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What we learned from Saturday: The end is near for Mark Dantonio

Pride came before the fall.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

John Bacon often says that it is a good time to cut the grass or tend to your yard when Michigan games go south. But what does one do without the Wolverines on a fall Saturday?

Spend time with family? Next question. Clean the gutters? Next question. Invent a board game in the essence of the Cones of Dunshire? Next question.

While we were all spared the agonies and thrills of Michigan football, we were treated to the best sarcastic, ‘Ya hate to see it’ of 2019.

Let’s focus on the Michigan State Spartans.

The Spartans were cruising on Saturday against Illinois. Up 28-3 in the first half, up 31-10 at the start of the fourth, the team had finally found some rhythm and looked to be building momentum before their trip to Ann Arbor next weekend.

“Michigan reject” is what Spartan students were calling Illinois starting quarterback Brandon Peters, who transferred from Michigan before the 2019 season. The “reject” responded with 369 passing yards and three touchdowns (two in the fourth quarter) to complete the unthinkable road comeback.

After being outscored 27-3 in the fourth quarter and falling 37-34, at home, in a historic collapse, Michigan State is beginning to rightfully question Mark Dantonio’s future with the program.

For years, few got more out of their players than Mark Dantonio. Recruiting be damned, can you play physical and can you do your job? That was all that mattered in East Lansing.

Even outpacing the legendary Nick Saban from his time heading the Spartans in the 90’s, year in and year out, Dantonio teams delivered like no other coach before him at Michigan State.

No Dantonio team from 2007-2015 had a losing regular season and the program enjoyed five (!!) 11+ wins season in that span. Prior to Dantonio, Michigan State had won 11 or more games approximately zero times.

However, the brightest days of Spartan pride preceded the fall.

The 2016 team was ranked as high as eighth before dropping seven (!!) consecutive games, nine overall, and losing to Michigan for the first time since 2012. Dantonio had only lost five games the last three seasons combined, so this fall from grace was abrupt, without warning, and had to be the exception to Dantonio’s standard of success.

Michigan State seemingly turned the page and 2017 saw a return to normalcy. The Spartans won 10 games, defeated the Wolverines, and crushed Washington State 42-17 in the Holiday Bowl. All is well, right?


Last season, Michigan State struggled to a disappointing 7-5 mark, including the infamous 21-7 loss to Michigan, where the Spartans only gained a total of 94 yards. As memorable as that statistic is, what happened before the game is perhaps even more memorable.

Junior linebacker Devin Bush, in response to a premature and aggressive march across the field from the Spartans, mind you, tore up the middle of Michigan State’s field logo with his cleats.

The Wolverines marked their territory and claimed victory. Since this emasculating defeat, the Spartans are struggling to keep their heads above water. Success has now become the exception, not the standard at Michigan State.

Saturday’s collapse was the fourth straight loss and fifth overall for the Spartans. So far this season, Michigan State has failed to count to 11 against Arizona State and score more than 10 points in a single game during October.

In an off-season full of lateral staff changes and the stench of accusations throughout the university, it is impossible seeing Mark Dantonio coaching into the next decade.

Thusly, allow us this week of tangoing on the tombstone, waltzing through the wake, and dancing on the grave of our rival, before putting the final nail in the coffin on Saturday. of quiet, respectful confidence before the game.

This weekend, the Big House becomes the Appomattox Courthouse and the war will be over for Mark Dantonio.

Rest assured, it’ll be over on Saturday, little brother.