New York, NY—Senior linebacker Max Bullough of Michigan State finished this season with 76 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and 10 quarterback hurries on his way to first-team All-Big Ten honors. He’s also a standout off the field and in the classroom for which he was honored by the National Football Foundation as a national scholar athlete, as well as a William V. Campbell finalist. I was able to speak to the linebacker when he was in New York to participate in the NFF’s award events. Scroll down to listen to the audio interview.

How important was it to earn the Rose Bowl trip?

We wanted to do it the right way, the Michigan State way. That’s the way we played football all year. We haven’t taken any backdoors, we never have. We could have backed into the (Big Ten) Championship Game a couple of weeks ago with Northwestern and Minnesota left on our schedule and we did that the right way too. To me, everyone talks about Big Ten teams going to the Rose Bowl, but to me it’s winning the Big Ten. The reason that the Rose Bowl is mentioned so much is that 99.9 percent of the years, you win the Big Ten you go to the Rose Bowl. So to me to win the Big Ten has been incredible.

Make your case…Michigan State is 12-1 and a conference champ just like Auburn, does the Big Ten not get enough respect? 

That’s a tough question to answer just because there are so many unknowns that go into it. Especially for me, I don’t really know exactly how it all plays out. The way I look it at is, we’re 12-1, there’s not any other undefeated team other than Florida State in the country, at least in the FBS, so it’s what Coach D (HC Mark Dantonio) has been saying, ‘why not us?’ Why is it the other team that’s 12-1? There’s a couple other teams that have the same argument. But like I’ve been saying, I control what I can control. We won the Big Ten Championship. We’re playing the Rose Bowl against Stanford and that ain’t a bad gig either.

What’s your definition of a Spartan Dawg?

A Spartan Dawg is a guy that is a relentless football player. He’s a smart football player. He’s a guy that has passion for the game. Not only for the game but for his teammates and wants to do well just because that’s the kind of person he is and because he doesn’t want to let his teammates down. That last thing that comes into that is smart. A football player that can play at a controlled rage throughout a football game and they can also sit back and dissect a defense or dissect an offense and be able to come off the field and say, ‘this is what they’re doing. This is what we need to do.’ All those things add up to being a great football player.

*To read this interview in its entirety, click here.