When I received a call this morning saying Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio suffered a possible heart attack after Saturday night's dramatic win against Notre Dame, I thought it couldn't be true.
Sure, the excitement of college football reached a fever pitch as Michigan State executed a fake field-goal attempt to beat Notre Dame 34-31 in overtime. Spartan Stadium was going absolutely nuts.
But Dantonio? He looked calm and collected on the sideline, the least surprised person in East Lansing. He had just made the Call of the Year in college football, and he barely flinched.
It's amazing how life can change in a matter of hours.
Dantonio indeed suffered a heart attack following the game and underwent a procedure early Sunday to have a metallic stent inserted to open a blocked blood vessel leading to his heart. The 54-year-old is hospitalized in East Lansing and will remain there for several days. Offensive coordinator Don Treadwell has taken over the head-coaching duties during Dantonio's absence.
Dr. Chris D'Haem, a cardiologist at Sparrow Hospital, said Dantonio began experiencing symptoms of a heart attack around 12:30 a.m. Sunday. Dantonio came into the hospital immediately and underwent what D'Haem calls a "relatively common procedure."
“The procedure was successful and blood flow to the heart muscle was restored," D'Haem said in a statement released through Michigan State. "I'm very pleased with the outcome of the procedure. Coach Dantonio is resting comfortably following his procedure and is expected to make a full recovery. He is young, in excellent shape, and the damage to his heart was minimal. Coach Dantonio made the right decision to come in and get checked out immediately.”
The prognosis is very favorable, and D'Haem expects Dantonio to make a full recovery with no long-term negative impact. There's no such thing as a minor heart attack in my book, but it's wonderful to hear that Dantonio is OK and should be fine.
The coach had no known history of heart problems, but as we've learned in recent years, coaching college football can take a toll on one's health.
"Stress doesn't cause coronary heart disease, but very stressful events can be a trigger," D'Haem said at a news conference in East Lansing.
I think we'd all agree Saturday night's game qualified as a stressful event.
Dantonio's health situation certainly puts everything in perspective for a Michigan State program riding high after the Notre Dame game. Everyone wants to know when he'll be back, but his health should be the only priority right now. There's no sense in rushing back.
Treadwell is a veteran assistant who has been in the mix for several head-coaching jobs, including those at Boston College and Miami (Ohio). Dantonio's staff at MSU has seen amazingly little turnover; Dan Enos' departure for the top job at Central Michigan this winter marked the first change.
Athletic director Mark Hollis reiterated Sunday that while Dantonio's return is unknown, Dantonio remains the program's head coach.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Coach D and his family,” Treadwell said in a statement. “We wish him a full and speedy recovery, so he can rejoin us on the sidelines. In the interim, the vast majority of this coaching staff has been together for seven years, so we won’t miss a beat as we move forward and build upon the momentum of last night’s thrilling victory.”
Best of luck to Dantonio during his recovery. While the past 15 hours at Michigan State have been shocking for a number of reasons, knowing Dantonio, I'd be more surprised not to see him get healthy and get back where he belongs on the sideline.