FIU's Josh Conklin to become Pittsburgh defensive coordinator
Florida International defensive coordinator Josh Conklin has accepted the same job at Pittsburgh, according to a source.
It’s a plum job for Conklin in working for new Panthers coach Pat Narduzzi, who was hired last month from his previous role as Michigan State’s defensive coordinator and is one of college football’s top defensive minds. Conklin has been Florida International’s defensive coordinator the past two seasons and is regarded as one of the nation's brightest young defensive coaches.
His aggressive, disruptive unit ranks fourth this season in the FBS in takeaways (33), 35th in total defense (363.8 yards per game) and 40th in scoring defense (24.8 points per game). Prior to his tenure at FIU, he coached safeties for a season at Tennessee.
The 35-year-old Conklin was the defensive coordinator at the Citadel from 2010-11. Before that, he coached defensive backs at Wofford from 2007-09 and was also in charge of special teams his final season.
Conklin coached the secondary and special teams at South Dakota State, from 2005-06 and was a graduate assistant at the school the two previous seasons. A Gillette, Wyo., native, he was a linebacker at Dakota State, where he was an Academic All-America selection.
The fiery Narduzzi comes to Pitt after eight seasons as Michigan State’s defensive coordinator during which his unit was among the nation’s stingiest and lauded for its toughness. Under him, the Spartans were the only team to rank in the nation's top 10 in total defense and rushing defense annually from 2011-14.
A Youngstown, Ohio, native, Narduzzi's unit at Michigan State ranked eighth this season in the FBS in total defense (315.8 yards per game) and third in takeaways (34). He coached 19 first-team All-Big Ten selections while with the Spartans.
Last season, he received the Broyles Award, which is given annually to college football’s top assistant coach. Narduzzi replaces Paul Chryst, who had a 19-19 record in three seasons and left last month to become Wisconsin's coach.