Iowa City, Iowa — Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio has made a name for himself as being a bit of a gambler.
Sometimes it has paid off remarkably well. Others it has failed almost as dramatically.
But one thing is certain, Dantonio will never shy away from taking a chance — and having some fun along the way.
Taking its place among the more notable special teams trick plays such as "Little Giants" and "Mousetrap," the latest installment of Dantonio's creations was called during Michigan State's 26-14 victory over Iowa on Saturday.
This time it was called "Hey Diddle Diddle" and it was punter Mike Sadler taking off upfield instead of booting the ball away to the Hawkeyes. It came on the first play of the fourth quarter with Michigan State holding a 20-14 lead and facing a fourth-and-7 from its 37.
Sadler took off around the right side of the line for a 25-yard gain, extending the drive that resulted in a 49-yard field goal from Michael Geiger that put the Spartans ahead by two possessions. Geiger later added another field goal for the final score, but it was the bold move by Dantonio that proved key.
"It's all about timing and execution," Dantonio said. "We just felt it was the right moment to do it. We want our players to know that there is risk in football, they're gonna be at risk. The corner is at risk and sometimes the coach has to take a risk, too. I wanted to step out there and do that. So, Hey Diddle Diddle worked."
But Hey Diddle Diddle? What does that mean?
"Sadler up the middle," Dantonio said with a smile, finishing his own version of the nursery rhyme.
Dantonio said he couldn't remember who came up with the name guessing it was linebackers and special teams coach Mike Tressel. But one thing is certain, it is a play that has been worked on for some time.
Sadler, who picked up a vital first down on a fake punt against Michigan last season, said it has been worked on since last season and was slightly different than the one he ran against the Wolverines.
But Sadler quickly pointed out he wasn't getting too technical with his carry, he was just trying to keep from getting knocked into next week instead of attempting to read his blocks and get further upfield.
"Did you see the run?" he asked. "I didn't read anything. I was just trying to get to the sideline and not die. But everything worked out well."