Michigan State legend Mark Dantonio has returned to the Spartans amid the scandal surrounding the football team. With head coach Mel Tucker suspended pending a sexual harassment investigation, Dantonio has returned to help pivot away "the MSU of old". It's the first time Dantonio has returned to the sidelines since his abrupt retirement in 2020. "Mark Dantonio is a man of integrity. Since his retirement, he's continued to be a presence and a unifying force in the MSU community. When I called him, he selflessly offered to do whatever he could to help the football program," athletic director Alan Haller told ESPN.
However, Dantonio's return has raised some questions. Dantonio's tenure as head coach coincided with allegations and accusations of its own. Back then, Michigan State was accused of mishandling sexual assault complaints leveled at athletes. Furthermore, Dantonio himself was accused of interfering in at least one case being investigated by the athletic department during his tenure. However, for the time being, he is being seen as Michigan State's savior.
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Michigan State Attempt To Focus Amid Scandal
Amid the chaos and uncertainty, Michigan State still has to play a season of football. They had started 2-0 with easy wins over Central Michigan and Richmond. However, now they must take on the hardest team on their non-conference slate. A visit from #8 Washington is on the books for the Spartans this weekend. Behind Michael Penix Jr., the Huskies have dispatched Boise State and Tulsa. This is not a team that Michigan State would want to face before their sideline chaos. However, this will likely be a battle between whether the Spartans' defense or the Huskies' rush defense can step up.
Dantonio will not lead the team on Saturday. That job will be left to interim head coach Harlon Barnett. However, it's likely that there will be a level of deference to Dantonio, whom Barnett served under as an assistant. Barnett referred to Dantonio as a "calming presence" who would "aid [the team] in all aspects of operations." Additionally, Barnett praised the addition of Dantonio to the coaching squad. "I'm glad he's here. I love me some Coach D. That's my guy."
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