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Michigan State To Replace Pat Narduzzi With Co-Defensive Coordinators

Photos courtesy MSU athletics

Mark Dantonio hasn’t had much turnover on his coaching staff since taking the helm of Michigan State in 2007. But now he’s replacing the only defensive coordinator he’s ever had in East Lansing.

On Saturday, Dantonio announced two of his longtime assistants will serve as co-defensive coordinators next season, with Pat Narduzzi leaving to take the reins at Pitt.

Secondary coach Harlon Barnett and linebackers/special teams coach Mike Tressel will be running the Spartans’ defense next season. Both have been on the MSU staff since Dantonio took over.

Barnett, 47, played defensive back for the Spartans in the ’80s before playing seven seasons in the NFL. Tressel, the nephew of former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel, was a four-year starter at Cornell College in Iowa.

Dantonio has gone with a co-coordinator approach before. Dave Warner and Jim Bollman share those duties currently on the offensive side of the ball for the Spartans.

More from an MSU press release:

Michigan State head football coach Mark Dantonio announced on Saturday the restructuring of his defensive staff for the 2015 season.

Secondary coach Harlon Barnett and linebackers/special teams coach Mike Tressel, who have both been on Dantonio’s staff since his arrival at MSU in 2007, have been promoted to co-defensive coordinators. Barnett also has been named assistant head coach.

Barnett and Tressel are filling the position left by former assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, who was introduced as the new head coach at the University of Pittsburgh on Friday. Dantonio previously announced that Narduzzi will be coaching in his final game at MSU in the 2015 Cotton Bowl Classic against Baylor on Thursday, Jan. 1.

“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. “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.

“Both Harlon and Mike have done a tremendous job in the individual day-to-day development of our players. Their relationships with our players are strong and true. I have a strong personal relationship with those two, and they will do an outstanding job in their new roles while continuing the legacy Michigan State has built on defense.

“I’m excited about maintaining our tradition of playing outstanding defense while continuing our quest for another Big Ten Championship.”

Ron Burton, who is in his second season at Michigan State, will remain coaching the defensive line. In addition, Dantonio will hire a new defensive assistant in the offseason.

“Change always creates opportunities for growth,” Dantonio said. “The additions of (defensive line coach) Ron Burton and (co-offensive coordinator and tight ends coach) Jim Bollman have enhanced our coaching staff.

“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.”

Barnett and Tressel have been an integral part on the Spartan defensive staff that has assembled the No. 1 defense in the Big Ten since 2011. MSU has led the Big Ten and has been ranked in the Top 10 in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision the past three seasons (2011-13) in total defense and rushing defense, and is on pace for another Top 10 finish in both categories in 2014.

MSU enters the 2015 Cotton Bowl Classic ranked third in the Big Ten and seventh in the NCAA FBS in total defense (293.5 ypg.) and sixth in the FBS in rushing defense (97.5 ypg.). MSU ranked No. 6 in total defense in 2011, No. 4 in 2012 and No. 2 in 2013, and No. 9 in rushing defense in 2011, No. 8 in 2012 and No. 2 in 2013. Michigan State and Florida are the only schools in the FBS to rank in the Top 10 in total defense every season since 2011 (including 2014). In addition, MSU is the only school in the FBS to rank in the Top 10 in total defense and rushing defense the past four seasons (including 2014).

Michigan State, which has ranked in the FBS Top 10 in scoring defense in 2011, 2012 and 2013, is currently 12th in the FBS in scoring defense (19.9 ppg.) through 12 games in 2014. MSU has allowed an average of 18.02 points per game over the last five seasons, which ranks as the fourth-best scoring defense average of any FBS team since 2010.

Barnett’s players have earned All-Big Ten honors 22 times since his arrival as secondary coach at MSU, including seven different first-team selections (Otis Wiley in 2008; Trenton Robinson in 2011; Johnny Adams in 2011-12; Darqueze Dennard in 2012-13, Isaiah Lewis in 2013; Kurtis Drummond in 2013-14; Trae Waynes in 2014). All four of MSU’s starters in the secondary garnered All-Big Ten recognition during the 2010, 2011 and 2013 seasons, and the last two Big Ten Defensive Backs of the Year have come from Michigan State (Dennard in 2013, Drummond in 2014).

