Dec. 10, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State seventh-year head coach Mark Dantonio, who has led the Spartans to a school-record 12 wins and their first appearance in the Rose Bowl since 1988, has been named one of 10 finalists from the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision for the 2013 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award. The Spartans have reeled off nine straight victories since a 17-13 loss at Notre Dame on Sept. 21.
Other finalists include: Baylor's Art Briles, Duke's David Cutcliffe, Arizona State's Todd Graham, Auburn's Gus Malzahn, Ohio State's Urban Meyer, UCLA's Jim Mora, Penn State's Bill O'Brien, Alabama's Nick Saban and Clemson's Dabo Swinney. Liberty Mutual Insurance will announce its NCAA FBS Coach of the Year winner prior to the BCS Championship game on Jan. 6, 2014, in Newport Beach, Calif.
Michigan State earned its first-ever Bowl Championship Series berth with a 34-24 victory over second-ranked Ohio State, 34-24, in the Big Ten Championship Game. The Spartans will play Pac-12 Champion Stanford (11-2, 7-2 Pac-12) in the 100th Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO on Jan. 1, 2014, at 4:30 p.m. ET in Pasadena, Calif. Dantonio has led MSU to a school-record seven consecutive postseason bowl appearances.
Michigan State finished fourth in the final BCS Standings - its highest ranking ever. The Spartans are ranked No. 4 in the latest Associated Press and USA TODAY Polls. It marks MSU's highest ranking in the AP Poll since Sept. 18, 1967, when the Spartans stood No. 3 prior to the season opener against Houston. It also marks MSU's highest ranking since USA TODAY began administering the coaches poll during the 1991-92 season.
Dantonio earned 2013 Big Ten Coach of the Year honors from both the media and coaches, as the Spartans finished their conference schedule with a perfect 8-0 record for the first time in school history and claimed their second Legends Division title in three seasons. Michigan State became the 14th Big Ten team to post an 8-0 mark in league play (Ohio State 2013, Ohio State 2006, Ohio State 2002, Iowa 2002, Michigan 1997, Northwestern 1995, Penn State 1994, Michigan 1989, Illinois 1983 [9 games], Michigan 1980, Ohio State 1979, Ohio State 1975, Michigan 1971). The Spartans are the first Big Ten team to win all eight of its conference games by double-digit points since the league went to an eight-game schedule in 1971. In addition, MSU became the first undefeated Big Ten team to win all of its league games by double-figure points since Michigan in 1943 (6-0 record).
Michigan State features the top-ranked defense in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, ranking No. 1 in FBS in total defense (248.2 yards per game), rushing defense (80.8 ypg.) and opponent third-down conversions (.277; 53-for-191). The Spartans have been ranked No. 1 in the nation in total defense for 13 consecutive weeks.
MSU also ranks among the national leaders in pass efficiency defense (second with 91.5 rating), first downs defense (fourth at 14.5 pg.), scoring defense (fourth at 12.7 ppg.) and passing defense (sixth at 167.4 ypg.). The Spartans lead the Big Ten in nine defensive categories (total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense, pass defense, pass efficiency defense, turnover margin, opponent third-down conversions, opponent fourth-down conversions, first downs defense).
Offensively, the Spartans ranked among the Big Ten leaders in conference games in passing efficiency (third with 139.5 rating), scoring offense (fifth with 29.8 ppg.) and rushing offense (fifth with 185.8 ypg.). The offensive line has allowed just 13 sacks - the second fewest in the Big Ten and 11th fewest in the FBS. In addition, Michigan State ranks fifth in the FBS in time of possession (33:28 per game).
Another key reason for MSU's success this season has been creating turnovers on defense and limiting mistakes on offense, as Michigan State ranks first in the Big Ten and seventh in the FBS in turnover margin (+14, 1.1 per game). The Spartans have forced a total of 27 turnovers (11 fumbles, 16 interceptions), including five for touchdowns (three fumble recoveries, two interception returns). MSU has forced the most turnovers in the Big Ten (27) and has also turned the ball over the least amount of times (13) in the conference. MSU's six interceptions are also a conference low and are tied for 10th fewest in the FBS.
Dantonio owns a 63-29 (.685) record at Michigan State, which already ranks among MSU's all-time leaders in career wins (fourth) and winning percentage (fifth). He is the only coach in MSU history to lead multiple teams to double-digit win seasons (11 in 2010 and 2011; 12 in 2013). Among Spartan coaches who have coached at least 10 Big Ten games, Dantonio owns the best winning percentage (.679, 38-18 record).
Michigan State was rewarded for winning the Legends Division by three games, as six Spartans were named to the All-Big Ten First Team and a total of 16 players received all-conference recognition. The six first-team selections were the most for Michigan State since 1990, and the 16 honorees overall equal the second most under Dantonio (19 in 2011, 16 in 2010). Two Spartans took home individual awards, as senior Darqueze Dennard was named the Tatum-Woodson Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year, while sophomore Shilique Calhoun was named the Smith-Brown Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year. Dennard, Calhoun and senior linebacker Max Bullough were first-team selections by both the coaches and media. Junior safety Kurtis Drummond, senior safety Isaiah Lewis and junior punter Mike Sadler were named first-team All-Big Ten by the coaches. The five first-team selections on defense are tied for the most in school history (1966). Since 2007, Dantonio has helped produce 26 first-team All-Big Ten selections.
The Spartans have won 41 of their last 53 games (.774), dating back to the beginning of the 2010 season. The 41 wins are most in the Big Ten and tied for eighth most in the FBS during that same time period. In addition, MSU has recorded 35 Big Ten victories since 2008, the most of any team in the conference (Note: Ohio State has won 40 games, but had to vacate seven victories following the 2010 season.).The Spartans produced back-to-back 11-win seasons in 2010-11 for the first time in program history, claimed a share of the Big Ten Championship in 2010, and have won two Big Ten Legends Division titles (2011, 2013). Dantonio has led Michigan State to Top 25 finishes in three of the last five seasons (2008: No. 24 both polls; 2010: No. 14 both polls; and 2011: No. 10 USA TODAY/No. 11 AP).
Now in its eighth year, the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award is the only college football coaching award that promotes both charity and scholarship through its winners. Since 2006, more than $1.8 million has been distributed to over 100 charities and colleges across the country through the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award program. Should Coach Dantonio win, he will receive $50,000 from Liberty Mutual to donate to his favorite charities and a $20,000 contribution to the MSU Alumni Association for scholarship.
Through Dec. 22, fans can vote daily at CoachoftheYear.com or Facebook.com/LMCoachoftheYear. Michigan State fans have a voice in the final outcome, with 20 percent of each finalist's ultimate standing dependent on fan votes. In addition, each vote during this period will serve as an official entry into the "Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Fan Experience Sweepstakes," awarding one lucky fan tickets and airfare for two to the 2014 regular-season college football game of their choice. The sweepstakes winner will be chose by a random drawing on Dec. 23.
The winner will be determined by a weighted voting system. Fan votes in this period will account for 20 percent of each coach's final score, with votes from two committees of college football media (25 percent) and College Football Hall of Fame players and coaches (55 percent) also being considered.