Weekly Michigan State Football Question and Answer Article

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Mark Dantonio has done a terrific job bringing Spartan Football back.  Photo courtesy of Bill Marklevits.

Mark Dantonio has done a terrific job bringing Spartan Football back. Photo courtesy of Bill Marklevits.

News, Notes and Thoughts from MSU Football



My question is how can student athletes participate in summer conditioning/OTA's while also holding a summer job? In your opinion is the "year 'round" mentality contributing to some of the "Ohio State-like" problems emerging in college football? Realistically, how can a kid expect to make any spending money while focused on football? Isn't the entire system creating a double standard? Adam in Los Angeles


Super question Adam. I am not going to comment on OSU, but I will get right to the meat of your question. I think there is a fine line. Mark Dantonio is very careful to let his players balance their commitment to football and their personal lives. If a kid is doing what is essentially an hour a day on football, that isn’t bad. You have to remember that most of these young men LOVE the game. If the players organize a workout and want to get together that is fine. It is what their passion is. I can tell you this Adam. The players that don’t share the passion don’t show up. Also guys that have jobs do miss things. It is the nature of the beast. It has been discussed that there be a “Dark period” like recruiting where the athletes can have nothing to do with their sport. I don’t support that. It is difficult for athletes, and with the cat out of the bag, I don’t see how it gets fixed without them raising the parameters of how much a scholarship is for monetarily.


Hey Hondo,
I know you just had your football questions today, but the last question got me thinking about Coach Salem. From the moment Treadwell was hired at Miami, my first thought was that Salem might be in the best position for the O-Coordinator spot because of the absolutely phenomenal job he did with the running backs and his previous head coaching experience, plus the great job and impact he has had in recruiting, but I do understand the Roushar move, I just wondered if he got any consideration for the job at all. My feeling is that Salem is becoming a star young coach in the making and my question is how much attention he might be getting from other high profile programs or for D-1 head coaching positions already (in no way am I questioning his loyalty to MSU, because I think that all of the assistants are very loyal, but it is a business). It seems like the sky is the limit for him, and he seems to set the bar that high for himself. Could we also be seeing in him (for lack of a better comparison) a future Brady Hoke or dare I say, Urban Meyer? Maybe giving him too much praise or credit, but I just felt like anytime you hire a coach with success as a head coach at any college level as an assistant, it is a great hire. Adam


Another great question Adam. Salem is a star. There was NO DOUBT, however, that Roushar was the next OC and we broke that story at Spartan Nation WEEKS before it was public. There was a process, but it was a forgone conclusion that Roushar was it. As far as Salem he is a STAR. I don’t think there is ANY doubt that Roushar should be a head coach and when he gets that shot Salem would step in. Salem will get a lot of attention, but he isn’t in any hurry to jump. He and his family don’t like working for Mark and Becky Dantonio; they love it. I can’t say enough about Salem. He is a great person, great coach, great family man, his players love him, and he is tough. He will be a super star coach. As far as the heir apparent to Dantonio, he has a lot of years left so let’s think about that at another date!


Hondo: Do you have any personal sense that the staff genuinely believes that we are really going to get any of these highly ranked kids from far away places? Frankly, I have serious doubts that we will. I suspect that we will finish second or third for many of them as we have in the past few years. Obviously that won't help us if true. Doug


That is an interesting question Doug. When there are times that the state of Michigan in any given class can’t sustain the needs of MSU they have to look other places. With their continued success, doors are opening.  They will finish 2nd or 3rd on a lot of them because they are now fishing in an elite pool where even the elite schools don’t get them all. With that said, they will go out and win some and I think that is big for this program. As they continue to stay bowl eligible and compete for Big Ten titles and stay in the top 25, MSU will become a destination spot. You are also forgetting this staff gets lauded around the nation for how they are received by coaches and how they treat their players. I like what they are doing. There are some that are calling the demise of MSU football because of UM and what is going on. That is no more ignorant than someone standing in his or her garage and calling oneself an Escalade. MSU is methodical and with this going to be a smaller class and the state of Michigan not being as deep with talent and the expansion of their own footprint with success, all things are good…really good.


