Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Izzo and basketball attendance; and Dantonio's place in MSU football history

Tom Izzo and last night's basketball attendance

Last night, after the Spartan basketball team dispatched the Portland Pilots at Breslin Center, Tom Izzo expressed his extreme displeasure that so few people had turned out for the game.

While I can understand Izzo's disappointment, or can at the very least empathize, the terrible storms in lower and mid-Michigan must have had something to do with this. Thousands of people lost power late on Sunday night and the wee hours of Monday morning. I speculate that this is what kept people away.

While I always welcome Tom Izzo's candor, and generally think he's on target with his comments and criticisms, I don't know if his anger over this was well-timed. I wonder if he considered that the damage caused by Sunday night's storm, and its aftermath, had anything to do with the empty seats?

Whatever the case may be, I certainly hope that attendance improves for the upcoming home basketball games. After all, we do have the number one team in the land. If we continue to see empty seats at Breslin Center, than there is a problem due more to complacency than bad weather and power outages.

Mark Dantonio's place in MSU coaching history

From Tom Izzo, undeniably the greatest coach in MSU basketball history (and possibly the greatest coach MSU has had in any sport), to Mark Dantonio, a coach who is staking a claim as one of the best the university has seen.

With the victory at Nebraska, Dantonio won his 60th game as MSU's head football coach. Yesterday, I did a quick Wikipedia search to see how he stacks up with other Spartan football coaches.

Dantonio currently has the second highest Big Ten winning percentage in MSU football history. He's behind only Biggie Munn, who coached the Spartans in their inaugural year of conference play before stepping down to become university athletic director. Munn had a 5-1 conference record in 1953, an .833 winning percentage. Dantonio's current Big Ten record is 36-18 (.667). So among Spartan football coaches who have coached multiple Big Ten seasons (probably a better basis for comparison than Munn's lone conference season in '53), Dantonio is all alone in first place.

Coach D, in only his seventh season, is already fourth all-time in victories. His 60 wins are behind Duffy Daugherty (109), Charlie Bachman (70) and George Perles (officially 68, with 5 wins from the 1994 season forfeited).

Dantonio, with an overall win/loss record of 60-29, has a .674 winning percentage. This is third all-time behind Biggie Munn's virtually unapproachable .846 and Chester Brewer's .699.

It's true that, unlike Munn and Daugherty, Dantonio doesn't have any national championships. But let's face it, the landscape of college football has changed since Munn and Daugherty were coaching in the '40s, '50s, and '60s. It may not be completely realistic at this point to expect MSU to contend for national titles when Alabama and the SEC rule the roost. Demographics have changed substantially over the last few decades, and the Big Ten may never be as powerful as it was in the days of Munn and Daugherty.

For what Dantonio has accomplished, with the resources he's had at his disposal, he ranks among the best football coaches in Michigan State University history.

(Addendum: At the conclusion of the 2013 football season, Dantonio's overall record is even better than it was when I originally wrote this post. He has an overall record of 64-29 (.679), and a conference record of 38-18 (.688)).


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