As we reported earlier this week, Michigan State recieved a ranking of #13 from Sports Illustrated. We gave you a little bit of a break down of what the “experts” said in their scouting report and what players they figured to be strong. McDowell, Bullough, the Hydra of a running back core in London, Holmes and Scott.
One thing we did not share was what I thought was the most interesting point of that article and that was what the anonymous coaches quote revealed.
Here it is in full from the article:
“You hear it all the time, but Mark Dantonio is a heck of a coach. As usual, he’s got a very physical team. They take care of the football and aren’t greedy. They’re not worried about tempo and all the flash. They just kind of beat you into submission and get you to surrender as fast as they can. They do a great job of personnel groupings and mixing their plays. They use their personnel about as well as anybody I’ve ever seen.
That will help take some of the pressure off the new quarterback. [Senior] Tyler O’Connor started the Spartans’ upset of Ohio State on the road last season. He’s a solid passer who can run some, but no matter who starts, I’m sure Dantonio will play to his team’s strengths, which means running the ball. They’ve got three very capable backs in [sophomore] LJ Scott, [junior] Gerald Holmes and [sophomore] Madre London, but I imagine the bruising [6-foot, 238-pound] Scott will be an even bigger force this season. With their experience on the interior offensive line, it’ll be tough slowing down their ground attack.
On defense their first priority remains stopping the run. Malik McDowell [junior] is a monster who’ll be playing on Sundays next season. [Senior] linebacker Riley Bullough is a tackling machine, and having back [linebacker] Ed Davis will help. The secondary could be the best the Spartans have had since 2013.”
Coach Dantonio’s name was mentioned first and foremost. Taking a look at the other teams ranked higher than Michigan State almost every single quote from an opposing coach is talking about players first. From Clemson’s Watson to Florida State’s Cook you have coaches either talking about the departure of studs or the questions surrounding younger players. With the exception of Lane Kiffin at Alabama, Coordinator Mike Stoops at Oklahoma and new co-defensive coordinator Greg Schiano at Ohio State, Dantonio was the only coach immediately called out and the ONLY head coach mentioned first.
Just look at the difference between the SI rankings (MSU at 13) and the Coaches Poll last week (MSU at 11). NowI am trying to not put too much thought into pre-season polls (because getting upset at those makes as much sense as yelling at a cloud), but there is something to be said for the coaches ranking MSU higher than most pundits.
Then you have the poll from ESPN that reveals that after Bob Stoops, Mark Dantonio was the coach that other coaches most wanted their kids to play for. In a different poll, Dantonio tied with Urban Meyer as the coach that Big Ten players would want to play for. Coaches want their kids to go to a place where they can get a great education and grow into the men they can be, players want the same thing but they also want to win. A coach is paid to win and players are their to win. No one is saying “Ya know, that Dantonio is a nice dude. Let’s not worry about wins and losses.” They want to win and people know Dantonio knows how to do that the right way.
Replace #Disrespekt with Dantonio
Last week I wrote about how I was breaking up with that word. I know that plenty online have been trolling me about how much we have yelled the word or how it was only 2 hours before I wrote that piece that we had the word in a headline, but that is going to happen. #TrollersGonnaTroll.
The point is this. We lost a lot of talent in the departure of Connor Cook. We lost a presence in Calhoun. We lost wisdom on the O-Line. That plus the spanking we got from Saban and Co. last December means that we do not deserve to be top 10. There are a lot of question marks going into this season, but there is one thing that is a big, fat exclamation mark in the pro/con list of these Spartans and that is Head Coach Mark Dantonio.
This is not the first time we as fans have been in this boat. We had a LOAD of question marks going into the 2013 season. A QB battle that no one knew how it would shake out. Questions surrounding who would be the stud in the backfield and if anyone would be able to step up. A secondary that didn’t quite look like the secondary we were used to seeing. All of those choppy waters were navigated by the man at the helm, and done so with ease.
The college game is subject to turnover, it is the world we live in. Now programs like OSU, Bama, and Michigan are programs that tend to get the names you read about on Rivals and 247 that add an air of stability to a program. We are seeing that come through more and more of our program, but that it takes time. These kids are 17 years old and when they started paying attention to football about 10 years ago the winner of the national championship was Urban Meyer. Year after year they heard the name Nick Saban as he won 4 national championships and Urban added two more. In 2006, Mark Dantonio went 7-5 at Cincinnati and left before the bowl game to come coach Michigan State (a team that went 1-7 in the conference and 4-8 overall). The turnaround Dantonio gave to our program is massive. We were in a wasteland of John L. Smiths since Saban left for LSU in 1999 and he came in and turned around the program by developing talent, putting team first, and having the ENTIRE team reaching higher year in and year out. We are starting to get that stability and bump in rankings from Dantonio’s presence, even though it isn’t as high as some of us would like.
That is why I am am confident in this year and am not listening to the pundits that are putting this coach and this team in third place in the division. In Dantonio we have a coach that is going to end up as the greatest football coach in the history of the school. We need to remember that this is only the 10th season of Dantonio’s tenure at MSU. So what if we don’t get the pre-season respect, we will get plenty of shine at the end of the year.
That is the way he would want it anyway.