MSU's Narduzzi follows father's footsteps

LOS ANGELES -- Before every Michigan State kickoff, defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi sits in the coaches' booth, looks down at the field and makes one final pregame request.

"You better be right there," Narduzzi says to his father, "helping me out."

Bill Narduzzi died 25 years ago after a long fight with Hodgkin's disease, but his presence remains with the second of his three sons, the only one who followed his father into coaching. Pat Narduzzi is his father's son: same eyes, same build, same intensity, same work ethic and same uncompromising standards for defense.

Bill died while Pat was still playing college football, so he never saw his son become one of the nation's top defensive coaches. The Spartans' defense that he oversees ranks No. 1 nationally this season and has finished in the top six in each of the past three seasons (only Alabama and Florida State carry the same distinction). MSU is one of three programs (Louisville and Virginia Tech are the others) to rank in the top 10 in total defense, scoring defense, rush defense and pass defense for the past three seasons.

Earlier this month, Pat Narduzzi earned the Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant. It continued a family tradition, as Bill won Division II National Coach of the Year honors at Youngstown State in 1978. Bill's plaque hangs in Pat's office at Michigan State.

"I think about him every single day," Pat said.

Bill will be in Pat's thoughts Wednesday afternoon when he scans the iconic Rose Bowl field before Michigan State faces Stanford in the 100th edition of the Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO.

"Obviously his dad was a great role model for him," Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said. "A lot of us who have fathers [who] have passed [Dantonio's father, Justin, died in 2011] wish they could be experiencing this day with us."

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