Following the departure of Pat Narduzzi to Pittsburgh, Mark Dantonio has kept the Spartans’ defensive coordinator duties within the family by promoting defensive backs coach Harlon Barnett and linebackers/special teams coach Mike Tressel to co-defensive coordinator roles. Barnett has also added an assistant head coach title.
“It’s important to move the process forward, and I feel very comfortable in naming Harlon Barnett assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator and Mike Tressel co-defensive coordinator,” Dantonio said in a statement. “Harlon and Mike have been on my staff together for 11 years, including the past eight years at Michigan State. They both have had a ton of input and shared a lot of ideas with Pat Narduzzi over the years. The co-appointment ensures continuity in terms of player relationships, defensive concepts and terminology.”
Since Narduzzi did not coach a position and was a rare “walk-around” coordinator, promoting from within frees up a space on the staff for Dantonio to hire another defensive assistant. “I’ll empower our coaches to have a say in the hiring process, as we complete the defensive staff. It will be a collective effort.”
Michigan State led the Big Ten in total defense and yards per play allowed from 2011-13, and ranks third in total defense and fifth in yards per play allowed this season. The 10-2 Spartans place sixth nationally in total defense, 21st in yards per play allowed and 14th in scoring defense this season.
Narduzzi, introduced as Pitt’s head coach on Friday, will return to coach the Spartans in the Jan. 1 Cotton Bowl against Baylor.