Dec. 13, 2010
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Mark Dantonio, who led Michigan State to a school-record 11 wins and a share of its first Big Ten Championship since 1990, has been named one of 10 finalists for the 2010 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award, which celebrates coaches for their sportsmanship, integrity, responsibility and excellence and for giving back to their teams, schools and communities, on and off field. The nine other Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award finalists from the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision include: Auburn's Gene Chizik, Army's Rich Ellerson, Oregon's Chip Kelly, Syracuse's Doug Marrone, North Carolina State's Tom O'Brien, Alabama's Nick Saban, Texas A&M's Mike Sherman and Ohio State's Jim Tressel.
The finalists were determined as a result of online fan voting at www.CoachoftheYear.com and through an objective scoring model endorsed by the College Football Hall of Fame. Dantonio qualified for the model by finishing among the top 15 in fan votes in the NCAA FBS. The model considers, among other criteria: wins, team penalties, on-field sportsmanship, academic achievement by the student-athletes and civic and philanthropic endeavors.
Dantonio helped manage the third-biggest turnaround among NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision teams during the regular season, as the Spartans improved from 6-7 a year ago to 11-1 in 2010. Thanks to its 28-22 victory at Penn State in the regular-season finale, Michigan State recorded its first win in State College since 1965 - the year before Joe Paterno took over as Penn State's head coach - and finished in a three-way tie with Wisconsin and Ohio State for the 2010 Big Ten Championship. With successive wins over Minnesota, Purdue and Penn State to close out the regular season, the Spartans posted a perfect 3-0 record in November for the first time since 1999. MSU also completed its first-ever 7-0 home season, including a 34-31 overtime win over Notre Dame and a 34-24 victory over Wisconsin in the Big Ten opener.
The seventh-ranked Spartans (11-1, 7-1 Big Ten) will play No. 15 Alabama (9-3, 5-3 SEC) in the Capital One Bowl on Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011, in Orlando, Fla. Michigan State is making its fourth-straight postseason bowl appearance for the first time since 1987-90, matching the longest bowl streak in school history. Dantonio becomes the first coach in MSU history to earn a postseason bowl bid in each of his first four seasons.
The 54-year-old Dantonio already has earned 2010 National Coach of the Year honors from CBSSports.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com. In addition, he has been selected Big Ten and American Football Coaches Association Regional Coach of the Year.
"Mark Dantonio is a great candidate for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award," Liberty Mutual Senior Vice President for Consumer Marketing Greg Gordon said. "The passionate Michigan State fans and alumni have suitably honored his coaching excellence, his dedication to student-athletes, and his commitment to community by casting votes and sharing anecdotes about his contributions, both on and off the field."
"It is well-deserved recognition for Mark Dantonio to be selected as a 2010 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year finalist, and it's also an honor for Michigan State to be included among this esteemed list of candidates," MSU Athletics Director Mark Hollis said. "Coach Dantonio is the epitome of a leader, on and off the field, and Spartans fans and alumni everywhere celebrate this achievement."
From now through Dec. 28, fans can visit www.CoachoftheYear.com to vote among the finalists. To ensure candidates are evaluated fairly and measured against the specific values of responsibility and integrity, a selection committee of College Football Hall of Fame players and coaches - including the likes of Archie Manning, Lou Holtz, Vince Dooley, Ronnie Lott and Archie Griffin - as well as a panel of national media, including ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit, Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel and CBS Sports' Tim Brando, will cast votes for the winners. Fan votes constitute 20 percent of a coach's final score, with the College Football Hall of Fame committee accounting for 55 percent and national media 25 percent.
Liberty Mutual will announce the four winners, one from each division, Jan. 10 in Scottsdale, Ariz., prior to the BCS National Championship Game. If Dantonio wins, he will receive $50,000 to donate to the charities of his choice and a $20,000 grant to his school's alumni association, providing further positive impact for Michigan State and the local community.
Now in its fifth year, the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award will surpass $1 million in support to dozens of national and local charities and college scholarship funds on behalf of its 2010 and past winners. Previous Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award FBS winners include: Gary Patterson, TCU (2009); Nick Saban, Alabama (2008); Ron Zook, Illinois (2007); and Greg Schiano, Rutgers (2006).