EAST LANSING - Twenty-four hours after winning the Outback Bowl in triple overtime, it still felt like Kirk Cousins was the starting quarterback for Michigan State. The elation of beating Georgia was still in the air, the cameras were still turned on, and the guy in the middle of it all was still No.8.
Reality had not yet hit.
After signing every autograph and posing for every photograph, Cousins finally started to walk towards the double-doors of the Duffy Daugherty building. Two young girls screamed out "Kirk!" and ran after him.
"Our Mom wants to know if we can take you to lunch tomorrow." Kirk looked down at the ground as if mentally sorting through his calendar.
"I can't," he said apologetically. "I'll be out of town."
Just then their Mom, Becky, ran up hoping to catch Kirk before he left and say goodbye. He gave each of them a hug and they ran quickly back to their car with their Mom. Kirk took a couple more photos and signed a few more autographs as the family piled in the car. But before pulling out, their father got out of the front seat and jogged over to Kirk.
"When am I going to see you again?" he asked.
"I'll be back the first week of March."
"OK," he said as they looked each other in the eye and shook hands firmly like two business partners, congratulating each other on closing a big deal.
He pulled him in for a hug, and Mark Dantonio said goodbye to Kirk Cousins. Their journey together had come to an end. Mark joined his family in the car, we turned off our cameras and reality began to sink in.