNOR COOK: That's a good question. I really don't know the answer to that. There would have been some thought going into it. But who knows? I'm still here living the dream.
DP:Last time a coach yelled at you?
CC: I get yelled at every once in a while. After the Rose Bowl in 2014 we were doing winter conditioning. We're doing wall runs, and coach [Mark] Dantonio was on his phone and wasn't really watching. But [strength-and-conditioning] coach [Ken] Mannie was yelling at me because I wasn't getting my knees up high enough. And then Coach D heard Coach Mannie yell at me and felt the need to yell at me without knowing what was going on. All I heard was Coach D ripping me a new one. I guess he thought the Rose Bowl [a 24--20 win over Stanford] made me think that I didn't have to work hard enough.
DP:Have you ever yelled at Coach Dantonio?
CC: Heck, no. Are you kidding me? Everyone on this football team knows not to do that.
DP:Does Dantonio ever smile?
CC: All the time. You've never seen him smile?
DP:Not that I remember.
CC: He's smiled plenty of times. Back when he first got here [in 2007], he never smiled. But then he started to win, and he's smiled more and more.
DP:Did he charm you when he recruited you?
CC: Yeah. Coach D is a great guy. The only time people see him is on game day. That's his game face. When he's not on the field, Coach D is a great family man, super kind, always thinking of others. No one knows that because they only see him on game day.
DP:Who is the best quarterback in the Big Ten?
CC: I'm not gonna say that, but I know the answer.
DP:I want you to be confident.
CC: I am confident. I just don't feel the need to say something like that. I'll keep it to myself.
DP:What's in your refrigerator right now?
CC: We've got a chicken breast in here and some salsa. Green Mountain Gringo, it's called. We've got some lettuce, carrots and cucumbers because I like to make salads every night. A lot of sauces.
DP:No beer, right?
CC: No beer.
DP:That's pretty respectable.
CC: What did you expect, all beer?
CC: Just because we're college kids? C'mon.
DP:All I had was beer in my fridge in college.
CC: We have some goals to accomplish this year. We can't do that by drinking beer.
Rob Manfred, the MLB commissioner, told me he doesn't know how he would vote if Pete Rose were eligible for the Hall of Fame: "I would have to really think hard about the overall experience that Pete had with baseball. I've just never done that." ... ESPN's Rick Sutcliffe claimed he saw the Cubs' success this season coming. "This team might be surprising a lot of the fans," Sutcliffe said, "but I don't think they've done anything they didn't expect to do, because of their drafts. This is no different from what [GM] Theo [Epstein] did in Boston." ... I joked with Falcons QB Matt Ryan that even I could throw a touchdown to receiver Julio Jones. "I think you could," Ryan said. "I don't take it as a slight—he's that good. Surrounding yourself with great players is a good thing."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (PATRICK)
JOE ROBBINS/GETTY IMAGES (COOK)
MIKE STOBE/NHLI/GETTY IMAGES (MANFRED)
JOE FARAONI/ESPN IMAGES (SUTCLIFFE)
MOSES ROBINSON/GETTY IMAGES FOR DAVID YURMAN (RYAN)