‘Big Name’ USC Defensive Coordinator Candidate: Pat Narduzzi


On Monday, Scott Wolf reported that Lane Kiffin would looking for a defensive coordinator without ties to USC to succeed his father, Monte. That, coupled with Leon McQuay III being told that the Trojans would hire a ‘big name’ coach has given a new wrinkle to Kiffin’s coaching search. We’ve highlighted five ‘big names’ that Kiffin could conceivably target, starting with the most probable.

We began our list with Gene ChizikClancy PendergastTosh Lupoi and Kent Baer. Now we look to the fifth potential candidate…

Pat Narduzzi

Preferred defensive scheme: 4-3Current position:Michigan State defensive coordinatorResume highlights: Defensive coordinator at Cincinnati (2004-2006), and Michigan State (2007-Present)

Narduzzi is the best defensive coordinator in the Big Ten, and he’s earned that reputation by routinely posting high marks nationally, including leading Michigan State to finish as the fourth ranked total defense in 2012. The Spartans allowed 20 points just four times all season, and 57 or fewer rushing yards in six of twelve games.

How does he fare against speed, you ask? Well, the results have been a mixed bag. Against Michigan, Narduzzi held Denard Robinson under 100-yards in all three matchups, though Taylor Martinez ran for 205 yards and Nebraska rolled over Michigan State for 313 rushing yards back in October. So, perhaps stopping the spread would raise concerns.

Alas, Narduzzi has worked alongside Mark Dantonio since 2004, when the tandem began their tenure at Cincinnati. While he’s considered to only be a candidate for future head coaching opportunities, money and the challenge of facing top-flight offenses in the Pac-12 could conceivably lure him westward.

Narduzzi made a whopping $501,700 at Michigan State in 2012, the third-highest salary for a defensive coordinator in the Big Ten according to the Lansing State Journal. Considering that Monte Kiffin made three-times that at USC, it’s possible that Lane Kiffin could entice him to take a lateral move with a considerable raise.

That of course begs the question, is the switch from Michigan State to USC really a lateral move that money could play into? Furthermore, is it worth paying him a head coach’s salary when he’s yet to face a spread offense running at top gear? Both of those questions remain to be answered, leaving Narduzzi a qualified candidate, but not the most attractive.