Michigan State Holiday Wish List 2018: Wish No. 3 for Spartan fans

LINCOLN, NE - NOVEMBER 17: Head coach Mark Dantonio of the Michigan State Spartans walks on the field with the team before the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium on November 17, 2018 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)
LINCOLN, NE - NOVEMBER 17: Head coach Mark Dantonio of the Michigan State Spartans walks on the field with the team before the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium on November 17, 2018 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images) /

Michigan State’s 25 wishes list continues today and throughout this week. What is the No. 3 wish for all Spartan fans?

Here is wish No. 3 on our Michigan State fan wish list as we count down to wish No. 1.

Wish No. 3

Michigan State football hires Matt Canada as offensive coordinator as Dave Warner becomes the new quarterbacks coach for the Green Bay Packers and Jim Bollman steps aside as co-offensive coordinator and accepts a new coaching position that is created as he becomes the new tight ends/fullbacks coach for the Spartans.

This is the wish that many Spartans fans have been waiting for. However, it is by far the most complicated wish and there are many reasons why that is.

For one, Mark Dantonio rarely fires anyone on his staff unless there is some special circumstance involved. Second, if someone leaves his staff it is for another coaching position. Dantonio is very loyal and he puts a high priority on keeping his staff together from season to season and some may argue that loyalty is a negative in today’s society of overreacting and firing someone in the hopes on landing someone better.

Dantonio has been with some of the coaches on his staff for a long time and no one fits that description more than Dave Warner.

According to msuspartans.com: “Dave Warner is in his sixth season as the co-offensive coordinator and his 12th overall at Michigan State. Warner, who also coaches the running backs, was promoted to co-offensive coordinator in 2013. He previously coached the quarterbacks for six seasons (2007-12).”

In other words, Warner has been at Michigan State since Dantonio was hired as head coach. The offense at Michigan State has not always been awful under Warner as co-offensive coordinator.

In 2014, 2015 and even 2017, the Spartans had an effective offense under Warner. However, the offense in 2016 and this season — in 2018 — has been, by some estimates, described as dreadful. Dantonio has made zero indication of Warner moving on and no longer being offensive coordinator but here is one reason why a change may happen.

The Nebraska game and, to a lesser extent, the Ohio State game was really an eye-opener for Spartan fans. The frustration of Michigan State fans had reached a boiling point and it could be seen on social media rather on Twitter or Facebook and even on message boards who for the most part have supported Dantonio and his coaching decisions no matter what.

The No. 1 thing for most fans who were and still may be irate is that they want a new offensive coordinator. It was felt by the coaching staff and athletic department that Spartan fans were avoiding spending money by not attending games or if they had tickets, were trying to give them away when tickets to the Rutgers game were selling for little and some season ticket holders were having trouble giving away the tickets for free.

Then Dantonio publicly said, “We’ve had 50,000 fans there at a spring game, so I don’t ask for much sometimes, I just keep moving forward in the direction — forward — but this is a moment for our seniors.”

Then, to top it off, the athletic department made it known that student season ticket holders could bring two guests for free to Michigan State’s game on that Saturday — it got even worse.

The game itself against Rutgers was an eye sore, at best. Michigan State was down 7-0 early in the game. The offense looked worse than ever and there were many seats empty that could be seen during the nationally-televised game. The Spartans were actually losing in the fourth quarter before Cody White saved the day with a late touchdown. Josiah Scott also essentially burned his red-shirt by playing in this game made a huge interception to end any chances of Rutgers winning.

Saturday Tradition reported, “According to Chris Solari of the Detroit Free Press, Saturday’s attendance in East Lansing was 64,951. That total, per Ryan Cole of WDBM, is the lowest official turnout for a Spartans home game since 2006. It was John L. Smith’s last home game against Minnesota.”

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Ouch, that is not a good stat or piece of information because, all in all, when fans stop showing up for home games, changes seems to be right around the corner. Has Dantonio done anything similar to what this wish suggests? Yes and no.

According to the New Orleans Saints, “Dan Roushar came to New Orleans following a six-year stint at Michigan State, the final two as offensive coordinator/tight ends coach. In 2012, the Spartans enjoyed a productive campaign running the ball as Le’Veon Bell won the Big Ten rushing title with 1,793 yards.”

In other words, an offensive coordinator has left Dantonio’s staff to take another coaching job. Roushar had a great season in 2011 as an offensive coordinator but a disappointing one in 2012.

According to a MLive article, Roushar left because he wanted to: “Every year you meet with Mark Dantonio at the end of the year and you talk about a lot of different things, but one of them being your own personal goals,” Roushar said. ”And you know I said, ‘Hey, would you like to be a head coach at the college level?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know that I’d drive that way.’ Right spot, right time, maybe. But I said, ‘I’ve always wanted to have an opportunity to coach in the NFL.’ If the right situation came with the right guy, I’d want to do that.”

