After a rough 2016 season, can Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio bring the Spartans back from the brink?
Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio is entering into his 11th season at the helm and appears to be nowhere near stopping. Players are buying into his message and there is reason for optimism in East Lansing.
Dantonio has said from day one that he felt MSU was a destination not a stop. When fans first heard this in 2006 they probably felt warm and secure inside but all the while fans understood college football is a business. Nick Saban broke hearts and sunk dreams when his Spartans finally broke through into the upper echelon of the Big Ten. Michigan State was becoming a respected football program and fans were celebrating but Saban jetted off being seduced by the LSU.
In a business where coaches do not stay long at any one program, especially if they have had success, Dantonio’s run is interesting. Former coaches like Frank Beamer and Bobby Bowden are unique rather than the norm. Dantonio has had possible opportunities in the past, however with his age and time now spent at MSU it’s likely that this will be his home until he’s done coaching.
There is a certain point in a coach’s career where they must make the jump to something perceived to be better or stay. It all depends on a person’s goals for their life.
Dantonio has always had a strong love and respect for MSU from his time as a defensive backs coach. It is this reason that this upcoming season is vitally important for him. He could have a mediocre or losing record in 2017 and Spartan fans will always love Dantonio for bringing them back to relevance.
This upcoming season represents the greatest challenge for him in his coaching career. Rebuilding an established football program. It is something few coaches have done. Mark Richt was unable to do it and was let go.
Therefore, it was interesting to read the comments from junior Khari Willis who recently told MLive that the team is more on the same page this year in buying into Dantonio’s message. While the Spartans may have a young team, it’s from this statement that there is reason for optimism in East Lansing. The Spartans last season appeared to be out of sync with each other.
Yes, there were injuries and younger guys playing, however, Willis’ comments make sense in hindsight.
Dantonio mentioned after the investigation that you do not run from problems but fix them. Sparty certainly does have many problems like coming off a 3-9 season, doubts about the program and attrition.
However, based on Willis’ comments and what other players have said it appears the Spartans are on the same page as of right now. When Sept. 2 arrives, then everyone will find out how much the Spartans are truly on the same page.
Dantonio will once again polish up that proverbial chip on his shoulder and have the green and white ready for the season.