Being a long time Ohio State fan and enduring all that has happened recently, I thought I would take the time to shed some light on a man that reminds me the most of Coach Tressel. Although I am all-in with Coach Fickell, I think the world of Coach Dantonio and had a neat experience with him.
As many know, last year, Coach Dantonio was in the fight for his life, literally, at the worst possible time during the season. Having just beaten Notre Dame on a very gutsy fake field goal attempt, he celebrated and then went to the hospital with chest pains. As it turned out, he had a heart attack and had to have a stent put in. Later, he survived a blood clot in his leg and returned just in time to beat his rival, Michigan. Let’s face it, there are not too many coaches in this world that can live through something like that and continue to coach, but Coach Dantonio obviously has the heart to survive!
Aside from coaching, he and his wife Becky have two daughters and are very active in their community. They both are great representatives of the Children’s Miracle Network at Sparrow Children’s Center, which happens to be part of the facility where he spent time for his heart. Additionally, in 2009, he was named Honorary Chairman and hosted the marathon that takes place right there at the facility. In sum, Mark and his wife Becky have been a part of raising 1.5 million dollars since becoming involved with CMN and that’s just for the Sparrow Children’s Center!
As for me, my story of him is short, but sweet. This past winter, my best friend Gary and I attended the Big Ten men’s basketball tourney in Indianapolis and had a great first time in the city. Gary is from Zanesville, Ohio and graduated from Philo High School, so he is familiar with the Dantonio family name. As we were exiting the Conseco Field House after the Spartans beat Purdue (Gary and I were very happy, as we had a very annoying Purdue fan close by), I looked over my shoulder and saw Coach Dantonio and his wife Becky. I whispered to Gary, “there’s Coach Dantonio!” So, we stopped to shake his hand and say hello. I asked him how he was recovering, to which he said, “slowly but surely.” Gary talked to him about where he’s from and how proud he is of what he (Coach) is doing. I discussed the game with his wife and then it hit me; he’s the head football coach at Michigan State and made this trip to support his school and wear his colors for everyone to see. How awesome is that, for him to be there rooting on the Spartans? I cannot think of many football coaches that support other sports, let alone have the time to do it. It’s amazing to me, looking back, that the head football coach at any university would make that trip, just to support his beloved university and root for his friend Tom Izzo. I’m sure Coach Izzo goes to MSU home football games and has great seats, but away games? I seriously doubt it.
Coach Dantonio is a great guy and coach, and clearly has his heart in the right place; in East Lansing for the Spartans! With that said, he would have been my choice for the next head coach at THE Ohio State University, but he is obviously very happy where he is. I cannot blame him; he’s doing a wonderful job, has a great family and has the program on the verge of maybe being the next dominant force in the Big Ten. More importantly than that? He is a normal guy with an extraordinary gift; to be normal. It was a pleasure meeting him and I wish him the best of luck next season!
For his commitment to the school and his players (even through his health issues), as well as his work with CMN, The Good in Sports awards Coach with a Gold Star. Job well done, Coach!
For more information on Coach Dantonio’s work with CMN, read: