There’s no doubt that Mark Dantonio is one of the premier coaches in the Big Ten Conference and the country as well. When it comes to toughness and discipline, Dantonio is one of the best.
The Spartans sit at 5-6 and are under .500 for the first time since 2009 and there is talk of them missing a bowl game for the first time in the Dantonio era. The Spartans’ coach refuses to let that happen.
“When we win Saturday — and I’ll say when — we’ll be a 6-6 football team, not climbing out of the cellar as a 2-10 football team,” Dantonio said.
This supreme confidence goes to show how Dantonio thinks of his team and how little he thinks of the Golden Gophers.
He went on to say that this guarantee was not just that, it is just a mindset that the Spartans go into every game with. While this is true, they go into every game expecting to win, they still have a losing record and are facing off against a team that has already secured a bowl bid.
“It’s a program game for us, there’s no question about that,” he said. “It would be our sixth straight bowl game, so it is very significant to the program. We need to be motivated by that fact.”
Although a guarantee seems to be an extreme statement for a team that sits below .500 with one game remaining, the sixth-year Spartan coach has proven t0 be one of the best at what he does. He has the right to guarantee this win when his team is coming off two straight 11-win seasons and coming one game short of the Rose Bowl twice.
When you take a program that was hovering around mediocrity and evolve them into one with Rose Bowl expectations year after year. He has instilled the mindset of anything less than a Big Ten title is a disappointment and this year falls under that category.
When Dantonio took over in 2007, they Spartans were coming off a 4-8 season and Michigan State was a program on the decline. The following year, the former Spartan assistant coach under Nick Saban improved the team to 7-5. In 2008, he improved them to 9-4 and competing for a Big Ten title.
This team had improved every year under Dantonio, besides a setback in 2009 when the Spartans finished 6-7.
This program has been completely turned around thanks to one coach and one leader. Does Dantonio have the right to guarantee a win against Minnesota Saturday when his team has been the most disappointing in the conference? Yes, he does. He has lost to the Gophers just once in his six seasons as Michigan State’s head coach and doesn’t plan on increasing that number to two any time soon.
No offense to Jerry Kill or the Minnesota Golden Gophers, but when you turn a program around and have them consistently at the top of the conference, you have the right to be frustrated with a mediocre year and the right to guarantee a win when the team you play is historically inferior.
Bravo, Mark Dantonio, bravo. If you can pull this off, you will look like a genius once again.