The 2017 season for Mark Dantonio will be his 11th as the head man in charge of the Michigan State football program and he has compiled a 90-42 overall record with the Spartans.
Despite the tremendous success since 2007 – especially starting in 2010 – the 2016 season was one to forget. Entering this past season, Dantonio’s teams accumulated a 65-16 record from 2010-15, so expectations were high for the Spartans.
The Associated Press’ Top-25 Preseason Poll going into the year had the Spartans at No. 12 after the team achieved three straight seasons of 11 or more wins going into 2016. Despite this, the team greatly underachieved.
Michigan State would go on to post a 3-9 overall record, which even going back to Dantonio’s days at Cincinnati (2004-06), was the worst record he would finish with in his career as a head coach.
The 2016 season also marked the first time during his time with the Spartans that the team didn’t reach a bowl game. Prior to this past year, the 2009 season was the only season in which Dantonio’s Spartans didn’t finish with a record over .500 (6-7).
In Dantonio’s first four seasons at Michigan State, the team made four consecutive bowl games with its new head coach, but lost each of those postseason contests. Then, from 2011-14, the Spartans won four consecutive bowl games.
During those next four seasons, his team went 42-12 overall, which includes a 7-6 season in 2012. Extrapolating out to a six-year stretch, from 2010-15, Dantonio’s Spartans won the Big Ten Conference three times (2010, 2013 and 2015).
In games against his team’s most hated rival, he has fared quite well, too. Despite the Michigan Wolverines’ incredible historic past, since taking over as head coach of the Spartans in 2007, Dantonio owns a 7-3 record against his in-state rival.
Even in those three losses, Dantonio has kept it close, losing the three by a combined 15 points. This past season, when the Spartans finished 3-9 and the Wolverines were College Football Playoff bound going into the final week of the season, Michigan got the best of Michigan State, 32-23.
In terms of recruiting, Dantonio hasn’t received dozens upon dozens of five-star prospects, but he has kept the Spartans more than respectable. According to 247Sports, Michigan State owned the No. 50-ranked class in the country in Dantonio’s first season with the program.
In his second year, 2008, the Spartans finished with the No. 44 class. Then, in 2009, Dantonio put together the No. 26 class.
Since the new decade has begun, Dantonio hasn’t received a class ranked worse than No. 36 (Class of 2017, again, one year after the team went 3-9 overall) and has put together as high as the No. 17 class in the country (Class of 2016).
Even in the early Class of 2018 rankings, the Spartans currently possess the No. 15 class in the country and third-best in the Big Ten. Dantonio has been proud of his recruiting classes with the Spartans and let the public in on a little secret regarding how he’s gotten upper-echelon classes year in and year out.
Back in 2015, when talking about his 2015 Class during his signing day press conference, he said, “It’s to a point now that we’re selling results. That’s the big difference. We’re not selling hope here. We’re selling results.”
Before his time with Michigan State, Dantonio spent the 2004, 2005 and 2006 seasons as the head coach at Cincinnati. It didn’t take long for the newly-acquired head coach to make an impression.
In 2004, Cincinnati went 7-5 overall (after going 5-7 in 2003) as a part of the Conference USA and finished the season with a 32-14 win over Marshall in the PlainsCapital Fort Worth Bowl. It was the first time in 23 seasons of the school’s history that a first-year head coach would direct the Bearcats to a winning season.
One year later, the team bumped up to the Big East Conference and Dantonio’s Bearcats took a hit, falling back to 5-7. But, in 2006, Dantonio got his team back up to 7-5 and earned an International Bowl bid.
Before that bowl game ever took place, his 18-17 overall record proved to be impressive enough for Michigan State, as he left for East Lansing. The 60-year-old head coach has won the Big Ten Coach of the Year award twice to this point in his career (2010, 2013).
Dantonio is currently working under a contract that is a six-year rolling deal in which his total annual compensation is at $4.3 million. At the time of the most recent revision of his contract (taking place in February, 2016, after he won his third Big Ten title), his $4.3 million ranked No. 11 in the entire country.