EAST LANSING, Mich. – Mark Dantonio's name will soon stand alone atop the list of all-time winningest football coaches at Michigan State.
On the cusp of breaking Duffy Daugherty's record, Dantonio said he is thankful for all the people on the field, sideline and behind the scenes that have played a huge part in his success.
“You don't get to this point without the help and support of donors, administration, people who hired me, people who helped me along the way administratively, our players,” Dantonio said Tuesday following his weekly news conference. “I think of all the players who have come through here: the coaches, the continuity we've had as coaches, as teachers, not just as our coaches, but our staff, our trainers, our equipment people.”
Dantonio matched Daugherty's record of 109 wins while helping the 18th-ranked Spartans open the season with a 51-17 win over Western Michigan and a 28-7 victory against Tulsa.
His first shot to break the mark set in 1972 will come at home Saturday against Arizona State (2-0).
The 63-year-old will likely have a chance to win many more games this season and in the years to come, ending with a retirement he doesn't expect anytime soon.
“I keep telling my players, 'As long as you don't give me too many problems – and the bar is high – I'm going to continue to do what I enjoy doing as long as I feel like I can be successful and impact people,” Dantonio said.
Since 2007, he has turned a mediocre program into one good enough to claim three Big Ten championships, win a Rose Bowl and earn a spot in the College Football Playoff. He is one of just four coaches in Big Ten history to win 11 games in at least five seasons to join a group that includes the late Joe Paterno, Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer.
Dantonio has also hit some lows, plummeting to a 3-9 record after being ranked No. 8 early in the 2016 season. An ESPN report also questioned how Dantonio dealt with allegations against his players and he publicly and privately defended how he handled all complaints in the wake of a campus crisis regarding the school's handling of allegations against former sports doctor and convicted molester Larry Nassar.
Shortly after beating Notre Dame in 2010, he had a mild heart attack.
“In 13 years, there's going to be challenges,” Dantonio said.
Dantonio is 109-51 since he left Cincinnati and returned to Michigan State, where he was an assistant for Nick Saban and Bobby Williams.