Barnett has coached three All-Americans (Dennard, Drummond, Waynes) and three Thorpe Award semifinalists (Dennard, Waynes, Wiley). A unanimous first-team All-American, Dennard became the first Spartan to win the Thorpe Award, given to the nation’s best defensive back, in 2013.

Four Spartans in the secondary have been selected in the NFL Draft under Barnett’s tutelage: Jeremy Ware (2010, Oakland Raiders, seventh round), Chris L. Rucker (2011, Indianapolis Colts, sixth round), Robinson (2012, San Francisco 49ers, sixth round) and Dennard (2014, Cincinnati Bengals, first round).

“When you look at what our secondary has accomplished statistically over the last several years, Harlon deserves a ton of credit,” Dantonio said. “He’s helped develop back-to-back All-Americans and Big Ten Defensive Backs of the Year, in Darqueze Dennard and Kurtis Drummond, and several of his players have gone on to play in the NFL.

“As a former Michigan State player, he brings a unique perspective to our coaching staff. Harlon played for Nick Saban and I coached for Saban, so there’s a history of defensive concepts and terminology.”

The impressive play of the Spartan linebackers under Tressel is one of the main reasons why Michigan State has been the top defense in the Big Ten the past few seasons. Under the guidance of Tressel, Spartan linebackers have earned All-Big Ten honors 13 times and All-America accolades on four occasions (Greg Jones: 2009-10; Denicos Allen: 2013; Max Bullough: 2013).

“Look at the All-America linebackers Mike has helped produce here at Michigan State: Greg Jones, Denicos Allen and Max Bullough,” Dantonio said. “We’ve built a history of stopping the run, thanks largely to the play of our linebacker corps.

“I’ve worked with Mike for the last 13 years, so he’s had a consistent presence on my coaching staff. Our relationship started when he worked as my lead (graduate assistant) GA at Ohio State during the run to the National Championship in 2002.”

Tressel also oversees a successful special teams unit that has been one of the best in the Big Ten since his arrival. The past eight years, MSU has had two first-team All-Big Ten placekickers (Dan Conroy and Brett Swenson), two first-team All-Big Ten punters (Sadler and Aaron Bates), and has featured conference leaders in kick returns (Devin Thomas), punt returns (Keshawn Martin), field goals (Swenson) and field-goal percentage (Swenson, Geiger).

“Harlon and Mike have great families, and we’re so excited to know that they’ll remain active in our Mid-Michigan and MSU campus communities,” Dantonio said.

ADDITIONAL QUOTES
Assistant head coach/co-defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett:
“With Michigan State as my alma mater, this promotion means a great deal to me. As a player, I never dreamt about coaching here let alone being named co-defensive coordinator. It’s truly a blessing and an honor.

“I appreciate Coach D’s belief in me and Mike (Tressel) that we can continue to have the success we’ve enjoyed on the defensive side of the ball for the last several years. Our success has been largely due to the fact that everyone on the defensive staff along with Coach D have input into what we’re doing. There’s no dictatorship; we’re all brothers. Mike and I have spent the last 11 years working with Coach D and Pat Narduzzi, so we’ll be connected for life. During the season, we spend more time with each other than we do with our families.

“We intend to keep things rolling on defense. We all have our roles to play, and we will continue to play great defense at Michigan State. Having worked for Coach D and Pat, Mike and I have definitely benefitted from the trickle-down effect of knowledge.”

Co-defensive coordinator Mike Tressel:
“I’m excited about the promotion and the opportunity to serve as co-defensive coordinator. I love the way our guys play defense here, and our focus is on continuing to do what we’ve been doing on the defensive side of the ball.

“I’m excited to continue to work alongside Harlon Barnett. We’ve worked hand-in-hand for the last 11 years, and we work well together.

“The standard has already been set here at Michigan State in terms of how we play defense, and we look forward to continuing that tradition of excellence.”

A LOOK AT HARLON BARNETT’S COACHING CAREER

Harlon Barnett, a four-year letterwinner at Michigan State (1986-89) as a defensive back who was named a captain and All-American as a senior, is completing his eighth season as the Spartans’ secondary coach. Barnett returned to East Lansing with seven years of professional playing experience and nine seasons of coaching experience under his belt.

