Big Ten Breakdown 2012: Michigan State Spartans, Part 1, Overview

David Fidler Correspondent IAugust 8, 2012

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 02: Coach Mark Dantonio of the Michigan State Spartans directs play against the Georgia Bulldogs in the Outback Bowl January 2, 2012 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Team Overview

One has to look through the full history of Michigan State for a full appreciation of what Mark Dantonio has accomplished in his time in East Lansing.

Michigan State has never had two double-digit win seasons in a row. The Spartans, under Dantonio, accomplished that last season.

The last time MSU beat Michigan in consecutive years was 1965-1967. Dantonio has now beaten Big Blue four years running.

The last time the Spartans put six players in one NFL draft was 2000. Dantonio accomplished it last year.

Dantonio's current winning percentage of .667 is the first MSU winning record since Nick Saban—who left East Lansing in 1999—and the first winning percentage of over .600 since Duffy Dougherty retired in 1972.

In short, Mark Dantonio and his Spartans are blazing new ground.

Certainly, the Michigan State program has achieved success in the past—six national championships and seven Big Ten championships—but the program has not seen this level of prolonged success since Lyndon Johnson was president.

That said, there is still work to be done.

Under Dantonio, the Spartans have yet to reach a BCS bowl and have yet to win an undisputed Big Ten Championship.

This season, with eight players returning from one of the best defenses in the country, expectations have never been higher in East Lansing.

Team Breakdown

2011 Record: 11-3

2011 Conference Record: 7-2

2011 Home/Away/Neutral Record: 7-0/3-2/1-1

2011 Record vs. Ranked Teams: 3-2

Record Last Five Seasons: 44-22 (tied for 21st-winningest FBS program over that period of time)

Conference Record Last Five Seasons: 24-8

Home/Away/Neutral Record Last Five Seasons: 29-6/13-11/2-5

Record vs. Ranked Teams Last Five Seasons: 5-15

Best Record Last Five Seasons: 11-2/11-3 (2010 and 2011)

Worst Record Last Five Seasons: 6-7 (2009)

Number of Coaches Last 10 Seasons: Three

Coach Overview

Dantonio is a native Ohioan, but he played college ball at South Carolina under Jim Carlen.

He moved back to Ohio after his playing days were over and became a graduate assistant (GA) at Ohio University. After one year as a Bobcat, he moved to the Big Ten, where he worked as a GA at Purdue.

After a one-year stint as defensive coordinator (DC) at Butler (KS) Community College, he came back to the Big Ten to work as a graduate assistant at Ohio State under head coach Earle Bruce.

Following two years in Columbus, he became the defensive backs coach at Akron, One year later, he became the DC at Youngstown State under head coach Jim Tressel.

Dantonio spent five years at Youngstown State before moving back to the FBS—at that time, Division I—to become defensive backs coach at Kansas under Glen Mason.

In 1995, Nick Saban hired Dantonio as the Michigan State defensive backs coach. Dantonio remained in East Lansing for one year after Saban bolted for LSU.

Then he went back to Columbus to become the DC for his old boss and new OSU head coach, Jim Tressel.

On Dec. 23, 2003, Dantonio was named the new head coach of the Cincinnati Bearcats. In three seasons, he led the Bearcats to an 18-17 record, including two bowl appearances.

On Nov. 27, 2006, Dantonio became the 24th head coach at Michigan State University. The school wanted a more old-school, dressed-down coach following the somewhat wacky coaching style of John L. Smith.

In five seasons, Dantonio has taken MSU to—if not unprecedented heights, then certainly rarely seen heights in East Lansing.

Over the last two seasons, the Spartans are one of the top-10 winningest teams in the country.

MSU fans are notorious within the Big Ten of, as Rodney Dangerfield said, "not getting any respect," but according to Dantonio via the, Michigan State has "a bit more respect nationally."

Dantonio is the primary reason for that.

Coming next Tuesday, an overview and breakdown of Michigan State's offense.


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