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Michigan State's Mark Dantonio retired after coaching his way

EAST LANSING, Mich. — It’s the rare coach in sports who walks away and gets to tell their own story. But then that’s life, and like most things in life, you don’t get to control how it ends.

A few years ago, when Mark Dantonio was taking Michigan State football fans on the ride of their life, it was hard to imagine a day like Tuesday, when the football coach sent out a tweet announcing his retirement, then met with reporters a few hours later to talk about his decision to leave so abruptly. 

Dantonio’s lip quivered as he spoke about how emotional the day had been, especially when he had to tell his players and coaching staff.  

At one point he even referred to his presence at the news conference as a celebration. Though it sure didn’t feel like one. 

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio announces his retirement after 13 seasons before the Michigan State vs. Penn State basketball game Feb. 4, 2020, at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.

And that’s too bad, considering what he built in East Lansing and where he had this program a few years ago. 

News of his retirement surprised nearly everyone, including his team and his coaching staff. Except for his family, his athletic director and a handful of administrators, Dantonio had kept this decision to himself.

Still, retirement was always a possibility considering his age — he turns 64 in March — and the rebuilding he had ahead of him on the field.  

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