On Tuesday, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio abruptly announced that he was retiring effective immediately. The reasons for this move are uncertain that this time but that does not preclude idle speculation.
The conversation for what to do next went immediately ventured toward who Michigan State might find to replace him.
The top two names being mentioned are Cincinnatti head coach Luke Fickell and Phi head coach Pat Narduzzi.
Luke Fickell has no ties to Michigan State and probably no reason to go there except as a step up in the coaching tree. He also just signed a few top shelf coaches, so if Michigan State were going to pick him up, it would cost them a fairly hefty penny.
Pat Narduzzi has been at Pittsburgh since 2015 and is coming off a win in the Quick Lane Bowl. He does have ties to the Spartans as he served as Mark Dantonio’s Defensive Coordinator from 2007 to 2014. Both of these coaches are fairly young (for a head coach) but probably aren’t looking for a move at this time.
Which brings us to the MAC Connection and the crux of the column: Eastern Michigan's Chris Creighton. In his six seasons at Eastern Michigan, he has amassed a 28 and 47 record. On first blush, that would not come out at you as the record of a person to consider for a Big Ten program, but a closer look indicates what it is he can do for a program.
When Creighton took three job at EMU, he took over a program that has not had a winning record since 1995 or a bowl game appearance since 1987. He came into a program needing stability as well, as his predecessor, Ron English, was canned suddenly with two games in the schedule of another bad season.
After a rocky first two seasons, he has been to a bowl game in three out of the last four. His team has beaten a Big Ten team three years in a row during that time, and had recruited and developed players very well. Most importantly, he seems to have the team on the right track. With that sort of record, Michigan State may consider him as a dark horse.
With Fickell amd Narduzzi seemingly content where they are, and Matt Campbell reportedly turning it down, MSU administrators would be smart to look at their options, both in the free agent market and elsewhere.
If MSU decides they need a square one rebuild, Creighton's resume so far would be a very attractive one
Is Chris Creighton looking to make a move? I would say possibly, but I don’t think he would do it at this late date.
For the most part, the recruiting season is over and the fallout from Dantonio leaving is yet to be determined. While he would certainly get more money, would that be enough to offset the uncertainty? We’ll see.