Vision In Focus
Since becoming a head coach, Mark Dantonio knew his teams must play solid fundamental football with a few tricks up their sleeves. Fake punts and field goals are not something new or something the Spartans head coach does without it being fully explored.
Dantonio took over Cincinnati with a vision of building a team in the mold of the top Big Ten programs he had been a part of during his work at Michigan State and Ohio State. Toughness, physical play, and a balanced attack as well as a plan for players off the field.
Mark Dantonio had a vision and while some on the outside of his inner circle may not have believed he would have the Spartans knocking on the door of a Big Ten title, those who the man they call Dino, fully expected him to build Michigan State into a program capable of winning the Big Ten.
No matter what happened since taking over the job in East Lansing, Dantonio and his staff have stayed true to their core values while building a roster of players willing to do the little things to become great.
The vision of the program has now been in clear focus and Dantonio is looking to reap the benefits of building a solid foundation to a program set to not only compete this season, but in the seasons to come.
Taking over a roster with some solid players gave Mark Dantonio a chance to win some games early and Michigan State. However, depth on both sides of the ball was lacking and recruiting players to succeed in a more physical offense and defense made it even more important for the Spartans coaching staff to zone in on the players that understood the task at hand.
The 2010 roster has more depth than in years past, and that depth is not only role players, but also players who will start to fill the shoes left open when a player like Greg Jones finishes his standout career.
The Spartans under Dantonio stayed true to their roots of looking at all possible players they felt could help them win. Remember, Greg Jones came in that first class and was not a highly recruited player. Dantonio worked hard to convince Jones to look his way while at the helm of the Bearcats, and the week he was named head coach of the Spartans played a huge role in getting Jones in East Lansing and not in some other Big Ten uniform.
When Mark Dantonio left Cincinnati only one of his coaches stayed behind. However, while one trusted coach did not make the trip to East Lansing, another coach who served under Dantonio at Cincinnati was hoping to find his way back onto the staff.
Dan Enos is the only major change Dantonio has seen since landing in East Lansing. While that might change after this season, having Ted Gil (7th season), Pat Narduzzi (7th season), Don Treadwell (7th season). Harlon Barnett (7th season), Mark Staten (7th season), Mike Tressel (7th season), Dan Roushar (6th season), and Dave Warner (5th season) together for so many seasons allows the staff as a whole to fully understand each other and trust one another.
Since Mark Dantonio was named a head coach, he has always brought a sense of his staff and players being family. While some coaches talk a good game, Dantonio has shown he is sincere in his values of his team being a family that can trust one another when things are good or bad.
Talk with any player who has played for Dantonio and you will hear about at least one time when Dantonio was there for something important in that player's life. Players are willing to go to the wall for their head coach and know he has their best interest at heart when he makes a decision.
Look up and down the current Spartans roster and you will find several key players who may not have been highly recruited. This is a Mark Dantonio staple and will continue for the years to come. Proven to be one of the best coaching staffs of finding underlying talent, Dantonio and his staff do the little work many staffs pass over doing when finding players who will make a difference in their program.
Win Or Lose
Make no mistake; Mark Dantonio has taken a team to Iowa City he knows can win. He does not think his team has a chance, he knows if they do as they have been instructed, they will leave with their ninth victory on the season and continue their journey towards a Big Ten Championship.