PHOTOS: Michigan State vs. Iowa Big Ten Championship Media Day
Michigan State and Iowa on Friday held their media availability for the Big Ten championship game.
The Spartans and Hawkeyes clash Saturday evening with the conference title and, likely, a berth in the College Football Playoff on the line.
Both head coaches spoke very highly of each other. Mark Dantonio said he tried to model his program at MSU based on what Kirk Ferentz built at Iowa.
"When I became a head football coach, I looked around at different programs, I said this throughout the week, I looked around at different programs and said who do we want to pattern our program after. Iowa was probably the dominant one. Had a staff that had great continuity, that would stay in place, excellent coaches, a program built on toughness, not a system. They didn't change, switch back on different things. They had a belief system from a football standpoint that was very structured, defensively, offensively, special teams. They were very, very successful.
"The man has won a lot of football games, has had success in this conference really throughout 17 years. So, I mean, that's a statement in itself to me."
Both coaches shared the story of how they first met as young assistants back in the '80s. Here's Ferentz's recollection.
"I got introduced to grouper sandwiches. That would have been the spring of 1989. First time I recruited down in Tampa, Mark was actually at Youngstown State, a program at that time and I continue to have great respect for. He was there with Clarence Brooks, assistant at Syracuse. The budget was tight. I think Mark was living in the room with Clarence and riding in the car to save money.
"A year later I was coaching at that same level, up at Maine, University of Maine. First time we really got to know each other. He was coaching I believe with Coach Tressel at that time at Youngstown.
"Funny how the world turns around sometimes. However many years later this is, here we are in Indianapolis. No grouper sandwiches this weekend, though."
Check out photos from both coach's press conferences and MSU's walkthrough practice in the photo gallery above.