Michigan State Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio has longstanding ties with the Ohio State University and the Buckeye state itself.
As a former assistant coach under ousted head coach, Jim Tressel, Dantonio treats the Ohio State vs Michigan State game with the utmost respect. Granted, it’s no Wolverine/Buckeye rivalry, and he’s surely not looking to turn it into that, but it is a special time for his Spartan players when they enter “the Horseshoe” in Columbus, Ohio; And with all that has gone wrong with their program as of late and the Spartans’ previous embarrassment at Notre Dame two weeks back, Dantonio knows that a big win over a Big Ten rival would help hush the critics for now.
In the last ten years, a win for any team, let alone a Big Ten team, in Columbus, has always been a mark of distinction. And no matter what your thoughts are concerning Tressel and his tactics in previous years, let’s face it: Ohio State has been a very talented team. Has that changed? In some ways, yes.
With the Buckeyes (3-1) unranked for the first time in a long time, and Michigan State (3-1) reeling after a blowout over Central Michigan, two of the conference’s powerhouse teams are looking to open the Big Ten season with an early win. So it’s no surprise that coach Dantonio told his players early this week that they were not to… nay, that they were banned from speaking to the media at all over the course of the week. Instead he wants his players focused on one thing and one thing only: The Ohio State Buckeyes.
But what about his top talent and naturally-gifted speaker in quarterback Kirk Cousins? Surely Dantonio wouldn’t mind the eloquent young man tossing in a few nuggets of unbridled wisdom and inspiration to the beat writers before the program’s biggest game yet…right? Wrong. Coach Dantonio made it clear to reporters earlier this week that everyone, especially Cousins, needs to refrain from any and all interaction with the media.
“(He’s) constantly, constantly talking to the media, and he needs to play well and he needs to get away from that. He needs to relax,” said Dantonio.
Is the coach just looking out for the best interests of his players? Probably. But he also knows that nothing commands respect like a dominating performance on the field. No amount of tweets, quotes, or what have you can be worth that; And Dantonio knows it.
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