Hondo, I don’t want to create a controversy, so if you just want to email an answer back rather than put this in your question and answer article I am fine with that. Last year when Salem arrived you were very bold that he was an upgrade and that the running backs were better. You were right on target. You have also been quick to point out that Detroit was NOT all Dan Enos. My question is do you not like Dan? Martin


Martin, I have been asked this more than once and I have no problem answering this in an article. I love Dan. He is not a good coach; he is a great coach. I am going to answer questions direct and truthfully. Let me explain. Dan was Mark Dantonio’s QB coach at Cincinnati. He left there to come to MSU and coach with JLS. Dantonio hired Dave Warner. When Coach D came to MSU, he is VERY loyal and brought his entire staff. When his RB coach chose to stay at UC Enos needed a job and was given the RB job. He was not the best RB coach in the nation. That isn’t a slam; it wasn’t his forte. What I will tell you is that he is one of the best QB coaches around. There were A LOT of people that thought Dantonio would have let Warner go to keep Dan. Those people don’t know Coach D and understand his loyalty. I like Dan and respect him. As great as a QB coach he is, Salem is a better RB coach and I think that showed. It isn’t a slam at all. He is also a very talented recruiter. It wouldn’t be fair, however, when people call the demise of MSU Football because Enos left for me to remain silent. Enos had Detroit as his focus for many jobs prior to MSU. When Coach Dantonio arrived he still had a part of it, but not all of it. That is a fact. Not a slam on Dan.Â


Hondo, what are your thoughts on Keith Nichol? With this being his senior year, I wonder what your thoughts are about him? Judy in Grand Rapids


Good morning Judy. Keith Nichol is one of my favorite things to talk about with MSU sports. He is a super young man with so many talents. He has a great attitude and is a great kid. I am going to have more on him in an article next week, but I will tell you this. When he came to MSU I had a coach on staff tell me how great he was going to be. His athleticism, vision, feel…everything. It wasn’t a slam on Cousins because everyone loved Kirk as a kid. When Cousins beat Nichol for the job, Keith was a great role model for handling adversity and he has been the biggest cheerleader for Kirk on the team. Nichol is going to have a really big year in 2011 and no one will be more fired up for him than me.




Thanks for the respect you have given Jared McGaha this spring. I was so excited when he came to MSU and when he and Foreman were battling. I was wondering why he hadn’t won a starters job and frankly thought he was a wash up because he wasn’t a starter. He sure sounds like a super Spartan and young man. I am glad you talk about more than just the stars. Robert


Robert, Jared is a super human being. You are right. His commitment to the Spartan Nation and being willing to play any position has made him so valuable. MSU is being turned around because of young men just like McGaha. He is 100% a Spartan and would pick up water bottles or mow the field if asked. His commitment to MSU and not just being a guard, tackle, or center, has made MSU better. His name may not go down in history as the greatest OG, or OT ever, but this team isn’t turned around to Big Ten champions without him and when an injury happens and he steps in and plays well you will truly see his value.Â

Hey Hondo, every year you do scouting reports on a bunch of the players. Will you do those again this year, and if so, when? I actually print them and read them as the year goes on. They are my favorite thing you do. By the way love the radio show. Chris


Chris those start every July. We do roughly 50 or 60 players. I am already writing them and yes you will get them back. Thanks for the kind words on the radio show. I have some exciting news coming about the expansion of it soon.




Thanks for all of the great comments and email for the new Saturday column. If you aren’t aware, on Saturday mornings I answer some of your email in a Q and A column about Spartan football. Because of the holiday weekend we moved it to Sunday this week. If you have a MSU football question you would like answered send me an email at SpartanNationMail@yahoo.com