It’s said every year by coaches and fans alike, “Preseason rankings don’t mean anything.”
Many coaches over the years have expressed a preference to do away with preseason polls.
Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio isn’t one of them. The Spartans were ranked eighth overall in the AP preseason Top 25, which was released Sunday. Dantonio wants his team to embrace the ranking and drive them to be better.
“Our focus remains on winning championships,” Dantonio told the Lansing State Journal‘s Graham Couch. “We have proven that we can compete consistently with the top teams in the country & will continue to dream big. We need embrace our preseason ranking and display the maturity it takes to manage that success.”
Dantonio is a proven believer in envisioning something will happen before it actually does.
Eight months before Michigan State captured its first Rose Bowl victory in 26 years, Dantonio sauntered onto the field in Pasadena, California and promised his team they would play on that field and in that game.
“This is where we make it happen. …You will be the ones,” Dantonio said. “It sort of gives you the chills walking out here, it’s a long way from home. But we’ve got a plan. We’ve got a plan to get here.”
The Spartans have reached unprecedented heights in the modern era under Dantonio’s supervision. His winning percentage is the best the program has experienced in 60 years. Michigan State is now firmly in the national spotlight. And the team’s preseason ranking reflects the work Dantonio has done during his eight seasons with the program.
By following Dantonio’s advice, the program can continue its upward trend.
Michigan State will never have the resources as some teams in the Big Ten Conference, particularly Michigan and Ohio State, but it’s slowly closing the gap.
Perception is often reality in college football. Recruits will remember Michigan State was a preseason Top 10 team. The players currently on the roster know they have high expectations to fulfill. And their coach realizes the perception around Michigan State continues to improve and benefits the team.