MSU’s Dantonio sets tone against rival Michigan
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio looks and sounds relatively
bland during most news conferences.
He rarely smiles or pounds his fist and delivers his message in
During Michigan week, Dantonio turns it up a notch.
His passion for the rivalry comes across loud and clear with his
eyes and voice.
”I believe in making it important,” Dantonio said Tuesday.
”And, doing certain things to try and put an asterisk behind that
It has worked.
The 23rd-ranked Spartans (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten) have a shot to match
a school record with a fourth straight win in the series Saturday
at home against the 11th-ranked Wolverines (6-0, 2-0).
In 2007, his first season in charge, Dantonio lost to the
Wolverines when Michigan running back Mike Hart referred to
Michigan State as a little brother.
The rookie coach lashed out at Hart, saying ”they need to check
themselves,” and ”pride comes before the fall.”
Dantonio said he’s not proud of some of the things he said back
”I don’t like to stoop to that level,” he said. ”But, hey, I
Since then, Michigan State has beaten Michigan three straight
years for the first time since 1965-67. Dantonio has a chance to
become just the second coach in program history to beat the
Wolverines in four of his first five games, joining Charlie
Bachman, who did it in the 1930s.
Dantonio had clocks installed when he was hired after the 2006
season that counted down the time left before playing Michigan,
which had enjoyed decades of dominance in the series.
”When we walked in here we pointed toward that,” Dantonio
said. ”There were others that said that we couldn’t.
”We wanted to make a point. I think we’ve made the point and
we’ll move on from there.”
Michigan State rewarded Dantonio for his success in the series
and overall with the proud-again program, giving him some more
money in salary and incentives as part of his five-year rollover
contract that is worth $1.83 million a year. He helped the Spartans
win a school-record 11 games last season and earn a share of their
first Big Ten championship in 20 years.
”I think it’s incredible what he’s done with the program in a
short time,” Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo said. ”It’s
Especially, against Michigan.
The Wolverines had won 30 of 38 games against the Spartans until
the current streak was sparked by Hart’s comments.
”It just sort of retapped some energy, I guess,” Dantonio said
of the 2007 game. ”You tend not to forget what’s gone on in these
Dantonio’s players have followed his lead in putting an emphasis
”He’s done a very good job of making it important,”
quarterback Kirk Cousins said.
Michigan State defensive end Jerel Worthy has a tattoo
displaying a Spartan stomping on a Wolverine. He wasn’t available
to talk about it Tuesday and none of his teammates wanted to talk
about the ink that likely irks some Michigan coaches and players
even though they insist they haven’t seen it or thought much about.
”I’m not going to comment on that,” Spartans guard Joel
Foreman said. ”That’s not something I need to talk about.”