Barnett mentors one of the top secondaries in the nation, as the Spartans are the only school in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision to rank among the nation’s Top 25 in pass defense and pass efficiency defense from 2011-13. MSU is on track to achieve that distinction for the fourth consecutive year, as the Spartans currently rank fourth in the FBS in pass efficiency defense (102.9 rating) and 25th in pass defense (196.0). MSU is also ranked second in the Big Ten and tied for 11th in the FBS with 17 interceptions.

In addition, the Spartans are one of just two FBS schools, along with Alabama, to rank among the nation’s top 11 in pass defense in 2011 (11th at 175.8 ypg.), 2012 (ninth at 176.9 ypg.) and 2013 (third at 165.6 ypg.). After ranking third in pass efficiency defense in 2012 with a 98.8 rating, the Spartans were No. 1 in the FBS in 2013 with a 92.3 rating and are fourth in 2014 (102.9 rating) entering the Cotton Bowl Classic.

Barnett’s players have earned All-Big Ten honors 22 times since his arrival as secondary coach at MSU, including seven different first-team selections (Otis Wiley in 2008; Trenton Robinson in 2011; Johnny Adams in 2011-12; Darqueze Dennard in 2012-13, Isaiah Lewis in 2013; Kurtis Drummond in 2013-14; Trae Waynes in 2014). All four of MSU’s starters in the secondary garnered All-Big Ten recognition during the 2010, 2011 and 2013 seasons, and the last two Big Ten Defensive Backs of the Year have come from Michigan State (Dennard in 2013, Drummond in 2014).

Barnett has coached three All-Americans (Dennard, Drummond, Waynes) and three Thorpe Award semifinalists (Dennard, Waynes, Wiley). A unanimous first-team All-American, Dennard became the first Spartan to win the Thorpe Award, given to the nation’s best defensive back, in 2013.

Four Spartans in the secondary have been selected in the NFL Draft under Barnett’s tutelage: Jeremy Ware (2010, Oakland Raiders, seventh round), Chris L. Rucker (2011, Indianapolis Colts, sixth round), Robinson (2012, San Francisco 49ers, sixth round) and Dennard (2014, Cincinnati Bengals, first round).

Two of MSU’s starting defensive backs have earned All-America honors in 2014, as Drummond garnered first-team accolades from the Football Writers Association of America and Phil Steele, and Waynes picked up second-team laurels from the Walter Camp Foundation, Sporting News and Athlon Sports. Drummond is only the fifth safety in school history to earn first-team All-America distinction.

Drummond, who was named the Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year, leads the Big Ten with a career-high 15 passes defended (four interceptions, 11 pass break-ups), which also ranks tied for 16th in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision. His career-high 11 pass break-ups rank second most in the conference and the four interceptions rank tied for sixth. Drummond also leads the team with 65 tackles, including three for losses (10 yards). He earned first-team All-Big Ten honors for the second straight season, becoming just the fifth safety at MSU to be named to the All-Big Ten First Team twice.

Named one of 15 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s top defensive back by the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, Waynes ranks second on the team with a career-best seven pass break-ups and tied for second with three interceptions.

Barnett has also mentored first-year starting strong safety RJ Williamson, who returned two interceptions for touchdowns during the regular season (vs. Michigan and Maryland) to become one of just three players in the Big Ten in 2014 to score two defensive touchdowns.

In addition, Barnett has helped senior wide receiver Tony Lippett adjust back to being a starting cornerback late in the year while also leading the Big Ten in receiving. Montae Nicholson, a true freshman who started three games at strong safety, leads the team in special teams tackles and was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team by ESPN.com and BTN.com.

All four of MSU’s starting defensive backs received All-Big Ten recognition in 2013, including three first-team All-Big Ten selections. The group was led by Dennard, the Thorpe Award winner who became the first-ever cornerback at Michigan State to earn unanimous first-team All-America honors. In addition, Dennard was named the winner of the Jack Tatum Award, which is presented to college football’s top defensive back by The Touchdown Club of Columbus. The lock-down corner, who was a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and named the Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year, ranked among the Big Ten leaders in interceptions (4), pass break-ups (10) and passes defended (14). Dennard was selected in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft (No. 24 overall) by the Cincinnati Bengals.

