October 19, 2010

Dantonio re-stacking for 'uncharted territory'

EAST LANSING - Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio recognizes that things are getting different for the Spartans, in terms of being 7-0, ranked No. 7 in the BCS and having the inside track to a Big Ten title. Things are so different, that Dantonio has gone out of his way to keep things the same.

Take Sunday night, for instance. When the rest of the college football world was focused on the debut of the Bowl Championship Series rankings, and MSU fans were giddy about being a part of it for the first time, Dantonio purposefully ignored the proceedings.

"I heard about it on Monday," Dantonio said of Sunday night's No. 7 ranking, MSU's highest since the inception of the BCS. "I refrained from looking at that on Sunday night because I just want to stay focused.

"It's a good moment," Dantonio continued, during Tuesday's weekly press conference. "It's a moment you can be happy with but I believe that football teams are measured over the course of 12 games. Right now we are a 7-0 football team but if we falter we're a 7-5 football team. What we have to do is not get too elated, or too dejected.

"Really, you have to re-stack the deck every time you get ready to play a football game, especially in this conference. The games are just too close. There are too many good players."

The BCS ranking was a topic during team meetings on Sunday.

"My response has been: 'Remember where you came from,'" Dantonio said. "There is still work to do. We can be happy at the end of the season, but right now we have work to do."

  • Dantonio said there would be no update on Chris L. Rucker's status until later this week. Rucker is expected to be arraigned on drunk driving charges on Wednesday. Rucker was suspended last week, due to his arrest on Oct. 10.

    Booth Or Field For Dantonio?

    Will Dantonio be in the booth or on the field Saturday?

    "We will make the call probably at game time on that," Dantonio said. "I'm feeling much better, walking much better but again I still have to be able to go through a two and a half hour practice on the field, and not just stnadin aground but be able to function in that two and a half hour realm. It may be something where you sort of ease into it, down there some, up there some."

    Dantonio has seemingly enjoyed some aspects of coaching from the press box in the last two games.

    "From a coaching perspective, I probably have more control (in the press box) because I see the whole field," Dantonio said. "When you step back from anything, you are able to make better decisions. That's what you can do from the press box.

    "When you are on the sidelines, things are happening much faster. It's more emotional. So you want to be involved in that as well, and you want to be able to address your player when there is an issue. But we have a great staff and we have been together for a long time so that hasn't been a problem.

    "The last few weeks, I have been able to sit up there and I have been able to sit up there and if I wanted to get in touch with an assistant coach or a coordinator or a player, I could pick up the phone.

    "As the game starts, things start to happen and it begins to run itself to some extent. What I have tried to do is keep normalcy, be in the locker room before the game."

    Dantonio has made a routine of overseeing pre-game warm-ups, and remaining on the sideline for the coin toss. He then makes his way to the press box, and misses kick off.

    "I'll miss plays as opposed to missing interaction with the players right before," Dantonio said. "Yeah, I miss being on the sideline some. But there is a part of me that I'm okay in the booth."

    No News On Rucker

  • Dantonio said there would be no update on the status of senior cornerback Chris L. Rucker until later in the week. Rucker was suspended for the Illinois game after being arrested for drunk driving on Oct. 10. Rucker is expected to be arraigned on the charges, Wednesday.

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