EAST LANSING - Less than an hour after the greatest, most successful play call of his coaching life, Mark Dantonio's concerns immediately shifted from football X's and O's and the afterglow of a landmark victory to his health and the basic fragility of life.
Dantonio, 54, began experiencing discomfort late Saturday night/early Sunday morning and suffered what doctors are calling a mild heart attack, shortly after Michigan State's 34-31 victory over Notre Dame.
Following the postgame news conference, Dantonio exited the press trailer at approximately 12:30 a.m. and told those around him that he wasn't feeling well. He canceled his regularly scheduled postgame interview with Jim Miller for the Michigan State football coach's weekly television show.
In the MSU locker room at Spartan Stadium, with some still celebrating the Spartans' trick play touchdown which lifted MSU to an overtime victory against Notre Dame, MSU athletic trainers recognized Dantonio's symptoms as being consistent with a potential heart attack.
A decision was made to transport Dantonio to Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, located less than five miles from Spartan Stadium. Dantonio's wife, Becky, drove him to the hospital.
Within three hours, Dantonio was undergoing heart surgery.
"He began undergoing treatment within five minutes of his arrival," MSU sports information director John Lewandowski said. "When I was informed of this at 3:45 a.m., Coach Dantonio was already in surgery. I would estimate surgery began around 3:15 a.m."
Michigan State athletics director Mark Hollis told a hastily assembled media gathering at 1 p.m. on Sunday at the MSU football building that the prognosis for Dantonio following the heart attack and heart surgery is "very good."
"A full recovery is expected," Hollis said. "He will not be be coaching for the Northern Colorado game (on Sept. 25), but he is our head coach and will remain our head coach throughout this process."
"Damage to the heart was minimal," said Dr. Chris D'Haem, the cardiologist who performed a cardiac catheterization procedure on Dantonio. "The procedure is commonly known angioplasty.
"I think he (Dantonio) is doing very well. I expect long term for him to have no negative impact. As far when he returns, that is to be determined. It is going to be looked at on a day-by-day, week-by-week basis."
Michigan State offensive coordinator Don Treadwell will be the acting head coach as Dantonio recovers. Treadwell has not been named interim head coach.
Treadwell met with players on Sunday morning to inform them.
"One thing Coach has always done is, outside of his immediate family, his football family is very important to him," said Treadwell, who has known Dantonio since they were on Jim Tressel's staff at Youngstown State in 1986. "It is very important that we follow suit like Coach would want, and we have done that. Many things moved forward just by having information and making it available to the players.
"We wanted them to hear it from those of us on the inside. I think they are handling it as well as they can. They love their head coach. It is our job as coaches to keep things moving."
"We know Coach will return to the sidelines very soon," Hollis said. "I had the opportunity to be with Coach throughout the evening last night. I feel very comfortable with the way the situation is. It is scary to hear the words heart attack, but it is also routine in today's world.
"We are asking everyone," Hollis continued, "as we are focusing in on his health, that there are no visitors down at Sparrow for the next several days."
DotComp: It took big stones to call 'Little Giants,' post-game column and commentary by SpartanMag.com publisher Jim Comparoni.