Mark Dantonio is a former American football coach and player. He recently held a position as the head football coach at Michigan State University a position he held since the 2007 season presiding over one of the most successful eras in the history of the program. On February 4, 2020, just weeks after accepting a $4.3 million bonus from the University, Dantonio announced he would be stepping down as the head coach of the Michigan State football team.
Mark Dantonio was born in El Paso Texas to Justin and Maryan. Mark is of Italian descent. Dantonio’s grandfather Frank D’Antonio moved from Montenerodomo, Italy to the United States losing the apostrophe at Ellis Island in 1912. Mark is the second of four boys and when he was one, the family moved to Zanesville, Ohio where Justin became the Vice-principal and basketball coach at Zanesville High School. Mark was an all-state safety at Zanesville.
Dantonio began his coaching career at Ohio University where he was a graduate assistant. In 1981 he made his first stop in the Big Ten Conference when he moved on to Purdue University as a graduate assistant. He spent two years, in 1983 and 1984 as a graduate assistant at Ohio University under head coach Earle Bruce.
In 1986, he began a five-year stint on Jim Tressel’s staff at Youngstown State University as a defensive secondary coach. In 1990, Dantonio led the Penguins’ defense to an 11–0 record and a #2 ranking nationally. Glen Mason hired Dantonio in 1991 to be the defensive secondary coach for the Kansas Jayhawks. When Nick Saban was hired at Michigan State in 1995, he hired Dantonio to join his staff in East Lansing where he remained even after Saban left for LSU. After Bobby Williams was named head coach in 1999 following Saban’s departure, Dantonio was promoted to associate head coach where he remained through the 2000 season.
At Ohio State in 2001, Dantonio reunited with his former Youngstown State boss and good friend Jim Tressel when he opted out of East Lansing to serve as defensive coordinator at Ohio State University for three seasons. His defense became known as one of the stingiest in the country. During the Buckeyes’ 2002 National Championship season, Ohio State ranked second nationally in scoring defense and third in rushing defense. For his efforts, Dantonio was named a 2002 finalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation’s top college football assistant coach. In the 2003 season, his defense ranked number one in the country in rushing defense and ninth in total defense, which led the Buckeyes to an 11–2 record and #4 national ranking. Six Buckeye defenders were named first-team All-Big Ten during Dantonio’s tenure. Thirteen were drafted into the NFL, including two first-round picks in Chris Gamble and Will Smith.
Dantonio was named head coach at Cincinnati on December 23, 2003. He became the first head coach in 23 years to lead the school to a winning season in his first season at UC. The Bearcats’ 7–5 record included a 5–3 record in Conference USA, which was good enough for a second-place finish. The Bearcats finished the season on a winning note with a 32–14 win over Marshall in the PlainsCapital Fort Worth Bowl. During Dantonio’s time at UC, he led the Bearcats to a bowl game victory and directed the team’s transition into the Big East Conference. As head coach, Dantonio had 15 players earn all-conference honors and 25 received conference academic recognition.
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Mark Dantonio became the 24th head coach at Michigan State on November 27, 2006. Upon his arrival, Dantonio planned to return the Spartans to a more traditional philosophy on offense and defense, eliminating the spread offense and the “bandit” linebacker/safety position used under previous head coach John L. Smith.
According to the Washington Post Coach, Mark Dantonio was with the Spartans for 13 seasons where he led Michigan State to its lone college Football playoff appearance, its first Rose Bowl victory in a generation and three Big Ten Championships. He left the school as the most successful coach. Dantonio 63 said, “This is a decision that’s been weighing on me. I don’t think it any big secret; its been weighing on me for a while.”
The resignation came after new details emerged about alleged recruiting violations and sexual assault accusations involving players. Mark Dantonio has a record of 114-57 with the spartans. Michigan State beat Wake forest in the Pinstripe Bowl to end the 2019 season.
“I have told our players on many occasions that ‘Michigan State is bigger than any one person. Someday there will be someone else here talking to you from this podium.’ That day has come,” Dantonio wrote in his farewell letter to Michigan State fans.To all Spartans: Thank you for everything, You have truly helped my dreams come true. Dantonio said in a tweet.
To all Spartans: Thank you for everything. You have truly helped my dreams come true. pic.twitter.com/uKkubvp1cW
— Mark Dantonio (@DantonioMark) February 4, 2020
Dantonio is a devout Roman Catholic. In 1990, Dantonio married his wife Becky. The couple has two daughters, Kristen and Lauren.