East Lansing, MI
Tom Izzo and Mark Dantonio have shared some of the greatest success of any joint basketball/football program in the nation. No doubt they are the nation’s top one two punch from the, “Big Two” sports.
When I caught up with Mark Dantonio recently at the JW Marriott Hotel in Grand Rapids he talked about making the school’s first Final Four was so quick, it made it hard to simply take a second and appreciate it.
Dantonio said, “It’s just different because of the media frenzy that’s there and the demands that are put on you from a media perspective are great. So you’re interviewing more, you’re around it more; you’re more at the hub of everything. It’s not a spectacle in a bad way; it’s just the word I would use for it right now. It’s just big, it’s just a big-time atmosphere and you have to be at your best. I just feel like it was a rush.”
Tom Izzo has said numerous times that he doesn’t do that enough. In fact he and Dantonio talked about it on the field. That doesn’t change the fact that Mark Dantonio has made it clear that right now he has one of his best teams and favorite teams as far as the young people he coaches.
I asked the Spartans head man that with Dantonio’s comments is he doing anything different this season to enjoy one of his favorite teams? I bet you already know his answer.
“It’s funny, because I talked to Mark about it before he went (to Cotton Bowl). I told him my favorite story was the Michigan game here when Mike Garland told me I was coaching the game the last four minutes. I said yeah, you take them when you’re 45 up but you never do it when you’re down. But I said that was probably my only time in my career I sat back and I appreciated the guys that I had while the season was going on. I said if there’s somehow or some way, you do that. Then I was down on the field before the game and him and I were just standing there talking, and I said ‘you better take this in because it’s probably not going to happen during the game.’ That’s normal, that’s the way it is.”
Izzo paused and continued, “Do I appreciate the guys as much? No. Do they appreciate us as much? No, because we both have a job to do right now. But when you mention it, it’s like the crowd. When you mention it more than occasionally, I mentioned it to you individually, we must be feeling good. They’re not perfect, but God they give us a lot and they work hard. And they’re really coachable and they can take it and a couple of them can give it. In general, I had a little meeting this morning after my walkthrough, and I had my two seniors. I had Matt and Zel in there because I wanted to talk to DD and I wanted to get a seniors perspective on playing hard and what it was like for those guys. I also brought Colby in because Colby is his walk-along trainer through every walkthrough, telling DD what to do. You look at those two guys, I said Day Day had Suton. They almost fought his freshman year, he was a freshman, he was a senior, because Day Day didn’t like hearing anything from anybody else. To this day, he swears by Suton because he helped him through it. That’s what we have.”
Izzo went on to expound even more about his young men, “We have some upperclassmen who are not jealous of the McQuaids and the Davises. And you have some guys who are taking guys minutes and you’re still helping them. And then you have a guy like Colby who, I was telling him, I said ‘He’s going to make a lot of money, DD, because he can be a doctor. And you have a chance to make a lot of money someday, and you better take some of yours and give it to him, because that’s how much he’s done for you, and he’s the 12th, 13th man on the team.”
Izzo finished adding, “When you have that kind of group, it’s pretty cool. And I thought having those guys in there and listening to them talk to him, it was a really rewarding experience for me because I felt like ‘wow, those guys are saying exactly what I would say but they’re saying it from their own experiences and what they didn’t do as freshmen, what they saw that others got to do, and how long do you want to let it go before you’ve got to learn. I thought it was good for DD, I thought it was great for those guys, and it was incredible for me.”
Mark Dantonio regrets not taking a couple exta moments not to enjoy the success and so does Tom Izzo. I challenge you Spartan Nation. It may be one hundred years before MSU has this kind of success in football and basketball, take a moment and enjoy it.
99.9% of you will never play for Dantonio or Izzo, but you can learn from them. Enjoy what you have right now. Before it is gone and you realize how good, these good ole days really are.