10 Wins Will Make Dantonio Winningest Coach In MSU History

10 Wins Will Make Dantonio Winningest Coach In MSU History

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10 Wins Will Make Dantonio Winningest Coach In MSU History

The legend of Duffy Daugherty will live forever in the hearts and minds of all Spartans. But with ten more wins, Mark Dantonio will become the all-time winningest coach in the history of the Michigan State football program.

Contact @crowleysullivan

There aren’t a whole lot of college football coaches that have graced the cover of Time Magazine.

And, sure, times were different back in the 1960s – for one thing, the Twitter didn’t exist.

And people didn’t yet have their own government-issued jet-packs.

But, back in the years when Duffy Daugherty was a household name across America, Michigan State’s patron saint was, indeed, on the cover of Time –

The guy won more games than any other guy who has been the head football coach at Michigan State.

For those who have come along after the Twitter was created by Al Gore, consider these vitals:

From 1954 until 1972, Duffy went 109-69-5.

In 1965 and 1966, Duffy’s Spartans laid claim to national championships that were a part of a stretch of games that featured a record of 19-1-1.

That one tie came in one of the most iconic college football games ever played, the 1966 Game of the Century against old foe, Notre Dame that, of course, ended with the score 10-10.

There have been other 10-10 ties across the Big Ten – the 1973 10-10 tie between Ohio State and UMAA comes to mind.

Unlike other coaches who threw hissy fits after their 10-10 ties and the subsequent vote that sent one school to the Rose Bowl and kept the other home, Duffy simply used his familiar wit after the most famous 10-10 tie in history and literally coined the phrase, “A tie is like kissing your sister.”

The passage of time has softened the fact that those last few years were Duffy were rough.

By the time he announced he was going to kick his feet up, the program had grown stale and was ready for new energy.

But, Duffy did his job.

He took over from his mentor, Biggie Munn, built upon the foundation laid by Biggie, turned Michigan State into a powerhouse, won Big Ten Championships, won National Championships, beat UMAA regularly, and whistled his way off the field with more wins that any other coach in Michigan State history.

And the number of wins isn’t even be his most important achievement.

The way Duffy integrated college football by being the first head coach to actively and strategically recruit and play African American players changed the game forever.

Bear Bryant gets a lot of credit for that – and deserves some.

But Duffy started that.

And his insistence on not giving a damn about the color of a player’s skin didn’t just make Michigan State better – it made America better.

But after Duffy retired, the only thing that was consistent about the Michigan State football program was its inconsistency.

NCAA violations killed Denny Stolz’s program before it really got the chance to get started.

Daryl Rogers led Michigan State to the 1978 Big Ten Championship with one of the most prolific offenses in program history with Eddie Smith and Kirk Gibson terrorizing opponents all season – but Rogers was off to Arizona State before anyone could get comfortable with the Rogers Era.

The waters were extremely muddy during the Muddy Waters Era.

George Perles brought Michigan State back to the Promised Land with the 1987 Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl win on New Year’s Day, 1988.

Perles won another Big Ten Championship in 1990 and there was reason to think Perles might have figured things out.

But university dysfunction and Perles’s outsized ego derailed all of that.

Instasnap users might not even know that Nick Saban was meant to be Michigan State’s savior when he became the head man in East Lansing in 1995.

Saban was Perles’s defensive coordinator for that 1987 Big Ten Championship team and Saban had gone on to be Bill Belichick’s defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns before he returned to East Lansing for what was supposed to be a reclamation project followed by many years of championship football.

Saban went 34-24-1 over his five years in Green and White and that record doesn’t come close to representing the maddening starts and stops of his very herky-jerky period in East Lansing.

The Bobby Williams and John L Smith Eras might actually be the lowest period for Michigan State football in its history.

In three seasons at the helm – following Saban’s empty private jet departure for LSU – Williams went 16-17 overall with a 6-16 mark in the Big Ten.

And worse than the record was the off-the-field nonsense that was the true hallmark of the Williams Era.

John L Smith came in and was going to be the cowboy to fix everything.

Instead, despite good intentions and a few laughs, John L was a square peg in a round hole from the moment he arrived and he was dismissed after compiling a 22-26 overall record with a 12-20 mark in the Big Ten.

To say that Michigan State was in need of a hard working, committed, smart, proud, tireless guy with an acute understanding of the culture he was stepping into would be an understatement.

Enter Mark Dantonio.

After five years of time served as an assistant on Nick Saban’s Michigan State staff and another year as an assistant on Bobby Williams’s Spartan staff, Dantonio knew how to walk unaided from Beaumont Tower to the Peanut Barrel – and he knew where the opportunities and pitfalls were in and around the administration and the program.

He knew that this wasn’t going to be a picnic with a paycheck attached to it.

And he was the right man for the job at the right time.

Twelve years later, the guy has literally shook the program to its core, rid the place of all of the dysfunctional elements that had become the only true constants, instilled the proper mindset for a program that doesn’t have some of the advantages that its rivals have built into their environments, recruited to a philosophy that fits for Michigan State, surrounded himself with smart and committed assistants who believe in the approach, created an atmosphere that probably seems pleasantly foreign to one-time Spartan legend and new assistant coach Chuck Bullough, and, most of all, he’s won.

Dantonio has won at Michigan State.

He’s won big.

Nick Saban was not able to truly win at Michigan State.

Dantonio has won three Big Ten Championships.

He’s led the program to the new Promised Land, the College Football Playoff.

He’s beaten Michigan State’s main rival like a drum.

And as he prepares to lead his program into the 2018 season, he’s in a position to become the school’s all time winningest coach.

That didn’t seem like a possibility when Dantonio was introduced as the school’s new head football coach in December of 2006.

It’s not only possible now, it’s inevitable at this point.

Even if Michigan State “disappoints” this season and doesn’t get to ten wins, Dantonio will get the ten wins eventually.

Of course there have been bumps along the road and Dantonio knows that.

But in the grand scheme, he’s done all of this in the way any fan would be and should be proud of.

When I look at the 2018 schedule, I see that the tenth game of the season is the November 10th matchup with Ohio State in East Lansing.

Feels like there will be a lot on the line that afternoon.

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