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“Completing the Circle:” Mark Dantonio reestablishes the Spartan Football culture

Russ White
Lou Anna K. Simon, Mark Dantonio, Mark Hollis

“Our football team came ready to play throughout the season, but I think the preparation started back in January to reestablish ourselves, our program, and our culture,” Spartans head football coach Mark Dantonio tells Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon and Spartans Athletic Director Mark Hollis on MSU Today.

“I think we closed the season strong, and now we’ll look forward to possibly winning a tenth game. The opportunity to do that is special.”

The Spartans will play Washington State in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego on December 28.

“Everything I’ve heard about the Holiday Bowl is that, other than the Rose Bowl, it is THE bowl out on the West Coast,” Dantonio says.

Dantonio talks about the Cougars and the type of game the Spartans expect from them. And he talks about college football’s first-ever early signing period that arrives this month, from Dec. 20 to 22. For college football, it represents a big change from the existing February signing day because of the accelerated timetable, though the February date is not going away.

“We’ll have about 20 players sign, and I sort of like it,” he says. “It takes those players off the table, and we don’t have to babysit them anymore. It speeds up the recruiting process. We’ll be looking at juniors more often than not in January.”

Coach D is firmly focused on the bowl game but is also looking forward to 2018.

“We have a young football team so the spring should be exciting. We really only lose four players who have played extensively. Other than that, everybody’s back. So that’s exciting for the future.”

Dantonio credits the cohesion and continuity of his staff and the family-friendly atmosphere he tries to cultivate around Spartan Football for the team’s success.

“We work 14 hours a day sometimes. If you can’t get it done in 14 hours, you probably can’t get it done in 15 or 16 hours. I think you have to stay fresh. And part of staying fresh is getting away from football and being with your family.

“We’ve just tried to empower people. I think when you empower people, they become their own boss and they challenge themselves to get things done. I think we provide a positive work environment, and everybody gets along.

“We want to build relationships. Once you’re a Spartan, you always want to be a Spartan. You always want to have that relationship that lasts a lifetime. That’s really the underlying factor why we’re where we’re at and why we’ve won some games.”

MSU Today airs Sunday afternoons at 4:00 on 94.5 FM and AM 870.

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