Michigan State head football coach Mark Dantonio is usually a man of few words, but on Tuesday, he used those select words to lay down some controversial food for thought.
According to Chris Vannini of CoachingSearch.com, Dantonio told reporters that had the playoff system been in effect back for the 2013 season, his Spartans would likely have been selected to play in the national title game – and as importantly, he thinks they would have won.
The BCS system was still in place last year, meaning that certain factors (as archaic and asinine as they were) came into play when it was decided who would play for the shot at the top title. Michigan State was ranked No. 4 come season’s end and ended up in the Rose Bowl instead of the national title game, which instead went to the Florida State Seminoles and the Auburn Tigers.
The Spartans had lost one game earlier in the season to Notre Dame on Sept. 21, but went on to win 10 straight, including a massive defeat of then-No. 2 Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship game and their eventual 24-20 victory over Stanford in the Rose Bowl. But despite that one loss to the Fighting Irish, Dantonio told reporters he still thought his team could have, and perhaps should have, had a chance to play for the national title and win it all.
“I thought we would have been national champions, to be perfectly honest with you,” the coach said Tuesday. “I think we would have had a shot to do that because I think we were playing, coming out of the end of the season — that stretch coming out of the season — we were playing great football and we were believing in ourselves. Were we there at the beginning of the season? No. But coming out we were playing our best football in November and then into the championship game and then the Rose Bowl.”
Whether or not the Spartans should have been in the national title last season isn’t really the debate, but rather, if a perfect situation existed and one could go back and implement a new system on past circumstances, would Michigan State have been selected in the 2013 playoffs and gone on to win it all? Mark Dantonio certainly thought so.
“I just had a lot of faith in our football team as we came down the stretch and I think our players did, too,” Dantonio added. “So we’re not going to doubt ourselves or sell ourselves short. We don’t want to be conceited, don’t want to be entitled, but we want to be a confident football team.”
Would the Spartans have won it all in actuality? The discussion is open. But with the new playoff system now in effect for college football, Michigan State, or any similar team, should get their shot to put their money where their mouth is.
You can follow MSU writer, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.