The first answer is Urban Meyer, because the first answer is always Urban Meyer. But say a ship full of war-like creatures from, oh, let’s say Mars, decides to land in the Midwest and demand a football game to determine the fate of the Earth. With a caveat: We get to pick one coach from the Big Ten to represent our side in the battle to preserve our civilization, as long as that Big Ten coach isn’t Urban. Which coach would you take, and why? Former Michigan and NFL running back Chris Howard and Land of 10 writer-columnist Sean Keeler racked their respective brains before the aliens could start probing them and offered up a couple of potential solutions …
Q: IF YOU HAD TO PICK ONE BIG TEN COACH OTHER THAN URBAN MEYER TO LEAD YOUR TEAM IN A WINNER-TAKE-ALL CONTEST WITH THE FATE OF THE EARTH AT STAKE, WHOM WOULD YOU WANT … AND WHY?
SEAN KEELER: MARK DANTONIO, MICHIGAN STATE
When the Monstars turn up and demand homage, you can keep Bugs. You can have Bill Murray, brother.
Give me the Little Giants.
— KEVINGESSLER (@kgessler23) August 15, 2017
Give me Hey Diddle Diddle.
October 5, 2013: Mike Sadler fakes a punt and runs for a gain of 25 yards and the first down to start the 4th quarter at Kinnick Stadium. pic.twitter.com/yy4Z6pHrnu
— Sparty Moments (@SpartyMoments) September 28, 2017
Give me Rangers: Mission 4:10.
— T1mill669 (@T1mill669) October 17, 2015
Give me Charlie Brown. Give me Mouse Trap. Give me the Rocket.
Give me The Scowl.
Mark Dantonio & #MichiganState in big games: MSU has gone 5-1 in its last 6 games vs Top5 opponents. Amazing run.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 6, 2015
Big games, big stakes, demand big stones.
The resume says Mark Dantonio’s record is 6-5 in the postseason as an FBS coach, but look closer. Michigan State’s football coach this decade sports a 5-1 record in the bowl games, the only blemish coming in a College Football Playoff curb-stomping at the hands of Nick Saban and Alabama in January 2016.
Although, for context …
Nick Saban on TV tonight prompts Michigan State record search: .585 winning %, 0 bowl wins in 5 seasons. Mark Dantonio: .688, 3 in 7.
— Dave Campbell (@DaveCampbellAP) January 3, 2014
Since 2010, Dantonio has notched five bowl victories — as many as Urban Meyer over that span. Bonus: He’s 2-1 in the Big Ten Championship, the same record as Big Game Urban in the title game, and even took out Meyer and the Buckeyes head-to-head for the league crown in December 2013.
Double bonus: He’s 8-3 against Michigan and 2-1 against Big Brother as led by Jim Harbaugh, the baddest Big Brother of them all.
Things Mark Dantonio has that Jim Harbaugh doesn't have: B1G Divisional titles x3, B1G titles x3, B1G Championship wins x2, Rose Bowl win, Cotton Bowl win, Playoff, a winning record against his rival,….oh, and class.
— Brian Watson (@bugsy33) December 5, 2017
Sure, it’s hard to shake The Great Dumpster Fire of 2016, although history seems to frame that one as the exception and not the rule. Granted, a 4-5 mark against Notre Dame and a 19-16 mark this decade against AP top 25 sides might not float everybody’s boat. But anyone who’s cool enough to do this at Kinnick in the fourth quarter …
Watching the MSU-Iowa game and saw Dantonio fist bumped his daughter after the fake punt. Whatta guy. pic.twitter.com/WiPEVbDD5W
— Mike Wilson (@ByMikeWilson) October 7, 2013
… is going to have a few curveballs ready to toss at those blankety-blank Martians after they land.
Michigan State is 26-10 in Big Ten road games under MSU head coach Mark Dantonio, including a 20-4 record since 2010.
— Michigan State Football (@MSU_Football) November 22, 2015
Like defense, The Scowl travels well. The Scowl plays anywhere. And if the only thing standing between the Earth and alien domination is Dantonio’s chutzpah, well, that’s easy: You hand the riverboat gambler the dice and let that baby ride.