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Wednesday, April 23, 2014 | Last updated: 6:06pm

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Narduzzi, Dantonio excited about MSU's future despite speculation


MSU head coach Mark Dantonio smiles in response to press questions Dec. 8, 2013, at the Capital Region International Airport in Lansing following his team’s 34-24 victory in the Big Ten Championship Game. Simon Schuster/The State News

As far as they’re concerned, MSU head coach Mark Dantonio and defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi are staying in East Lansing for the foreseeable future.

At the Spartans’ pre-Rose Bowl press conference, Dantonio was asked for his reaction to being named a potential candidate for the newly vacant head coaching position at Texas by USA Today. Dantonio, a Texas native who is finishing up his seventh season at MSU, didn’t entertain the idea of bolting for one of college football’s premier jobs.

“I guess the way I’d answer that question is I see Michigan State as a destination, not a stop,” Dantonio responded. “That’s how I see it. Flattering, but that’s how I see it.”

As for Narduzzi — the Broyles Award winner as the nation’s top assistant coach and FootballScoop.com’s National Defensive Coordinator of the Year — he said he was close to accepting an offer to become Connecticut’s next head coach before ultimately declining on Dec. 11.

Narduzzi, who finished his playing career at Rhode Island, said the lure of being “an hour away” from his mother-in-law and his East Coast ties made it an appealing offer, but that Dantonio and MSU’s staff make it fun to coach there. He acknowledged the difficulty of leaving MSU’s assistant coaches and players, while Dantonio said his decision to stay “sends a message that things are good here.”

“You hate to break up a great party that we have going on right now, and it better be a great opportunity,” Narduzzi said. “It felt like this is the place to stay.”

Depending on other moves this offseason, Narduzzi could be in the mix for other vacancies as he remains one of the hottest head-coaching commodities in the country. Connecticut wasn’t Narduzzi’s first chance to leave MSU, and it likely won’t be his last — he prefers to wait for what he considers the right opportunity.

“(I) enjoy coming to work every day. You never know what you’re going to have on the other end of that, so enough said,” he said. “That’s what it is. (MSU is) a great place to work. If I was just half happy, you know, it’s easy to go take a job.”

UConn wound up hiring Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco on Dec. 12 at a reported salary of $1.5 million per season. Narduzzi currently earns more than $500,000 a year at MSU, and cited a lack of assistant salary funding as one of the reasons for spurning the Huskies.

The Detroit Free Press reported on Dec. 7 that Dantonio and his staff have pay raises coming their way.

“Obviously, with the amount of money that you probably could have gone to go do something like that for, and have your own program, it was close,” Narduzzi said.

“But when you look back and say, ‘What do I have here in Spartan Stadium, and the fans and the staff that I have to work with every day?’ (It’s) the best in the country, no question about it.”

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