Spartans’ Dantonio headed to hall of fame

Published 10:18 am Tuesday, January 9, 2024

EAST LANSING — One of the greatest coaches to walk the sidelines of Spartan Stadium will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Former Michigan State Coach Mark Dantonio is one of three coaches who were announced among the Class of 2024 Monday afternoon, just hours before the College Football Playoffs National Championship Game.

Dantonio, who coached 13 seasons in East Lansing and finished with an overall record of 114-57, joins Danny Hale, who coached at West Chester (Pennsylvania) and Bloomsburg (Pennsylvania) and Frank Solich, who coached at Ohio University and Nebraska.

Also, being inducted in Las Vegas in December are 19 players, including the likes of Tim Couch (Kentucky), Warrick Dunn (Florida State), Larry Fitzgerald (Pittsburgh), Dan Hampton (Arkansas), Steve Hutchinson (Michigan), Randy Moss (Marshall) and Julius Peppers (North Carolina).

Dantonio, who took over a struggling Spartan program after spending three seasons at Cincinnati, coming over to coach the Bearcats after being defensive coordinator at Ohio State, and led the Spartans to three Big Ten Championships, wins in the 2014 Rose Bowl and 2015 Cotton Bowl.

Michigan State also appeared in the 2015 College Football Playoff.

Dantonio feels honored to be selected.

““I felt very humbled and overwhelmed by the significance of the moment,” he said. “When I became a head coach, we wanted to build things that would last and have a positive impact on each individual. There are so many people involved in this honor. I want to thank my family; my staff and their families and everyone that was a part of this program; the administration; Spartan fans; and most importantly the players. I feel extremely blessed to be included in this 2024 prestigious group.

“There are so many great coaches and people to thank throughout my coaching journey. Jim Tressel brought me to Youngstown State and later Ohio State. Nick Saban brought me to Michigan State, and Bob Goin (former Cincinnati athletic director) hired me for my first head coaching position. My high school coach Ron Apperson and (college position coach) Coach (Dale) Evans at South Carolina gave me the idea that coaching would be a great profession, regardless of the level it would be at. Randy Hart brought me in as a GA at Ohio State, and things took off from there.

Dantonio is the fifth former Spartan coach to be inducted into the hall of fame. The others are Clarence “Biggie” Munn (1959), Charles Bachman (1978), Duffy Daugherty (1984) and Frank “Muddy” Waters (2000).

“Mark Dantonio clearly has the records, the bowl wins, the resume of a Hall of Famer, but for me, his legacy is something even greater,” said MSU Vice President/Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Alan Haller. “Coach ‘D’ created a lifetime of memories for Spartans around the world, unifying alumni, families and friends throughout the entire Michigan State community around championships, milestones and celebrations. He challenged us to dream beyond what we believed was possible, and proved that dreams do come true.”