The search for Mark Dantonio's replacement at Michigan State is going to be an interesting one, both because of the success he's had in East Lansing and also due to the recent turmoil of the program, as well as the timing of it taking place the day before February's National Signing Day.
Industry sources tell us tell FootballScoop Michigan State leadership has some top choices in mind; but they would like to explore a full on (and diverse) search. We are told the top choices of some in leadership in East Lansing include Pitt's Pat Narduzzi, former New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur and Cincinnati's Luke Fickell. While those are the three of the top guys on their list to consider, we expect others to be vetted as well.
Narduzzi, a former Spartans defensive coordinator who won the Broyles Award in 2013, left Michigan State to become the head coach at Pitt back in 2015 after coordinating a number of college football's best defenses in East Lansing.
Pat Shurmur was let go by the Giants back in late December before being hired as the offensive coordinator for the Broncos. His ties to the program date back to the 90's when he served first as a graduate assistant before being promoted to tight ends and then offensive line coach and special teams coordinator before leaving for Stanford in 1998.
Fickell has significant Big Ten and midwest ties from his days as a player and then defensive coordinator at Ohio State. Since taking over the Bearcats in 2017, Fickell has put together two 11-win seasons in years two and three, and is 26-13 as the head coach at Cinci and is about to put a bow on the top recruiting class (including a few four star athletes) in the AAC come tomorrow.
As we noted in our article earlier today, Glenn Sugiyama (DHR International) is already working to identify the best candidates and is expected to lead a thorough search. Sugiyama prides himself on no leaks during the process.
There was speculation back months ago that Dantonio planned to step away late in the coaching change cycle so that Michigan State would somewhat be forced to turn to defensive coordinator Mike Tressel to step into the head coaching role. Today, Tressel was named interim head coach; and has to be considered a candidate for the full-time position.
Stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest in coaching change information.
Wednesday Update> Pete Thamel (Yahoo Sports) and local Michigan State insider Hondo Carpenter have both confirmed that Michigan State has Glenn Sugiyama working this search. Sources tell FootballScoop Sugiyama approached Matt Campbell (presumably through his representatives) days ago about becoming the next head coach at Michigan State and Campbell declined the opportunity. Today is signing day so keep that in mind; but sources tell FootballScoop Luke Fickell has already evaluated the opportunity and is not inclined to jump at this time. Could that change, if following their search Michigan State officials determine they have to pay up to get Fickell?
Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke shared with reporters today that she touched base with Pat Narduzzi last night about the speculation connecting him to Michigan State and the two met again this morning and Lyke says Narduzzi told her he wants to be at Pitt. Narduzzi later shared the same sentiment, adding that he believes Lyke is the best athletic director in the country.
Yesterday we mentioned that Michigan State leadership wanted to have a diverse search. Carpenter and Thamel both confirm this below.
This morning Carpenter released a list of candidates including: Fickell, Marvin Lewis, Pat Shurmur, Pat Narduzzi, Robert Saleh, Butch Jones, Jim McElwain, Craig Bohl, Matt Campbell and Mel Tucker. Carpenter offers thoughts and insight on each here.
Thamel mentions Saleh, Mel Tucker and Chris Klieman among others.