Monday, December 09, 2013

Lembo, Narduzzi hot names in UConn coaching search

Ball State coach Pete Lembo is emerging as a top candidate for the UConn football job

Things are starting to get interesting in the search for a new UConn football coach.

Last night Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio confirmed that UConn has asked for permission to interview Spartans' defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, a New Haven native, for the job. Then a little while ago Pete Roussel of the reported that UConn AD Warde Manuel is currently in Atlanta interviewing Pete Lembo for the job.

Lembo, who is in his third season at Ball State, has recorded a 19-6 season over the last two seasons and has only posted one losing season in 13 years as a collegiate head coach.

As for Narduzzi, here's what Dantonio said in a Sunday evening press conference with MSU beat writers.

Could Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi land at UConn?
“Pat is a very focused individual,” Dantonio said. He’s gotten the notoriety, and the media coverage to be a name out there, I think, to be a tremendous head coach candidate. He’ll make a tremendous head coach.

“I know he’s extremely happy here, and I know our players love him and he loves our players. I went through the same thing. How do I respond to that? I’d hate to lose Pat Narduzzi but when the opportunity comes and the opportunity is so good that you need to take it, then that’s when you take it. But it’s got to be the right opportunity, and Pat understands that and weighs those things out.”
Michigan State AD Mark Hollis went on the SiriusXM College Football Playbook show on Monday and said “Pat is ready to be a head coach.”

Narduzzi, 47, is in his seventh season at Michigan State. He came to the Spartans after spending four seasons as the defensive coordinator at Cincinnati. Following Dantonio’s move from Cincinnati to Michigan State Narduzzi was a candidate as Dantonio’s replacement as Cincinnati’s head coach. When Brian Kelly was hired as Cincinnati, Narduzzi joined Dantonio’s staff at Michigan State. He quickly turned around what had been a porous Michigan State defense as the Spartans were ranked sixth nationally in total defense in 2011 and fourth in 2012. This season Narduzzi’s Spartans lead the nation in allowing 248.2 yards per game and is also first in rushing defense and second in passing efficiency defense.

Narduzzi was born in New Haven when his father Bill was the defensive coordinator at Yale for seven seasons including the legendary 1968 squad. Most of the younger Narduzzi’s football playing experience growing up was done in Youngstown, Ohio as his father spent 11 seasons as the head coach at Youngstown State.

Lembo led Lehigh two a pair of I-AA playoff appearances  in five seasons before spending five seasons as the head coach at Elon. The 43-year-old Lembo was a four-year starting offensive lineman at Georgetown and his first full-time collegiate job was as an assistant at Dartmouth from 1994-96.


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