Pat Narduzzi was putting up Christmas lights at his home on Sunday afternoon. That’s when he found out his team was heading to Detroit, Michigan, to play in the Quick Lane Bowl against Eastern Michigan.
Narduzzi is familiar with the location from when he coached less than two hours away from Ford Field at Michigan State as the Spartans’ defensive coordinator from 2007-14.
On Wednesday, when Narduzzi took an early trip to Detroit for the coaches’ bowl game press conference, he considered getting to play a game in the state of Michigan as a “homecoming” for himself.
“(My family is) as excited as anybody to come back up to Detroit,” Narduzzi said. “We spent eight years in this state and never really spent as much time in Detroit as I’d have liked to. I’m going to enjoy my time here.”
Narduzzi said that he didn’t pay much attention to the talk of his team playing in Detroit or the possibility of matching up against Michigan State. Narduzzi said that his kids would pay much more attention to that possibility than he would.
“It means a lot,” Narduzzi said. “My years in East Lansing were very, very meaningful to me. I am where I am today because of East Lansing, Michigan State, and Mark Dantonio.”
But to Narduzzi, winning the game on Dec. 26 means more than just traveling back to a state where he once coached. He is still looking for his first-ever bowl victory as a head coach. So, it will always be business as usual for his squad.
“We have a tough team, a young team and a hungry team that will come to Detroit,” Narduzzi said.
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Eastern Michigan is where current Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke, had been before taking the same job at Pitt. Lyke hired the Eagles’ current head coach Chris Creighton at EMU in 2014.
Narduzzi said on Wednesday that he and Lyke have talked about Creighton and the job that he has done at Eastern Michigan.
“You have done an incredible job there,” Narduzzi said to Creighton at the Wednesday press conference. “Heather Lyke, our AD, your former AD, we’ve had the pleasure of talking about you a lot. We admire what you have done. Spending eight years in the state of Michigan at Michigan State and knowing where the Eastern Michigan program was and where it is now, it is in great hands.”