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COLUMN: With slew of down seasons, Tom Anastos' future with MSU hockey unknown

January 18, 2017
The Spartans and Wolverines argue with one another during the first period of the 52nd Annual Great Lakes Invitational third-place game against the University of Michigan on Dec. 30, 2016 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. The Spartans were defeated by the Wolverines in overtime, 5-4.
The Spartans and Wolverines argue with one another during the first period of the 52nd Annual Great Lakes Invitational third-place game against the University of Michigan on Dec. 30, 2016 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. The Spartans were defeated by the Wolverines in overtime, 5-4. —
Photo by Nic Antaya | and Nic Antaya The State News

On March 23, 2011, Tom Anastos was appointed to the position of head coach of the MSU hockey team after the previous head coach, Rick Comley, retired after the conclusion of the 2010-11 season.

But since taking over in 2011, it's been everything but a smooth ride for the MSU alumnus. 

In his five seasons as the head coach of the Spartans, Anastos notched an overall record of 71-98-20, and has led MSU to three losing seasons.

Anastos’ team currently sits at a record of 4-15-1 in his sixth season at the helm. A former head coach at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Anastos is on pace to record his fourth losing season as the Spartans’ head coach.

This season, Anastos has yet to guide his alma mater to a Big Ten win as the Spartans hold a 0-6 Big Ten record.

Despite the string of dispiriting seasons, Anastos has coached two All-Americans, earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament in his first season as head coach and led the 2014-15 Spartan team to a second place finish in the Big Ten regular season standings with a 17-16-2 overall record and 11-7-1 record in the Big Ten.

But in this time and age, an abundance of fans are quick to forget the past and only focus on the “what can you do for me now” mantra.

If that’s the case for Spartan fans, then cue the infamous “Fire Anastos” buzzword.

Anastos was able to break two consecutive overall losing records with a record of 17-16-2 in the 2014-15 season, but that still isn’t enough for Spartan faithful.

In the 2015-16 season, Anastos and the MSU hockey team followed their second winning season under Anastos with a losing record of 10-23-4.

Some fans were agitated, searching for answers and wanting changes.

Anastos said he believes he is at fault when his team is losing.

“I feel all the pressure in the world,” Anastos said. “I hate it. I feel tons of pressure. When you're not having success, at least the way I feel about it, I mean I’m ultimately responsible. When you’re not having success, you feel that you’re letting your players down, your colleagues, in the case of the school, the school, the administration, fans, your family, everybody because it’s all-consuming.”

Excluding the 2014-15 season, the Spartans’ overall wins have so far dropped each season under Anastos’ reign.

The paramount change the majority of these perturbed fans seem to want is a replacement at the head coaching position.

Now more than halfway through the 2016-17 season, MSU has 14 conference games remaining until the Big Ten Tournament.

It is very plausible MSU — last in the Big Ten standings — will be the underdog in each of their remaining games.

If the Spartans fail to record seven more wins this season, Anastos will either tie or document his worst overall record as the Spartans’ head coach.

This only adds fuel to the fans with a dissenting opinion of Anastos. There needs to be a change somewhere, and it might very well be at the head coaching position.

Anastos added on Tuesday that the expectations of the job as head coach put plenty of pressure on himself.

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“What’s hard is you put tons of pressure on yourself, there's expectations,” Anastos said. “I don’t want to let the athletic director down, I don’t want to let the (university) president down, I don’t want to let my colleagues down that come to work every day, I don’t want, most of all, I don’t want to let our team down.”

It’s questionable if Hollis would take the route of relieving Anastos of his head coaching duties before his contract expires. But what is almost certain is if Anastos can’t find a way to turn MSU hockey around by June 2018, Hollis will most likely opt out of renewing Anastos’ contract. 

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