Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio has received plenty of criticism the past couple of seasons, but at least one person still believes he can turn the Spartans around.

Since 2016, the results in East Lansing have been very inconsistent. Following a three-win campaign that season, the Spartans rebounded with 10 wins in 2017. Unfortunately, Michigan State has hovered around .500 each of the past two seasons and stands at 6-6 heading into the Pinstripe Bowl.

One of the biggest criticisms directed at Dantonio has been his unwillingness to change on the offensive side of the ball. Despite heavy struggles in 2018, Michigan State simply reshuffled its offensive assistants without any drastic changes heading into 2019. Results have been just as lackluster.

While some of the criticism may be warranted, one of Dantonio’s ex-assistants gave a ringing defense for the head coach on Wednesday. Former defensive coordinator and current head coach at Pittsburgh, Pat Narduzzi said the criticism is something that Dantonio will feed off of moving forward.

Narduzzi also cautioned fans to be careful what they wish for when it comes to Dantonio. Matt Wenzel with MLive.com shared Narduzzi’s comments:

“Dantonio will feed off that,” Narduzzi said. “That’s what he does. He’s been the underdog for years. I think what people fail to realize is in the game of football, it’s hard to do it year after year. You think about all the bowl games he’s been to, the Big Ten championships, he’s been in the playoffs and you have a bad year and everybody wants to get after you. Be careful what you wish for. He’s a heck of a football coach and the Michigan State Spartans should be glad they got him.”

Narduzzi went on to say that having doubters can feed the fire, a trait Dantonio shares with Narduzzi. He also said it is nice to be the underdog and play with a chip on your shoulder:

“When everybody is talking bad about you, saying you guys can’t win, to me it just feeds my fire and Dantonio is no different,” Narduzzi said. “You get fired up. You want to be the underdog, it’s nice to be the underdog. Michigan State has been on top for years. It’s nice to be the underdog and have that chip on your shoulder and play with a chip.”

It is true that results have been mostly good since Dantonio’s time in East Lansing. However, all the motivation in the world is likely not enough to fix the current issues for the Spartans. It’s likely time for Dantonio to make some tough but necessary changes on his staff.