Do not be offended if Michael Bazemore does not answer his cellphone on first ring Thursday night.
Or the second.
Or the third. Or the fourth.
Or probably not at all.
“I get so locked in, I’m oblivious to everything else,” Bazemore explained.
Bazemore will be a little pre-occupied that evening.
His beloved Michigan State Spartans are playing Alabama in the semifinals of the college football playoffs.
There are exceptions should his phone buzz.
“Depends who it is,” said Bazemore, letting out a good laugh. “Family. They’re all MSU, so I know they won’t be talking any smack or would bring any negative energy.”
What about his employer?
“Probably. I think I would answer it,” he said.
Bazemore is no ordinary Michigan State fan.
He is a former Spartan football player, who was a starter at defensive end for the 2004 and 2005 seasons.
A broad-shouldered 6-foot-3 within a couple of pounds of his playing weight of 265, Bazemore could still take down a Penn State running back if necessary.
The Philadelphia native has two bachelor’s degrees from MSU – Interdisciplinary Studies and Sociology – and a masters’ degree in Sports, Recreation and Fitness Management from Montana State Billings.
The 32-year-old Bazemore is the Director of Compliance and Internal Operations for MSUB. He is responsible for the NCAA compliance for all 15 sports teams, including student-athletes, coaches, athletic staff and appropriate university personnel. Bazemore also monitors the NCAA-mandated requirements as well as all the rules and regulations set forth by the NCAA.
And while he’s now firmly entrenched as a Yellowjacket, there are portions of the week where his heart returns to East Lansing, Mich.
“I try to watch every one,” Bazemore said of MSU’s football games. “Actually, I try to watch anything MSU … football, basketball, baseball. We’ve (the football program) been on television a lot this season and I watch some stuff on the Big Ten Network.”
Bazemore returned to the MSU campus this fall for the homecoming game against Purdue and has already bought his plane ticket for the College Football Championship game on Jan. 11, 2016 in Glendale, Ariz.
“I was thinking about it and bought it on Christmas Eve,” he said. “For $160, you can’t beat the price. But I don’t have a ticket for the game yet.”
Most of the season, Bazemore watches the Spartans solo -- “I get a little crazy,” he said -- from the comfort of his home.
For the playoff game, he will be joined by girlfriend Jaime Sparling, also an MSU graduate.
“We both get pretty rowdy,” said Bazemore.
While a Spartan, his head coaches were Bobby Williams and John L. Smith. One of the assistants on staff was Missoula native Jim McElwain, now the head coach at Florida.
“Coach Mac, he’s a good guy,” said Bazemore. “When I was looking for internships, I called him when he was at Colorado State to see if he could help me. He could have blown me off, but he didn’t. He made a few calls on my behalf.”
A member of the West Catholic Prep High School Sports Hall of Fame, Bazemore was also recruited heavily by Purdue, Penn State and Notre Dame.
Following his career with MSU, Bazemore was a standout for both the Billings Outlaws and Sioux Falls Storm of the Indoor Football League. He won two titles with Billings and another with Sioux Falls.
Along with long days in the MSUB athletic department, Bazemore coaches youth football, “It gets a little busy,” he said, winning a Rocky Bowl with the Class A Bengals this past fall.
He will work the Yellowjackets’ men’s basketball game on Thursday afternoon and hustle home for the game. Bazemore might change into Spartan gear before kickoff. “I’ve got a few things,” he said. “A hoodie, shirts, some shorts.
“I think they can win. We have to slow down (Alabama running back Derrick) Henry and make the quarterback beat them. Make Henry work for his yards. We’ve got to separate the game from the Alabama mystique.”
Just don’t call.
“I like to turn the TV on and get my uber-focus on.”