Lewis and Drummond were also selected All-Big Ten First Team by the coaches, while Waynes garnered honorable mention. Lewis played in the 2014 Senior Bowl and was invited to the NFL Scouting Combine.

For his efforts in leading the Big Ten’s top pass defense in 2013, Barnett was named one of three finalists for national defensive back coach of the year by FootballScoop.

In June 2012, Barnett was one of eight football coaches to participate in the Champion Forum, the top tier of the NCAA’s coaching academy programs, held in conjunction with the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Convention in Dallas.

The Spartans ranked third in the nation in 2012 with a 98.8 pass efficiency rating, which led the Big Ten. MSU also ranked among the Big Ten leaders in 2012 in interceptions (tied for first with 14), passes defended (second with 77) and pass break-ups (tied for third with 63).

Michigan State’s starting cornerback duo of Dennard and Adams both earned first-team All-Big Ten accolades in 2012. Adams garnered first-team honors from the coaches for the second straight year, becoming just the sixth Spartan defensive back to be named first-team All-Big Ten in multiple seasons. He finished his career ranked fourth in school history in interception return yards (230), fifth in passes defended (35), 10th in interceptions (11) and 11th in pass break-ups (24). Dennard tied for the team lead with three interceptions, including two against No. 21 Nebraska, and had 10 passes defended. Lewis, who ranked second on the team with 80 tackles and had eight passes defended, was an honorable mention All-Big Ten choice.

In 2011, MSU led the Big Ten and ranked tied for 12th in the NCAA FBS with 18 interceptions. MSU also ranked among the nation’s leaders in pass defense (11th with 176.9 ypg.) and pass efficiency defense (18th with a 113.3 rating). In addition, the Spartans were second in the Big Ten in passes defended (60) and third in pass break-ups (42).

For the second straight year, all four of MSU’s starters in the secondary garnered All-Big Ten recognition. Robinson, a second-team all-conference selection in 2010, earned first-team honors from the media in 2011 after tying for second in the Big Ten with four interceptions. Adams, also a second-team pick by the coaches as a sophomore, raised his game even more to garner first-team accolades. Adams led the team with nine passes defended (three interceptions, six pass break-ups) and ranked seventh in the FBS with 141 interception return yards.

The Spartans returned four interceptions for touchdowns in 2011, including two by Lewis, a second-team All-Big Ten selection. Lewis, who also tied for second in the Big Ten with six picks, had a TD return of 37 yards against Central Michigan and sealed the win over Michigan with a 39-yard runback for a score in the fourth quarter.

Although he missed three games due to injury, Dennard still garnered honorable mention All-Big Ten by the media. Dennard tied a Spartan bowl record with two interceptions in the 2012 Outback Bowl win over No. 18 Georgia, including a 38-yard return for a touchdown.

During the Spartans’ Big Ten Championship season in 2010, Michigan State finished among the national leaders in pass break-ups (16th with 52), passes defended (17th with 69) and interceptions (tied for 23rd with 17), and was one of just two schools in the league (Iowa) to have all four of their starters in the defensive backfield earn postseason recognition from the conference. Adams and Rucker, along with Robinson, made the All-Big Ten second team as selected by the coaches, while strong safety Marcus Hyde was named to the second team by the media.

The unit combined for 17 interceptions, most at MSU since 2004, after collecting just six in 2009. The interceptions helped fuel MSU’s positive turnover margin, as the Spartans leaped from 94th in the nation in 2009 to 31st in that department in 2010.

Individually, Robinson tied for second in the Big Ten with four interceptions and also ranked second in the conference with 12 passes defended. Adams and Hyde each had three picks, and Rucker had two.

Two Spartan cornerbacks earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors in 2009, including Ware, who recorded a career-high 52 tackles and five pass break-ups while starting every game. He went on to be selected in the seventh round of the 2010 NFL Draft by Oakland. Rucker was named honorable mention All-Big Ten for the second straight year as he led the team with seventh pass break-ups and compiled a career-high 58 tackles. In a secondary of veterans, Robinson also stood out with his 67 tackles, good for fourth on the team. Barnett had to deal with multiple injuries to his unit for the second straight year in 2009, as he used six different starting lineup combinations throughout the season.

