Dantonio won't commit to staff changes: 'Those are in-house questions'

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Michigan State senior Felton Davis shakes hands with head coach Mark Dantonio as part of Senior Day activities.

East Lansing — The heat is on, and Mark Dantonio understands that.

Just don’t expect the Michigan State coach to make any quick, emotional decisions with his coaching staff because plenty of fans are frustrated with how the season played out.

The Spartans again struggled to get much going offensively on Saturday, getting a late touchdown run from Cody White to pull out a 14-10 victory over a Rutgers team that finished winless in the Big Ten for the second time in three seasons.

Dantonio was asked after the game about potential staff changes and said he routinely evaluates the entire staff after every season, but that process would be handled privately.

“Those are questions that I think are in-house questions and when I make those decisions, I make those decisions,” Dantonio said. “I do think that, first of all, you self-evaluate and you start to think about people and you start to think about things, you always do. Every year we do. We did last year, too, and the year before and the year before and the year before. We always look at those things.”

While the defense has been outstanding all season, it’s the offense and its staff that has drawn much of the criticism, namely co-offensive coordinator Dave Warner.

He’s calling the plays for a unit that entered Saturday’s game 120th in the nation in scoring and 113th in total offense. Asked about player development, Warner, who has been running the offense since 2013, said he thinks the staff has done its job.

“I think the proof is in the pudding,” Warner said. “We’ve developed our players. Obviously, we’re not happy with the results, as far as the rankings. But I’m concerned about wins and losses and what Coach Dantonio wants from our offense. That’s my biggest concern.”

Since Dantonio became Michigan State’s coach in 2007, few coaches have moved on for anything that wouldn’t be described as a promotion. Defensive line coach Ted Gill did not have his contract renewed after the 2012 season while offensive coordinator Dan Roushar left to become running backs coach for the New Orleans Saints. Defensive ends coach Mark Snyder left after 2017 for the same job at Florida State, following co-defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett, who became the Seminoles’ defensive coordinator.

Other coaches who have left — Dan Enos, Don Treadwell and Pat Narduzzi — did so to become head coaches.

Even with the offensive issues, however, Dantonio doesn’t sound like a coach ready to turn over an offensive staff that also includes Jim Bollman (co-coordinator/tight ends), Brad Salem (quarterbacks), Terrence Samuel (wide receivers) and Mark Staten (offensive line/assistant head coach).

“From my perspective it is more than just about calling a play,” Dantonio said. “It is about the teaching progressions, it is about what is being taught in the classroom, what is being taught on the field, it is about execution of that and it is also about how do you recruit, how do you handle people in general and what kind of person you are.

“I have always said that loyalty goes both ways, so my inclination is sort of sit and hold with people. That is who I have been, that is why we have had continuity because it goes both ways. I know everybody out there is on a warpath and the wolf is at the door, as I said last week. That is why I am the head coach, so I can deflect some of that.”

As for the players, they have confidence in the coaches.

“We're gonna stick with our coach,” wide receiver Cody White said. “Us as a team, we're not gonna bash anybody. We're sticking with (Warner) as our coach. He's just calling the plays. We got to go out and execute them.”


Twitter @mattcharboneau