'18 Season Doesn't Erase 3 B1G Titles In 12 Years

'18 Season Doesn't Erase 3 B1G Titles In 12 Years

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'18 Season Doesn't Erase 3 B1G Titles In 12 Years

Michigan State finished its disappointing regular season with an ugly 14-10 win over hapless Rutgers on an appropriately dreary day at Spartan Stadium on Saturday. But the 7-5/5-4 finish to the season doesn’t erase the accomplishments of the last 12 years.

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Winning a Big Ten Eastern Division title is a hard thing to do.

Winning a Big Ten Conference Championship is an even harder thing to do.

For a head coach to lead his program to either – a division or a conference championship – merely once is hard enough.

To do it three times?

Imagine a head coach doing that – taking over a program that had underachieved for many years, changing the culture from the ground up, establishing a program’s identity, taking on rivals head on and dominating them over the years, taking incremental steps each year, winning games in dramatic fashion that will be remembered for generations to come, showing an appropriate and even defiant feistiness, leading the climb up that ladder year by year, defying the critics and winning the Big Ten Championship not once, not twice, but three times.

A head coach has to push all the right buttons, find all of the ways to properly motivate a massive group of people to row in the same direction at all times, properly attack opponents so that schemes work at the times they need to work the most, and, of course, find the right players to fit into the entire ethos of the program the head coach is building.

Then, of course, once all of that is in place and in action, the head coach has to be able to win the biggest games on the biggest stages.

Mark Dantonio and the Michigan State Spartans had an extremely frustrating 2018 season after entering it with such high aspirations.

Nobody in the Michigan State football program will argue that this season was a success.

However, the regular season that just ended won’t ever change the fact that Mark Dantonio stepped into a program that didn’t have a pulse and has done all of the work necessary to win 3 Big Ten Championships over a 12 year stretch.

When Dantonio led his program to a Rose Bowl victory after the 2013 season, it wasn’t a consolation prize.

When Dantonio led his program to victories over Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes, those were victories in the Big Ten Championship game and in Ohio Stadium when the Buckeyes were the #2 team in the nation each time with very real national championship expectations of their own.

Mark Dantonio has heavy issues to address as he prepares his team for a bowl game and the 2019 season to come.

His offense needs to be examined from top to bottom – and he knows that.

He has challenges at the quarterback position that go beyond on-the-field performance due to injury and possible confidence dynamics.

He has an offensive line that wasn’t able to get anything done against Rutgers (along with almost every other team he faced).

The list goes on.

But, what Dantonio does have is three Big Ten Championships.

Three of them.

His program earned a trip to the College Football Playoff.

He’s going to hunker down and do the work to improve his team in December and all throughout the offseason.

And his goal in 2019 will be to win the program’s 4th Big Ten Championship in 13 years.

He knows it takes much more than foot stomping, yelling, screaming, and hype.

He’s as well positioned as any coach – and better positioned than many – to reach the goal because he’s already done it three times.

I wouldn’t bet against him winning some more before he’s finished in East Lansing.

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