Against all odds, Mark Dantonio took Michigan State football to the College Football Playoff in 2015. He has since allowed the program to regress into irrelevance. Years ago, the Spartans undoubtably caught a magic carpet to ascend to unbelievable heights. That magic carpet frayed and lost its power. It's old, dusty, and better suited for the attic now.
Dantonio's team has, in consecutive weeks, traveled to Columbus and Madison. Both stops have laid bare how far Michigan State is from competing for a Big Ten crown. Both stops were humiliating. Ohio State gashed the vaunted Spartans' defense for big plays in both the passing and rushing game. Wisconsin's defense not only shut MSU's offense out, they outscored it.
These weren't just losses. They were a 120-minute funeral for the Dantonio era. State fans can look back with fondness at the memories made, but that's what they are. Memories.
That program is gone. Dead. It got sick and the main caretaker chose loyalty over medicine. He refused to innovate. He hired his friends. He re-arranged the deck chairs on the Titanic. As Rome burned, he watched tape of Tressel Ball.
Dantonio's quest to make East Lansing great again was regressive. It will have long-term impact. This is yet another wasted season, a failure to turn a stellar defense into anything. Worse, the cupboard is bare. The recruiting trail has gone cold, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
After all, who would want to play in this system? Who wants to bang their head against the wall and turn their immense talent into single-digit scoreboards and hapless three-and-outs?
Dantonio is and will likely always be the winningest coach in program history. He deserves a statue for doing the impossible: rescuing this hapless program from itself and making it a national-title contender. But once again he faces the impossible -- fixing this abysmal situation -- and it's clear he is not the guy to do it.
Endings are hard. Parting is bittersweet. A marriage is hard and the good times can sometimes cloud people's vision in seeing the reality of the status quo. Michigan State has time and time again proven itself to be a small-time operation, so there should be no optimism that a clean break will come without kicking and screaming. Or that a worthy successor will be tapped to tackle the rebuild.
There is plenty of grief to go around. There's been denial, anger, bargaining, and depression. Now is the time for acceptance. It's time to accept that it's over. For Dantonio and the football program. And perhaps for a long time.
Green and white may be the only colors, yet everyone should be wearing black.