MSU's Dan Roushar heads to NFL's Saints

Michigan State announced Saturday that offensive coordinator Dan Roushar is leaving to become running backs coach with the NFL’s New Orleans Saints. Roushar spent the past two seasons as the Spartans’ offensive chief and has been part of coach Mark Dantonio’s staff since 2005.

Roushar beat out at least two other candidates for the Saints opening. He reunites with Saints head coach Sean Payton, whom he worked with at Illinois in 1996.

“The New Orleans Saints and Michigan State are built on similar models, with a focus on character and people,” Roushar said in a prepared statement. “New Orleans has won a Super Bowl, and over the last five years, the Saints have been one of the winningest organizations in the NFL. I’ve had an opportunity to work for Mark Dantonio -- in my opinion, the best college football coach in America -- for the last eight years, including the last six seasons at Michigan State. Now, I have an opportunity to work for arguably the best coach in the NFL in Sean Payton. Professionally, this is an opportunity I simply couldn’t pass up.”

Roushar added that Michigan State is “poised to have a tremendous year in 2013.” He drew heavy criticism from Spartans fans after the offense struggled in 2012, finishing 95th nationally in total offense and 108th in scoring. The unit performed much better in 2011 with quarterback Kirk Cousins at the helm.

“Dan Roushar has been a loyal and dedicated assistant for the last eight years, including the past six seasons at Michigan State,” Dantonio said in a prepared statement. “He’s a great teacher and a tireless recruiter. Dan certainly played a critical role in helping build a solid foundation here at Michigan State. We’re grateful for the effort and energy he’s invested in our program.”

Dantonio promoted Roushar from offensive line coach to coordinator after Don Treadwell left to take the top job at Miami (Ohio). It’ll be interesting to see if Dantonio once again looks within the staff or outside the program. Michigan State is expected to maintain a pro-style philosophy on offense.