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Looking back on the Mark Dantonio era and why it ended the way it did

Mark Dantonio is a legend, but his final years were tough.



Mark Dantonio
© Junfu Han, Detroit Free Press, Detroit Free Press via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Mark Dantonio was a legendary Michigan State football coach, but his time in East Lansing ended on a sour note. Why?

The Mark Dantonio era at Michigan State could easily be described as a rollercoaster. One that started out with a bad football program being left behind by John L. Smith and then ending with a mediocre football program.

There were several factors that went into why things ended the way that they did and we will talk about those reasons, but if it was not for Mark Dantonio, Michigan State would not have the expectations it has had for its football program. Those expectations were built throughout the years and it all started in 2007 when Coach D was hired.

For those of you that do not remember the John L. days, that’s probably a good thing because it was quite a few years of bad football where Michigan State would either blew a huge lead or lose to a team much worse. If you want to hear a talk that basically sums up the John L. days, just go listen to Mike Valenti’s rant after the infamous 2006 Notre Dame loss.

After the 2006 season, John L. was fired and Dantonio was brought in.

In his first three seasons, Dantonio built a record of 22-17. This was a solid start to his tenure because, again, he was inheriting a program that was essentially in the gutter. After his first three years, Michigan State would go onto win 11 games in five of the next six seasons.

How could this Michigan State team go from the John L. days to this run in a decent amount of time? The answer: recruiting and players buying into the program. One of the reasons Michigan State football expectations have changed is because Dantonio brought in a whole new mindset especially when preparing for Michigan. It’s no secret that Michigan would absolutely dominate year after year before Dantonio came in. Once he was hired, however, that changed because of the mindset of having a chip on the shoulder and also the type of players he was bringing in.

Under Dantonio, Michigan State was not recruiting the elite prospects from around the country. What he and his staff were doing was bringing in underrated guys that had a chip on their shoulder and that were overlooked. This allowed players like Kirk Cousins, Le’Veon Bell, Connor Cook, Darqueze Dennard and many other players to come to Michigan State and develop into NFL players.

These players would go on a run of winning the Big Ten, and winning 11 or more games multiple times. And that was because of coaching and being able to develop the above players.

But if Michigan State couldn’t get these underrated players, that would cause some issues, which is what happened. Not getting these underrated players was one of the reasons Michigan State would eventually stumble at the end of Dantonio’s coaching career — but it is not the only reason.

There were several reasons the Mark Dantonio era ended with back-to-back 7-6 seasons.

One of the main reasons most people will point to is the coaching staff. When things went right, the coaching staff looked great but things just started to sour as the years went on. It seemed like the play-calling was not good anymore, especially when you saw jet-sweeps to the short side of the field more often than not. Instead of firing some coaches, Dantonio shuffled the staff and while this improved things slightly, Michigan State was falling further behind not only nationally, but in the Big Ten.

The coaching staff was a disaster at the end but development and recruiting were reasons that people do not talk talk about enough.

Now, there is no doubt that recruiting kept getting worse as Michigan State was trying to find those underrated guys and they were just not hitting. When this happens, your talent level will drop which caused the above seasons to happen. One of the factors to Michigan State being so good for so long was also its ability to develop players.

There are many examples of two or three-star players or even walk-ons that developed into NFL players. One of the most interesting aspects of this is while Michigan State didn’t get a lot of four-stars, it did have 52 under Dantonio. An article by The Athletic was released last week by Ari Wasserman that showed that out of the 52 four-star players that played under Mark Dantonio, only five of them got drafted. That is a low 9.6 percent of four-stars getting drafted that played under Coach D. Coaching and developing towards the end was some of the main reasons for Michigan State’s struggles before he retired, but it also shows how special of a coach Dantonio was because he was able to bring a run of wins to Michigan State that fans had not seen in decades.

While Dantonio’s ending at Michigan State was a disappointment, he should still be remembered for being a great coach and a man that brought a lot of really good memories and moments to the program.

Michigan State would not have high expectations today without him.


Michigan State football: Washington game time, channel announced

Fans won’t be too thrilled about the channel.



Michigan State football
© Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington vs. Michigan State football rematch is on Sept. 16, and the Spartans have revenge on their minds.

The game time for the Washington vs. Michigan State football game was just announced and is one I think most Michigan State fans will be happy with. The game will kick off at 5 p.m. ET on Sept. 16.

This is a great start time for Michigan State fans. That will give fans plenty of time to travel to East Lansing, enjoy a tailgate and get into the stadium. On top of that, the game will get down around 8 p.m. ET which is good for the crowd that does not like to be out late.

However, I think a lot of fans were hoping for a noon start time in this game. A noon start would have been a 9 a.m. local time for Washington, likely giving the Spartans a slight advantage. It’s no surprise seeing this big of a game scheduled in the evening to avoid that.

On top of the game time announcement, where the game will be aired on TV was also announced. This is where the good news ends. The Spartans game against Washington will only be available for streaming on Peacock. That means Spartan fans at home will have to pay to watch this game. However, a simple Google search showed me that Peacock currently only costs $20 for the entire year. A lot of Big Ten football and basketball games will only be available on Peacock this season, so that may not be a bad investment to make right now if you can.

