Michigan St. hires Dantonio, Iowa State still looking

Updated: November 27, 2006, 9:07 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Michigan State hired Mark Dantonio on Monday to be the Spartans new head football coach.

The board of trustees unanimously approved the move Monday morning. A noon ET news conference was scheduled to officially introduce Dantonio.

Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon recommended that the school hire the former Cincinnati coach and several sources told ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel that Dantonio moved to the top of the Spartans' list over the weekend.

Meanwhile, Iowa State is expected to announce the hiring of Central Michigan head coach Brian Kelly on Monday night to replace fired coach Dan McCarney, two sources told Maisel.

Dantonio, a former defensive coordinator at Ohio State and at one time an assistant to both Nick Saban and Bobby Williams in East Lansing, has shepherded the Bearcats into the Big East Conference with success. His three-year record at Cincinnati is 18-17, including a 7-5 record this season against a difficult schedule. Cincinnati is awaiting a bowl bid.

Four of the five Bearcats' losses have been to teams ranked in the current top 15, and they also knocked Rutgers from the unbeaten ranks on Nov. 18. Dantonio is known as a disciplinarian who teaches hard-nosed football, qualities that ranked high at Michigan State in its search to replace John L. Smith.

Kelly, like Dantonio, has revitalized a moribund program. The Chippewas won the MAC West and went 8-4 this season. In three years, Kelly has a record of 18-16, including the first back-to-back winning seasons at Central Michigan since 1990-91.

The Spartans finished 4-8 overall and 1-7 in the Big Ten, losing eight of their last nine games. Smith had a 22-26 record in four seasons.

Dantonio would be Michigan State's ninth coach since the Duffy Daugherty era ended in 1972. The Spartans have won at least eight games in consecutive seasons once and have played in only one Rose Bowl since 1966.

Iowa State officials would not reveal who has been picked to replace McCarney, who resigned this month after 12 seasons. In a letter to Iowa State fans, athletic director Jamie Pollard wrote that the new coach was "our No. 1 choice from the first day of the search."

Iowa State, which finished 4-8 this season, has expressed interest in at least three candidates: Kelly, Nebraska offensive coordinator Jay Norvell and San Diego head coach Jim Harbaugh. Jack Bechta, Harbaugh's agent, told the San Diego Union-Tribune on Wednesday that Harbaugh was no longer a candidate.

Kelly's team faces Ohio for the Mid-American Conference title on Thursday.

Iowa State was 56-84 overall under McCarney and snapped a 22-year postseason drought with five bowl appearances in his final seven seasons.

As for the openings at Arizona State and North Carolina State, a name that will be connected to both is Tennessee Titans' offensive coordinator Norm Chow. He was the offensive coordinator for Amato at NC State in the 2000 season.

From there he went to work for four seasons for Pete Carroll at USC, where he worked with Lisa Love, now the Arizona State athletic director.

ESPN.com senior writer Ivan Maisel contributed to this report. Information from The Associated Press also was used.

ALSO SEE