Well, that’s one way to thank your boss for his very public vote of confidence, I guess.
Friday afternoon, amidst speculation about his head coach’s hold on the job, Michigan State’s athletic director made it very clear that the seat on which Mark Dantonio sits isn’t even remotely warm let alone hot.
“That is not even a discussion,” Bill Beekman said when asked if a dismissal was a possibility. “Mark’s our head coach, there’s no question about that.”
Less than 24 hours later, and after going up 28-3 early in the second quarter, Michigan State held a 28-10 halftime lead on Illinois that the Spartans stretched to 31-10 at the start of the fourth quarter. Over the next 15 minutes, however, Sparty was outscored 27-3, with the Fighting Illini heading back to Champaign with a stunning and historic 37-34 win.
The last of those 27 points came on a five-yard pass from Brandon Peters, who threw for a career-high 369 yards in the win, to Daniel Barker with just five seconds remaining in the contest.
As mentioned in the tweet above, the Illini are now 6-4 and bowl-eligible. It’s the first time they’ve hit six wins in Lovie Smith‘s four seasons and the first time they’ll go bowling since 2014.
For MSU, it continues a disturbing downward spiral for the program under Dantonio, regardless of the positivity coming from the head of the athletic department.
In February of 2016, MSU announced that it had reached an agreement on a revamped contract for Dantonio, currently in his 13th season in East Lansing, that pushed his annual guaranteed compensation to north of $4 million. Since that extension, which came off of three straight 10-win seasons and four in five years, the Spartans have gone 24-23, including a 4-5 record thus far in 2019.
Per that contract signed nearly four years ago, Dantonio will be due a $4.3 million bonus if he’s the Spartans head coach on Jan. 15 of next year.
After the game, though, the 63-year-old Dantonio had a very interesting response to a question about his future.