As kickoff to the 2018 season gets closer and closer, we’ve joined @MSU_Football in recognizing some of the more extraordinary moments of the Mark Dantonio Era. Little Giants got everything started…
I’m not saying that Brian Kelly was caught asleep at the wheel as Dan Conroy lined up to attempt a 46-yard kick that would tie the game in overtime of the 2010 Michigan State vs Notre Dame game.
All I’m trying to say is that Brian Kelly still hasn’t found the pants he was wearing that night.
As Mark Dantonio stood stoically on the sideline with the Spartans down 31-28 in overtime with a 46-yard field goal needed to tie the game, he was having a heart attack.
Granted, the last time I was in the process of having a heart attack, I managed to finish my weight-lifting session at the gym by cranking out 37 bench press reps with 250 pounds on the bar before I left the gym to consult a doctor.
So, it’s not like people aren’t capable of achievement while suffering from the immediate symptoms that come with having a heart attack.
Dantonio stood there and calmly said into his headset within which he was mandating the play to his staff, “Run Little Giants…..(presumably, a response from one or two of the assistants that was something like, “What was that, Coach? Could you repeat that please?”)…………..Little Giants.”
Order recognized and implemented.
The Special Teams unit ran out on to the field with the stoicism of the coach who just made the call, while having a heart attack.
What if it didn’t work?
What if Aaron Bates, Michigan State’s punter and field goal holder………had trouble with the snap?
Bates, a guy who played quarterback in high school, did not have any trouble with the snap.
And the play was executed as flawlessly as Jim Gaffigan delivers elements of his standup routine –
Let’s recognize something that, with the passage of time, has gotten somewhat forgotten and lost –
Mark Dantonio was still building this thing on the night of the 2010 game against Notre Dame at Spartan Stadium.
The ghosts of Spartan Chokes Past were still swirling all around the banks of the Red Cedar River.
Those of us who don’t know all of the acronyms and vernacular and abbreviations that make up the language on the Twitter still – STILL – wake up in cold sweats as memories of gacks from the Perles, Williams, and John L Eras seep into our minds and souls.
And as Conroy lined up for that 46-yard attempt, I’m not at all ashamed to admit it – I stood in my seat in Spartan Stadium where I was with all of my pals and I turned my back on the play as the Spartans lined up.
I stood there with my back to the entire thing and only knew that it was a fake and that State won with what was, at that time, the most incredible finish to a game in Spartan history by being tackled by all of my pals as we all toppled down several rows of the steel bleachers and I broke a rib.
Best broken rib I’ve ever sustained.
By the way – the fact that the finish to that game was, at the time, the most amazing way in which the Spartans found a way to win a game almost seems quaint now, doesn’t it?
As the chaos ensued and Spartan Stadium – and all of Beast Lansing – fell off the rails after “Little Giants” became etched in Spartan history forever, Mark Dantonio and Brian Kelly met one another at midfield for the post-game handshake.
Give Kelly credit – he had a smile on his face and he asked Dantonio, “Did you call that?”
Dantonio’s response doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
He sort of glanced away from Kelly and said, as if it was a somewhat back-handed compliment and pretty stupid question and said, “Oh, yeah….”
If you watch closely, you can see Kelly’s face become pale and flat as he says to the guy who just stole his pants, “….Good job…”
Dantonio, again, was thinking this in his head, “Dude – I don’t need you to tell me I did a good job. I just stole your pants and your soul – and I know it was a ‘good job’ but thanks for patronizing me…..”
Let’s relive the moment below….
One word of counsel – as you’re watching this, just remember that the architect of the whole thing was having a heart attack all throughout the chaos –