Mark Dantonio has established himself as one of the nation's up-and-coming head coaches during his two seasons at the University of Cincinnati.
During that time, Dantonio has led the Bearcats to a bowl game victory, directed the team's transition into the BIG EAST Conference and established the groundwork for the future success of the program.
Fifteen of his players have earned all-conference honors. Twenty-five have received conference academic recognition. Six members of his first squads were on the rosters of of National Football League teams last fall. Eighteen members of the 2004 team completed their degrees.
Dantonio, who was named head coach at Cincinnati on Dec. 23, 2003, became the first head coach in 23 years to pilot a team to a winning season in his initial campaign at UC. The Bearcats' 7-5 record included a 5-3 mark in Conference USA, good enough for a second place finish. The Bearcats capped the season with a convincing 32-14 win over Marshall in the PlainsCapital Fort Worth Bowl.
During the 2005 season, Dantonio molded a team that ranked among the nation's youngest--the Bearcats started as many as five first-year freshmen on defense--to be a competitive squad in their first season in the BIG EAST en route to a 4-7 record.
The development of those young players, plus the additon of another strong recruiting class, portends a bright future for Cincinnati football under Dantonio.
Only one other coach has taken UC to a bowl game in his initial season at the helm--the legendary Sid Gillman--a feat that puts Dantonio in pretty select company. Dantonio has been in good company throughout his coaching career, having served as an assistant coach for Nick Saban, Jim Tressel and Earle Bruce--coaches who have directed teams to conference championships, postseason bowls, and national championships.
Dantonio has compiled nearly a quarter of a century of coaching experience, during which he has played integral roles in building winning programs. He has crafted defensive units which have been nationally recognized. And he has built a reputation for the close bonds that he builds with the players he coaches and the staff members with whom he works with.
He has strong Midwest ties. An Ohio native who has spent half of his coaching career in the state, Dantonio has been effective recruiting its top talent.
Dantonio had served as the defensive coordinator at Ohio State the previous three seasons, where he helped craft the defense which was the backbone of the Buckeyes success.
Ohio State's defense was the nation's second stingiest against the run in 2003, allowing 62.3 yards per game, and was ranked No. 10 in total defense and No. 16 in scoring defense. Those efforts helped the Buckeyes attain the No. 4 ranking in the final polls.
Dantonio assembled the defense which led Ohio State to the national title in 2002. The Buckeyes were second nationally in scoring defense (13.1) and third in rushing defense (77.7) during their perfect season.
Six Buckeye defenders were named first team All-Big Ten during Dantonio's tenure there and 13 were drafted by the pros, which includes a pair of first-round picks.
Dantonio has compiled 23 seasons of coaching experience in the college ranks, 12 of them in the state of Ohio.
Prior to his stint at Ohio State, Dantonio spent six seasons (1995-2000) as secondary coach at Michigan State, five under Nick Saban and one under Bobby Williams. He was promoted to associate head coach in 2000.
Dantonio contributed to Michigan State's successful 1999 season, during which the Spartans posted a 10-2 record, were Florida Citrus Bowl champions and were ranked No. 7 in the final polls. The MSU defense was ranked 12th nationally and led the Big Ten in total defense.
Michigan State's secondary under Dantonio was regarded as one of the best in the nation. The Spartans were ranked 10th in pass efficiency defense in 1998 and seventh in 2000.
Dantonio tutored Amp Campbell, an MSU cornerback who earned third team All-American honors in 1999, while two other Spartan defenders were named to All-American teams and a half dozen were NFL draft picks.
Dantonio served as defensive backs coach at Kansas for four seasons (1991-94). His work helped the Jayhawks produce an 8-4 record and defeat BYU in the Aloha Bowl in 1992.
A 1979 graduate of South Carolina, Dantonio began his coaching career as an assistant at Westside High in Anderson, S.C.
In 1980, he served as a graduate assistant at Ohio University, under head coach Brian Burke. He spent the 1981 season as a graduate assistant at Purdue for head coach Jim Young and was defensive coordinator at Butler County (Kan.) Community College in 1982.
Dantonio was a member of Earle Bruce's Ohio State football staff in 1983 and 1984, helping the Buckeyes to the Fiesta and Rose bowls. He spent the 1985 season as the secondary coach at Akron where he coached under Jim Dennison, helping the Zips to an 8-3 record and an appearance in the Division I-AA playoffs.
Dantonio joined Jim Tressel's staff at Youngstown State. The Penguins made three trips to the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs during his five seasons there, and posted a perfect 11-0 regular season record in 1990, when Dantonio was YSU's defensive coordinator.
When Tressel became head coach at Ohio State, Dantonio joined him as the Buckeyes' defensive coordinator.
A native of Zanesville, Ohio, Dantonio earned All-Ohio honors as a senior at Zanesville High. He was a three-year letterman as a defensive back at South Carolina (1976-78).
He completed his bachelor's degree in English at South Carolina in 1979 and earned his master's in education at Ohio University in 1981.
Dantonio and his wife Becky are the proud parents of two daughters, Kristen (13) and Lauren (11).