The Michigan State Spartans defense was back in a big way this year and it was a major reason why the Spartans turned a 3-9 team into 10-3. With that kind of success, people take notice. Unfortunately, that’s why one of the biggest cogs of the defensive system is heading south.
News broke Friday that co-defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett was headed to Florida State to take their defensive coordinator position. Barnett spent 14 years coaching under Mark Dantonio and the last 11 in East Lansing.
Dantonio was one of the first to express his thanks for all his time with Barnett. In a statement released to the media, Dantonio said:
“I would like to thank Harlon Barnett for his 14 years working on our staff, including all 11 years at Michigan State. He did an outstanding job and is a great football coach. He’s an extraordinary person with tremendous values and was an integral part of the 100 victories we reached at the Holiday Bowl, which I consider to be a staff achievement. He helped our program win multiple championships and bowl games while also developing All-Big Ten players, All-Americans and NFL Draft pics.
“We recognized the value of Harlon and all of our coaches, and the administration has stepped up with a significant financial commitment to our entire staff. I also understand individually that sometimes coaches are ready for new challenges and opportunities. We wish Harlon and his family all the best as he continues his coaching career.”
As the word spread throughout the MSU program, the response was almost universal. Both current and former Spartans expressed sadness at losing such a special coach and recruiter, but wished Barnett the best with FSU.
@HarlonBarnett congrats coach they gone love you there... one of the realest most honest men I know... y’all gone run thru a wall for him fasho...— Ralph LaurenLIP (@Tony_Lippett14) January 5, 2018
Congratulations to without a doubt one of the best human beings I’ve ever met, been around and been coached by, @HarlonBarnett !! ... FSU got an extraordinary man, husband, father and one heck of a Coach!— Darien Harris (@DHarris_45) January 5, 2018
Congrats to a real-life Spartan Dawg, Harlon Barnett, on becoming the new DC at FSU. A man of unbelievable integrity, character, heart, and spirit. We will miss his daily impact on every phase of our program. God Bless him and his amazing family. Got a great one, FSU! #BangStick— Ken Mannie (@SpartanEarned1) January 5, 2018
@HarlonBarnett CONGRATS! We will all miss you in Beast Lansing. Never will I forget my recruiting days & meeting you at Moeller HS. You’re the main reasons I committed to the best school in the nation! Good luck on your new journey & THANK YOU for everything. Go Green #Always— Marcus Rush (@M_Rush44) January 5, 2018
Congrats to the best coach I know. Also one of the best men I know on a new opportunity! @HarlonBarnett DB meetings at MSU will never be the same. ✊— Demetrious Cox (@i_AM_SEVEN7) January 5, 2018
One of the best people I’ve ever been around.. Congrats and good luck to a great coach and an even better man of God!! https://t.co/sXBqLDPvbC— Brian Lewerke (@brianlewerke14) January 5, 2018
FSU got a real one.. Thankful for him taking a chance on me and believing in me. Good luck Coach B #NoFly pic.twitter.com/URoqnIhP4r— Josiah Scott (@JosiahScott7) January 5, 2018
One of the BEST coaches I had the privilege to learn from and play for. Congrats @HarlonBarnett, best of luck! #SpartanDawg4Life https://t.co/JjOLo1l8X9— Chris Frey Jr (@Cfrey_23) January 5, 2018
Great Coach. Better man. He will be missed that's for sure! #SpartanDawg https://t.co/K6EVgQ5uZT— Live Five (@kennyw97) January 5, 2018
35 years of college coaching - been around an awful lot of coaches - @HarlonBarnett is one of the very best - on and off the field. Florida State is lucky to have him. Congrats!!— Dave Warner (@CoachWarnerMSU) January 5, 2018
A hell of a Coach, and more importantly one of the most genuine people I’ve ever been lucky enough to be around. Congratulations COACH B!!! @HarlonBarnett https://t.co/CWB6QtnXOP— Matt Macksood (@MattMacksood) January 5, 2018
A TRUE SPARTAN DAWG https://t.co/31HbkNHirG— Joe Bachie (@JoeBach35) January 5, 2018
Big Moves.. Best of luck Coach B ! https://t.co/IKBZylHtLj— Justin Layne ™ (@_jlayne) January 5, 2018
One of the best people I've ever been around, and someone who treated every single person, player, and coach with the utmost respect. Very proud to have played for you, coach! https://t.co/JjSoNAz98l— Gray Miller (@dr_grmiller) January 5, 2018
Nothing but love & respect for Coach B. As a offensive player, he makes a very positive impact on & off the field for all of the players & is someone you want representing your program! Good luck Coach! https://t.co/5ux8Msd4dd— Damion Terry (@DamionTerry) January 5, 2018
The Spartans haven’t announced what they will do to replace Barnett or if they will continue to have co-defensive coordinators. Check back with The Only Colors to follow the offseason news.