Big Ten coaches express support for Dantonio

Michigan State offensive coordinator/interim coach Don Treadwell called into the Big Ten football coaches teleconference with good news. He won’t be making such calls much longer.

That, he said, is because MSU head coach Mark Dantonio’s condition continues to improve after a heart attack he suffered on Sunday morning, hours after his Spartans beat Michigan State on a fake field goal.  Treadwell didn’t provide a a timetable, but indicated his return would occur soon.

“Coach Dantonio, our head coach, is doing so much better day to day,” Treadwell said. “… We’re very excited about his progress at this point in time. Certainly as a football team and a football staff, we miss him deeply. We’re just very anxiously awaiting his return. … Ken Manning is our strength coach, and he said, ‘Even though coach D is temporarily absent physically, he is very much present in everything we do.'”

Every coach on the teleconference began his opening statement by sending his thoughts to Dantonio and his family. Unsurprisingly, they were met with questions from the media about the stress of the job, the long hours, and the toll that it takes on them physically. They said that Dantonio’s heart attack did indeed serve as a bit of a wake-up call about the stress of the profession.

“I think we all know cognitively that there are things in life more important than football,” Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. “… This is just a very real reminder.”

Many of them said that indeed, the job is stressful and it isn’t easy to stay in good physical shape with all the focus that goes into coaching.

“If you aspire to compete and be the best, it becomes life-consuming,” Purdue coach Danny Hope said. “…”During football season, an 80-hour week would be a light week. … A 100-hour work week is not out of the norm.”

Hope said he was surprised more coaches didn’t run into similar physical problems. However, other coaches, including Indiana coach Bill Lynch, said they didn’t think their jobs were any more stressful than others.

“I have some buddies in financial planning that are pretty stressed,” Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said.

Several of them also pointed out that Dantonio is fanatical about staying healthy, and that his heart attack was likely not caused by a failure to keep himself in shape.

“It wasn’t an issue that he wasn’t taking care of himself,” Minnesota coach Tim Brewster said. “It was a predisposition.”

Several coaches still spoke about things they do to relieve stress and to force their assistants to go home at certain hours so they can spend time with family. Long-time Penn State coach Joe Paterno, who has been in the business for more than 50 years, revealed one of his secrets for not letting the job get to him.

“Just don’t pay attention to people,” he said.

In other news on the call, Wisconsin weakside linebacker Chris Borland is out for the season with a shoulder injury, and Iowa running back Jewell Hampton and middle linebacker Bruce Davis are out for the season with knee injuries.

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