Same old Spartans.
Remember when the Michigan State football team had become notorious for starting seasons off hot, only to lose their composure come Big Ten season, and consistently fail to make bowl games under the guidance of head coach John L. Smith?
Do you remember?
All of that seems like such a distant memory now.
After Smith’s last season as the Spartan head coach in 2006, when his team finished just 1-7 in the Big Ten, the Michigan State football program was prompted to send out the more traditional version of the S.O.S acronym, with the hopes that a new coach could rescue them from the depths of the Big Ten Conference.
Come to find out, that S.O.S. would be answered by a relatively unknown and unproven head coach by the name of Mark Dantonio, who had gone just 18-17 in his first three years as head coach of the University of Cincinnati.
Following Dantonio to East Lansing that year was a savvy defensive coordinator known as Pat Narduzzi, who certainly had his work cut out for him, taking over a depleted Spartan defense, which Smith had left behind.
Flash-forward seven years down the road and after the two have taken an MSU Football program that was in tatters less than a decade ago and changed it into one of the best in the country, both of them will be receiving handsome raises to their 2014 salaries.
According to MSU in a press release on Tuesday, Dantonio’s total compensation will go from $1.99 million to $3.64 million in 2014, of which will include:
• $2,000,000 base salary
• $1,000,000 supplemental income
• $286,000 contingent annual bonus
• $204,917 benefits
• $100,000 shoe/apparel agreement
• $50,000 guaranteed performance incentives
(As well as 25 hours of personal private airplane use)
As for Narduzzi, who has without a doubt coached up this Michigan State defense to the absolute best in the country, here’s a look at what his salary along with other Michigan State assistants will look like in 2014:
• assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi – $904,583
• co-offensive coordinator/tight ends coach Jim Bollman – $368,333
• secondary coach Harlon Barnett – $260,000
• defensive line coach Ron Burton – $243,750
• quarterbacks coach/recruiting coordinator Brad Salem – $254,583
• wide receivers coach Terrence Samuel – $243,750
• offensive line coach Mark Staten – $254,583
• linebackers/special teams coach Mike Tressel – $260,000
• co-offensive coordinator/running backs coach Dave Warner – $379,167
Initially when seeing these numbers, it’s hard to believe just how far Dantonio has brought this program over the course of the past seven years, but the new contract is a reflection of just that, and is certainly a well-deserved one.
When comprising a list of accomplishments and highlights of Dantonio’s career at Michigan State, the seven straight bowl appearances certainly come to mind, along with the six winning seasons, the 64-29 record, the two Big Ten Championships and of course this past 13-1 Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl victory season in 2013.
But the real mark that Dantonio has left on this MSU Football team is the way that he has truly made the program his.
We’re talking about a guy who dances in the locker room with the rest of his team and Rich Homie Quan.
A guy who stands behind his team, even during the tough times, just like he did through a disappointing 2012 season.
A guy who whose team believes him when he tells them that they will be the ones and whose two-word phrase he uttered at the beginning of the season has truly become somewhat of a testament as to what his team has become.
Yes, this Michigan State football team has truly become a representation of Dantonio. Just as their coach, not always the flashiest of teams or one that commands the most respect, the Spartans have scratched and clawed away at everything they have and have truly earned every bit of it.
But this does not mean that this is a peak of the program in any way. No. Dantonio, along with Narduzzi, will continue to have their teams fight with the same determination that have gotten them to where they are today, making them a program that you truly will remember.