Mark Dantonio named semifinalist for George Munger ‘Coach of the Year’ honor

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Michigan State
Nov 12, 2016; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio stands on the field prior to a game between the Michigan State Spartans and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State head football coach Mark Dantonio has been named a semifinalist for the George Munger coach of the year award. His Spartans currently sit at 7-3 (5-2 Big Ten), and are on pace to completely flip their record from a year ago, when they had a disastrous 3-9 season.

In addition to a terrible 2016 campaign, the Spartans also had one of the worst off-seasons of any team in the country. The program lost 12 players to attrition last off-season, including projected starters Donnie Corley, Demetric Vance, Josh King, and Auston Robertson. All four were involved in two separate sexual assault scandals that resulted in their dismissal from the program.

Michigan State also lost defensive starters Malik Mcdowell and Montae Nicholson, both leaving school early to enter the NFL Draft. That doesn’t include losses to key contributors Riley Bullough, R.J. Shelton, Josiah Price, and Demetrius Cox, who were lost to graduation.

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All that being said, it’s pretty obvious why Dantonio is a coach of the year semifinalist. Not only are the Spartans 7-3, but they also beat in-state rival Michigan at the Big House, and they own a victory over 10th-ranked Penn State two weeks ago in East Lansing.

All of this has been good enough to have the Spartans sitting at No. 17 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings. That puts them in striking distance for a New Year’s Six bowl, and with Maryland and Rutgers the only two teams remaining on the schedule, there’s a pretty good chance this team can get to nine wins and finish with 10 if they can win their bowl game. Chances are, they’re going to be getting a January bowl game, regardless of if they can sneak into the New Year’s Six or not.

I’d say that’s a pretty good resume for Dantonio, who is in his eleventh season at the helm for Michigan State. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up winning this award when it’s all said and done.

Dantonio is one of two Big Ten coaches to pop up as a semifinalist. Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst is also a prime candidate to take home the award this season. Chryst has the Badgers at a perfect 10-0 and knocking on the door of the College Football Playoff.

The voting for 16 semifinalists begins on November 17 and closes on December 11.