Fun With Quotes: Dantonio Edition

Submitted by Brian on July 10th, 2013 at 12:10 PM


This week in football coaches make obvious statements about how recruiting rankings are not guarantees:

Michigan State's Mark Dantonio wary of star rating systems used to classify recruits

"If you come in as a four‑star recruit, really doesn't serve any purpose," Dantonio said.

Last year in football coach talking about a guy in his recruiting class:

"For the third straight year, Michigan State gets the top player, perceived top player by the media in the state of Michigan."

(This was Aaron Burbridge, who turned out to be MSU's only receiver not toting bricks around for hands. The previous two were Lawrence Thomas, last seen playing FB/TE/DL/horrible mutated fly-man, and the wildly overrated but still long-term starter and NFL draft pick Will Gholston.)

I mean you guys at some point we're going to get all the football coaches in a room and carefully explain to them that we don't think the rankings are iron-clad guarantees, either, and that if they could just take that as a given we could all talk about something else for once. In any case, Dantonio won't have to walk a fine line between being a hipster about rankings and trumpeting his acquisition of the top player in the state this year.



July 10th, 2013 at 12:34 PM ^

I feel like this is low hanging fruit at this point. He coaches at a school that really struggles with recruiting, of course he's going to look for any positive way to spin things. Is it a bit dishonest of him? Yes. But recruiting and public relations are both inherently dishonest activities. 


July 10th, 2013 at 1:47 PM ^

The ridicule is for the hypocrisy.  I don't know if this "Fun with Quotes" is a series with a theme, but Brian did something similar with Brandon a while back.  He claimed he never wanted to move the timing of The Game, which contradicted an earlier statment indicating he might.

Just like in that scenario, you can agree or disagree with the position (either of them), but you have to recognize that Dantonio can't invoke both.


July 10th, 2013 at 2:19 PM ^

IMO, there's not really any hypocrisy.  Stars don't matter could be interpreted in many ways ("Stars handed out by a third party evaluator doesn't matter to me because I make my own evaluations," "Stars don't matter because every player is treated the same after they enroll," "Stars don't matter in the sense that they don't guarantee success or performance," etc.).

These interpretations are not necessarily inconsistent with bragging about getting the best kid in the state for three years.  (Best kid could be defined independently from stars by Dantonio's internal evaluations, Best kid gets treated the same as everybody else after he enrolls, Best kid has lots of stars but that doesn't guarantee success or performance, etc.)

But whatever, slow news day and memes are fun.


July 10th, 2013 at 8:12 PM ^

Ugh, I'm no fan of Dantonio so I don't know why I'm defending him.  Bored at work I guess.

Ok.  Re: Burbridge, Dantonio was referred to outside newspapers.  I will accept this premise for the sake of argument.

Now, turning to his most recent statement re: stars.  Reading the article in context, it is not inconsistent with his statement re: Burbridge.  First, Dantonio says "The marketing aspect, the stars behind their names, they earn those stars to some extent, but there are so many different people making those decisions."

So, in this quote, Dantonio acknowledges that high school players earn stars, TO SOME EXTENT, based on performance.  But then goes on to say (1) recuiting service evaluators often only view a small subset of the player's performance, (2) may not have seen them in camps or games, (3) definitely have not seen them compete against players at the college skill level.  So, Dantonio is basically saying, stars may have some significance, but they are not definitive.  There is nothing incorrect or controversial about this statement.

The "four stars not serving a purpose" bit came in the context of Dantonio noting that some four stars on his team are riding the bench while some two stars are starting.  He goes on to say that players "have to overachieve and reach higher. If you can't do that, inevitably you're going to fail."  Again, to me, nothing untrue or controversial here.

IMO there is no hypocrisy.  I mean, maybe there is, I can't know for sure, but to me finding the hypocrisy requires "squinting" at the statements in just the right manner.  But whatever.


July 10th, 2013 at 2:51 PM ^

Yeah, it's not hypocrisy in the same way Honey Boo Boo's mother isn't ugly... so long as you squint just right, it's dusk, and she's 100 feet away.

Even in the quote Brian posted, Dantonio makes it clear he's talking about the media proclaiming his recruits the top pick in Michigan.

Honestly, I think the reporters are dbs who ask questions along the lines of, "So, how are you going to compete now that Michigan is bringing in top ten classes and yours are barely top 40.  It's with questions like these Dantonio should just respond with a brusque "Next question!"



July 10th, 2013 at 2:26 PM ^

I understood Brian's criticism, thanks. Yes, Dantonio does seem to have contradicted himself. My point is so what? Given his position it doesn't bother me so much, and devoting a front page post to it on a blog with such a large readership as this is kind of petty. 


