Mark Dantonio opened his first game week press conference talking about bigger things than Michigan State football.
And although Dantonio admitted he did not know Jud Heathcote that well – his 11 years as head coach and six as an assistant almost all came after the former Spartans basketball coach retired – he used his first moments today to speak about Heathcote’s legacy.
“First off, I want to offer condolences to the Jud Heathcote family,” Dantonio said to open his remarks. “I really got to know Jud just a little bit throughout my time here. When I came here as an assistant in (1995), he was still the head basketball coach. And got to know him a little bit. And over the course of the time in some of the champion games I was able to attend and tournaments and that type of thing.
“I know that he had a tremendous impact on both Mark Hollis and Tom Izzo, and they talked about him often. And it was sort of a shock today and I woke up today and I came in the office and heard of his passing. So just wanted to offer support.”
Heathcote, who coached MSU from 1976-95 and won the 1979 national title, died Monday in Spokane, Washington. He was 90.
Dantonio also gave his thoughts and prayers to those in the Houston area affected by Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath. The Spartans have three projected starters from Texas – receiver Darrell Stewart and right guard Tyler Higby are from Houston, while cornerback Josh Butler is from near Dallas. Wide receivers coach Terrence Samuel also grew up in Houston.