Thursday, August 09, 2007

Returning for (another) new era

And we are back!

I suppose its a good thing we took the end last season off. I mean, the team did, so why can't we, right?

When I last joined you, our Spartans were in the process of melting down. They had just lost to lowly Illinois at home after blowing a seemingly insurmountable lead against Notre Dame at Spartan Stadium the week before.

After that Illinois game, MSU went 1-6 t finish the year - the only win being the largest comeback in NCAA football history against Northwestern. It was indeed another lost season. It also signaled the end of Drew Stanton's career. He played in only one bowl game during his stay at MSU and that was on special teams and led to a knee injury which still haunts him to this day with the Detroit Lions.

So, as we all hoped, John L. Smith was fired after the season. He was.

Enter Mark Dantonio. Dantonio compiled an 18-17 record while serving as the head coach at the University of Cincinnati, taking the Bearcats to bowl games in his final two seasons.

While the 18-17 record at UC may not be all that impressive, Dantonio certainly has the pedigree for him to be successful, including a history at MSU. Prior to coaching at UC, he worked under Jim Tressel as defensive coordinator - including for the 2002 national championship team. He also was the defensive secondary coach associate head coach under Nick Saban at MSU - including during MSU's most successful season in years, the 10-2 run in 1999.

He has a no-nonsense style and will look to taking MSU football back to its roots of a powerful running game and a defense which hits people in the mouth. Luckily for Spartan fans, the offensive line and stable of running backs are the most talented and experienced units on the team.

After going 9-14 over the last two years, MSU fans should expect - demand - improvement this season. I think Dantonio will deliver thanks to his straightforward approach. It may take some time to bring MSU back towards the top of the conference, but we should certainly see some signs this year.

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