During a news conference on Thursday, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio talked about his team’s recent trouncing of Eastern Michigan, the deflating loss to then No. 3-ranked Oregon, and his hopes for his player’s ultimate success this season.
The Spartans (2-1) lost 46-27 to a now-ranked No. 2 Oregon Ducks team in their second match up of the season. Heading into the game, analysts and fans knew: it was going to either be a very tough pill to swallow with a MSU loss, or an exhausted cry for a national championship with a victory.
Following the defeat, Dantonio has done his best to right the ship, and after a massive 73-14 blowout of epic proportions was delivered to the Eagles last weekend, the head coach feels like he knows who should and should not be playing in the first-ever college football playoffs in January. His message? Only those who earn it should find themselves in the position to win it all.
“We need to win the Big Ten championship. That’s our goal. Then you springboard past that,” Dantonio said. “Maybe it is like basketball a little bit where if you don’t get to the Final Four, maybe it’s not as successful.”
The Spartans’ tough loss to a top-ranked Oregon team is no doubt a blemish on their early record, and according to Dantonio, one that can’t be overlooked in the end when the playoffs are being decided.
“We can’t say, ‘Hey, let’s try and go 11-1 and not be in the championship game, and then we’ll get into the playoffs.’ I don’t think it should work like that. That’s just my opinion,” he said. “My vision is that you should be the champion of your league before you can be the champion of the country. That would be my vision if I was doing it. It might not happen like that.”
The Big Ten Championship has always been the main goal for Dantonio and his players ever since he took control of the Spartans program. With the new system, it should be all but apparent that winning your conference title need be a prerequisite for nabbing a spot in the playoffs. Though how does that justly weigh in when you play in a conference that’s experiencing such a down year, as the Big Ten clearly is?
In a few weeks, Michigan State will open up its regular conference schedule and get a chance to prove their worth against Big Ten teams, but this Saturday, the Spartans still have one more nonconference opponent in Wyoming to take care of before that happens. While the Big Ten continues to struggle, a conference championship would look good for their 2014 resume, but who’s to say thus far how much it will truly matter in the grand scheme of things for Dantonio and his ultimate goals for this season.
You can follow MSU writer, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.