Star running back of the 1966 Michigan State Spartans undefeated football team Clinton Jones has been selected as the newest member of the Michigan State Hall of Fame. Though it has been while since he donned the Green and White, his burning passion for Spartans Football and Spartans athletics in general has not faded. Jones continues to keep tabs on what is happening in East Lansing.
When Mark Dantonio was hired before the 2007 season, Jones was interested in what the new leader of his alma mater was planning to revive the program. He was impressed with his
mission from day one.
“I have so much respect for [Mark Dantonio],” explained Jones. “When he was hired, he came out to Los Angeles and had Dinner with me, he sat down and told me what he wanted to do and I just listened. I could feel in my heart that he was a gentleman who wanted to bring character and put Michigan State back into national contention.”
In the five years since that dinner, Jones believes that Dantonio has stuck to his plan and bred a contender year in and year out. Though that is important to the former #2 overall pick in the 1967 NFL draft, it is what Dantonio is doing to help his players in life that is most impressive to Jones.
“HE has turned poison into medicine,” explained Jones. “He is not only teaching these young men how to play football, but he is teaching them something in life. That’s what we got when we were Duffy Dougherty’s Spartans in the 20th century. Now Mark Dantonio in the 21st century, these are his Spartans. In my opinion, he is going to have a legacy in the 21st century that Duffy
had in the 20th century.”
Sports, and more specifically collegiate athletics have become more about business than anything else. With millions of dollars being thrown around to fund sports and even some money being paid to individuals who by rule should be amateurs, Jones believes that Dantonio is playing the field the right way, and bringing character back into the game.
“[Dantonio] is giving these guys something that needs to be brought back into sports and that is teaching values,” said Jones. “Everything has to be about teaching values. It’s not about how many dances you can do. It’s about getting the job done and having the character and being human beings that represent higher principles. That to me is what football is about. This is what Dantonio is bringing to the Spartans now and I’m proud of him and I’m proud of these young men.”
The era that Jones played in is considered one of the best in Spartans football history. With that being said, he believes the focus shouldn’t be on the past, but on the Dantonio era we are in right now.
“We have grown on the foundation that we’ve been given,” said Jones. “I didn’t know anything about the Spartan culture, but we involved in during our time in the 60’s and now Mark Dantonio, whether it is his intention or not, is doing the same thing.”