If a coaching career could be made out of press clippings, Dantonio is already a success. His professional references are outstanding: Jim Tressel, Nick Saban, and Earle Bruce.
Dantonio's accomplishments are impressive as well. State fans certainly remember the 1999 campaign when the Spartans finished 10-2 (the first 10 win season since the height of the Duffy Daugherty era.)
In that year, Dantonio guided cornerback Amp Campbell to third-team All American honors from the Associated Press. In other seasons at MSU he was responsible for defensive backfields that ranked among the best in the NCAA in pass defense, finishing seasons at No. 10, 16, and 22.
At Ohio State, Coach Dantonio helped lead the Buckeyes to rarefied feats. As defensive coordinator at OSU, Dantonio contributed to a 32-6 record over 3 seasons, culminating in the 2002 National Championship.
In that penultimate season, OSU was an underdog against a supremely talented University of Miami team that witnessed 10 Hurricanes taken in the first round of the NFL draft over the next 2 seasons.
Constructing a winning game plan is vital in college football; it is perhaps the most relevant skill a coach can highlight on his resume.
Speaking of game plans, Dantonio excelled in drafting them at the University of Cincinnati as well. Last year, his Bearcats held the Rutgers' Ray Rice, the No. 3 rusher in the NCAA, to a season-low 54 yards. All season long the UC defensive squad excelled—they held over half of their opponents to under 100 yards rushing.
But Dantonio has more than a sterling track record as he reenters Spartan country. He also has continuity.
Along with Dantonio's pedigree, Defensive Coordinator Pat Narduzzi and Offensive Coordinator Don Treadwell have migrated from Cincinnati. During Dantonio's 3-year stint at UC, they held the same positions they step into at MSU. Treadwell brings a balanced, run-oriented offense that compliments Narduzzi's aggressive, run-stifling, 4-3 defense. Together, the schemes work by emphasizing turnovers (few on O, many on D) and protecting leads.
2007 will not be the first year of the Dantonio regime; it will be the fourth consecutive year of the Dantonio system. Last year at Cincinnati, the coaching staff produced a 7-5 record as they guided an overachieving team through the nation's second toughest schedule. That team had only one defensive player drafted in the NFL: (surprise, surprise) CB John Bowie.
Imagine what Dantonio and staff might accomplish with more talent, especially on defense. Imagine Ervin Baldwin, Kaleb Thornhill, SirDarean Adams, and Otis Wiley on the same page, moving together, focused and unified in mission under an experienced, cohesive coaching staff.
Coach Dantonio beat out many other qualified candidates, but he can not rest on his resume. While he was not hired to be a magician, Spartan fans expect him to get the job done. If he can, imagine travel plans in December.
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