Skip to main content

Mark Dantonio steps down at Michigan State

Mark Dantonio has retired as the head coach at Michigan State. Dantonio made the announcement Tuesday.

Sources alerted FootballScoop to the possibility Dantonio would step down early Tuesday. We've been told Glenn Sugiyama of DHR International has been reaching out to candidates in anticipation of a search at Michigan State. Sugiyama handled the Florida State search that landed Mike Norvell, among many others. In the interim, defensive coordinator Mike Tressel will serve as the Spartans' head coach.

Dantonio steps away weeks after collecting a $4.3 million retention bonus, due to him on Jan. 15, and one day before National Signing Day Part II.

He also steps away as he serves as a witness in former Spartans staffer Curtis Blackwell's lawsuit against the school is underway, in which Dantonio was deposed on the witness stand and Blackwell's lawyers alleged multiple NCAA recruiting violations committed by Dantonio. Dantonio denied any wrongdoing.

"To all Spartans: Thank you for everything. You have truly helped my dreams come true," he said, leading into a letter announcing his resignation.

"Every February since 2007, I have reset the program in preparation for the next year's challenges," he said. "After much reflection and discussion with my family, I feel that is now time for change as we enter into a new decade of Michigan State Football.

"I have told players on many occasions that 'Michigan State is bigger than any one person. Someday there will be someone else here talking to you from this podium.' That day has come."

Dantonio letter

The winningest head coach in Michigan State history, Dantonio led the Spartans to a 115-57 record in 13 seasons at the helm. His teams won at least a share of four Big Ten titles, peaking in 2013 when Michigan State went 13-1, 9-0 in Big Ten play, upended an undefeated Ohio State team in the Big Ten Championship, won the Rose Bowl and finished No. 3 in both polls.

From 2010-15, Michigan State went 65-16 -- including a 7-1 mark against Michigan from 2008-15 -- with four Big Ten crowns, three trips to the Big Ten title game, a College Football Playoff berth, and three consecutive AP top-6 finishes from 2013-15.

The program slipped from those heights in recent years. After winning the Big Ten -- including a win over an undefeated Iowa in the title game -- and reaching the Playoff in 2015, Michigan State slipped to 3-9 in 2016. The Spartans recovered to a 10-3 finish in 2017, but went 7-6 in each of the past two seasons.

After Michigan State finished 125th nationally in yards per play in 2018, Dantonio controversially chose to retain his entire offensive staff while moving each coach to a new position for the 2019 campaign. The Spartans finished with an equal record and ranked 104th in yards per play.

As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.