East Lansing — Less than 10 days after suffering a mild heart attack, Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio announced he’s back to work.
Not full go right away, but Dantonio held his weekly news conference Tuesday morning and expects to be in the coaches’ booth for Saturday’s Big Ten opener against Wisconsin at Spartan Stadium.
“It’s good to be back,” Dantonio said during a 15-minute session with the media. “I’m going to ease back into this and do something daily with our football team. We’ll start at x amount and build to back to where it was before.
“I would expect to be in the box on Saturday. Walking around for three hours out there might be a little tiring. That would be my initial plan at this point.”
Dantonio, 54, suffered the heart attack shortly after making a gutsy call for a fake field goal in overtime that resulted in the winning touchdown against Notre Dame on Sept. 18.
He said he felt fine throughout the game and during his post-game news conference.
But before leaving the stadium, Dantonio became ill and was taken to Lansing Sparrow Hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery.
“I was scared just like anybody would be scared,” he said.
Dantonio said he’s always been in pretty good health, but he confirmed he has some genetic cholesterol issues. He will have to make changes in his diet.
“At last check, I think I’ve had six of my eight helpings of vegetables this morning,” Dantonio said with a grin. “We’re working at it. I’m sure you’ve got to make some changes. Wings on Mondays for lunch are out. But those are small things.”
As for how this experience might change him in other ways, Dantonio added: “Hopefully, it’s going to make me a wiser person, a more compassionate person, a better coach.”
Don Treadwell, the offensive coordinator for the Spartans, led the team in last Saturday’s 45-7 home victory over Northern Colorado. Dantonio watched from home.
“It was a little surreal watching the game at home,” he said. “I had no (potato) chips. I wasn’t allowed.
“When you see our football team playing and you’re not there, it’s a little bit different. I was very proud of our team.”
Dantonio said he was deeply touched by the outpouring of support he’s received in the last week and a half.
He heard from many friends, coaches and players, along with college football fans around the country.
“It’s been really overwhelming,” Dantonio said. “The thoughts, the prayers give me a lot of comfort, my family a lot of comfort. It’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Dantonio said he met with the media Tuesday partly because he wants to move forward.
“I think it’s very, very important we focus on Wisconsin,” he said, “and that the focus go from Mark Dantonio and that night to Wisconsin and what we have to get done this weekend.”
No. 24 Michigan State and No. 11 Wisconsin are both 4-0 headed into Saturday’s game.