For the third consecutive season, the Michigan State Spartans are going to be playing in a bowl game.
Such a statement is not quite familiar for fans of the program this decade.
The Spartans achieved such a feat by defeating the Purdue Boilermakers in an exciting game Saturday afternoon. While Michigan State achieved bowl eligibility with the win, they also destroyed Purdue’s hopes of achieving a bowl game in new head coach Danny Hope’s first season.
Making bowl games in 2007, 2008 and now 2009 is the first three-year bowl game streak since the mid-1990s for Sparty. Now, it may be premature to canonize Mark Dantonio as the new Nick Saban in East Lansing, but he is definitely getting more and more people on his side as the years pass by.
Many major football programs are consistently used to playing bowl games year after year, especially big BCS games—Texas, Ohio State, USC, and Florida are just a few examples. But being a Spartan fan takes a different type of outlook…until now.
Ever since head coach John L. Smith was canned following the 2006 season, Dantonio has guided the program in a more prosperous direction. With his trademark sideline scowl and unflappable demeanor, his attitude says it all. He expects his players to play hard and expects them to win.
The same type of expectations can not really be said under the Smith regime, nor can it be attributed to the Bobby Williams-led program before that.
Most of us are familiar with the “SOS” term (“Same Old Spartans”) affiliated with the university, especially if you have been a die-hard fan for many years. Some games during Dantonio’s tenure have made fans scratch their heads, like this year’s games against Central Michigan or the heartbreaking loss to Iowa.
But that mantra has been wearing off more and more each season Dantonio has been under the helm, and he deserves the majority of the credit. He is making the Spartans into a perennial contender, and for that, Spartans fans everywhere are very grateful.