Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Monday, November 27, 2006

While we were sleeping...

It appears that Michigan State University hired a new head football coach. By the time you read this, it may have already happened (and you surely go elsewhere on the internet and blogosphere to read anything MSU-related, as this might be the first Spartans-related item I've written here).

But if you've been keeping track of this thing, there have been quite a few bouncing balls to follow. LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini. Miami Dolphins' receivers coach Charlie Baggett. (Surely, the rumor mill surged around him this weekend, with the Dolphins in Detroit.) Philadelphia Eagles' QB coach Pat Shurmur.

Cleveland Browns' defensive coordinator Todd Grantham seemed like he was the guy a couple of weeks ago, and an announcement was just a formality. Then he was out (possibly because MSU was dragging its feet on a decision). Then he may have been in again. But now, he's out.

Some people wanted Central Michigan head coach Brian Kelly, who built a Division II powerhouse at Grand Valley State and is seen by many as a fast-rising coaching star. But it looks like he's going to take the job at Iowa State. (Having lived in Iowa, I'll say that Iowa State isn't a better job than MSU, but it could be a better stepping stone. And given the way the Big 12 is set up, the Cyclones probably have a better chance to contend faster in the conference's North division.)

Am I missing anyone else? Former Detroit Lions coach (now NFL Total Access co-host) Steve Mariucci? Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong? New York Jets' running back coach Jimmy Raye?

Oh yeah - the guy MSU is actually going to hire: Cincinnati head coach Mark Dantonio. The Enlightened Spartan says so. So does the Detroit News.

And given his pedigree - with names like Saban and Tressel on it, and the gold star of being Ohio State's defensive coordinator for its 2002 national championship team - he might just be exactly the right choice for the Spartans. He was at Michigan State during its most recent run of success. He has all kinds of recruiting ties in the Midwest, and understands this area. He's a defensive guy, not someone who's going to bring in some wacky gimmick offense.

But it's the Tressel and Ohio State points on his resume that might be most important (at least from a Michigan fan's point of view). And that bit of nervousness is what makes MSU alumni like my buddy (and former roommate) Rob pretty happy about the choice. Of course, that could depend on what Dantonio says in his introductory press conference, and whether or not he chooses to define his program in comparison to Michigan.

EDIT (10 a.m.): It's now official, according to the Lansing State Journal. No fireworks, no politics - the MSU Board of Trustees approved Dantonio smoothly (which was hardly a given, according to rumblings, with up to three different factions pushing their preferred head coaching candidate). The new coach has a five-year (rolling) deal, worth $1.1 million a year.

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