Mark Dantonio Talks About The New Facilitiy & Changing the Culture at MSU Football When He Arrived

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Second thing, discipline and maturity. I tell our players just like I told my kids all the time…you’ll go farther with discipline and maturity. You gotta be able to handle failure as much as handle success. You gotta be able to handle success, there’s no question about that. But you have to keep coming back. You have to be at your best when things are at their worst. You have to be at your best when you’re in the storm. That’s when you gain value. That’s when you gain a deep respect from the people.

Do you walk in and blame others? Or do you sit there and say, Okay we failed. Let’s regroup and let’s move forward. That’s just discipline. That’s just maturity. That’s the ability to handle people. I think that’s very, very important. The resources we have, we could go over… We’re building a north facility, the north end zone project. It’s gonna be very, very nice. Over there right now is a locker room that we’ve had there at Michigan State for 60 years. This is Spartan-esque as you can be. I mean, they just put stalls up between the toilets a couple years ago. So it’s the real deal.

We could just as easily be having this meeting there. It’s not about the building. It’s not about the bricks and the mortar. It’s about people. Our players need to understand that and our coaches need to understand that. In some ways you’re better off having a meeting in some broken down place because they get complacent about all of this stuff. Sooner or later they walk in and they don’t read the signs, they don’t see this. They go in and they see the people, they deal with the people. Based on how they were treated, and based on their interaction with the people, tells them whether they’re having a good day or a bad day, based on their success in practice.

So the core of what they do, of who they are, comes back to their interaction with coaches and players and what they do on the field. We talk about they are the resource. They are investment again. We talk about their biggest resource is the coach. And we talk about the chemistry.

I really believe that we win close games and we overcome adversity from chemistry. It’s not about getting yours, it’s about us getting ours…when we start moving in that direction. We talk about eagles around here a little bit. If you look at it, eagles have great vision. They can see from great heights. These are talking about leaders. Great vision, they soar to great heights. They don’t eat dead meat, they don’t scavenge. They look to fly in the storms. They need to promote the program with the young players and they need to bring people along.

When I first got here I remember Kirk talking about this, and in his talks over in Grand Rapids recently, about the day he first came into the weight room and guys said, Hey what are you doing here so early, you shouldn’t be here. Another guy came up to him and said, Don’t listen to that. He’s wrong.

The culture when we first came here, that didn’t exist. Our freshmen in 2007 experienced that culture. But gradually as you continue to build from within, the culture exists now where people come in and I would like our players to take care of them. Take them under their wing and try to promote the program and promote what’s going on in the program.

I always challenge our guys with this. They’ve gotta be fully engaged. I think these are things that we constantly talk about. I just had a meeting upstairs. I didn’t even have to say anything and he goes, Coach I’m at level 3. I said, Oh so you’re disengaged are you? Yeah Coach, I’m disengaged. We’ve gotta keep them fully engaged where they have energy and passion, they’re innovative, they’re loyal, good judgment, they become leaders. Have to.

How do you do that? I think that’s the key to all good business. As soon as you find people moderately engaged and technically good… You’ve got people who are technically good, lack inspiration, make a contribution not as great, frustrated about not being used. It’s all there. You’re probably sitting there saying, Yup. Man, I see Jim right there. It’s not different than any organization. You have guys sitting in the back and guys sitting up front.

Freshman, Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors. We’ve got 105 guys. Everybody’s not playing. It’s important to bring value to everybody. If you can bring value to everybody you can keep them up there fully engaged. That’s the key. I really feel that’s the key. They’ve gotta have value. As hard as it sounds, the big deal around here is you can’t be here and just wear the jersey. You have to earn the jersey. You can’t just wear it. That’s very, very important in every business, in every team. You don’t want somebody just cashing a check.

And I know that’s a reality of some guys, but you just don’t want that. That’s why we say profit sharing is the way to go. If I had a business, profit share. Then everybody gets a piece of that pie and they’re much more motivated. Not engaged, unhappy, not contributing, performance decreases, no discretionary time…none. Then they’ve got an ax to grind. You can’t ignore the bear in the room.