The Michigan State Spartans (9-1, 5-1 Big Ten) have their biggest weekend of the year right ahead of them, and head coach Mark Dantonio surely has a lot on his mind as the Spartans look to keep their ambitious postseason hopes alive with a match up against the top team in the Big Ten, Ohio State (10-0, 6-0). But there’s definitely one thing that is surely not on the mind of Mark Dantonio according to the coach: The Michigan vs. Ohio State rivalry.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Dantonio was asked about the age-old rivalry between the Wolverines and Buckeyes and looked like he’d finally had enough – or at least wanted to jab at what he sees as a not-so-important game these days. Since he’s taken over at Michigan State, Spartan fans are quick to point out that MSU has become the dominant school in the state of Michigan as the Wolverines have struggled over the last five to ten seasons. Still, despite the Spartans’ regular season win records, postseason wins, and numerous Big Ten championships, it seems like Dantonio will always have a hard time evading questions about the Michigan Wolverines, especially now that new head coach in Ann Arbor, Jim Harbaugh, is making big waves and returning the Wolverines program to its winning form.
Regardless, one reporter still felt it necessary during the press conference to bait Dantonio by asking him about the Michigan vs. Ohio State rivalry in the week leading up his team’s own match up with the Buckeyes. Though Dantonio sometimes remains stoic and unmoved by certain prods, this time, the coach felt it was prudent to downplay one of the oldest rivalries in all of college football.
It went down like this: The reporter mentioned how conditioned we are to certain aspects of our region’s football legacies, leading him to say that “We’re so conditioned in this region to think Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan, Ohio State. For good reason ..”
Dantonio’s response? “Not really.”
One can’t help but notice the smirk on Dantonio’s face as the crowd laughs and he continues to listen, though somewhat disinterested… of course.
No. 9 Michigan State’s last chance at playoff glory ends this weekend against No. 3 Ohio State. If the Spartans lose, they’re certainly out, but if the Buckeyes lose, well, they’re probably out, too. Dantonio has a chance to really build up the Michigan State vs. Ohio State rivalry this weekend – a rivalry which has been much more interesting over the last five years than that of the Wolverines vs. Buckeyes, but if things go south in Columbus, you likely won’t see Dantonio smirk again anytime this season (and probably not through spring training either).