From 2010-15, Michigan State was one of the very best programs in all of college football. Mark Dantonio‘s Spartans won 11 or more games five times in those six years, with Big Ten titles in 2010, ’13 and ’15. They finished in the AP Top 6 from 2013-15, and in ’13 and ’15 they knocked off undefeated teams in the Big Ten Championship — Ohio State in 2013, thereby knocking the Buckeyes out of the final BCS title game, and Iowa in 2015, knocking the Hawkeyes out of the College Football Playoff and lifting themselves in. The 2013 team finished 13-1, beat Stanford in the Rose Bowl and finished No. 3 in both polls, the program’s best season since 1966.
But it’s not 2013 anymore.
After going 65-16 (41-9 Big Ten) from 2010-15, Michigan State has slunk to 24-24 (15-19 Big Ten) from 2016 on, including a 4-6 mark to date this season. The Spartans went just 7-6 in 2018, causing Mark Dantonio to play musical chairs in his offensive staff room in hopes of fixing an offense that finished 126th nationally in scoring. The move hasn’t worked; this year’s team is 110th. Don’t ask him about it, though, because Dantonio doesn’t like talking about that move.
All of this has cumulated in speculation that, rather than hit the reset button heading into Year 14 in East Lansing, Dantonio would call it quits. That thought never reached Dantonio’s mind.
On Tuesday, the 63-year-old told local media he plans to remain the Spartans’ coach in 2020.
Asked bluntly if he plans to lead the team onto the field for their 2020 opener against Northwestern, Dantonio responded bluntly. “Yes,” he said.
“My intentions are to be the head football coach here. I’ve always said I live in the present. I’ve always said that. There’s certain things that you have control of, there’s certain things you don’t have control of. I can’t control anything, but my intentions are there, yeah, absolutely,” he said, via the Detroit Free Press.
“My father always talked to me complete the circle, complete the circle. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
With that question, the conversation now turns to whether his shuffling-of-the-deck-chairs offensive staff can survive another sunk season.
“I don’t make decisions on that until I weigh out everything to the best that I can,” Dantonio told MLive. “Because probably I have the most knowledge in terms of what’s going on within our football team as to who did what in terms of was that a player, structure, coaching, officiating, all the underlying things that go along with that.”
The tipping point of this conversation seems to be Michigan. After going 7-1 against the Wolverines from 2008-15, Dantonio is now 1-3 since, including the 44-10 whipping in Ann Arbor that led many to openly wonder if the game has passed Dantonio by.
At 4-6, Michigan State will need to sweep Rutgers and Maryland (combined Big Ten record: 1-13) to avoid missing a bowl game for just the second time of his 13-year tenure… and the second time in the past four seasons.