The War Room:  Go Inside 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 on our Phalanx Forum board.  So welcome to The War Room.

  • MSU was really kicking the tires internally about going after a transfer QB. I know that there are members of the staff that felt they should.  So much so that the day after the Redbox bowl I had a staff member tell me, “I think it is 50/50 that next year’s starting QB is on this roster now.”
  • So I asked Dantonio and he made his choice sound emphatic. He told me, “I don’t anticipate doing that right now. I don’t want to do that. With and that’s not the way that we’re going to go.  As I said earlier, the easy thing, guys, is to say, hey, we’ve got a great defense; (so) let’s get rid of the offensive guys. Let’s shake the quarterback out over here. Put a little pixie dust right here and everything’s going to be okay.  That’s not necessarily the situation.  Brian Lewerke I think understands our terminology. He’s been successful here in the past. I think he can be successful and I have faith in that. And so I put my faith in the people that I know and that’s the direction we’re going to go.”
  • I know FOR A FACT that both players and staff (I am NOT saying all) disagreed with Lewerke just getting “handed the keys” without a competition two years ago and that it didn’t go over well yesterday. As one key person told me this morning, “Can’t say that we will compete and best players play, when he didn’t play well when healthy this year.  He has to compete for the job.  If he wins it great, but he has to compete.  It isn’t like he was Josiah (Scott), Joe (Bachie) or Raequan (Williams) or Mike (Panasiuk) for C****** sake.”
  • SO while Dantonio was firm in his answer, it was debated. There was real consternation about Brian’s play.  I wrote before the bowl game that he needed a big game and he was not good.  No matter what is said publicly, I know they are concerned internally about QB next year.
  • Mufi Hill-Hunt is transferring. Terrific young man.  Never panned out here, but a great kid.  Wish him well.
  • I like Mark Staten, but he struggled, to be kind, as the OL coach. Also giving him the assistant head coach title didn’t settle well with some folks in the building.  With his demotion and Jim Bollman back where he belongs, it is a real plus.
  • Spartan Nation WAS THE ONLY media entity reporting about Bollman’s role as an “OL consultant” when he arrived. Dantonio publicly confirmed it saying, “Jim Bollman is an offensive line coach and has been for the bulk of his career. He came here being the tight ends coach but he was also an offensive line consultant.”
  • The OL excelled because of him. Jack Conklin admitted as much crediting Bollman “for my growth” when he left for the NFL.
  • Mark Dantonio rolled the dice by not firing anyone. It is his choice, but I can tell you this.  The Spartan fund is REALLY struggling.
  • I was told by a senior member of the administration, “It is down over $5 million in the last two years. Mark (Dantonio) didn’t help anyone.  They (Spartan Fund) are hearing it from the fans.”
  • Spartan Nation today reached out to another senior member of the administration to verify the number given and was told, “I would not confirm anything on the record, but that number is pretty accurate.”
  • One statement that Mark Dantonio said stood out the most to me. “I’m a foxhole guy. I don’t apologize for that in any respect.”  He doesn’t have to.  But he rolled the dice.  Next year is the biggest of the Dantonio era.  I would NOT bet against him.
  • However, I can tell you that the many fans are. Season ticket sales are plummeting for next year.
  • William Przystup is transferring. The true freshman punter was very good in the bowl game.  With Jake Hartbarger back and a rookie coming in, there was simply no scholarship for him.  The original plan was for him to win the job and get a scholarship next year.  Wish him well.
  • Florida State is making a strong move for committed Chicago Simeon athlete Alante Brown. He is a key player in this Spartan class; worth keeping a very close eye on.  Talking to people close, I think that while I would not predict a flip, that FSU has a legit shot.
  • I spoke with a recruit that UM, OSU, and MSU are all going after. He was told by his OSU recruiter, “Why would you consider Ann Arbor?  ‘Who has it better than us’ is their motto and their coaches jump to Columbus to get out of there.  They can’t beat us, so they want to join us.”  I thought that was funny.  As you know UM has lost multiple coaches to OSU this off season.
