Sunday December 28th, 2014

Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio announced on Saturday the restructuring of his defensive coaching staff after defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi left for the head coaching job at Pitt.

Secondary coach Harlon Barnett and linebackers/special teams coach Mike Tressel were promoted to co-defensive coordinators. Barnett was also named assistant head coach. Both have been on Dantonio's staff since he was hired in 2007.

Narduzzi was MSU's former assistant head coach/defensive coordinator before he was introduced as Pitt's head coach on Friday.

"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 release. "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."

New Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi brings legendary defense to ACC

Barnett was a four-year letter winner at Michigan State (1986-89) as a defensive back. He came to MSU in 2006 after serving as Cincinnati's secondary coach under Dantonio from 2004-06 and spending 2003 as a graduate assistant at LSU.

Tressel, the nephew of former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, was a four-year starter in the secondary at Cornell College (Iowa) from 1992-95. He also followed Dantonio from Cincinnati in 2006 after serving as the linebackers and special teams coach from 2004-06.

Dantonio also announced that defensive line coach Ron Burton will remain in the position. He also said he will a hire a new defensive assistant at some point in the offseason.

• Reports: Jim Harbaugh has accepted offer to coach Michigan

Entering the Cotton Bowl vs. Baylor, Michigan State ranks sixth in total defense (293.5 yards allowed per game) and 14th in scoring defense (19.9 points allowed per game). The Spartans finished with a top-10 scoring defense in 2011, 2012 and 2013, and according to the school, have allowed 18.02 points per game over the last five seasons, the fourth-best scoring defense in the FBS over that period.

Michigan State finished 10-2, second in the Big Ten East division and No. 8 in the College Football Playoff rankings.

Mike Fiammetta

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