Did you read the title? I mean really read it? Yes, the Michigan State Spartans, the team that was a notorious four or five win team about 10 years ago, are on the verge of becoming an elite college football program. Laugh if you may, but the Spartans are making a strong case by being one of the Big Ten‘s winningest teams since 2008, winning 57 games. A big reason for all of the success? Mark Dantonio.
After the John L. Smith era from 2003-06, the program looked as desolate and as poor as any in the nation. No, they never experienced any one-win, two-win or winless seasons, but they were as sorry of a four-win school as any out there. Quite frankly, Michigan State was in shambles as a program with Smith left.
What would happen next? The school had been 38-45 in seven seasons since Nick Saban bolted for a higher paid job at more of a football school. Who could bring Michigan State back to the days of multiple national titles like they had in the 1960s?
Since taking over the Spartans, he has posted a 64-29 record in seven seasons with three 10-plus win seasons, two Big Ten title appearances, two Big Ten titles, seven straight bowl appearances, three straight bowl wins, a Rose Bowl victory and 38 conference wins. Take that in, folks.
Dantonio has come in and shown everyone that he can turn the Spartans into the elite program they once were about 50 years ago. Sure, not many people remember those teams, but Dantonio is creating a legacy that will be hard to forget — he’s already the fourth winningest coach in school history after seven seasons — the fastest in school history to reach that amount of wins.
If Dantonio stays for another five or six seasons at least, he will become the school’s all-time wins leader.
The program is a completely different team than it was a few years back. Players are now fighting for a chance to earn a scholarship with the Spartans. As Dantonio said this year, Michigan State is a destination nowadays, not just a stop — albeit, he was talking about the coaching carousel, it still applies to recruiting.
With another 10-win season next year, the Spartans may be talked about as a national title contender on a regular basis. Hey, the national title isn’t out of the question for 2014 — especially with how young the Spartans are and how solid the chemistry is on the team.
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.