After a struggling offense and a No. 1 run defense set the tone for the 2018 season, Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio made some changes in his coaching staff to set a tone for the upcoming season.
Dantonio made the announcement on Thursday evening during an unexpected press conference that Dave Warner would no longer be the offensive coordinator and Brad Salem, the current quarterbacks coach, will replace him. Salem will enter his tenth season as a coach for the program and coached quarterbacks for six of those years.
"He's been offered an offensive coordinator job the last three years at Power Five schools," Dantonio said. "I feel like this is a time that warrants his opportunities to coordinate our offense."
Warner will still remain on the coaching staff for the Spartans but will be taking over Salem's old job of quarterbacks. Other coaches who will be moving include: Jim Bollman to offensive line, Mark Staten to tight ends and Don Treadwell for wide receivers.
The only coach on the defensive side that will move up in their position is Mike Tressel. After being promoted to defensive coordinator in Jan. 2018, he will now be promoted to assistant head coach. He has worked with Dantonio for the last 14 seasons at MSU and in Cincinnati.
"Making Mike Tressel assistant head coach, his side of the team has played dynamically," Dantonio said. "I think he needs to be in a bigger role of leadership and I think he's got a very bright future ahead of him. There's basically reasons to do it that way."
Dantonio has not fired anyone on the coaching staff. He kept the same coaches because he wanted to continue to surround himself with "loyal people" and "digging in when things get tough."
He felt that the process to find a new offensive coordinator would take longer than most programs. He estimated that it would take over a month to find a coach that he feels would be the perfect fit for the program.
"It would take me a month to find a guy who is an offensive coordinator who I would want on our team and say, 'Here are the keys to the car I've been driving for 12 years; take it for a spin,'" Dantonio said. "I would be highly irate if that thing didn't work, highly. I'd ask him more than two questions. So -- those are the reasons behind it."
Under Warner, the offense struggled to score points and gain yardage in the last season, and in the final two games before the bowl game, they were held to 20 points scored. They also dealt with multiple injuries that Dantonio believes could be the most the team has ever dealt with.
As for defensive, they remained No. 1 for run defense holding back some of the best teams in the conference. For Dantonio, no position or side is perfect and will continue to see the effects of the coaching staff in the spring.
"I can't point to any position saying, hey, they did everything right," Dantonio said. "Every position needs to be touched. There needs to be a different teacher in that environment, but I don't think that it's all about just the coaches."
As for players, junior linebacker Joe Bachie, junior defensive end Kenny Willekes and junior safety David Dowell will stay with the Spartans for their senior season. The only junior player entering the NFL Draft will be cornerback Justin Layne and freshman punter William Przystup will transfer.
The Spartans will start the 2019 season on Aug. 30 against Tulsa at Spartan Stadium.
"We don't have to wait a month to find ourselves together, see our problems, recognize our problems and much like after 2012, move forward," Dantonio said.