Mark Dantonio (born March 9, 1956) is the current head football coach at Michigan State University. He was hired on November 27, 2006 to replace John L. Smith and became the 24th head coach at Michigan State. Dantonio compiled an 18–17 overall record in his three years as the head coach of the University of Cincinnati including a win in the 2004 Fort Worth Bowl. Known as a defensive-minded coach, Dantonio has compiled a 25–17 record while at Michigan State.
Dantonio grew up in Zanesville, Ohio and attended Zanesville High School. He was a three year letter winner at the University of South Carolina where he played defensive back from 1976–78. After earning his bachelor’s degree from South Carolina, Dantonio moved on to Ohio University where he earned his master’s degree in education in 1980.
Dantonio began his coaching career at Ohio University where he was a graduate assistant. In 1981, he made his first stop in the Big Ten when he moved on to Purdue as a graduate assistant. He spent two years in Columbus as a graduate assistant for Ohio State in 1983 and 1984 under then head coach Earle Bruce. In 1986, he began a five-year stint on Jim Tressel’s staff at Youngstown State as a defensive secondary coach. In 1990, Dantonio led the Penguin's defense to an 11–0 record and a #2 ranking nationally. Glen Mason hired Dantonio in 1991 to be the defensive secondary coach for the Kansas Jayhawks. When Nick Saban was hired at Michigan State in 1995, he hired Dantonio to join his staff in East Lansing where he remained even after Saban left for LSU. After Bobby Williams was named head coach in 1999 following Saban's departure, Dantonio was promoted to associate head coach where he remained through the 2000 season. Following the 2000 season, Dantonio was hired by new Ohio State University head coach Jim Tressel.