It’s the middle of July, which in the college football calendar means it’s time for analysts to make their bold predictions for the coming season.
ESPN’s Phil Steele, as he does every year, put together a list of college football coaches that are on the hot seat at the start of the 2017 season. That list includes Spartans’ head coach Mark Dantonio. This, of course, is pretty ridiculous.
Steele’s rationale was that Dantonio’s Spartans are coming off of a 3-9 season, missing a bowl game for the first time in his 10-year tenure, combined with a truly ugly offseason.
“Keep an eye on what happens during 2017, and don't be surprised if there's a change at the end of the year.”
There are so many holes in his logic, it could have played in the Michigan State secondary last year.
Steele admits that Dantonio was no where near this list last season. Which, in a way, proves how ridiculous a the thought it is that the Spartans leading man would get canned.
That’s not to say it would be totally impossible to see Dantonio gone after this season, but it would have to be for things having nothing to do with football. The only way Michigan State parts ways is if the sexual assault cases of the offseason turn into a full-on Baylor controversy.
As Lansing State Journal’s Graham Couch correctly points out, there are far more important factors than football that could play a role in the decision. But short of more criminal activity, Dantonio is secure.
Statement from Mark Dantonio on the latest sexual assault investigation. pic.twitter.com/406wMM3lXa— Graham Couch (@Graham_Couch) April 13, 2017
Part of the reason Dantonio is so safe is because of the school he works for. If he turned in back-to-back 3-win seasons at Georgia or Texas, sure, he’d be out the door. But at Michigan State, Dantonio has had the most success of any coach in 50 years.
While the 2016 season was his worst, this isn’t the first time Dantonio has had to rebuild the program on the fly amid shaky play and off-the-field issues. In 2009, Michigan State finished a game below .500 and Dantonio suspended nine players for their participation in an on-campus brawl.
The next two seasons the Spartans won 11 games each.
Dantonio isn’t untouchable, but it’s going to take a lot more than a rebuilding stretch like this to see the Spartans look for his replacement.