Barnett’s secondary unit displayed depth and tenacity during the 2008 season. A rash of injuries forced Barnett to utilize nine different starting lineups, as four players made their first career starts. Week after week, a new player stepped up and produced when given an opportunity. Leading the way was first-team All-Big Ten selection and Thorpe Award finalist Otis Wiley, who ranked among the league leaders in interceptions (4) and passes defended (11). The defensive backfield combined to account for 14 interceptions and 50 pass break-ups, with both totals increasing from the previous season.

In his first season at MSU in 2007, Barnett led a secondary that ranked fourth in the Big Ten in pass defense. Under his direction, former walk-on turned team captain Travis Key earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors in his first year as a starter, as Key ranked third on the team in tackles (69) and second in pass break-ups (6) and interceptions (2) in 2007. He also tutored boundary corner Kendell Davis-Clark, who led the team in pass break-ups with eight and ranked second on the team in tackles with 72, and Wiley, who led the team with four interceptions. Seven different players combined for 12 interceptions, the most for a Spartan team since 2003.

Barnett spent three seasons as secondary coach on Dantonio’s staff at Cincinnati. In 2006, the Bearcats finished the regular season ranked third in the BIG EAST and No. 23 nationally in pass efficiency defense (109.3 rating). Barnett tutored two players that earned 2006 All-BIG EAST honors, in Dominic Ross (first team) and Mike Mickens (second team). During the regular season, Ross ranked third in the BIG EAST with four interceptions, while Mickens led the league in passes defended (17) and pass break-ups (15). In addition, Barnett worked with cornerback John Bowie, who was selected by the Oakland Raiders in the fourth round of the 2007 NFL Draft.

In his initial season on the Cincinnati coaching staff in 2004, the Bearcats led Conference USA and ranked No. 26 nationally in pass defense, allowing 194.2 yards per game in 2004. In addition, two members of the secondary, Daven Holly and Doug Monaghan, earned second-team All-Conference USA honors. Holly was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the seventh round of the 2005 NFL Draft.

Barnett landed his first collegiate coaching job as a graduate assistant at LSU in 2003 under Nick Saban, where he was a part of the Tigers’ National Championship campaign. He began his coaching career at Princeton High School in Cincinnati, where he spent two seasons as the secondary coach (1998-99) and three years as the defensive coordinator (2000-02).

A native of Cincinnati, Barnett was a three-year starter for Coach George Perles at Michigan State. He was a member of the 1987 Big Ten and 1988 Rose Bowl championship team that went 9-2-1 overall and finished eighth in the final polls. Barnett, who also played in the 1989 Gator Bowl and the 1989 Aloha Bowl during his time as a Spartan player, earned first-team All-America recognition by The Sporting News as a senior in 1989. He was a primary reason that the Green and White ranked No. 1 in the Big Ten and No. 11 nationally in both rushing defense (95.4 ypg.) and total defense (280.5 ypg.). He compiled 73 stops, high among Spartan defensive backs, along with three interceptions and three fumble recoveries. He finished his career with 154 tackles, six interceptions and 13 pass break-ups.

Following his impressive career at Michigan State, Barnett was taken in the fourth round of the 1990 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns, where he played for three seasons (1990-92). He spent two seasons at New England (1993-94) and two more with Minnesota (1995-96).

Barnett earned his bachelor’s degree in communication from Michigan State in 1990. He and his wife Tammy have two children: Todd and Tori.

THE BARNETT FILE
YEARS AT MICHIGAN STATE: Eighth. Joined staff on Dec. 1, 2006, from Cincinnati.

PREVIOUS COACHING EXPERIENCE: College – Graduate assistant coach at LSU (2003); secondary coach at Cincinnati (2004-06).

EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree in communication from Michigan State in 1990.

PLAYING EXPERIENCE: College – Four-year letterwinner as a defensive back at Michigan State (1986-89) and named captain as a senior. Professional – Spent seven seasons in the National Football League, including stints with the Cleveland Browns (1990-92), New England Patriots (1993-94) and Minnesota Vikings (1995-96).

