Mark Dantonio Hostile Response to Valid Query Raises Questions About His Future

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Rumors have been circulating for some time that Mark Dantonio will step down at the end of this season, and more fuel was added to that fire this past weekend.

When Dantonio addresses the media tomorrow, at his weekly news conference, the very first thing he should do is apologize for his classless outburst in Madison on Saturday. After his team was blown out 38-0 at Wisconsin, he was asked a very fair and honest question, by a reporter with no previous history of exceedingly harsh coverage.

Dantonio was asked, was it a mistake not to bring in a new offensive staff? Video of the exchange is below:

“I don’t think we ask those questions right now,” he responded. “We’re seven games into the schedule. I think that’s sort of a dumbass question, to be quite honest with you.”

That’s the type of answer you give when either

a.) you’re so secure in your job that you feel can say pretty much anything you want or

b.) you’re aware that retirement is on the horizon, so you can honestly whatever you want, really.

“Coach D.” as he’s affectionately known in East Lansing is the greatest coach the Michigan State football program has seen since Duffy Daugherty (and that was well over a half-century ago). A little less than a month ago, Dantonio broke Daugherty’s record for all time program wins. His resume speaks for itself.

However, this unprofessional, defensive and hostile outburst from a man who almost always expresses a mild-mannered demeanor conveys that the end is near.

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Michigan State is scoring 23.9 points per game this season, ranking 12th in the Big Ten and 98th nationally. At 4-3, with a 2-2 league record and a couple very tough games left on the schedule, their division title hopes are kaput.

Actually, they have some work to do if they are to make a good bowl in what could be Dantonio’s final game. In conference play, they are averaging only 20.3 points per game, and offense has been a major issue for the Spartans for some time. Last year, MSU averaged just 18.7 points per game, ranking 126th nationally, and their games were, to put mildly, difficult to watch.

The off-season response to an excruciatingly bad offense was simply re-arranging the deck chairs on that side of the ball’s Titanic. No offensive coaches were replaced, instead their job duties were shuffled around. Given how this approach has clearly not worked, more than half-way through the season, it’s very fair to professionally ask the man who made the decision if he has any regrets about making.

In 2018, the Spartans produced a disappointing and very unentertaining 7-6 season.

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Since 2015, when they went 12-2 and reached the College Football Playoff, the program is a mediocre 24-21 overall. In league play, they are just 15-16, providing a perfect exemplar for any of those Alabama MEATHEAD fans out there who like to believe in a silly theory that a program can be “broken” after suffering a very tough loss to the Crimson Tide. 

What’s undeniably true is this- Dantonio raised the bar far higher in East Lansing than anyone ever reasonably expected. It doesn’t appear Jim Harbaugh will ever do at Michigan the things Dantonio has done in E.L. and he achieved them with far less fanfare.

Michigan St., which hasn’t averaged more than 24 ppg since 2015, plateaued, stagnated and then descended back to the mediocrity that we saw during the period in between Dantonio and Nick Saban. 

While we don’t know for sure yet that the 13 year Dantonio era will end this season, there is plenty of speculation already about who his replacement could be.

Fan Sided lists a few candidates, a couple of which are very realistic, over at this link. 

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No,  I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

You can follow Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com on Twitter here and his cat on Instagram at this link.

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