Coronavirus in Oklahoma: Oklahoma City to implement shelter-in-place orderLive updates: Latest information on coronavirus in OklahomaCOVID-19 in Oklahoma: 377 positive cases, 15 dead

NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Mark Dantonio, like Mike Gundy at OSU, did a great job at Michigan State

Mark Dantonio resigned Tuesday after 13 seasons as the Michigan State football coach, and the Spartans are a lot like Oklahoma State. Perhaps underappreciated for how high the program has risen on the college football food chain.

There are differences, of course, between Dantonio’s Spartans and Mike Gundy’s Cowboys. Michigan State’s history and tradition, particularly from the 1950s and 1960s, trumps anything the Cowboys hang their hat on. And while Michigan State got the better of arch-rival Michigan during the Dantonio era, the Cowboys haven’t gotten the best of Bedlam.

But still, OSU has become one of the top 15 programs in college football over the last decade-plus, and it’s the same with Michigan State.

Consider this. Between the 1965 Spartans and the Dantonio’s arrival in 2007, Michigan State played in exactly one major bowl – the ’87 Spartans made the Rose Bowl.

Then Michigan State played in three straight major bowls in the 2013-15 seasons. The ’13 Spartans beat Stanford 24-20 in the Rose Bowl, the ’14 Spartans beat Baylor 42-41 in the Cotton Bowl and the ’15 Spartans lost to Alabama 38-0 in the Cotton Bowl. The latter was a national semifinal.

The four-team College Football Playoff is six years old, which means 24 playoff slots have been filled. Only 11 schools have accounted for those 24 berths. Michigan State is one of them.

Between 1966 and Dantonio’s arrival 41 years later, Michigan State had finished in the AP top 10 twice – eighth in 1987, under George Perles, and seventh in 1999, under Nick Saban. Dantonio had the Spartans No. 3 in the final poll of 2013, No. 5 in the final poll of 2014 and No. 6 in the final poll of 2015.

When Dantonio arrived, Michigan led the in-state series 66-28-5. In 13 years, Dantonio’s Spartans went 8-5 against Michigan and finished ahead of the Wolverines eight times in the Big Ten standings. Combined conference record during that time: Michigan State 69-39, Michigan 62-46. Record vs. Ohio State during that time: Michigan State 3-10, Michigan 1-11.

Dantonio went 6-4 vs. Penn State, 5-4 vs. Iowa and 4-5 vs. Wisconsin.

Michigan State football from 1947-66 was a national power. In those 20 years, the Spartans were 136-44-6.

Biggie Munn, Chuck Fairbanks’ college coach, led the Spartans for seven years, 1947-53, and State went 54-9-2, winning the 1952 national championship.

Duffy Daugherty followed and in his first 14 years went 82-35-4 and four times finished in the AP poll’s top three.

So maybe Dantonio isn’t the greatest coach in Michigan State history. But his 114 wins (with 57 losses) is the most in Spartan history, and Dantonio’s .667 winning percentage trails only Munn’s 846 among Michigan State coaches since 1932.

Michigan State has suffered through scandal, notably convicted child molester Larry Nassar, a Michigan State athletics physician. Some recent allegations of NCAA violations have surfaced involving the football program.

Maybe that’s why Dantonio resigned at age 63.

But either way, Dantonio was an underrated coach at an underrated program.

 

Related Photos
<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-c8b85633ae002cd2bfbf985b28ef633a.jpg" alt="Photo - " title=""><figcaption></figcaption></figure>
Berry Tramel

Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,... Read more ›

Comments