By: Will Burchfield
CBS Sports college football analyst Houston Nutt is a big fan of Mark Dantonio.
Just forget the fact that he doesn’t know Dantonio’s name.
In an interview on 97.1 The Ticket on Tuesday morning, Nutt gushed admiration for Michigan State’s head coach while twice referring to him as “Coach Dantone.”
Name-botching aside, Nutt feels that Dantonio is under-appreciated, particularly in a football landscape that pays constant attention to Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh.
“Every single year – every single year – nobody talks about Michigan State. Whether (Dantonio’s) not flashy enough, whether he’s not climbing trees, or going to a satellite camp, he’s not talked about,” Nutt said, referring to two of Harbaugh’s trademarks.
“But my point is, he’s such a good coach and he has this formula and his DNA is exactly what we all expect. It’s toughness, it’s an attitude, it’s kind of a quiet, ‘let’s get in the stadium, nobody gives us a chance’ attitude and all of a sudden he’s beating up everybody. You just gotta give it to Coach Dantone. His team, his formula, the DNA that he puts out there, it’s just awesome and we don’t give him enough respect and we need to.”
Perhaps we should start with pronouncing his name correctly.
To be fair, Nutt is hardly alone in this linguistic faux paw. Dantonio’s name has frequently been garbled in the past, most notably when the cover of Sports Illustrated referred to him as ‘Mike’ Dantonio.
Before becoming a TV analyst, Nutt was a Divison 1 football coach for 30 years. During his time at Murray State (1993-1996), he coached against Jim Harbaugh’s father, Jack.
“So I have a lot of respect for the Harbaughs, I love the way they coach,” Nutt said. “I love their hard-nosed and their toughness.”
Still, forced to choose between Harbaugh and Dantonio, Nutt sided with…”Dantone.”
“What overall I love so much about him, is he just has this quiet demeanor about himself that he goes about business, he loves coaching football,” said Nutt, who said he got to know Dantonio and his wife at a Nike endorsement event. “So you know what he’s about and so if you put me on the spot, I’m probably going to lean that way. But I have a lot of respect for the Harbaughs.”
So much respect, in fact, that he actually knows their name.