Mark Dantonio is the master of using bulletin board material to help motivate his football team. In fact, I would be willing to bet he had a plethora of material that he presented to his team prior to their matchup on Saturday against their biggest rival, the Michigan Wolverines. One of his goals is to convince his players (and probably himself) that they are being unrightfully disrespected by their opponents on a weekly basis.
Who can blame Dantonio for using this strategy? After all, he has won multiple Big 10 titles, beat Michigan in 8 of the past 10 matchups heading into Saturday, and he even found a way to get the Spartans to a College Football Playoff.
But on Saturday, Dantonio made a huge mistake and his team would end up paying for it in a big way.
You see, during warmups, the Spartans were reportedly about 10 minutes late coming out onto the field. When the finally arrived, some of the Michigan players were already going through some of their own warmups around midfield.
This is when Spartans players got in a line and locked arms before beginning their 100-yard walk across the field. While they did this, Dantonio walked about five yards behind them.
Rather than having somebody ask the Wolverines’ players to move out of the way to avoid any altercations, Dantonio made the decision to just walk through them.
This was a big mistake.
As they approached midfield, a couple of Michigan State players reportedly took it upon themselves to “clothesline” multiple Wolverines’ players and they even ripped the earphones off of another player. This all happened while Dantonio followed behind with what looked to be a grin on his face.
Whether or not this was a planned intimidation move by Dantonio, we will likely never know, but what we do know is that it did not work one bit. In fact, it completely backfired as Michigan came out and dominated the football game on way to a 21-7 win.
Heading into the contest, there was no question whatsoever about who was the more talented team. MSU’s only chance to win was to find a way to be more motivated and to get a few lucky breaks along the way. Well, they did get those lucky breaks but the Wolverines clearly wanted this game more.
Two days after losing his first matchup against Michigan in 2007, Dantonio had a quote that has stayed a big part of the Spartans’ football program over the years.
“I find a lot of the things they do amusing. They need to check themselves sometimes. Let’s just remember, pride comes before the fall. … They want to mock us, I’m telling them, it’s not over. They want to print that crap all over their locker room, it’s not over and it’ll never be over here. It’s just starting. … I’m very proud of our football team, and I’m very proud of the way our football team handled themselves after the game as well. You don’t have to disrespect people. If they want to make a mockery of it, so be it. Their time will come.”
“The pride comes before the fall.”
For Dantonio and his team, that’s exactly what happened against Michigan on Saturday.