Michigan State Head Coach Mark Dantonio's Mantra, "There is no “I” in Team" Leads Way to Success

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All of the smiles around Spartan Football tell the story of the confidence level and the team atmosphere.  Photo courtesy of Bill Marklevits.

All of the smiles around Spartan Football tell the story of the confidence level and the team atmosphere. Photo courtesy of Bill Marklevits.


There is no “I” in “team.”

While that maxim tends to be a tad overused, it still rings true in most instances – and I’m not even talking about the players; I’m speaking of the coaching staff.

Michigan State’s coaching staff has for the most part stayed the same since Mark Dantonio and his regime came to East Lansing from Cincinnati in 2007. There have been a couple coaches who have departed, more in terms of garnering higher positions at other football programs (Dan Enos, Don Treadwell). But for the most part, the staff has been the one constant in the changing of the guard at MSU. Sometimes, when recruiting is so vividly magnified, the makeup of the coaching staff becomes overlooked.

This isn’t the case for the Spartans.

“The first thing you can do as a head football coach is hire a great staff,” Dantonio told Spartan Nation Radio. “Your staff is really gonna emulate what you expect, and there’s a loyalty that’s got to be built in your staff to your program and your head football coach – but that goes the other way too. It’s gotta go from the head coach to the staff as well, because things aren’t always gonna be perfect.

“But if you can hire a good staff to care about individuals, an intelligent group of people that are problem-solving and innovative and good teachers in the classroom, those are the things which really set you apart from everywhere else.”

The two coaches mentioned earlier, Enos and Treadwell, are actually the only two coaches who have left the program since 2007. The rest of the coaches have stayed and helped continue to build the program into what it has become, which is one with lofty expectations year in and year out. That’s not a knock on Enos and Treadwell; it speaks more of the continuity between the men who run the program and what other programs around the nation think of the coaches in East Lansing.

Dan Roushar has stepped in as the team’s new offensive coordinator in replacement of Treadwell, and he has already drawn rave reviews from his players and his cohorts on the coaching staff. Pat Narduzzi now goes into his fifth year as MSU’s defensive coordinator, a role in which he has improved steadily since he first arrived in what now seems many years ago. When speaking of Narduzzi and what has made him so successful, Dantonio used the phrases: “attention to detail, enthusiasm, very intelligent, extremely hard worker.”

“Players really enjoy being coached by (Narduzzi),” Dantonio said. “He’s a guy that leaves no stone unturned. He’s an aggressive personality and I think our players gravitate towards that.”

Dantonio is also quite fond of Roushar and his ability to step into different coaching roles and succeed. It is that consistency and versatility that earned him the offensive coordinator position to begin with, and that decision did not seem like a struggle – at least for Dantonio.

“He’s coached almost every position on the offense at the Division I level,” Dantonio said of Roushar. “He’s coached quarterbacks before, he’s coached tight ends before, the offensive line, he’s coached running backs before. So, he’s been all over the place in terms of experiences he has as an offensive football coach. He’s an excellent teacher in the classroom. He brings a very mature outlook to our offense.

“One of the biggest things I can say about coach Roushar -- one of the most impressive things -- is that I’ve seen how he handled the Arthur Ray situation; going to Chicago, the concern and care that he took with Arthur Ray and his family when he was no longer playing football. You just don’t see that sometimes.”

Whenever a head football coach of a major Division I football program has loyalty at every side he turns, it brings the staff closer and creates a stronger bond. Michigan State continues to build from the ground up, not just in terms of recruiting talented athletes but also teaching them to become better men on and off the field.

That is a trait that can only be taught by men who have lived through the good and the bad, who have more experience with the harsh realities which sometimes plague the human spirit. Adversity is an aspect most programs deal with on an every-day basis, but to learn from adversity and use it as a positive is a whole other stepping stone to success.

Mark Dantonio and his staff are the pillars which keep the football population from floundering, and they know how to do this because they treat one another the same way.