The latest BCS Rankings came out and Michigan State is #4 in the country, the highest ranking achieved by the school since 1967. The Spartans are also the Big Ten Champions and on their way to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1988. Mark Dantonio has led this team through an amazing year, with a 12-1 record and is a finalist for the National Coach of the Year.
However, if some fans had their way, he would have been fired after the Notre Dame game.
I wanted to wait until the season concluded to comment on this topic, despite being quite aggravated about it while it was occurring, because Mark Dantonio, before the current 9 game winning streak, had earned the benefit of the doubt and did not need to have his head called for so quickly after a 4 point road loss.
Many on Facebook and Twitter and message boards had enough of the poor offense to that point, did not understand Andrew Maxwell’s late appearance in the Notre Dame game, did not understand Conor Cook’s inability to complete a pass and didn’t get why Damian Terry was still on the bench. They questioned his choice of a two headed Offensive Coordinator and Jim Bollman’s selection to be one of them (usually only after they googled to figure out who Bollman even was).
These decisions led them to question Dantonio’s ability to lead and make decisions and felt he could not take this program to the next level and wanted him fired. This was such an asinine and short sighted viewpoint I can’t believe the amount of people that wanted it to happen.
First, these people needed to think of where the program was when Dantonio took over, what he has accomplished as the Spartan Head Coach and the success he has already has and that EVERY program, no matter how successful has down years, games and growing pains. Dantonio also had been a victim of his own success and expectations with fans had grown, no longer happy with an Alamo Bowl appearance to consider a season a success.
But, with that level of success, Dantonio should have been given the benefit of the doubt after the start to the 2013 season when he was implementing a new offense and finding the best QB to run that offense.
When reading the posts and tweets calling for Dantonio’s head I did respond to a few, reminding people of the awfulness the program was in under John L Smith and Bobby Williams. Reminding them that the program had more sustained success under Dantonio than any time since the mid- 1980’s and that a snap reaction to replace the man responsible for this continuity may not be the best reaction (I may have cursed quite a bit more than that).
In today’s college football environment, winning is everything and winning now is even more important and that is why some people get a little too impatient when expectations aren’t met. However, with Mark Dantonio, a loss at Notre Dame was clearly a bump in the road on the way to the most successful season Michigan State has had since at least 1987 and it could be argued since Duffy Daugherty days and his National Championships.
Mark Dantonio has turned MSU into a consistent football program, from the days when a bowl appearance was a bonus to now, where 8+ wins every season is expected. Frustration at a season that doesn’t meet expectations is normal, but Dantonio is not only the right man for the job, he’s the only man for the job.
Next time you think Mark Dantonio should be questioned or fired, remember where this program was before he took over and where it is now. This team has 41 wins in 4 years, 2 Big Ten Titles, 2 Division Titles, 4 Bowl appearances, a Rose Bowl appearance and 2 top 15 finishes in the final rankings. This program is better than it has ever been and will continue to be that way with Dantonio leading the way.