- Associated Press - Friday, September 24, 2010

EAST LANSING, MICH. (AP) - After a long, tense week of worrying about their stricken coach, the Michigan State Spartans got a welcome dose of good news as they wrapped up preparations for Northern Colorado.

Coach Mark Dantonio made a surprise visit to practice Friday, just five days after he had a mild heart attack and was taken to a hospital for surgery following his daring call in overtime to beat Notre Dame.

School spokesman John Lewandowski said Dantonio chatted with position groups during a pre-practice session and addressed the team briefly _ the first time he’s done that since he was hospitalized early Sunday.

He will watch Saturday’s game against Northern Colorado at home, Lewandowski said.

“Everyone happy to see Coach D and he is returning home for rest,” athletic director Mark Hollis tweeted.

The finish against Notre Dame is already one of the signature moments of the season: Trailing by three in overtime, Dantonio ordered a fake field goal that worked for a touchdown and gave the Spartans a 34-31 victory.

It might have been Dantonio’s biggest win at Michigan State because of the opponent and the way it unfolded.

But the excitement largely vanished around East Lansing, replaced by concerns for the health of the 54-year-old Dantonio.

The coach had surgery to put a stent in a blocked blood vessel leading to his heart. It is unknown when he might return to coaching and the team is being led by offensive coordinator Don Treadwell.

Kirk Cousins was heading to church Sunday, less than 12 hours after his team’s thrilling overtime win over Notre Dame, when he received a puzzling text message about a team meeting at noon.

“That never happens,” the Michigan State quarterback said. “I thought, ‘What can’t wait until 4 o’clock?’ We have to show up at 4 o’clock anyway. I knew it was something serious.”

And so the 25th-ranked Spartans have spent the week trying to focus on football again with Northern Colorado coming to town.

“The nice thing is, along with the leadership and things that Coach Dantonio has already put in place, we have a lot of veterans that are on this football team,” Treadwell said. “So certainly, our seniors, we’re relying on them to really step forward.”

Dantonio’s absence comes as Michigan State is starting to earn national attention for its play.

The Spartans (3-0) have run the ball with ease this season, with both Le’Veon Bell and Edwin Baker averaging more than eight yards per carry.

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