What would a win mean for Michigan State football?

Michigan State will have revenge on its mind in this game. Washington beat the Spartans last season in Seattle 39-28. The game however did not feel that close. Michigan State made a late comeback to make the final score look respectable, but a lot of fans will tell you we never really stood a chance.

Washington will likely be a top 10 heading into this matchup, so Michigan State has a great opportunity in front of it. A win would would help spring the Spartans into the conference season with a lot of positive momentum.

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Jordan Hall hosts second annual free youth football camp (Video)

Jordan Hall is a legend already.



Jordan Hall
© Nick King/Lansing State Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Michigan State freshman linebacker Jordan Hall continues to show just why he’s one of the best out there.

Jordan Hall is already showing signs of being the next great Spartan on and off the field.

The Michigan State freshman linebacker was born and raised in Fredericksburg, Va. However, he most recently moved to Bradenton, Fla., to play football at IMG Academy.

This past weekend, Hall returned home to Fredericksburg to host his second annual free Jordan Hall Youth Football Camp.

Hall has already been making a name for himself on the field for the Spartans this spring. His play and effort has been praised by fellow players and coaches alike. IMG Academy has a long history of producing high-quality athletes. This makes Hall’s tenure in the program even more noteworthy. He became the first three-time captain in IMG Academy history.

When coaches are recruiting players, they are hoping to find the perfect mix of talent and character. You don’t become a three-time captain of a storied school like IMG Academy without having both.

In a recent interview with Spartan Shadows, Cryeeta Hall said of her son, “One of his favorite things he loves to do is teach the game of football to kids. He loves to coach.”

Michigan State fans are excited to see what Jordan Hall can contribute on the field, but his character off the field so far is creating just as much excitement. When you see a young man with the heart and determination to give back to his hometown, it lets fans know this is the sort of player you can to rally around and support. Mel Tucker has shown intentionality in his recruiting. He has a specific type of player that he’s looking for. Jordan Hall epitomizes a Tucker type of player.

Hall has the potential to earn immediate playing time this year as a true freshman. I’m not a betting man but if I were, I’d wager that we’ll see him as a team captain for the green and white sooner than later.

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Mel Tucker is best coach in the Big Ten when it comes to one stat

This may surprise you.



Mel Tucker

Mel Tucker is the best coach in the conference when it comes to this one surprising stat.

Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker is one of the best coaches in the Big Ten when it comes to close games.

This may surprise some considering two of Tucker’s three years at Michigan State have resulted in losing seasons. But the data shows that Tucker knows how to come out on top when the game is close.

He has been at Michigan State since 2020. During that three year timeframe he boasts a 10-1 record in games decided by 10 points or less which is the best record in the conference during that span.

Here is a list of all 11 of those games:


  • at Michigan (W 27-24)
  • vs. Northwestern (W 29-20)


  • vs. Nebraska (W 23-20)
  • at Indiana (W 20-15)
  • vs. Michigan (W 37-33)
  • vs. Penn State (W 30-27)
  • vs. Pittsburgh (W 31-21)


  • vs. Wisconsin (W 34-28)
  • at Illinois (W 23-15)
  • vs. Rutgers (W 27-21)
  • vs. Indiana (L 39-31)

How impressive is this really?

A 10-1 record when games are within 10 points is extremely impressive. The only loss on this list is Indiana from last season, a game Michigan State likely should have one. The Spartans ended up losing in overtime to the Hoosiers, but were a chip shot field goal away from winning in regulation. That is a field goal college kickers make almost every time, so Tucker’s one loss on this list could easily have been another win.

Regardless, 10-1 is the best winning percentage in games decided by 10 points or less in the Big Ten during that three-year span.

This is how the rest of the Big Ten teams fared during this same timeframe:

  1. Michigan State: 10-1 (.909)
  2. Maryland: 8-3 (.727)
  3. Iowa: 11-5 (.688)
  4. Indiana: 7-4 (.636)
  5. Purdue: 12-7 (.632)
  6. Ohio State: 3-2 (.600)
  7. Michigan: 6-4 (.600)
  8. Minnesota: 9-7 (.563)
  9. Rutgers: 7-6 (.538)
  10. Wisconsin: 6-7 (.462)
  11. Penn State: 5-7 (.417)
  12. Northwestern: 5-9 (.357)
  13. Illinois: 6-11 (.353)
  14. Nebraska: 5-16 (.238)

What does this tell us about Mel Tucker?

One thing this tells us is the Tuck is a great in game coach in tight situations. No coach goes 10-1 in close games by accident. Sometimes there is a lot of luck involved with winning close games, but that’s not necessarily the case when you win them this efficiently. Anyone can close a game out when you are up by 20, but not everyone can win a close game in the closing seconds.

This statistic is not all good though. Michigan State has won 18 games during the past three seasons. This means that over half of the games Mel Tucker has won at Michigan State have been within 10 points. For a program with extremely high goals, that fact is a little scary.

As I mentioned before, sometimes luck has to be on your side to win these close games. So relying on winning a lot of close games to have a great season is not a recipe for success.

One things for sure though, as long as Mel Tucker is the coach at Michigan State, we stand a very good chance at winning any close game.

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