July 10th, 2013 at 2:46 PM ^

It's that he's taking snarky shots at Michigan while doing so, which opens him up to it in kind. If he was just saying "I don't think rankings matter I like our guys" one year, and then "we just had the best rated recruiting class here at MSU in a long time" it wouldn't matter so much. When you say it to throw a dig at your rival, well, you ask for it.

And to the post above you if he thinks he got the best player in the state regardless of rankings, he could say that every year. He could always believe his guy was the best. But he put a year timeline on it.


July 10th, 2013 at 3:01 PM ^

I disagree that he's clearly taking shots at Michigan.

Look at the transcript for the "top player in the state of Michigan" quote and Ctrl- F  the word "top." He uses that word in the description of a couple other recruits as well. I think he's just trying to talk up his class, which is understandable. It's just because Michigan has traditionally been the biggest football power in the state that the quote gets perceived as a dig at us. 

Also, try be charitable when interpreting quotes from media interviews. Questions are often intentionally phrased in a way to get a specific response. Often, articles are written beforehand and the quotes fill in blanks, so really reporters are fishing for quotes to fit their narrative. When there's an in-state rivalry concerned, us vs. them is an easy narrative.  


July 10th, 2013 at 2:58 PM ^

You don't mention hypocrisy in your criticism of Brian.  You mention dishonesty.  That would mean you believe Dantonio was dishonest in identifying Burbridge as the best player in the state, or that he doesn't really believe stars don't matter.

The debate over the importance of recruiting rankings is a common and continuing one in college football.  There are posts and discussions on message boards (and on talk radio and on TV and in print) probably every day of the week.  It's only petty if you think the topic isn't worthwhile - otherwise this a BCS coach jumping into both ends of the pool.


July 10th, 2013 at 3:07 PM ^

Hypocrisy= a kind of intellectual dishonesty, to my mind. That's what I meant, not that he was wrong about Burbidge/ misrepresented his belief. Is that an idiomatic use of "dishonesty?" It isn't in my field of study, my apologies if it is elsewhere. 

I think it might not be petty if Nick Saban were the target, but is petty if Ron English is. Up to you where you think Dantonio is on this spectrum. 


July 10th, 2013 at 12:43 PM ^

and Dantonio - you were expecting something.. commonsensical??

Yep, absolutely no correlation between Alabama winning 3 national championships in the last couple of years and having a consisent top 5 recruiting class...


July 10th, 2013 at 12:42 PM ^

Recruiting rankings are whatever you want them to be.

Is your recruiting class not highly rated?
Recruiting rankings don't matter! Look at [2* player who got drafted]! Look at [5* player who sucks]! My school develops talent unlike those other schools! This guy is a sleeper! That guy is also a sleeper! Everyone's a sleeper!

Is your recruiting class highly rated?
Look at the data on how recruiting rankings matter! We're going to have the best football team ever!


July 11th, 2013 at 7:33 AM ^

I think there have been enough studies during the limited amount of time that recruiting rankings have existed that show schools that have highly ranked recruiting classes overall perform better than those that don't.  Dantonio is correct in suggesting that stars aren't the final word on any players potential, but the data shows strong correllation.

For instance, I'd be willing to wager a good sum of money that given Dantonio's recruiting, MSU will NEVER play for the BCS title during his tenure.  On the other hand, I'd put up good money that either Hoke or Meyer will at some point during their time as coaches will see the title game.


July 10th, 2013 at 1:11 PM ^

The latest from Spartyland fans is news that the football team is getting a $4 million increase over last year, so now they can hire a fulltime recruiting coordinator and they'll compete with the top teams for recruits. Apparently they've missed out on recruits because other schools are negative recruiting against them for not having a fulltime recruiting coordinator. So look out everybody! MSU isn't going to have to lay in the weeds anymore. They'll be able to stand up and hold their heads high.  They're getting a fulltime recruiting coordinator!

Creedence Tapes

July 10th, 2013 at 1:12 PM ^

I'm all for mocking Dontonio but lets be honest here, Hoke would say the exact same thing about how much stars mean when you show up on campus. The difference is Hoke can actually recruit 4 and 5 star players.


July 10th, 2013 at 2:09 PM ^

miss Saban as well if only the frustration he exhibited over his own administration and fan base.  State was never more than a stepping stone for the guy, but everything that Dantonio represents (and they love), bugged the crap out of Saban.  Ahhhh......Memories.


July 10th, 2013 at 1:18 PM ^

Will view this as legitimization.Get ready for threads about the number of Twitter followers of the MSU AD vs the Michigan AD and how it obviously means that Dantonio is Dahmer.