He cited a cumulative team grade-point average of 2.72, the highest since MSU started calculating cumulative team GPA in 1995.
MSU also has its highest all-time APR score -- a measure of players retained and making progress toward degrees -- of 954. And associate athletic director Jim Pignataro, director of MSU's student-athlete support services, said MSU's federal graduation rate of 70% is the highest since calculations began in the 1980s.
Pignataro credited Dantonio's emphasis on education, his staff's cohesiveness and the recruitment of players who are serious about education.
"This is as sound and as organized and as accountable as we've ever been," Pignataro said.
Of course, most fans are much more concerned with results on the field, at games that are not cheap to attend.
MSU's offense is a question, and so is the Spartans' talent level in light of the apparent stockpiling of top players going on in Ann Arbor, South Bend and Columbus.
Recruiting rankings never favored Dantonio's classes, yet he supplied the NFL with seven players from last season's team. More are on the way soon, but what about behind them?
Dantonio acknowledged that "it's always been tough" to recruit against the powers of the region but also said: "We're gonna get our share, and in the end, we're gonna get the people that want to be with us, and that's the bottom line."
Dantonio's staff has a strong and growing track record of player evaluation and development. Current pros Cousins, Jerel Worthy, Keshawn Martin and B.J. Cunningham weren't celebrated recruits, and the same is true of Bell.
"I will say that we fill our needs," Dantonio said. "We look for specific needs relative to who we are as a football team. And we've taken the right people. I think chemistry is so important. And overachieving is so important. You have to have players that want to overachieve, whether they're a four-star, three-star or two-star."
Next season's team looks good on paper, regardless of the three juniors. The schedule is favorable, with no Ohio State, Wisconsin or Penn State.
Bouncing back from this season -- as MSU did in 2010 after a 6-7 setback in 2009 -- is a viable pursuit. And a serious one.
"We're gonna be good," Dantonio said. "There's no question we're gonna be good."
Contact Joe Rexrode: 313-222-2625 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @joerexrode. Check out his MSU blog at freep.com/heyjoe.
Free Press beat writer Joe Rexrode will answer your MSU questions in a live chat at 1 p.m. Friday at freep.com/sports. Submit early questions here. Then come back Saturday night, as special writer Sean Merriman live-blogs the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
More Details: Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
Matchup: Michigan State (6-6) vs. Texas Christian (7-5).
Kickoff: 10:15 p.m. Saturday, Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.
Line: TCU by 2 1/2.
Five to watch in 2013
Michigan State juniors Le'Veon Bell, Will Gholston and Dion Sims haven't decided whether they'll return for their senior seasons or head to the NFL. Whether they go or not, Joe Rexrode looks at five players who could be key for MSU in 2013.
Andrew Maxwell: It may be obvious, but Maxwell's growth will have much to say about the Spartans' Big Ten title hopes.
Lawrence Thomas: He should fortify the defensive line, but he also said he'd love to get a crack at tight end if Sims departs.
Demetrious Cox: Mark Dantonio said the freshman safety, who is redshirting, might be a starter by now had he been active this season, and that Cox will compete for a starting job next season.
Fou Fonoti: After missing most of this season with a foot injury, Fonoti should be a key part of the offensive line in 2013 -- at right or left tackle.
Nick Tompkins: Even if Bell pulls a surprise and stays, the redshirt freshman running back's speed will be utilized. If Bell goes, he's competing for a starting job.
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