Ingredients are There for Mark Dantonio to Texas
Over the next few days and possibly weeks, we'll be hearing a lot about who might get the head coaching job at Texas. A lot of names are being thrown around including Art Briles and Jimbo Fisher. Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio might be considered a dark horse, but his name has come up. There are a few reasons why that's not such a preposterous suggestion.
Every program wants a head coach that can win 11-12 games a year and compete for conference championships. Dantonio's won 11 or 12 games in three of the last four seasons, winning the Big Ten championship this year and nearly grabbing another win in 2011. In the new four-team playoff world of the future, this year's Spartan team would likely be playing for the national championship. He was also the defensive coordinator for Ohio State's national championship team in 2002. That's the kind of performance any program could get behind.
While Zanesville, Ohio is considered the hometown for Dantonio, he was born in the Lone Star State. He's five years younger than Mack Brown, which seems important to some. More notably, you have to look at the school he's leaving. Michigan State isn't the biggest brand name in college football, or even its own state. He's had to make more with less. His recruiting classes have been ranked somewhere between fourth and ninth each year in his own conference. Texas is arguably the easiest place to recruit in the country. Imagine what he can achieve with the best players in the Big 12 or perhaps anywhere.
Mark Dantonio might be the most underpaid coach in all of college football at under $2 million per year. That's in the bottom third of salaries in the Big Ten despite a performance over the past three years that's been arguably second to none. Mack Brown has been making nearly $5.5 million with bonuses that can take him over $6 million. That means Dantonio could potentially triple his income by moving. MSU Athletic Director Mark Hollis has pledged to give raises to both Dantonio and his defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi (who himself has become a hot property and at 47 would have a lot of years ahead of him). While I'm sure the paychecks will grow if they remain at Michigan State, it seems doubtful that the Spartans can compete with what Texas will pay.
That's not to say that Texas will hire Dantonio or Narduzzi. A lot of these arguments apply to other candidates, like Briles. Still, it might not be shocking to see Dantonio and/or Narduzzi lured away. If Dantonio leaves, that would be the second straight year that a Big Ten championship head coach departed and would leave the conference without a head coach that had ever won a conference title in the Big Ten. Only Urban Meyer and Bo Pelini would have even won division crowns. Stay tuned, things could get interesting.