It was a ridiculous question a year ago: Is Mark Dantonio’s job safe?

But this was also an unthinkable scenario.

I joked on Lansing radio last August that, just once, I’d like cover a 3-9 Michigan State football season. I chose that record off the cuff because it seemed too far-fetched to be serious.

Well, 3-9 happened. Then, in the offseason, things got worse.

The question isn’t so silly now. And the answer is no, Dantonio's job isn't safe.

Because, in college football, real job security is only found when nothing that happens on the field this season prevents you from coaching next season.

If 3-9 were to happen again, I think Dantonio would probably be out of a job. Same for 4-8. Perhaps even 5-7.

I don’t think that would necessarily be the right decision. And I’m certain the folks who’d make that call haven’t drawn such a line. But momentum in major college football is a bear.

For most of a decade, the momentum has been with Dantonio. The Spartans’ football rise was improbable and thrilling. MSU had swagger. Its fans, proud and euphoric, took over Southern California at the Rose Bowl four years ago.

MSU’s goals were suddenly the same as those of Ohio State and Alabama. Dantonio appeared to be doing in football what Tom Izzo had done in basketball. MSU had become the Camelot of college athletics.

Then, thud. A historic football season on the opposite end of the spectrum, followed by an offseason of turmoil.

Two sexual assault cases involving four players added to the impression, fair or not, that a once-stable culture was collapsing.