Mark Dantonio is not waiting around for next year to just show up. He is already well on his way â€œChasingâ€ the elusive national title. As he and his staff search the nation for the last recruits to finish the 2014 class, they are already on their way for the 2015 group.
Recruiting is the life blood of college football, but that doesnâ€™t change the right now. He sent a strong message at a recent team meeting. He said to his team, â€œLooked over at Connor Cook, and I said, you think back to last summer or last year at this time, and would you be able to sit there say in your wildest dreams that you were going to be the MVP in the Rose Bowl and the Big Ten Championship Games. I looked over at Shilique and said would you ever have dreamed that after playing some as a redshirt freshman that you would be named the outstanding defensive lineman?â€
His message was heard loud and clear. This team will be a top ten preseason team and with an early game in Eugene against the Ducks, a win there could make them a national title favorite. So with some holes, what will unknown and known players do with new opportunities?
Dantonio said, “So, it’s what you do with your opportunities. The biggest thing we’ve got to understand is that being good and being great, there’s not a lot of separation between the two. A lot of itâ€™s confidence, and mind-set and intangibles.”
After giving his team a couple of days, 2014 is already on the clock. While fans can relax and sit back, this team canâ€™t. â€œYou’re constantly doing the next thing. When you talk to recruits you’re thinking about next year, you think about who’s coming back, you’re thinking about who’s going to play in what position and how you’re going to make some moves. You’re trying to finish things you’ve started. In the big scheme of things, are we finished? No, we’re not finished.”
As Dantonio and his staff finish the 2014 class and prepare for the fresh batch of 2015 young pups, donâ€™t think for one second he will take any shortcuts. He remembers how he got here. “We got to 13-1 one game at a time. Now, we have to start again and start through the process. To do that, you’ve got to stay healthy and things have got to fall your way, and you have to make good decisions and you have to rally to a cause.”
Thankfully for the Spartan Nation, Dantonio has been to the mountaintop before. The 2013 season was not his first and having been an assistant for Jim Tressel at Ohio State, he has the plan in place to not take a step back.
“Success, once you’ve tasted it a little bit you want to keep it. That’s what I got out of the Ohio State process. When we were successful in ’02 and undefeated, we went the next eight games and didn’t lose. We ended up 11-2 that year. Once you tasted that type of success and you understand what it took to get you there, you have a better chance of getting there again, resurfacing.”
While fans bask in the memories of Pasadena, the Spartan staff doesnâ€™t. They canâ€™t. 2014 football season is here. In the immortal words of Mark Dantonio it is time to â€œChase it.â€