Michigan State defeated Ohio State for the Big Ten championship at the end of the 2013 season and went on to defeat Pac-12 champion Stanford for a Rose Bowl victory. As if the results on the field did not speak loudly enough, Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio is on tour reiterating the fact to any who will listen, including an audience at a fundraising event Wednesday night in Toledo, Ohio.
“We’re now at the top, and that’s where Ohio State has been,” Dantonio said according to Eleven Warriors. Dantonio was explaining how far Michigan State’s football program has come since he was named the head coach of the program in 2006. “When we [arrived in East Lansing] in 2006, we dreamed big,” Dantonio said earlier. “What we’ve been able to accomplish this past year was a result of that – seven years of sacrifice, commitment, laying our plan out and going through our goals.”
Michigan State has certainly been a program taking great strides to reach the top of the Big Ten summit since Dantonio arrived. Nothing has come easy for the Spartans but the program has managed to play in two of the first three Big Ten championship games while Michigan has yet to play in one. Dantonio has set the tone for the program by bringing a tougher mindset to the team and everyone from coaches to players has bought in. The proof, as the say goes, is in the pudding.
Is Michigan State now a top-shelf brand capable of carrying the rest of the Big Ten? Probably not. That responsibility will continue to fall on programs like Ohio State and Michigan, and perhaps Nebraska and Penn State over time. Michigan State will rarely be a huge ratings draw for a national audience, but the Spartans without a doubt belong in the conversation when discussing the top programs in the Big Ten.