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A farewell letter to Mark Dantonio from Maize n Brew

Saying goodbye to an old friend.

Michigan v Michigan State Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

*Maize n Brew staff scrambles to say something classy about Mark Dantonio’s retirement from Michigan State*


I am here as a fellow human to acknowledge that Mark Dantonio, as we know, has moved on. Mark Dantonio was a man. Also, Mark Dantonio was Michigan State’s football coach for the last 13 seasons. And when a man retires, it is sad. All of us will retire one day. In this case, it is Mark Dantonio who has done so. Mark Dantonio had a great run in his 13 years at MSU, but no more. And now he is retired. Michigan State fans stood by him through thick and thin, and now they are sad.

A lot of people are going to come here looking for us to skewer Dantonio on the way out the door, but that just isn’t going to happen here. There are plenty of other outlets or message boards to get that type of content from. But given that Dantonio’s rise and fall coincides with Michigan fall and rise (yes, we can call it a rise), I’d be remiss if we had nothing at all to say.

Dantonio leaves Michigan State as their version of Bo Schembechler and brought about a golden era of football that honestly might be tough for them to ever replicate. When things were going well, his teams played tough and were always prepared, fueled by a perpetual hatred for Michigan. A hatred and fuel that even found its way into the early years of the Jim Harbaugh era with a pair of wins in the first three editions of that version of the rivalry. He won Big Ten Championships and big games. For fringe fans of the sport who just want to be entertained and pledge no allegiance to the Spartans or Wolverines, he kept quality college football alive in the state of Michigan. For that, I tip my hat and respect the body of work.

How things ended and appear to be ending there is something that does not sit well, however. Dantonio got to the mountaintop and then got complacent, then got downright indignant when his methods were questioned. Outside of the on-field product, the things that have taken place off the field are even more disheartening, and quite frankly maddening. And then there’s the latest batch of reports about what is taking place with the trial of Curtis Blackwell.

Despite all of this and diminishing returns on the field in recent seasons, MSU stayed loyal to him when people said they were foolish to do so. If he wanted to retire after the season so they could run a proper coaching search, they should have absolutely cut the $4.3 million check and probably would have. But something doesn’t feel right here, and now he’s gone. It’s hard to not feel like the Spartans got railroaded here a day before the final signing period for the 2020 class and an assistant coaching pool that is bone dry.

College football needs more of the following two things:

  1. An infusion of young, creative minds to move the game forward
  2. Less people accused of the things he is accused of (allegedly)

So in a lot of ways, this is a good day for Michigan State football, even if it is a sad or frustrating one. What comes next remains to be seen and the current leadership structure there does not inspire much confidence.

Michigan fans learned to hate the Spartans again under Dantonio and for that, I am thankful. This has the potential to be one of the best rivalries in college football and give us some semblance of an Iron Bowl-type of atmosphere in our state.

It will not be as fun — or potentially as petty — not playing against an MSU team coached by him anymore, but at least we leave things on a high note.