The War Room: Go Inside Michigan State Football
I get a lot of nuggets and information that alone are not big enough for a story. When I have a few that I can assemble together I will, and when I only have one or two I will post them on our Phalanx Forum board. So welcome to The War Room.
- Mark Dantonio’s decision to reshuffle his staff and make no firings shocked no one who knows him. But that didn’t mean it didn’t surprise people.
- One Power Five head coach said to Spartan Nation PRIOR to the reshuffling, “I know that he probably won’t be there more than two years, and with him helping the new AD get the job he is in no danger, but he has to do something. He can’t have empty seats. No way those fans tolerate him doing nothing. That would be a s*** show. So while I think he wants to do nothing, he has to in my opinion.”
- That same coach after the shuffle, “Well that is classic Mark. Do something, but really do nothing. Stay the course. He’s a good man, but if this doesn’t work, it is going to be a nightmare in East Lansing next year. I don’t believe in lying to recruits about anyone, but I am going to tell the ones we want not to commit to him until they see what happens next year. If he wins big, great for him. If he doesn’t win big, it could be a big win for those of us who compete with him.”
- I have CONFIRMED two of Dantonio’s staff that are looking at other jobs. I think there is one more that I am certain of, but can’t confirm. Fascinating to watch.
- While I do not predict this as their wish, the Spartans have had one new commitment since the early signing period. That COULD BE, the last for this class.
- I got a call from a current MSU football player after the “reshuffle” of the staff. He wanted my thoughts. I assured him that I would keep his identity private, but I asked if I could use his comments on the MSU QB situation in this article. He was fine with that.
- I will NOT identify where he plays, but I will say that he has a chance to be a captain next season.
- He told me, “I think Brian (Lewerke) and Rocky (Lombardi) are great guys. There isn’t anyone on this team that dislikes either of them and I don’t think they dislike each other. Brian likes football and has more experience. I think you could say right now he is better. Rocky loves football, doesn’t have a lot of experience. I think when they started Brian at Maryland Rocky lost his confidence. Brian is a good guy, but he isn’t a leader. Rocky is a straight up leader. Coach had to move some things last year because he (Rocky) was voted to the eagle council. No one in this locker room argues that Rocky is the better leader. I know coach said Brian is his guy, but Rocky didn’t get the memo. He is working and throwing and organizing stuff already. I don’t think any of us cares who starts, but coach needs to do what he does and let them compete. We can’t have bad QB play like last year and he needs to let them have a real battle.”
- While Dantonio shot down my question about a transfer QB, I can tell you with 100% fact that they had kicked hard on the tires about going after Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush. They also looked at others, but ultimately made the choice to stand firm.
- I was told by someone inside the program, “I believe that if they went for a grad transfer we could have lost Brian for sure and maybe Rocky. I don’t think for a one year guy that was a risk worth taking.”
- MSU had ONE 100 yard rushing performance this season. Just one, for a team that prides itself not on the ability, but the desire to run the ball.
- Brad Salem’s first task from Dantonio even before he was named OC was how can you fix the running game.
- MSU has talent on the OL. The coaching and development have been TERRIBLE. That has to be fixed first.
- Now I am not saying that there hasn’t been so horrible recruiting mistakes on the OL, there has been. But there is remains a lot of talent there as well.
- After talking with the above mentioned Power Five head coach, and pondering his comments about Coach Dantonio I asked 13 MSU athletics and outside athletic key employees what they think about how long Mark Dantonio will remain the head coach. When sharing those responses to another key employee, I was told, “I agree with that.” So while I set out to ask 13, a 14th agreed with the 13. Here is what I asked and what I was told.
- I asked them, “In your opinion, how long do you anticipate Mark Dantonio remaining as the head coach at MSU?” Nine of the 13 said two more seasons and the other four said one more season. Nine of the 14 mentioned Dantonio’s five million dollar bonus next January in their thought process.
- While that is certainly not a comment by Dantonio, many of them cited the same reasons that I found fascinating. We will keep those in house for now.
- Alante Brown’s decommitment from MSU hurt. No way to get around it. Coupled with a key loss of another speedster to Rutgers and that is a double gut punch. Not the end of the world, but speed kills.
- While FSU put on the full-court press for Brown, I do not expect him to sign there later this month.
- He still has some hills to climb, but teams want him. He is super talented.
- The Spartans may have to take some guys to round out the class that weren’t top tier choices, but if they develop them, all is well.
- Dantonio has plenty of guys that weren’t plan A, B or C guys that have done very well. The question is how far will they reach for numbers, or do they hold back and bank on a resurgence in 2019.
- The Spartans are loaded at WR next season. Jalen Nailor, Cody White, and Darrell Stewart are all good players. Stewart and Nailor could both elevate to superstar status like White.
- Brad Salem should have been the OC when Dave Warner was given the job. Spartan Nation said it at the time. But the question remains will Dantonio allow him to change the offense? More on that in the next War Room.
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