Coach Dantonio or Saint Mark Dantonio?
As the 2009 season progressively turns itself around, I can't help to continue to sing the praises of coach Mark Dantonio.
But it's more than a matter of praising the obvious. It's being grateful for a culture of change.
As a Spartan football fan over the years, you learn to hope but expect.
That is, you hope for the best, but expect the worst.
You hope a big lead in Ann Arbor continues, but expect a Braylon Edwards-like leaping grab to leave you in disbelief.
You hope Drew Stanton continues to dominate Notre Dame, but expect to be drenched in rain and tears by the end of the fourth quarter.
Thinking it over the past few days, it's like Christmas. You hope for the most ridiculous, unnecessary, and flashy gadget, but expect it's too expensive or dangerous for mom and dad to buy.
So as a Spartan football fan, you hope for the gift under the tree that Tate Forcier doesn't mount a major comeback, but expect to be...wait, that's when Jolly Old Saint Dantonio comes down the chimney.
He bears a scowl instead of a jovial grin. He looks like a 40-year-old, still-athletic man instead of a chubby, bearded teddy bear. And he drapes himself in green instead of red.
But that's where the differences end. He is a gift-giver all the same.
Leave MSU seniors with a home victory over Michigan? Check.
Openly express hatred for the Wolverines? Check.
New Year's Day Bowl Game? Check.
A season where you can argue for Sparty football AND basketball? Check.
Turn around the 2009 season and put the Green and White back into Big Ten contention? Check, check.
Most importantly, implement pride and confidence into a much maligned program? Check.
But now stands the shiny, wrapped box under the giant tree.
The iPhone for the Generation Years.
The official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle for Ralph.
The help with student loans for the poor college student.
The engagement ring for the anxious girlfriend.
A 7pm, under the lights, night game currently stands as the venue for a chance for Sparty to upend undefeated Iowa, and gain a share of first place in the Big Ten.
But with Saint Dantonio behind the sleigh's reigns, I hope and expect for a Sparty win to be sitting under the tree come Sunday morning.
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