  • Think about this. The 2018 MSU D was elite.  Worthy of the college football playoff.  Every MSU D coach deserves a raise and those players deserved better.
  • The 2019 offense was terrible. Frankly, if I was the word terrible I would be offended.  Will Mark Dantonio who is admittedly “not an offensive expert” back off and let Brad Salem run that side of the ball?  Will he let him make personnel decisions?  That is the biggest story of the off season.
  • With the demotion of Mark Staten, Mike Tressel gets the much deserved title of associate head coach.
  • He deserves a massive raise as do all of the defensive coaches.
  • Tressel had the chance to leave MSU this off season. A raise is in order (and I am told is coming) and the new title.
  • With that said, Dantonio needs some extra money from the AD Bill Beekman (a formality) to fix the pay discrepancies on offense. The fact that guys aren’t losing money because of contracts and people may get raises (on offense) is pathetic.  It is a reality, but a hard pill for Spartan fans to take.
  • I asked Dantonio about the salaries and he told me, “Our coaches are on two-year contracts, as well. The contract situation, they will remain on their same contracts right now, but we will possibly be able to increase and move around some things relative to the opportunities given to me by our athletic director.”
  • You may remember that Spartan Nation broke the story that the Spartans had made significant changes PRIOR to the bowl game.  Dantonio confirmed it afterward saying, ““I thought we changed up things.  We ran out of the pistol, we went no-huddle, we did a lot of different things at the line of scrimmage, we put in some new plays. But as it is with most people, if a play doesn’t work, they don’t think it’s a new play. So we did some different things.”
  • I can tell you there were some other things that they practiced and didn’t use. The offense was playing so poorly that they couldn’t afford to attempt anything else.
  • Dantonio lamented that the defense has leaders, but the offense doesn’t. That is a statement against both the offensive coaches and players that your head coach is essentially begging you to lead. Watch that CLOSE!
  • One player that I expect to be in East Lansing only one more year is Josiah Scott. He was angry after the Redbox Bowl debacle by his team, despite a stellar D.  He stated emphatically, “Next year starts today, in my opinion.”
  • Credit MSU for their latest commit for the 2019 class. They stole Tre’Von Morgan, a 6’6” WR.  He is a stud.
  • For everyone upset with Justin Layne, remember Kenny Willekes. His injury in the Redbox Bowl, essentially a meaningless bowl, is why players consider what Layne did.  I don’t fault anyone for whatever choice they make, but it is a business choice.
  • I reached out to MULTIPLE college coaches about Dantonio’s staff changes. I am going to write a lot about that in the next War Room (next week) but I have to share one I got that I didn’t solicit.
  • This gentleman is considered an offense expert deluxe. One of the nation’s best and he told me, “I’ve never heard in all my life switching coordinators and positions and both coaches stay- that was a crazy move- my bet is Dave will be leaving for a new job soon.”
  • I know of one of Dantonio’s offensive staff members who according to those in attendance at the coach’s convention recently was “actively” looking for a job. One coach who was approached told me, “I think he was shocked at the lack of interest.  I think that told me a lot about the mindset.”
  • Lastly, I want to talk about the one offensive coach who I think got a raw deal by Dantonio. After the 2016 abysmal season, Terrence Samuel was sought after by a very prestigious SEC school.  You may remember I reported multiple times about a coach staying loyal to Dantonio and NOT leaving.
  • This school wanted him (Samuel) badly. He would have doubled his salary.  He wouldn’t even talk to them.  He was not going to, “Jump ship on coach after that season.  He didn’t deserve that.”
  • That was a class move by Samuel. He didn’t go talk to Coach D to try to get a raise, he just refused.
  • With all of the injuries this year, WR was NOT the issue. At all.  He has done a very good job.  In my opinion what happened to him, based on his body of work, was not right.
  • I AM NOT saying people set out to malign him and hurt him. But to make a change so you can make a change in this case was not right.
  • Samuel’s never wanted glory or recognition for what he did. After what happened, I made the decision to give it to him.

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