The hope here being is that Warner wants to take a job in the NFL because he knows that if he stays at Michigan State next season and things don’t go well offensively for the Spartans, fans will stop showing up to Spartan Stadium and the pressure will mount on Dantonio his good friend who has remained loyal to him.

Warner can coach quarterbacks as he successfully did from 2007-11 when for the most part, Spartan quarterbacks developed and thrived under Warner’s guidance and teachings. However, Andrew Maxwell and the 2012 season did not go so well and that is not to be forgotten among some.

Though, with a new coaching staff coming in Green Bay for next season, it’s not unreasonable to see Warner taking a job like the quarterbacks coach for the Packers in 2019. If not, Dantonio will not fire Warner because there has been no indications or even rumors that Dantonio would even entertain the thought of firing not just one of his staff members but a close and personal friend. But if Warner does go, how does Matt Canada take over as the new offensive coordinator for the Spartans?

Matt Canada may not have been even an option as a new offensive coordinator had Maryland beat Ohio State and become bowl eligible.

As interim head coach, he did have an impressive win vs. Texas and the Terps came one point away in overtime from beating Ohio State who ended up winning the Big Ten championship. In terms of offense, Maryland put up 66, 42, and 34 points against Illinois, Minnesota, and Rutgers, respectively, as all ending up as victories for the Terps.

However, as many Spartan fans know about Dantonio and the way he wants the Spartan offense operated, Michigan State is predicated on one thing and that is the ability to run the ball effectively and often. You know who is able to accommodate those wishes? Canada.

At Maryland under Canada’s watch, the Terps ran for 339 yards and four touchdowns against Ohio State, ran for nearly 150 yards and two touchdowns versus Texas and rushed for 171 yards and two scores at Michigan.

Against lesser opponents, Maryland rushed for 444 yards on the road against Bowling Green, 315 yards on the ground versus bowl-bound Minnesota, 290 yards against Rutgers and had five rushing touchdowns against Illinois. The Maryland offense did all that with an ineffective passing game for most of the season. Compare that to Michigan State’s run offense and you can see why Canada would be an ideal fit for the Spartans and most importantly for Dantonio and what he wants to see from his offense.

On the flip side, I know that Michigan State fans will point to the game the Spartans had versus Maryland. Here is a news flash, Michigan State, even with all of the injuries, was good if not great on defense this season. Also, the game against Maryland was the first game that Josiah Scott played in since being injured and Michigan State at one point was No. 1 in the nation in rushing defense, so put that in perspective. But what about Canada at LSU, etc. Spartan fans will say — OK, let’s talk about Canada’s coaching history then.

Canada has a long history of coaching in the Midwest as well as brief stints at NC State and LSU before his time at Maryland.

  • 1998–2000: Northern Illinois (RB)
  • 2001–2002: Northern Illinois (QB)
  • 2003: Northern Illinois (OC/QB)
  • 2004: Indiana (QB)
  • 2005–2006: Indiana (QB/PGC)
  • 2007–2010: Indiana (OC/QB)
  • 2011: Northern Illinois (OC/QB)
  • 2012: Wisconsin (OC/QB)
  • 2013–2015: NC State (OC/QB)
  • 2016: Pittsburgh (OC/QB)
  • 2017: LSU (OC/QB)
  • 2018: Maryland (OC/QB/Interim HC)

Many people would argue that he bounces around too much for job to job. You may make a counter argument that he has experience in numerous places and has worked with quality quarterbacks before his brief stints at LSU and Maryland. He has been a part of three different Big Ten staffs at Indiana, Wisconsin and, most recently, Maryland. But let’s put together a Dantonio hiring a new offensive coordinator check list and see how many boxes Canada crosses off on that list.

  • Has proven his offenses can run the ball effectually — Check
  • Has coached and recruited in the Midwest — Check
  • Understands what it takes to coach in the Big Ten and can game plan against Big Ten opposing defenses — Check
  • Has plenty of offensive coordinator experience at six different Power Five coaching schools — Check
  • Has coached under Pat Narduzzi and would come highly recommended — Check
  • Is affordable, not cheap but he would be not asking for a ridiculous amount of money — Check

However, replacing Warner with Canada is a big part of the equation but there is still one part missing.

That one more thing that many Spartan fans forget is that Bollman is technically still the co-offensive coordinator. The hope here is that his ego would not get in the way of him no longer having the title. He would not be fired under this plan which is important for Dantonio. Bollman may be soon thinking of retiring so the belief is that this is a workable plan for both sides. Once again, in order for this to work but sides must be willing to go through with it.

This wish is in the top three because this is what Spartan fans really want. The wish laid out here is something that actually could come true. Some Michigan State fans want Dantonio to clean house among the offensive staff and hire multiple people to replace them. That has nearly a zero percent chance of happening.

Next. Michigan State basketball holiday wish list for 2019. dark

This wish for the most part is a compromise that all that is involved can live with, including the fans of the green and white. Time will tell if this wish or some variation of this wish were to come true in 2019. Happy Holidays as we count down to the final two Spartan fan wishes.