Few would have labeled Michigan State a destination job when Mark Dantonio arrived as head coach in December 2006. One of Dantonio's coaching mentors, Nick Saban, had left Michigan State for LSU seven years earlier.
But as he basks in the glow of Michigan State's first outright Big Ten championship in 26 years, Dantonio looks at his current position as an end point, not merely a stop along the way.
Asked Tuesday about being mentioned as a candidate for the vacancy at Texas, Dantonio replied, "I see Michigan State as a destination, not a stop. Flattering, but that's how I see it."
Some see the money and prestige Texas could offer Dantonio and say that a potential move to Austin would be a no-brainer. Although Michigan State is prepared to open the coffers for Dantonio and his assistants, who are true coaching bargains right now, the school can't match Texas dollar for dollar. No school can.
But MSU has elevated its profile under Dantonio, who owns 41 victories in the past four seasons, two division titles and two league championships (one shared, one outright). There have been key facilities upgrades and Dantonio works for one of the nation's best athletic directors in Mark Hollis. A fan base starved for football success has been energized.
Dantonio, 57, will continue to generate chatter for other jobs, both in college and possibly the NFL, if he keeps winning. But he also recognizes a great situation, and he has one at Michigan State.
His top assistant also appears to be sticking around for another season. Defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi said Tuesday that he was tempted by the Connecticut job, especially since his wife has family in the area. But he and his wife ultimately agreed that staying at Michigan State is best for his career and their family.
"If I was just half happy, it's easy to go take a job," he said. "But it's a great place to work, hard to leave your players."
Narduzzi can do better than UConn and likely will have more attractive opportunities next year.
Dantonio said Narduzzi remaining at Michigan State "sends a message that things are good here."
Things are very good, indeed. Now it's time for Michigan State to step up, pay its coaches and ensure the continuity under Dantonio continues.