If Dantonio could do what he did in East Lansing with the recruits he attracts to MSU, imagine what he could do at what others would call an "elite" program...the kind of place that "sells itself"...the kind of place that is on every 5-star recruit's top-5 list? How would coaches at those programs do at MSU? How would Brady Hoke do at MSU? Dantonio is a good coach. He's not perfect. Neither are the coaches at those so called "elite" programs - but they do have a distinct advantage over an MSU coach. I don't think that's a "inferiority complex" (*see below), I think it's being real.
I think I know who the Spartans are and who they aren't. The Spartans have a rich history, but the Spartans aren't Alabama or Ohio State. The Spartans do not have the money of a Texas or the national exposure of a Notre Dame. Some say MSU doesn't sell as much gear as Ann Arbor and that is supposed to mean something, I guess. MSU's media market population base within 30-miles of their stadium certainly can't match the population near Ann Arbor. I think Mark Danonio is "real" about this stuff too and that is why he used a particular phrase in his first speech to the students prior to his first season. He said, "We will measure-up." Now that's a "measured" declaration. I think he was saying something to the effect of, "Hey, we aren't going to become 'them'. I am not going to guarantee victory every year, but we will compete with the team down the road and every other team in the conference. We will be a tough date on anyone's schedule."
MSU has increasingly "measured up" during the Dantonio years. So much so, that what was once expected is longer accepted.
In recent weeks though, I have become aware of what may be some flaws in Mark Dantonio's make-up or program. While others viewed Danonio as stubborn, I interpreted that same behavior as patience. I saw him collecting data - letting things play out. Not being too quick to make a knee jerk decision until all variables and unintended consequences have been considered and handled. Lately, with some influence from SpartanMan82, I could see that a third possibility may be true. Maybe he is indecisive. Maybe he balanced this weakness in the past by having good, trusted people around him and in the right positions on his staff, who he could trust to be decisive.
After seeing the results of the Iowa game, I think Dantonio is likely to be a little of all three traits - stubborn, patient, and indecisive. I am still concerned that the loss of Dan Enos (head coach at CMU), Don Treadwell (head coach at Miami of Ohio) and Dan Roushar (who was a really good O-line coach on this staff before sitting in the wrong chair as OC before leaving for the NFL) has left his staff as sub-par. I am concerned that Dantonio does not fully trust his new staff (or at least in the positions they each are in) and it accentuates his indecisiveness. I think he is used to trusting the decisiveness of those coaches around him. They are not there anymore or not in the same role and it hasn't been working for over 13 months. Maybe the results of Iowa the game is a sign Dantonio is getting that straightened out. I do think Dantonio is the kind of guy who knows himself and therefore it would make sense he would take steps to fix this problem.
EVERYONE HAS ONE
As the 2013 MSU football season has unfolded, it has exposed or maybe confirmed various possible "concerns" or "flaws" within the program. That "hot-list" is different for each of us with an opinion.
Before the Iowa game, I stated that if this offensive ineptness continues through the 2013 season, Dantonio will need to help his friends on his offensive staff find new jobs. It would indicate they can't cut it.
After the Iowa game, I still think our offensive staff is sub-par, but I was relieved that they found a way to make progress. It is not a top-25 staff and it should be. I doubt they are a top-50 staff and they used to be. I think they may have down graded rather than improved when Dantonio had to fill holes in the staff. They seem to throw plays out there to see it if they work instead of being a part of a bigger plan. SM82 pointed out that trick plays work best when they are first set up by a similar looking play that is not a trick play. This staff does not seem to do that.
Before the game, I wondered what Jim Bollman really did on this staff. After the game, I'm not sure he does much, other than help with game planning and what has that netted? I sure can't see him winning the heart of a hip high school superstar athlete. The game seems to move faster than he can think, or at least faster than he talks - if you have ever watched him being interviewed.
Before the game, I wasn't sure where the Spartans would find a seventh win in 2013. After the game, I have hope that the seventh win could come BEFORE the November 2 game against Ann Arbor.
Before the Iowa game, I really thought Dantonio robbed Cook, Maxwell, the team and the fans with that last drive switch at Notre Dame from Cook to a cold Maxwell. I felt like it was a decision with almost no chance of an up-side and huge, possibly devastating negative consequences. After the Iowa game, I realized how good Dantonio is at damage control and nurturing his relationships with his players and team as a whole. He has what I call a "positive emotional bank account" with his team. That allowed him to take a big withdrawal and still not be overdrawn. Could it have made Cook better vs. Iowa?
Before the Iowa game, commentators kept saying MSU needs better play from the QB position. Before during and after the game, I keep saying MSU needs better play from all the other positions, including the coaches in the booth calling plays and game planning - then, the QB will look good.
Before the game, the Spartans defense was thought to be good. After the game, the Spartans defense is KNOWN to be good. (Mike Sadler, the Spartans' punter had more rushing yards in one play than the entire Iowa Hawkeyes team all game long.)
How good is MSU's defense, and can it play this well for an entire season?
Could it be that some fans will have to take back their utterance of the old phrase, "At least it's almost basketball season?"
Could it be that Dantonio is navigating his way through the schedule knowing his offensive staff is not what he had hoped so he is adapting to that - and maybe, just maybe, he is actually doing better than it appears (albeit, a little late)?
Could it be that MSU enters the game vs. chUMps at 7-1 and with a win, sets up HUGE away games at Lincoln and Evanston?
What is the over/under for MSU defensive interference calls in the Indiana game?
*A side note on the "Spartans inferiority complex" myth: This concept is spread by chUMps and perpetuated by members of the media who elect not to actually think it through. If you look at the behavior of the the University of Michigan Athletic Director, some of the athletic coaches, several of the players and many fans who comment on media message boards and talk radio, you can hear a tone of self-absorbed arrogance and condescending elitism ("OHIO", "Little Brother", "Because we are Michigan", sky writing stupidity, and countless other examples). In short, what you hear is a "SUPERIORITY COMPLEX" [phrase coined by SpartanMan82]. Since the local sports world revolves around U of M and the universe is viewed from a U of M perspective, it appears to those wearing the superiority goggles that everyone else is inferior - including anyone associated with MSU in any way. Naturally, their local rival, the Spartans, whose fans are pretty realistic about who they are (and are often accused of being delusional in their optimism) are tagged with the label of having an "inferiority complex". It's relative to their superiority, you see? The media then, fails to think deeply enough about it and parrots the phrase openly and the MSU inferiority complex becomes a false "truth" in time and it hides the actual truth - many associated with U of M, including fans, suffer from a superiority complex. In fact, this blog is not rooted in a sense of inferiority, rather, it's about the Spartans and about the TRUTH related to UM.
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