Mark Dantonio, Michigan State Facing Brighter Spotlight in 2014

By Patrick Maks on July 28, 2014 at 1:15p

CHICAGO – It often seems hard for Mark Dantonio to smile, but his signature scowl cracked at least twice last season.

First was after his Michigan State Spartans won the Big Ten championship and, in the process, knocked off mighty, undefeated Ohio State – previously the winners of 24-straight games under coach Urban Meyer.  

After the game, Dantonio, a man as dry as they come, told the FOX Sports broadcasting team he was looking forward to partying with his team to rapper Rich Homie Quan’s “Some Type of Way” in the locker room at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The second smirk was after the Spartans took down Stanford in the Rose Bowl, their first win in Pasadena since 1988. Again, the typically stoic and unfazed coach was brimming with emotion while holding the game’s trophy up high in the air.  

Of course, with great success comes great expectations. And Dantonio insists Michigan State is prepared to handle them. 

"How do we handle success now, we’ve gotten to the point where we’ve done some special things," Dantonio said at Big Ten Media Days Monday.

"I think we’re a little bit more of the hunted. That’s a good place to be, but also a precarious place to be as well." 


  • Dantonio clarified that the Spartans are "one of the hunted, not the hunted." Most notably, Ohio State will compete with Michigan State for the league's crown this season. "We’ve always been about taking care of ourselves, not looking for entitlement. We’ll get what we earn, every game will be a challenge, it has to be earned ... Respectability can fly out the window and I understand that."
  • The Spartans return 14 starters next season, but lost a sizable chunk of a defense that finished among the best in the nation last season. Dantonio said the goals will remain the same as any season. 
  • On the Big Ten East Division: "I think it’s going to be a tough division, there’s no doubt about that." He noted that it's good to have built-in rivalries with Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State. 
  • Dantonio dismissed the notion of the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry cooling thanks to the Spartans' recent dominance: "I continue to live in Michigan, that ought to do it." 
  • Dantonio said "nutrition is the new frontier" of college athletics after the NCAA granted schools the ability to provide its athletes with unlimited snacks. 

Comments Show All Comments

Killer nuts's picture

It's hard for me to dislike this guy

+8 HS
sharks's picture

He reminds me of Van Alden from Boardwalk Empire

A man got to have a code...

+1 HS
Groveport Heisman's picture

That is weird,I totally had him pegged as a "Chalky White" type of character.

Mark my words..I don't need acceptance. I'm catching interceptions on you innocent pedestrians.

Eph97's picture

MSU fans are starting to get a little annoying. Recent success has gone to their head and they think they run the B1G now. Go to their board on 247 and its pure disrespect when it comes to OSU. There's even a thread there dedicated to praising Bollman. This year is the tie-break year since its 1-1 with Urban.

Shangheyed's picture

East Lansing is a cool campus is a nice place to catch a game... college town and they love their football.  I see many similarities with Buckeye faithful in their fanbase.  IMO they are a different kind of Rivalry... more respect than hate and I think they feel the same way.. 

-1 HS
Boxley's picture

Dantonio desrves all the accolades. He has earned them. How satisfying it must have been to knock off tOSU for his first conference championship. Bittersweet most likely, for what could have been.

The man can coach. He went North with an excellent pedigree for defense and now is reaping the rewards. Good for him. I loved the Buckeyes defense under Dantonio.

Now we will have to see who is better. This is a great new rivalry getting started folks.

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

+3 HS
Buckeyevstheworld's picture

The last time MSU had high expectations, they went 7-6.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

+9 HS
Ghbuck23's picture

Yeah but now it looks like they have a QB in Cook ..

Win Baby , Win

okiebuck's picture

That apple (Dino) didn't fall far from the Tressel tree.

"Fate has cards that it don't want to show"

+4 HS
cdub4's picture

Dantonio also worked for Saban at MSU. He has worked under some excellent coaches

AndyVance's picture

I had forgotten that Dino was at MSU during the Saban years, so I went to the Gnomes of Wikipedia to read up on his resume. It's pretty impressive, really:

Dantonio began his coaching career at Ohio University, where he was a graduate assistant. In 1981, he made his first stop in the Big Ten Conference when he moved on to Purdue University as a graduate assistant. He spent two years, in 1983 and 1984, as a graduate assistant at Ohio State University under head coach Earle Bruce. In 1986, he began a five-year stint on Jim Tressel's staff at Youngstown State University as a defensive secondary coach. In 1990, Dantonio led the Penguins' defense to an 11–0 record and a #2 ranking nationally. Glen Mason hired Dantonio in 1991 to be the defensive secondary coach for the Kansas Jayhawks. When Nick Saban was hired at Michigan State in 1995, he hired Dantonio to join his staff in East Lansing where he remained even after Saban left for LSU. After Bobby Williams was named head coach in 1999 following Saban's departure, Dantonio was promoted to associate head coach where he remained through the 2000 season.

So year, he's worked for Earle Bruce, Jim Tressel (twice), Glen Mason and Nick Saban prior to his first head coaching gig in Cincinnati. That's not a bad pedigree.

+1 HS
Jbucks's picture

its good for thr big ten that they have success they had a great year last year and they played their hearts out and worked hard for every win who are we to say anything negative about it? we just to work hard, play our guts out every play and hope the rest of the B1G follows suit ii look forward to our game with em it will be good hopefully

Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it-John 1:5 SEC meet Ohio State, Ohio State meet SEC

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Some of the Spartan players will feel like they're being hunted this year, but Jeremy Langford will feel more like a pack horse. Maybe Dantonio can ride him for about 400 carries. 

+1 HS
AndyVance's picture

I love Coach Dantonio. My favorite non-Ohio State coach in the conference, and it isn't even close.

I'd say he was my second-favorite coach in the country, but I just can't quit Steve Spurrier and Les Miles.

+1 HS
Big Papa's picture

I like Spurrier as we'll. I love the smirk on his face after he pushes Saban's buttons. I like that Les eats grass and Boogers. 

"To be the man you've gotta beat the man and just when you think you have all the answers, I change the question." The Nature Boy, Ric Flair

Go1Bucks's picture

MSU was gifted the C.

We will be taking it back. 

Go Bucks!

AndyVance's picture

Talk all the trash you want, but they earned that trophy. That secondary talked a big game about the "no fly zone," but they backed it up on the field. No disrespect from this Buckeye fan.

+2 HS
Big Papa's picture

I hope they only lose one game this year. I hope ttun loses them all. It is hard for me to root against him considering he put together two of the best defenses in scholl history. 

"To be the man you've gotta beat the man and just when you think you have all the answers, I change the question." The Nature Boy, Ric Flair