It's a richly deserved honor for the Spartans' defensive boss. Michigan State leads the nation in total defense and rushing yards allowed. Narduzzi's bunch held Ohio State to half its scoring average in a 34-24 win in the Big Ten championship season. Head coach Mark Dantonio asked Narduzzi to come down to the field late in the third quarter for motivational purposes, and from that point forward the defense shut down the Buckeyes.
Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi has fashioned another top 10 unit.
"Pat pays great attention to detail, and he's an outstanding teacher," Dantonio said in a statement released through the school. "His relationships with his players also is a strength. In addition, he's an outstanding recruiter. Pat has been a loyal staff member for 10 years, including the last seven years at MSU. As our assistant head coach, he's asked to manage a lot of duties.
"Pat has been the architect of a top 10 defense for the last three years. There's no question that his defense has been the cornerstone for this record-setting 12-win season."
Narduzzi has served under Dantonio since 2004 when both were at Cincinnati. But that long and fruitful relationship might be coming to an end.
Narduzzi, 47, is ready for a head coaching job and has reportedly interviewed already with UConn. We'd like to see him get a job with better built-in resources for winning at a high level, but there aren't many big-time jobs open where a guy with no head coaching experience and who's a defensive mind might be a great fit. The trend of late is for schools to hire offensive-oriented head coaches. But other jobs could come open when the coaching carousel really starts spinning, and Narduzzi has the talent to succeed anywhere.
He is making $512,000 at Michigan State and has a $250,000 buyout if he leaves for anything but a head coaching job. So the Spartans feel good they won't lose him unless he gets that opportunity.
Of course, he also has the Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO coming up. Narduzzi badly wants to coach in that game, which would be his first experience in a BCS bowl. He wants to finish the job he started with this group on defense, so he might end up splitting his time between the Spartans and a possible new job in the next month.
Narduzzi has proven all he can as an assistant coach. That's why he was named the top assistant in the country on Tuesday.