It's been a busy and most-impressive week for Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio thus far.
On Tuesday, it was announced that Dantonio had swept both the media's choices and his fellow conference's coaches votes for the Big Ten Coach of the Year award.
This marks the second time Dantonio has been given the award in his seven years with the Spartans, the last time coming back in 2010 after he led MSU to a school-high 11-1 record and tied for the Big Ten title. This season, Dantonio tied that regular season record at 11-1 and was a perfect 8-0 in conference battles.
This is win number two for this award for Dantonio, also known as the Dave McClain Coach of the Year award, as voted on by the media, and the first time he has been tabbed the Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year.
“We fostered the phrase this year that we wanted to ‘Chase it,’ “Dantonio said. “We wanted to find those inches. We continued to do that within our foundation but changed some things for the better. We went back and critiqued a lot of things, but I really believe the chemistry exists on this team to be special. Even last year at our banquet I talked and held the belief they would be the ones this year to take us to the Rose Bowl.”
Despite the team's one loss on the season to Notre Dame, Dantonio said he's seen his team "take off from there" offensively, and his players became much more driven after that defeat.
“We had a great time,” Dantonio said. “That’s a special feeling when you’re with your players and you’re celebrating together. You can’t put a word on that.”
But you can put an expectation on a concept like that. In fact, Dantonio told the press on Tuesday that he believes if his No. 10-ranked Spartans are able to defeat the No. 2-ranked Buckeyes this Saturday in the Big Ten championship down in Indianapolis, he thinks that Michigan State should be considered for a shot within the BCS national title game. Besides, Dantonio reasons, his team will have just defeated the second best team in the country, so why not?
“If we’re 12-1 at the end of the week, why not us?” Dantonio said. "That’s all I’ll say. We’ll probably be number four or five. Why not us? So we’ll let that stand at that point.”
It does make sense, though the BCS pollsters and administrators would likely never conceive of a possibility of a Big Ten team in the national title game for 2013-14 if that team wasn't headed by Urban Meyer and coated in scarlet and grey.
“Last week you saw a lot of scenarios take place,” Dantonio said. “There are no givens in college football. I don’t believe in that. There are no givens. So anybody can rise up and beat somebody else. That ball bounces a lot of different ways, so fact of the matter is we’re 11-1 right now, we’re competing in a championship environment and we’ll go from there.
“So don’t limit yourself,” Dantonio added. “Dream big.”
You can follow MSU writer, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.