It was a relatively slow news day yesterday until Michigan State football announced that their head coach Mark Dantonio was retiring.
The news broke mid-afternoon Tuesday that Michigan State football would begin their search for a new head coach with Mark Dantonio abruptly retiring. The timing of this decision remains a head-scratcher.
It was just a mere three weeks ago the most winningest coach in school history received a significant bonus worth just over $4-million. Sure, anyone would hang around on the job long enough to have that kick in, but isn’t there other ways to work around that? Perhaps the two parties involved could have anticipated this decision and reconstructed the bonus to be paid out two months ago, allowing the school to start their search for the next head coach much earlier than February 4th?
The abrupt decision to retire also reeks of Michigan State football potentially committing an NCAA rules violation. We’ve seen this act before, where there is smoke, there is generally fire. Only time will tell, but the sudden decision after just a couple of months ago when Mark reassured everyone he was expecting to return for a 14th season to abruptly retire makes a person ponder, perhaps he’s running away from something.
If I’m completely candid, that’s exactly where my mind went the second the news broke. Well, second after I thought, man, he’s just stealing money from the program. Again, we’d all be lying if we said we wouldn’t have done the same thing.
Mark Dantonio had been scrutinized throughout the season for allegedly hiring parents of student-athletes upon signing to play for the Spartans. Is this the only program that does this? Certainly not. Is it the only program in the state that operates this way? Highly unlikely.
Mark Dantonio is in the midst of being sued in Federal Court by a former Michigan State football staffer Curtis Blackwell for the allegations mentioned above.
Under Dantonio’s guidance, the Spartans became relevant throughout the country. He led Michigan State to a College Football Playoff appearance. The Spartans were able to win two Big Ten titles and finished as a top ten program for three straight years between 2013-2015. During that span of success, Michigan State football produced a stellar 36-5 overall record.
In more recent years, Mark Dantonio has struggled to regain that same magic guiding MSU to a 27-24 record over the last four seasons. The school’s lack of recent success may have played a significant role in the head coaches’ decision.
Mark Dantonio’s health may have also come into play while making this decision to retire. Don’t forget; the Spartans head coach did suffer a heart attack back in 2010.
Dantonio exits as the winningest coach in program history with a respectable 114-57 record over his 13 seasons at the helm. As of now, defensive coordinator Mike Tressel will serve as the programs’ interim head coach. Expect the Spartans to immediately start an extensive search for their next head coach.