Mark Dantonio received a huge bonus, but a jury of Spartan fans are looking for results

After guiding Michigan State to the College Football Playoffs in 2015, Mark Dantonio signed a contract that increased his annual salary from $3.6 Million annually to $4.4 Million.

The contract also included a bonus for an additional $4.3 Million and that bonus became effective on January 15, 2020 (less than a week ago). And while it is a onetime payment and not part of Dantonio’s annual salary, nevertheless the bonus is extraordinary compensation considering the “Return on Investment”.

Over the past 4 seasons, Mark Dantonio has compiled a dismal Big Ten record of just 17 wins offset by 19 losses, that includes a Big Ten record of just 10 wins and 17 losses in three of the past 4 seasons.

When Mark Hollis (AD) and President, Lou Anna Simon put forth the contract to Mark Dantonio after the 2015 season, I trust they expected a continuation of excellence that rendered a Big Ten won/lost record of 39-9 between 2010 and 2015, including four Division Titles, three Big Ten titles and an invitation to the CFP.

Yet, the Spartans went in reverse in a fashion all too common amongst Michigan State coaches, whereby coaches climb the mountain, then fail to adapt (perhaps get complacent) and then plummet back down the slope.

With the exception of Denny Stolz who posted a winning record, yet was forced out due to probationary issues, and Nick Saban who posted a winning record yet departed due to a contract squabble, every coach since Biggie Munn was forced out due to flagging results.

In fact, Biggie Munn is the single beacon who climbed the mountain, compiling an extraordinary record of 27-1 in his final three seasons, winning “back to back” National Titles in 1951 & 1952, including the Spartans first ever Big Ten title and first ever Rose Bowl victory, yet while he was on top, Munn saluted his troops and stood down at the tender age of 46 to assume the role of AD.

So the bar has been set at Michigan State, but can Mark Dantonio correct course and go out on top?.

What is Mark Dantonio’s plan?

The college landscape is changing at lightning speed and high Octane Offenses are leading the way.

For example, LSU posted an unblemished record of 15-0 and won the National Championship by averaging nearly 570 Yards of Total Offense, 400 Yards Passing and nearly 50 points per game. The changing landscape has even caught the eye of Defensive mastermind, Nick Saban.

Prior to the College Football Playoffs, Saban said:

“You’re a defensive-minded coach and you grew up running the ball, being conservative, playing good defense and winning games — and the game changed,”…“When RPOs came and everybody spread it out, the game changed. And if you don’t join that crowd, you’re never going to be able to make enough explosive plays in a game and score enough points.”

So, relying upon a dominating Defense to control the game until the Offense can score enough points to win, is no longer a viable game plan!

This past season, Alabama averaged an impressive 510 Yards including 340 Yards Passing per game, but they lost their starting Quarterback late in the season and it wasn’t enough: Alabama finished with a record of 11-2 and failed to earn an invitation to the College Football Playoffs for the first time.

So, building a high Octane Offense is imperative, and the best Offensive Coordinators are being plucked faster than 5-Star athletes. And while Alabama didn’t get to the Playoffs, they were at least in the conversation, while the Spartans are light years away.

The stats highlight the Spartans plight. The Spartans averaged just 370 Yards and 22 Points per game, and that’s 200 Yards per game and nearly 30 points less than LSU, so we must ask: what is Mark Dantonio’s plan? What is Bill Beekman’s plan? What is President Stanley’s plan? The clock is ticking!

During a presentation at the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association Clinic in Lansing on January 17, Mark Dantonio alluded to making changes within his staff, and yet the clock is ticking and the coach has remained silent.

Let’s keep in mind, personnel changes are occurring at lightning speed as well. I wrote on January 14 there had been 19 Head Coaching changes since the end of last season, and now that number has grown to 22. That means there were 22 Offensive Coordinators on the market: some not so desirable, yet others with impeccable pedigree.

For example, Mississippi State fired Joe Moorhead as Head Coach and hired Mike Leach. Yet in less than 10 days, Moorhead, who compiled impeccable stats as OC at Penn State in 2016 and 2017, was hired to become OC at Oregon. In addition, former Washington OC Matt Lubick was on the market after Head Coach Chris Petersen resigned/retired at Washington, and in short order, Lubick was hired to become OC at Nebraska. Those are just two examples.

So while Mark Dantonio alludes to change, the college football landscape is changing at lightning speed, the clock is ticking and while Mark Dantonio delays, the best OC’s are being plucked.

College football waits for no one: what is Michigan State’s plan?

If Michigan State intends to compete, they better get in the game.

It starts with the President, the AD and the Head Football Coach sitting down and crafting a plan. That’s what John Hannah did when he hired Biggie Munn in 1947, and in 5 short years, Michigan State improbably won “back to back” National Titles in 1951 & 1952. In fact, in 1951 & 1952 the Spartans were the LSU of 2020. The Spartans of 1951 & 1952 were “King” of the college football world. That is where the bar was set and that is how the current President and AD will be measured.

The Spartans have the resources, but do they have the administrative will? Do they have the administrative expertise?

There are no excuses. In terms of resources and amenities the Spartans are amongst the best in the land (ask any coach in the country) but at issue, do they have the Administrative wherewithal to accomplish what John Hannah accomplished 70 years ago?

Mark Dantonio just got a $4.3 Million Bonus, but now fans, 50,000 students, 75,000 ticketholders and 500,000 alumni/donors are wondering what will they get in return.

At the bottom line:

When a team such as the Spartans compiles a dismal Big Ten record of 17-19 over the past 4 years, they no longer enjoy the luxury of silence.

So, the President, the AD and the Head Football Coach better craft a plan to correct course…and inform their constituents, and  fast!

Let’s be honest, the silence and lack of action leads most fans to believe they are being played as part of a “shell game”. So Michigan State’s administration can play that game at their own risk because there is always a day of reckoning.

What is the plan? The clock is ticking!!!