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Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio steps down after 13 seasons

By NOAH TRISTER

AP Sports Writer

EAST LANSING — From “pride comes before the fall” to Little Giants, Mark Dantonio leaves Michigan State fans with an abundance of fond memories after bringing the Spartans to heights they hadn’t reached in decades.

Dantonio announced his retirement Tuesday, ending a 13-year run in which his teams won three Big Ten titles and he became the school’s winningest coach. The 63-year-old Dantonio called his decision a difficult one while noting the nonstop demands of the job.

“I just found myself never having the opportunity to come up for air, and that can wear on you,” he said Tuesday night at a news conference.

Dantonio went 114-57 as Michigan State’s coach and won Big Ten titles in 2010, 2013 and 2015. The last of those three seasons included a trip to the College Football Playoff, but the Spartans declined after that. They went 7-6 this past season.

Defensive coordinator Mike Tressel will be the acting head coach while Michigan State seeks a replacement for Dantonio, who said qualified candidates would be willing to crawl to campus for the job.

Michigan State athletic director Bill Beekman said he will seek Dantonio’s input on the search for his successor. Dantonio plans to have a role within the athletic department.

Beekman acknowledged the timing isn’t ideal to search for a new football coach.

“There are times that are better than other times,” he said. “But I think when you’ve won 114 games, you’re our all-time winningest coach, and you’ve taken us to the places Mark has taken us and you’ve set the bar where Mark set it, I was comfortable operating on his timeline whatever that would be.

“We’ll find a very good coach.”