A year ago, Michigan State University Football was coming off of a disastrous 3-9 season and an even worse offseason.
The on-field turnaround to 10-3 was obvious, and Coach Mark Dantonio hopes fans are seeing the off-field improvements as well.
"The message I think our players understand is do the work, do the work up front and when you get the opportunity to play get ready to play. And do the work in every area of your life too," he said.
To the Spartans, that's especially evident this season and lately. Just two months ago, three former MSU football players took a plea deal in a sexual assault case. A fourth ex-Spartan is facing sexual assault charges in Ingham County. Dantonio knows those incidents can be held against his program.
"What does Alexander the Great say, 'on the conduct of one remains the fate of all,' or something of that nature. So we all need to understand that we are held accountable and we do our best to make decisions," he said.
Dantonio spoke one day after Ohio State placed coach Urban Meyer on leave while the university investigates whether or not he knew an assistant was accused of domestic violence. Dantonio wouldn't address the situation directly but said he tries to instill ethics in his program.
"Its important that we always take a step forward and be a part of the solution and a part of the healing process as best we can and maintain who we are as people," Dantonio said.
And players agree they can help heal the community and restore the university's reputation.
"We are a light to this community and university. So we get out and we try to impact the community and university in a better way because there's a lot going on here. And we are going to stick with it. Togetherness is everything," junior defensive tackle Raequan Williams said.
The Spartans kick off their season on Friday, August 31 at home against Utah State.