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Saturday, June 6, 2020

Articles tagged: Michigan State Football

Mark Dantonio collected massive bonus before stepping down at Michigan State

Mark Dantonio announced his surprising decision on Tuesday to step down as the head football coach at Michigan State, and some have wondered why he waited until February to do it. He may have had more than four million reasons.

Dantonio and Michigan State agreed to a reworked contract back in February of 2016, and the revamped six-year deal increased his annual salary roughly $600,000 to $4.3 million per year. It also included the opportunity to earn what Chris Solari of the Detroit Free Press described at the time as “one of the largest one-time lump-sum bonuses in college football.” That bonus was worth $4.3 million if Dantonio remained the head coach of the Spartans through Jan. 15, 2020. Michigan State called it a payment “in recognition of his long-service to the University.”

Unless there is some language in the contract that we don’t know about, the only thing that would have prevented Dantonio from being able to collect the $4.3 million bonus would have been if he were fired or resigned prior to Jan. 15, 2020. If he were fired without cause, he would have been entitled to a $7 million buyout.

Michigan State struggled the past two seasons, and there were questions a few months ago about Dantonio potentially being fired. He and Tom Izzo were also investigated by the NCAA after the Larry Nassar scandal, though both coaches were cleared. Athletic director Bill Beekman quickly dismissed that talk. You have to wonder if the $4.3 million bonus and/or $7 million buyout were factors. Even if not, you can’t blame people for assuming Dantonio intentionally waited until after the bonus was due to announce he is stepping down.

All that said, it should be noted that Dantonio said in his statement Tuesday that he plans to remain with Michigan State in a role “involving special projects, especially transitioning our players, both current and incoming, to their next challenges.” Perhaps the Spartans consider that a $4.3 million position.

Mark Dantonio steps down as head coach at Michigan State

Mark Dantonio has had a successful run as the head football coach at Michigan State for the past 13 years, and that run has officially come to an end.

Dantonio made the shocking announcement on Tuesday that he is stepping down as the head coach of the Spartans.

Dantonio had a record of 115-57 at Michigan State. However, the Spartans struggled over the past two seasons after winning 10 games in 2017. They went just 7-6 this year and last year, finishing off the 2019 season with a win over Wake Forest in the Pinstripe Bowl.

Dantonio led Michigan State to the College Football Playoff semifinal in 2015, and things went a bit downhill from there. The team has a record of 27-24 since. Still, Dantonio is the winningest coach in school history and won three Big Ten titles.

There was talk during the season that Dantonio could be on the hot seat, but Michigan State’s athletic director said there was no consideration being given to firing the coach.

In addition to the mediocre results on the field over the past few years, Dantonio was also named in cover-up allegations regarding the sexual assault scandals that have rocked Michigan State.

Michigan CB Ambry Thomas aiming to make Michigan State the ‘little sister’

Michigan logo

Several Michigan players have referred to Michigan State as the “little brother” of the Wolverines over the years, but Ambry Thomas has a different label for the loser of this year’s rivalry game.

Thomas, a junior defensive back, said this week that Saturday’s game is “about who’s the big brother and who’s the little sister in this state.”

Michigan is the better team on paper, as they are ranked No. 14 in the nation and have a 7-2 record compared to Michigan State’s losing record of 4-5. However, records don’t matter when two big in-state rivals get together. Michigan and Michigan State have brought us some of the most wild plays in college football history over the years, so either team could end up being the “little sister” this year.

Brian Lewerke takes knee to head, remains in game and throws pick-six

Brian Lewerke head

Brian Lewerke threw a costly pick-six in Michigan State’s loss to Illinois on Saturday and probably should not have been in the game.

The Spartans were up 28-3 in the first half and blew the game, losing 37-34. With his Spartans up 31-24 and under 10 minutes left in the game, Lewerke rushed for three yards on a second down play. He was kneed in the head on the play and a teammate called to the sidelines for a replacement, but his gesture was ignored.

Lewerke remained in the game and threw an interception that was returned 76 yards for a touchdown on the following play, making it 31-30.

Lewerke stayed in the game on the ensuing possession, and the Spartans kicked a field goal to extend their lead to 34-30. They ended up losing 37-34 on an Illini touchdown with five seconds left.

The pick-six seemed to swing the game, and based on the hit to the head Lewerke took, Michigan State should be questioned for leaving him in the game.

Michigan State AD: Mark Dantonio firing ‘not even a discussion’

For the third time in the last four years under Mark Dantonio, the Michigan State football program is treading water. It has raised some question whether Dantonio’s job is safe, but according to athletic director Bill Beekman, that’s not even a question.

Beekman was adamant that Dantonio would remain the coach into 2020 despite his recent struggles.

“That is not even a discussion,” Beekman said, via Mark Johnson of the Lansing State Journal. “Mark’s our head coach, there’s no question about that.”

Since making a maiden trip to the College Football Playoff in 2015, the Spartans are 26-22. 10 of those wins came in a successful 2017 campaign. The 2019 season is shaping up to be another lost cause, with the Spartans losing three in a row after a 4-1 start, having been outscored 100-17 by Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Penn State. Dantonio has also been named in cover-up allegations about the sexual assault scandals that have rocked the school for the last several years, and is a defendant in a federal lawsuit alleging wrongful termination of an assistant.

Ultimately, Dantonio is the winningest football coach in school history and has three Big Ten titles to his name. That’s brought him significant goodwill at the university, and it will probably take more than a couple mediocre seasons for this to become a realistic question.

Michigan State blows game with 12 men on the field penalty

Michigan State 12 men on the field

Michigan State blew their game at home against Arizona State on Saturday largely because of a 12 men on the field penalty.

The Spartans were up 7-3 on the Sun Devils but allowed ASU to score a touchdown in the final minute. Michigan State, whose offense had mostly been missing for the game, rose to drive down the field in the final 50 seconds. They got the ball to the Arizona State 24 and had kicker Matt Coghlin attempt a 42-yard field goal. He made it, but the kick was erased because of a 12 men on the field penalty.

Michigan State was pushed back five yards, and you can guess what happened — Coghlin hooked the next kick and the Spartans lost 10-7.

Michigan State fans couldn’t believe it.

This is the second year in a row that Michigan State has lost to Arizona State.

The Spartans actually put up 404 yards but were penalized 10 times for 91 yards and lost a fumble. That’s enough to give the game away. That, and a pathetic too many men on the field penalty did it.

Tulsa sets unwanted school record in loss to Michigan State

Michigan State

The Tulsa Golden Hurricane were thoroughly beaten by Michigan State 28-7 in their season-opening game Friday night, though the final score does not indicate the level of domination.

Tulsa was held to a school-record low -73 rushing yards. That’s not a typo. They went almost three-quarters of a field backwards in the game. They only offset that amount with 153 passing yards. Their 80 net total yards gained was their lowest since 1987.

On the other end, the -73 rushing yards was a school record for Michigan State’s defense as you would expect.

So how does a school end up with -73 rushing yards? Well, in college football, sacks count against a quarterback’s rushing stats. Beyond their -32 rushing yards from their quarterback, Tulsa had a few botched snaps including one that went for a safety that also contributed to the low rushing stats.

As ugly as -73 rushing yards is, it still was a long ways away from the record low.