Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio retires after 13 seasons

Danny Lawhon
Hawk Central

One of Kirk Ferentz's longest-tenured brethren in the Big Ten Conference is hanging up his headset.

Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio will retire from his post after 13 seasons as head coach. He announced his intentions on Twitter on Tuesday.

Dantonio retires as the winningest coach in program history. He won 114 games and three Big Ten championships, including a 16-13 victory over Iowa in the 2015 conference title game for a berth in the College Football Playoff.

Dantonio had a 5-4 career record against Ferentz's teams.

Ferentz, who will enter his 22nd season in charge of the Hawkeyes in 2020, is the longest-tenured coach currently active in major college football. In the Big Ten, only Ferentz and Pat Fitzgerald had been at their schools longer than Dantonio.

“Today marks one of the most difficult decisions that I have ever made here at Michigan State,” Dantonio said in his statement released on social media. “I would first like to thank our fans, alumni, and our administration; both past and present staff and especially our current and past players and coaches for all their support, hard work and dedication over these past 13 years. You have truly helped make my dreams come true.

“Every February since 2007, I have reset this program in preparation for the next year’s challenges. After much reflection and discussion with my family, I feel that it is now time for change as we enter into a new decade of Michigan State Football."

The Detroit Free Press is reporting the front-runner to replace Dantonio is Luke Fickell, according to sources with knowledge of the athletic department’s thinking. No deal is in place, the sources said. Mike Tressel has been named the team's acting coach as the school searches for a replacement.

In his statement, Dantonio said his plan is to stay within the team's athletic department "in a role involving special projects, especially transitioning our players, both current and incoming, to their next challenges."

Iowa faces Michigan State this coming football season on Oct. 3 in Iowa City.