LANSING, Mich. — Following the surprise announcement of Mark Dantonio's retirement, rumors are already flying around the internet about who Michigan State's next football coach will be.
Fans are even checking flight-tracker sites looking to see if planes from Cincinnati are coming here.
"People will run here. They'll crawl here. Michigan State will get an outstanding coach that will care about young people," said Dantonio.
The Michigan State Athletic Department said they're more than ready for this search.
"We're going to move as quickly as we possibly can. We've been working this, and we're ready for it. I'm confident that working the process will lead us in the right direction and we're going to find an excellent coach," said Bill Beekman, MSU athletic director.
Beekman said Tuesday that Dantonio will be involved. He said Dantonio won't be completely involved, but he will have some say in the new coach. Beekman also said that Tom Izzo, who helped in the search before Dantonio's hire, will play a part in the new search.
"Having him as an active member of the search the way he was involved last time, will probably be challenging, but I think Coach Izzo is an important voice in our department and will be an important voice in the process," Beekman said.
One of the names being thrown around for a new coach is Cincinnati's Luke Fickell. A move to Michigan State would mean a return to the Big Ten for the former one-year head coach of Ohio State.
After the 2011 season, in which they went 6-6, he was passed up by Urban Meyer for the permanent job with the Buckeyes.
A reporter at our station in Cincinnati thinks the MSU job could appeal to Fickell.
"Luke has wanted a chance to prove that he can do it at the big time ranks. He's proven a lot here at the University of Cincinnati, but I still think Luke wants to scratch that itch. I still think he wants to get back into the Big Ten job sooner than later, so I think that's a big thing for him in this entire process if it does, in fact, end up being Michigan State for Luke," said Jeremy Rauch, a Cincinnati sports reporter.
Rauch said that just like Dantonio before his announcement, Fickell hasn't said a word about leaving for a new program.
"It doesn't mean it's not happening, it just means he's keeping things very close to the vest. It's very close to home and it's a big decision for him," said Rauch.
Fickell would be an expensive hire and he just signed a top-notch recruiting class. Insiders believe Fickell will stay at Cincinnati and not move even if MSU makes an offer.
In a radio appearance Wednesday, Fickell said he hasn't talked to anyone at Michigan State recently except for Dantonio. He didn't say what they talked about.
Beekman would not say if MSU will make an outside hire or if Mike Tressel will have a chance to win the job himself.
A consulting firm has been hired to help in the search for a new coach.
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