The timing of Mark Dantonio’s retirement as Michigan State’s football coach was interesting, in lieu of some controversy but he really overstayed his welcome.
On Tuesday afternoon, Mark Dantonio announced his retirement as Michigan State’s football coach after 13 seasons. He is the winningest coach in program history, with 114 wins against 57 losses, as the Spartans won three Big Ten titles and won double-digit games five times during his tenure.
The peak of Dantonio’s time in East Lansing came from 2013-2015 when the Spartans went 26-5 with two conference titles, a Rose Bowl win (2013 season) and an appearance in the College Football Playoff (2015 season). But things took a real downturn after that.
Michigan State fell to 3-9 in 2016, then rebounded back to 10-3 in 2017. But back-to-back 7-6 campaigns in 2018 and 2019 seemed like an appropriate correction, as the Spartans’ offense was toward the bottom of the country and recruiting classes lagged in the national rankings.
After a five-game losing streak that included losses to four ranked teams, it took wins in the final two regular-season games, over Rutgers and Maryland, to earn bowl eligibility last season. Dantonio’s final game on the sideline was a win over Wake Forest in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.
But with that 2015 season as the cutoff line, the record split for Dantonio is striking and showed signs of a coach who had less and less to offer in terms of pushing the program to great heights.
- Dantonio’s first nine seasons (2007-2015): 77-33 record (52-20 in Big Ten)
- Dantonio’s last four seasons (2016-2019): 27-24 record (17-19 in Big Ten)
Dantonio’s run as Michigan State coach will stand as the most successful in the program’s history, and despite the heat turning up in recent years he was ultimately able to exit on his own terms. Approaching 64 years old in March it was time for him to go through, and all things considered, Dantonio stuck around a little too long.