Athlon: Mark Dantonio Second-Best Coach In B1G

Athlon: Mark Dantonio Second-Best Coach In B1G

Columnists

Athlon: Mark Dantonio Second-Best Coach In B1G

The results of the Mark Dantonio Era in East Lansing appear to be resonating with people that are paying attention.

Contact @crowleysullivan

Ever since Mark Dantonio took over as Michigan State’s head coach, the program has been fueled by slights and various elements of “disrespect,” whether the “disrespect” is real or imagined.

From the countless ways the punditry refers to Dantonio by the wrong name to the ways in which that same punditry fails to realize the way the Spartans really have dominated UMAA to the ways in which most people don’t even know that Dantonio has led Michigan State to three Big Ten championships, there isn’t any shortage of ways in which Dantonio’s program has been shorted.

But, at some point, the winning becomes indisputable.

Perhaps Dantonio is starting to reach that point.

EXTRA!  EXTRA!  Athlon – one of the publications SpartansWire has always appreciated and looked to for sanity – has named Mark Dantonio the second-best coach in the Big Ten.

Even the most ardent supporter of Dantonio’s program would have to (perhaps reluctantly) accept that Urban Meyer deserves the top spot.

Meyer’s national championship with the Buckeyes – and his previous two with Florida – speaks for itself and makes it more than reasonable for Athlon to see Meyer as #1 in the Big Ten.

Now, there are those of us (like this Internet knucklehead) who believe that a comparison between Urban Meyer and Mark Dantonio isn’t a comparison that can be made on a level playing field.

Meyer has the keys to one of college football’s most luxurious high-performance vehicles in Columbus.

Meyer has the pick of the litter when it comes to recruiting.

Meyer has every resource imaginable at his finger tips.

Meyer competes with absolutely nobody in his own state – and that includes the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals.  All anyone cares about in the state of Ohio – one of the most talent-rich states when it comes to high school football players – is the Buckeyes.

Mark Dantonio enjoys virtually none of those benefits.

That’s not to say that Dantonio is in charge of a jalopy.

Michigan State has plenty of resources and Dantonio has leveraged the resources at his disposal to the hilt and more successfully than anyone else before him.

But nobody is ever going to convince me or Dantonio that he’s working with the same hand that Meyer has been dealt.

But I’ll acknowledge the national championships and the many measurable ways in which Ohio State is, undeniably, among the top two or three programs in the nation.

And Dantonio landing in Athlon’s #2 spot here in this ranking is certainly a tangible show of respect that just hasn’t been there, really, ever since Dantonio started this amazing run of success in East Lansing.

Here’s a question that may seem crazy to some –

If Mark Dantonio’s Spartans win the national championship this season, where does Athlon put Dantonio in next season’s rankings?

No disrespect to Athlon – but they better get it right next year….

No disrespect here: Athlon’s names Mark Dantonio Big Ten’s second-best coach

That 3-9 record in the 2016 season has been in the rearview mirror for quite some time now.

Mark Dantonio’s decade tenure at Michigan State’s football coach won’t be judged strictly on that season, and the fact the Spartans’ very young roster finished 10-3 last year have expectations sky-high this year. In fact, the Detroit Free Press’ Chris Solari has the Spartans finishing 11-1 this year. Get those confidence levels up, people!

Michigan State fans have had a good time over the last decade teasing Michigan fans about the Spartans’ glistening 8-2 record over the Wolverines in that span. That banter also includes the question being asked of Jim Harbaugh’s coaching abilities, whether that’s fair or not. Three straight third-place finishes in the Big Ten East will do that.

But who’s better between Dantonio and Harbaugh? Last month, CBS Sports ranked Dantonio the 16th-best coach in college football and third in the Big Ten behind Urban Meyer.

This week, Athlon Sports ranked the Big Ten’s college football coaches for 2018. And Dantonio is ranked second behind Meyer. Writes Athlon:

Michigan State was one of college football’s most improved teams last season. … With last year’s 10-3 record and second-place finish in the East Division in mind, Dantonio jumps back to the No. 2 spot among Big Ten coaches. He’s 100-45 since taking over in East Lansing in 2007 and has just two losing records in that span. Additionally, Michigan State has claimed three Big Ten titles since 2010 and earned a trip to the CFB Playoff in ’15.

No shame in being ranked second behind a coach with three national titles.

Franklin and Danontio flip-flop in comparison to the CBS poll, with Franklin coming in third, Harbaugh fourth and Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald fifth.

Follow digital sports producer Phil Friend on Twitter @Phil_Friend.

Latest

More SpartansWire
Home