POSTSEASON EXPERIENCE: Player – 1985 All-American Bowl, 1988 Rose Bowl, 1989 Gator Bowl, 1989 Aloha Bowl, 1994 NFL Playoffs, 1996 NFL Playoffs. Coach – 2004 Sugar Bowl, 2004 Fort Worth Bowl, 2007 Champs Sports Bowl, 2009 Capital One Bowl, 2010 Valero Alamo Bowl, 2011 Capital One Bowl, 2012 Outback Bowl, 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, 2014 Rose Bowl, 2015 Cotton Bowl.

A LOOK AT MIKE TRESSEL’S COACHING CAREER

Mike Tressel is finishing his eighth season as the linebackers and special teams coach at Michigan State.

The impressive play of the Spartan linebackers under Tressel is one of the main reasons why Michigan State has ranked in the NCAA FBS Top 10 in rushing and total defense the past three seasons (2011-13), and is once again ranked in the Top 10 in both categories following the regular season in 2014.

Under the guidance of Tressel, Spartan linebackers have earned All-Big Ten honors 13 times and All-America accolades on four occasions (Greg Jones: 2009-10; Denicos Allen: 2013; Max Bullough: 2013).

Tressel also oversees a successful special teams unit that has been one of the best in the Big Ten since his arrival. Senior punter Mike Sadler, who was selected a first-team All-American by CBSSports.com and ESPN.com in 2013, has proven to be a valuable weapon throughout his career. In 2013, he led the nation with 24 punts downed inside the 10-yard line and ranked tied for second with 33 placed inside the 20. He ranks sixth in the Big Ten in punting (41.3 avg.) this season and was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection. Sophomore placekicker Michael Geiger, a first-team Freshman All-America selection by the Football Writers Association of America in 2013, set the MSU single-season field-goal percentage record (.938; 15 of 16) last year and has made 14 field goals this season.

The past eight years, MSU has had two first-team All-Big Ten placekickers (Dan Conroy and Brett Swenson), two first-team All-Big Ten punters (Sadler and Aaron Bates), and has featured conference leaders in kick returns (Devin Thomas), punt returns (Keshawn Martin), field goals (Swenson) and field-goal percentage (Swenson, Geiger).

Entering 2014, Tressel had the challenge of filling in two starting positions left vacant by three-year starters and All-Americans Allen and Bullough, all while rotating veteran Taiwan Jones from the outside to middle linebacker. But the results have been the same, as Michigan State ranks second in the Big Ten and No. 6 in the FBS in rushing defense, allowing just 97.5 yards per game.

Jones, a second-team All-Big Ten choice by the coaches, has made the successful transition to the middle his senior season after starting two years at Star (weakside) linebacker. He has posted career bests in tackles for loss (11) and sacks (4), and ranks third on the team in tackles (54).

In his first year as a starter at Sam (strongside) linebacker, Ed Davis is tied for the team lead in tackles for loss (11) and ranks second in tackles (56) and third in sacks (6). The junior from Detroit, who led the team in production points during the regular season, was named honorable mention All-Big Ten. Star linebacker Darien Harris, also in his first year as a starter, has registered career highs in tackles (47) and tackles for loss (3).

Allen and Bullough headlined one of the best linebacker corps in the nation during MSU’s record-breaking season in 2013.

Allen picked up second-team All-America accolades from SI.com. He led the team with a career-high 98 tackles as a senior and also led the team with 16.5 tackles for loss, good for seventh most in an MSU single-season. The Hamilton, Ohio, native finished his career ranked third in the school record book with 46 career tackles for loss. Allen capped his illustrious career with seven tackles, including 1.5 for losses, in the 100th Rose Bowl Game against No. 5 Stanford, and was named to the SI.com All-Bowl Team and ESPN.com Big Ten All-Bowl Team.

Bullough, a two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection, was the quarterback of the league’s top-ranked defense in 2013. A third-team All-America honoree by The Associated Press, Bullough ranked among the team leaders in tackles (76) and tackles for loss (9.5). He closed his career with 40 starts at middle linebacker and ranked 11th in school history in tackles for loss (30.5) and 18th in tackles (299).

