Phil Steele: Mark Dantonio is in "must-win mode"
College football is a “what have you done for me lately” business.
According to college football analyst Phil Steele, Mark Dantonio hasn’t done enough lately to keep himself off the proverbial hot seat.
Steele, who puts out an annual preseason magazine that’s as well-read as any college football print publication, also does columns for ESPN.com. His latest was a list of coaches that are in “win-now mode,” which included Dantonio.
Here’s what Steele wrote about Dantonio for ESPN.com:
Coming off a playoff berth and five double-digit-win seasons the previous six years, Dantonio rated about a zero on my hot seat list last season. Michigan State stumbled to 3-9 last year, and this offseason, multiple Spartans players have been charged with sexual assault. His inclusion on this list will surprise many, but keep an eye on what happens during 2017, and don’t be surprised if there’s a change at the end of the year.
Dantonio caught plenty of criticism for kicking four sophomores off the team after they were charged in two separate sexual assaults. MSU also didn’t renew the contract of assistant Curtis Blackwell, who was suspended while under investigation for his role in one of the alleged sexual assaults.
For those who haven’t been paying attention, MSU’s 3-9 mark was just the beginning of a nightmare year for the program on and off the field.
As Steele pointed out, Dantonio wasn’t on his or anyone’s hot seat coming off a College Football Playoff berth. He led MSU to four top-10 finishes in the last five years before 2016.
Considering the talent MSU lost on defense alone, it would be a major surprise if the Spartans bounced back to that level in 2017.
Still, MSU athletic director Mark Hollis is six years removed from saying Dantonio would be “a Spartan for life” after he signed an extension. Dantonio is one year removed from getting a raise that bumped his annual compensation up to $4.3 million. The Spartans have Dantonio under contract for three more seasons.
If MSU doesn’t get out of the B1G basement and continues to make off-the-field headlines, Steele’s take might have some more support by season’s end.