There seems to be no love lost between Pat Nardozy and football at Michigan State.
Narduzzi, who served as the defensive coordinator for the Spartans under Mark Dantonio from 2007 to 2014, was one of the most beloved coaches on the staff that transformed MSU from an afterthought into a center of power for the Big Ten.
Nowadays, those times seem like a long time ago.
Nardozzi, the head coach of the Pittsburgh Panthers, appeared Thursday on Bazzy’s Black and Gold Banter — a podcast dominated by the Pittsburgh Steelers — and took a shot at his former team.
more:Inside the partnership that plans to advance Michigan football to win the national title
The Panthers and Spartans played in the Peach Bowl last December when Heisman Trophy finalist Kenny Beckett sat down to protect his status in the NFL. Nardozzi said that was the only reason for the loss of the leopards.
“It’s a difference of 21 points, okay,” Nardozzi said of Pickett. “Michigan State gets a free kick. It’s at least 14 points if Nick Bate (reserve quarterback) plays the whole game.
“I can tell you that. That’s how I feel.”
Instead, Patty was injured in the first quarter and the Panthers had to turn to third-series quarterback Davis Bevel. The Spartans scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to end a 31-21 win and secure a record 11-2 in the second year under coach Mel Tucker.
flash pot:How Michigan State Made a Final Rally in the Peach Bowl to Cap the Magical Season
The Panthers won the Atlantic Coast Conference for the first time since 2013, finishing 11 victories for the first time in 40 years (1981).
With the best season of his period approaching, Narduzzi didn’t limit his comments to his former team, targeting his previous conference as well.
“If this is one of the top ten teams, let’s go to the Big Ten and win it every year,” Nardozzi began.
What Narduzzi failed to mention was that MSU was also without its best player – Walter Camp Player of the Year and Doak Walker Award winner Kenneth Walker III. Walker, who was also an All-American first and second-round by the Seattle Seahawks, did not play in the Peach Bowl after rushing for 1,636 yards and 18 touchdowns in his only season in East Lansing.
Nardozzi also conveniently ruled out his side’s performance against another Michigan team: The Panthers lost, 44-41, to Western Michigan on September 18. The first-round pick passed into the future for 382 yards and six touchdowns, but Narduzzi’s defense was burned for 517 yards while the Panthers were trailing or tied with the Broncos in the last 48:42 of game time. (Western Michigan lost their opening game to eventual Big Ten champion Michigan, 47-14.)
Rather than put his comments on hold on Friday, Narduzzi doubled down when he spoke as a guest on KDKA-FM (93.7) in Pittsburgh, after a host suggested he made MSU fans upset with his comments.
“It’s hard luck, it’s facts,” Nardozzi said. “We didn’t have Kenny Pickett play, we didn’t have (back-back) Damary Mattis, two of the players that were recruited. Nobody was going to turn the ball on us.
“It’s just the way I felt, the talk came about not playing Kenny Beckett in a bowl game and all that stuff, that didn’t mean I really got out, but it’s really the ultimate truth. If that’s one of the best teams (in the Big Ten), then what’s up? Are we talking about it here?”
Pat Nardozzi is 1-6 in seven games against the Big Ten since he took charge of the Panthers in 2015.
Contact Tony Garcia at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @realtonygarcia.