The Spartans finished the 2012 season ranked fourth in the FBS in total defense (273.3 ypg.) and eighth in rushing defense (98.6 ypg.). Bullough, a first-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches in 2012, led the Spartans in tackles for the second year in a row with a career-high 111 stops as a junior, which ranked ninth in the conference. Bullough was also second on the team and tied for ninth in the Big Ten with 12.5 tackles for loss (45 yards). Allen picked up honorable mention All-Big Ten accolades after ranking second on the team in sacks (3) and third in tackles (79) and tackles for loss (10).

In 2011, Michigan State led the Big Ten in rushing defense (100.5 yards per game) and total defense (277.4 ypg.) en route to winning the Big Ten Legends Division title. For the first time since 1990, all three of MSU’s starting linebackers garnered All-Big Ten honors. Allen, who ranked second in the Big Ten in sacks with 11 and fourth in tackles for loss with 18.5, was named second-team all-conference by the media. Bullough picked up second-team accolades from the coaches after leading the Spartans with 89 tackles and junior Chris Norman was named honorable mention after recording career highs in tackles (76) and tackles for loss (6.5).

On the return teams, Martin ranked second in the Big Ten and 18th in the FBS in punt returns (11.0 avg.), while Nick Hill’s 999 kick return yards were second most in an MSU single-season.

Tressel mentored Greg Jones and Eric Gordon from 2007-10, two of the top linebackers in the nation who combined for 796 tackles in their careers.

A back-to-back first-team consensus All-American, Jones led the Spartans in tackles (106), forced fumbles (3) and quarterback hurries (6) and ranked tied for first in tackles for loss (10 for 20 yards) in 2010. He became just the seventh player in program history to receive first-team All-Big Ten honors three times.

A model of consistency, Jones led the team in tackles in 31 of his last 39 games and became only the second player in MSU history to lead the Spartans in tackles for four-straight seasons (linebacker Dan Bass, 1976-79). The Cincinnati, Ohio, native started 46 of 52 career games and finished his career ranked among MSU’s all-time leaders in tackles for loss (second with 44.5), tackles (third with 457) and sacks (sixth with 16.5). Jones became the first Spartan to win Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year accolades after collecting 154 tackles in 2009, the most in the conference and third nationally. He was rated the No. 1 linebacker in the nation by CollegeFootballNews.com and earned the Linebacker Trophy (Linebacker of the Year) by the College Football Performance Awards.

Jones was selected in the sixth round (No. 185 overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft by the New York Giants and was a member of the Super Bowl Champion team that defeated New England in Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis.

Gordon started more games (49) than any player in Spartan history at the end of his career, including 40 consecutive starting assignments. He finished his career ranked among MSU’s all-time leaders in tackles for loss (10th with 29), tackles (12th with 331) and sacks (21st with 9.5). A second-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and media as a senior, Gordon was second on the team and 13th in the Big Ten with 92 tackles (7.1 avg.) in 2010, which tied his career high.

In 2010, Bates ranked first in the Big Ten and 13th in the nation with his 45.0-yard punting average to earn first-team All-Big Ten accolades and second-team All-America honors by SI.com. In addition, Martin ranked first in the conference and 11th nationally in punt returns (14.2 avg.), and Conroy was a first-team All-Big Ten selection after going 14-for-15 in field goals during his first year as the starting placekicker.

Not only did the unit rank among the national leaders statistically in 2010, but it also delivered in the clutch. Four of the biggest plays during Michigan State’s Big Ten Championship season arrived on special teams, including: Bates’ 29-yard completion to Charlie Gantt on a fake field goal in overtime that won the game against Notre Dame; Martin’s 72-yard punt return for a touchdown that gave MSU the lead for good in the win over Wisconsin; Bates’ 21-yard pass to Bennie Fowler on a fake punt in the fourth quarter that sparked MSU’s comeback at Northwestern; and Denicos Allen’s blocked punt late in the fourth quarter against Purdue that led to the game-winning touchdown.

MSU’s Big Ten Championship season in 2010 was not the first year Tressel’s special teams unit achieved success. Swenson, a first-team All-Big Ten placekicker, became MSU’s all-time leader in field goals (71), points scored (377) and extra points (164) during the 2009 season. Swenson, who was named a Lou Groza Award semifinalist, finished his career tied for third in Big Ten history with his 71 field goals. Swenson tied a then-school record in 2008 with 22 field goals en route to being named second-team All-Big Ten.

