By (Kelly Ward)

DALLAS — Mark Dantonio joked and Nick Saban smiled.

Dantonio thinks Saban is funny too, although he can’t remember any specific instances of hilarity.

“We’re talking about 15 years in the past,” Dantonio said. “We’d have to sit down and talk for a while.”

The current Michigan State head coach was the secondary coach under Saban when he headed the Spartans’ program in the mid to late ‘90s.

“I remember when Mark was in high school,” Saban said. “I forget where I was coaching. Probably Kent State or something at the time. Zanesville High School. And went to South Carolina and sort of knew of him because of recruiting [him] as a high school player. And then when he got into coaching and was a GA, kind of watched his progress and his career and met him a few times and was always impressed with him. And we got the opportunity to hire him at Michigan State, I think he was, at Kansas.”

Dantonio may not remember any of his former boss’s comedic moments, but he definitely recalls being on the receiving end of Saban’s famous ire.

“Of course,” Dantonio said. My assistants would say the same. So I think that’s part of the job, you know? You’re detail
oriented. You want things done the correct way, and there’s a process. There’s a process to
everything, and that’s the way of the game. This is a high-pressure, high-stress environment that
we’re in. And things need to be run correctly, and they need to be all going the same direction.”

The two met again as head coaches on New Year’s Day in 2011 following the 2010 season when Alabama routed Michigan State 49-7 in the Capital One Bowl, the only time the two programs have played. 

“To me, Michigan State has really, really grown as a program in a lot of ways,” Saban said. “Quality of players. You can see that the system is embedded. The character, the competitive character they play with is something that’s very obvious when you watch them play. And I think those characteristics are what makes a team, a really, really good team and puts you in the position that they’re in.”

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports