The War Room:  Go Inside #15 Michigan State Football

I get a lot of nuggets and information that alone are not big enough for a story.  When I have a few that I can assemble together I will, and when I only have one or two I will post them as premium content on our Phalanx Forum board.  So welcome to The War Room.

  • The NFL NY Giants hired Michigan State football alum Pat Shurmur as coach.  That is a great thing for future Spartans.  Having a head coach as an alumnus in the league is big.  Alabama consistently sells that Ozzie Newsome the GM at Baltimore is an alumnus and MSU will sell that as well.  Especially since Shurmur will have a big impact on Giants’ drafting.
  • MSU sells Sheldon Whites NFL experience and the myriad of connections they have in the league. A head coach is a big deal and they have made it known to several recruits.
  • Mark Dantonio continues to think outside the box. Having a night spring game is a great idea, but depending on when they have it will matter.  While he initially mentioned early, I am hearing that the day is NOT set in stone.  They would like a nice tailgating time for all before the game.
  • Dantonio said of a night spring game, “I think we may try and play it at night, maybe at 5 o’clock or something like that. That’s the plan, but I’ve got to talk to the administration about that. But I don’t think that should be a problem at 5.”
  • The day Chuck Bullough started the Larry Nassar situation was reaching its zenith. I think it was wise of Dantonio to delay the public announcement even though some emailed me with “conspiracy reasons” why that was the reason.
  • The 2019 OL Class is shaping up to be the very best since Dantonio arrived. MSU may very well turn down some real studs because the class is shaping up to be great.
  • Several Michigan State opponents have used the ESPN OTL “Report” and the Larry Nassar scandal against the Spartans. I had three of them (recruits) mention to me that they were “suggested” by opponent coaches to watch the OTL story.
  • While ESPN certainly got ratings, it was not effective in crippling Dantonio or Izzo. Unless new information comes to light directly pointing either of them to a cover-up (and that is not expected) this will not carry a long-term impact on either as far as job security.
  • Again not covering up for them if there is information that is not known. That said, it is really hard to get on a coach for not kicking a player off of his team that the authorities haven’t charged or haven’t even been informed of an incident.
  • On the recruiting trail, several have directly asked and the coaches had done a “Perfect job” (from one parent) of explaining it to people.
  • One parent of a high ranking recruit said to me, “I sure as hell wouldn’t want my kid or any kid kicked out of school with no charges. If we start kicking kids out for being accused you know lawsuits would be coming.  Once I learned every player charged (four) had been kicked out I was fine with it.  More importantly, my wife was.”
  • Paul Haynes was a great hire. In my opinion, a home run.  I asked him how much he had changed as a coach since he left.  “I have learned so much in the places that I’ve been, the people that I’ve been around, being able to be a head coach and see that big picture. I’m totally different than I was when I was here back in 2003, 2004. Coach D has done an unbelievable job here on building a foundation and building a culture, I just want to add to that and be a good Spartan.”
  • Dantonio said of hiring Haynes, “He’s coached NFL players at a high level, all-conference players, he’s been a head coach, so he’s had to deal with things, have a deep understanding of all things that can befall coaches and players and things of that nature. I just think we’re very, very fortunate to have him on our staff. Great person.”
  • As far as his personal style, I was proud of how Haynes handled the question. Haynes said. “I’m a sponge, I want to continue to learn. He wants me to be myself. I’m not Coach Barnett, I’m Paul Haynes, so I do have a lot of confidence in what I do, a lot of passion in what I do but I’m also looking to learn and see what he can teach me also.”
  • Spartan Nation broke the story that Haynes killed his interview when he met with the staff. Something I asked his new immediate boss Mike Tressel about.   He said, “You watch Paul talk, right away you feel like he’s a relationship guy like Coach Dantonio is, and it will be a seamless transition for our players. Our players will want to play for him and a relationship will be built there. That’s always first on our list.”
  • Haynes shares a deep personal faith like Dantonio. He is a super father and husband but has a unique ability to be that great teacher and relationship coach, but also a butt kicker.  I asked him about that dichotomy and he explained it this way.  “You’re hard on your kids sometimes, but at the end of the day they know that you care about them, they know that you have their best interests. So, it’s all about building that relationship so you can be tough on them, but they know that you truly care about them.”
  • I have had an excellent relationship with Haynes and his family for some time. One of the last interviews he did at Michigan State was with me.  We had a long talk afterward about not just wanting to get to bowl games.  About looking bigger.  Sadly, that was where Michigan State was at the time.  Now simply being bowl eligible is not acceptable here anymore.  Something Haynes loves.
  • When I reminded him of that conversation he did remember it. He said, “That’s the pressure that you love, you love to have passionate fans.  A lot of coaches sit there and say ‘I don’t read my emails or I don’t read (criticisms).’ I do because I like the pressure of having people disappointed some of the times. You don’t want them disappointed, but it means that they care about your program. I’ve been a part of programs that you didn’t get those emails, it didn’t matter if you won or lost. I think it’s important that your fan base, the community, everybody is involved in it.”
  • Top remaining 2018 targets: A) FL DE Habakkuk “HABA” Baldonado B) TX WR Tommy Bush C) IL DT Dashaun Mallory D) NV WR Jalen Nailorv E) UT DT Tennessee Pututau
  • Pututau is going on a Mormon mission. Those usually last two years, so he would be a 2020 kid for that class.  My read is that MSU is in it, but not the leader.
  • I have said all along I thought that MSU was in the hunt for Tommy Bush. I have always said I think that they are not the leader but in the hunt.  As signing day approaches I don’t think they are the leader, but still a possibility.
  • Habakkuk “Haba” Baldonado is very interesting to me. It is down to Michigan State vs. Pittsburgh.  He likes both schools, but tonight as I write this I do think MSU has the lead.
  • Mark Dantonio was in Vegas today to see Jalen Nailor. Those two have a really good bond.  I know that Nebraska has made a major push.  It is close, I would give MSU a slight edge for him, but it is razor close.
  • Dashaun Mallory is my favorite player in the class. A super high motor, I can only imagine him and Baldonado on the same line.  Two guys with Ndamukong Suh type motor.  MSU has had relentless motor guys like that before, but not next to each other at the same time.
  • I know the MSU coaches would expect both to play next year.
  • Dantonio, as I stated above, was in Vegas today. He will be in Bolingbrook, IL tomorrow to see Mallory.  Mallory is a salt of the earth person and a special young man as a person. While he has taken care of his business, a ton of schools want him.  He wouldn’t talk to anyone.  He loves the Spartans and they love him.  It is rare to find that kind of loyalty from a kid and from a school.  They have a special bond.
  • MSU would love to get three commitments for this second signing period.
  • Just a note, I stated earlier the 2019 OL class will be the best of the Dantonio era. I think the entire 2019 class top to bottom could be his best as well.  They have some future professionals that they are NOT going to have room for.  Things are looking really good in East Lansing.

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