Martin anchored the kick return team in 2009, which ranked eighth nationally, averaging 25.9 yards per return. Martin was the 11th-ranked return man in the nation (28.9-yard avg.). He ran back the opening kickoff of the second half at Minnesota 93 yards for a touchdown, MSU’s first kick return for a TD since 2005, and accumulated 176 kick return yards in the game, the third-highest single-game figure in MSU history. Martin also recorded an 85-yard return at Purdue in compiling 166 kick return yards against the Boilermakers for the seventh-best total in school history.

In 2007, Devin Thomas established a Big Ten record with 1,135 kick return yards.

Tressel arrived at Michigan State following the 2006 regular season, as he was one of eight assistants to follow Dantonio to MSU from Cincinnati.

Tressel played a key role in Cincinnati’s success over his three seasons, as the Bearcats earned two bowl invitations. During the 2006 regular season, UC ranked among the national leaders in rushing defense (No. 27 at 107.5 yards per game), total defense (No. 31 at 304.3 ypg.) and scoring defense (No. 34 at 19.3 points per game). In addition, the Bearcats held seven of its 12 regular-season opponents to less than 100 yards rushing. In 2006, Tressel coached linebacker Kevin McCullough, who received first-team All-BIG EAST honors after leading the team in tackles (72) and tackles for losses (14.5 for 36 yards).

In 2005, he helped develop Corey Smith into a third-team Freshman All-American and second-team All-BIG EAST selection. In his first season at Cincinnati, Tressel’s starting linebackers ranked first, third and fifth on the team in tackles, with both Jamar Enzor (second team) and Tyjuan Hagler (third team) garnering All-Conference USA honors. Hagler was taken by the Indianapolis Colts in the fifth round of the 2005 NFL Draft.

Prior to joining Dantonio’s staff at Cincinnati, Tressel spent two seasons as a graduate assistant coach at Ohio State (2002-03), where he contributed to the Buckeyes’ National Championship team in 2002.

Tressel previously coached at Wartburg (Iowa) College for four seasons (1998-01), helping the school to a combined record of 36-4 including one conference title. At Wartburg, he served as offensive line coach for three years before assuming the role of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the 2001 season.

A four-year starter in the secondary at Cornell (Iowa) College, Tressel became a two-time Academic All-American. Following graduation in 1996, he launched his coaching career at South Dakota as a graduate assistant for two seasons (1996-97), working on the offensive side of the football.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Cornell (Iowa) College in 1996 and received a master’s degree in sports administration from South Dakota in 1998.

Tressel comes from a bloodline of successful coaches, as his uncle Jim Tressel won four NCAA I-AA championships at Youngstown State before leading Ohio State to the 2002 National Championship. His grandfather, Lee Tressel, ranked as one of the winningest coaches in Division III history and won a National Championship at Baldwin-Wallace College. His father Richard, who spent 23 seasons as head coach at Hamline, coached 11 seasons at Ohio State.

He and his wife Megan have two children: Logan and Quincy.

THE TRESSEL FILE
YEARS AT MICHIGAN STATE: Eighth. Joined staff on Dec. 1, 2006, from Cincinnati.

PREVIOUS COACHING EXPERIENCE: College – Graduate assistant coach at South Dakota (1996-97); offensive line coach (1998-2000) and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach (2001) at Wartburg (Iowa) College; graduate assistant linebackers coach at Ohio State (2002-03); linebackers and special teams coach at Cincinnati (2004-06).

EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Cornell (Iowa) College in 1996; master’s degree in sports administration at South Dakota in 1998.

PLAYING EXPERIENCE: College – Four-year starter in the secondary at Cornell (Iowa) College (1992-95).

POSTSEASON EXPERIENCE: Coach – 1999 NCAA Division III Playoffs, 2003 Fiesta Bowl, 2004 Fiesta Bowl, 2004 Fort Worth Bowl, 2007 Champs Sports Bowl, 2009 Capital One Bowl, 2010 Valero Alamo Bowl, 2011 Capital One Bowl, 2012 Outback Bowl, 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, 2014 Rose Bowl, 2015 Cotton Bowl.

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