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EAST LANSING, MI--Michigan State Coach John L. Smith was unable to finish a pastrami on rye sandwich at Side Streets Deli today, citing the overly generous portions of lunchmeat on the sandwich and the "really thick bread" it was served on.

"It was just too much for me," said Smith, packing the remaining half of the sandwich into wax paper sheepishly. "All that meat and bread. I felt pretty confident going into the second piece, but one bite and I was finished. They really pile on the meat at that place, I tell you."

John L. Smith, habitual sandwich surrrenderer.

Smith's inability to finish the second half of a sandwich did not surprise deli manager Spiro Kandalakos. He says he's watched the Michigan State coach come in for years, and that his failure to conquer the pastrami and rye represents classic John L. Smith performance.

"Every day that man walks in here, I tell him 'You know, we do half a sandwich and soup for $5.99," but he just won't listen," says the burly deli manager. "He goes right over there, reads about half of the paper, and eats the first half of the thing like he's Kobayashi or something."

"Then he just loses interest, puts it in the bag, and walks out."

Smith stared at the sandwich. "It's bready, you know? That's bad for your digestion, anyway. Yeah."

Smith's frustrating day continued when he returned to the office to watch tape and call recruits, common routine for Smith on Tuesdays. Smith began to watch gametape on Illinois, but then suddenly lost interest when the third quarter tape of their loss to Iowa began.

"I don't know, maybe it was the lights, the sound...something just broke my concentration, I guess," said Smith, glumly holding his hand in his hands at his desk. He fiddled with a half-completed jigsaw puzzle as he spoke; exactly half of the visage of a kitten stared back up at him from the desk. "I just couldn't focus. Illinois just kept running the same plays, and Iowa kept stopping them, so I figured I'd get up and do something else."

Smith then walked outside, a Sudoku puzzle book in his hand. Smith, an avowed Sudoku fan, took a seat on the bleachers with pen in hand, the autumn sunshine warming his body.

"I was feeling pretty good, actually. The numbers were clicking, the sun was out, I was really getting my focus back. Thought about calling some recruits, maybe drawing up a few know, really getting back to being what John L. Smith is all about: finishing the drill."

But then, about halfway through the puzzle, Smith put the book down, stunned by the complexity of the scheme.

"Those damned Japanese are some crafty, crafty people, I tell ya. I just can't get this block right here...." he said, his voice trailing off.

Spartan assistant trainer Melvin Hodgson said the Sudoku collapse was pure John L. Smith.

"That man hasn't finished a damn one of those things yet. He just rips right into it, like he's some kind know, Sudoku genius. Then this fog just rolls in--you can see it on his face--and the man just drops it halfway through. I go in and finish them later so he can look back and pretend he did 'em. I get absolutely no credit around here."

The Sudoku setback, though failed to Smith put the book away, announcing that he planned on "going to the gym to run a half mile, do somewhere between one and three sets of bench press, and maybe finish that sandwich if I can."