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Coach Shopping Season: A Pat Narduzzi Update

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It appears the Pitt Panthers will come calling. Will Narduzzi finally leave the nest?

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

It is coaching carousel season and for the second year in a row Michigan States' defensive coordinator, Pat Narduzzi, seems to be the apple of an eastern school's eye. While last year Narduzzi reportedly turned down a job offer from UConn based on assistant pay, another season with a top defense has Narduzzi on the top of coaching candidate lists. MLive.com on Friday reported that Narduzzi has already interviewed for both the Pittsburgh and Colorado State head coaching vacancies.

The thought of Pat Narduzzi leaving Michigan State is sad but also a tad exciting. While much of the success that Mark Dantonio has engineered in his tenure at Michigan State has been due to staff continuity, there is also something to be said for a program spawning and promoting assistant coaches to head coaching positions. The two Dantonio assistants in his tenure at MSU to be promoted to head coach are Dan Enos and Don Treadwell. Treadwell, who coached the Spartans to victories over Northern Colorado and 11th ranked Wisconsin in 2010 after Dantonio's heart attack, parlayed that success into a job offer at Miami (OH).  Treadwell didn't make it through three seasons in Oxford, being fired in 2013 after starting the season 0-5 and having a career record of 8-21. Enos has had a little more success but has not been a stellar hire at Central Michigan. He has posted a career record of 26-35 and that combined with some problems with off-field behavior has led to some calls for his job, even though he signed a 4-year extension last December. Narduzzi would be the first assistant to make his way to a power 5 conference if he were to take the Pitt job.

So Narduzzi leaving and being successful would in the long run look good for Dantonio and Michigan State. Everyone talks of the Saban tree in football and Coach K at Duke in basketball. Coaching trees help a coach earn elite status, which undoubtedly helps the university said coach is at. So let's take a look at the Narduzzi situation, the schools involved and where would Michigan State go from here?

The Pittsburgh Job Opening

So Narduzzi is reported as the top candidate for the Pitt Panthers. However, this does not mean it is a slam dunk deal for the Panthers as well. After Paul Chryst left Pitt for the vacant Wisconsin job, the university fired athletic director Steve Pederson. Meaning that the coaching search will be conducted by interim A.D.  Randy Juhl whose athletic experience is light to say the least. Also, unlike the University of Michigan situation, where it appears the interim AD making the football hire may be promoted to permanent AD, Pittsburgh most certainly will be hiring a different permanent AD. That means it will be an awkward situation for Narduzzi to walk into, as the person who will be his boss will be a mystery if he were to take the job.

The other concern for Narduzzi at Pitt would be compensation for his assistants. It was reported to be why he turned down the UConn job after they offered him an enticing salary. Pittsburgh is a private school so salaries are not publicly known, but as the SBN Pitt blog Cardiac Hill reported in their Narduzzi profile, Pitt has been rumored in the past to not pay their assistants well. With MSU receiving $3 million from the Secchia family in November, earmarked for basketball and the defensive coordinator position, Narduzzi's own salary will not be a concern of his. Pitt will have to show a commitment to the football program to lure Narduzzi away and paying assistants well will go a long way towards showing that commitment.

Narduzzi has appeared very calculated in not taking the first head opportunity to call (a la Treadwell) as a disastrous run can ruin a strong reputation he has built. Narduzzi has also been afforded the opportunity to have head coaching type duties (such as fundraising) by the Michigan State athletic department. If he makes the jump this season it won't be a rash decision.  Pitt has stated they would like to have a coach in place before their January 2nd bowl game, which is a little concerning for a Spartans' defense facing Baylor on January 1.

The Other Reported Pitt Leading Candidates

  • Doc Holliday- Head Coach at Marshall
  • Joe Rudolph- Current Pitt Offensive Coordinator

Colorado State Opening

The Colorado State opening has not gotten as much traction for Pat Narduzzi being a prime candidate. While the Rams play in the Mountain West and are not in a power 5 conference like Pittsburgh they do have some things in their favor. On December 8 the board of trustees approved a new on-campus stadium slated to possibly open in 2017.  CSU also has a lot of money coming from Florida in the Jim McElwain buyout that may be used towards hiring a new coach and staff.

Narduzzi's success at CSU is maybe not as easy to picture as Pittsburgh. He already recruits Ohio and Pennsylvania, where as recruiting the west coast would mean establishing new relationships. Also, Narduzzi would presumably have more of a chance to compete for championships nationally at Pitt, since winning the ACC will assuredly put one in line for a playoff bid most seasons, at least more likely than winning the Mountain West would.

What Would Michigan State do?
You have to figure Athletic Director Mark Hollis and Mark Dantonio have a contingency plan in place for losing Narduzzi. After he was a finalist at Cincinnati a few years ago, and UConn last year, it would be naive to think coach Duzz wouldn't be leaving at some point. While many want Narduzzi to be a coach in waiting after Dantonio retires, Dantonio is only 57 and that could be a few years away. Narduzzi can go get head coaching experience somewhere else and always return to the Spartans later, just like Chryst did in going back to Wisconsin.

So who becomes the defensive coordinator? Dantonio has shown in the past that he likes to promote from within, which would seem to point to linebackers coach Mike Tressel and secondary coach Harlon Barnett. Of course as Dantonio did with the offense, it is also possible that Dantonio decides to have a co-coordinator on defense, whether that includes an outside hire or strictly promotions, who knows? I personally would like to see Barnett promoted from his work with the secondary, which is so key in the aggressive cover scheme the Spartans run, but would have no issue with Tressel getting the promotion either.

What do you guys think, is Narduzzi good as gone and who do you want to fill that void if he is gone?