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Harlon Barnett finds new Big Ten coaching job

Good for Harlon.

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Harlon Barnett
© Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Since he wasn’t retained on Jonathan Smith’s new staff, Harlon Barnett went out and found himself another Big Ten job.

Although this isn’t news that impacts Michigan State directly, I for one am very excited about it. Former Spartan interim head coach Harlon Barnett has found a new job coaching defensive backs at Northwestern.

As you all know, Barnett stepped up during one of the worst moments in Michigan State football history and helped guide the program through some rough waters. He became the interim head coach after Mel Tucker was suspended and then fired from the program, and he did an excellent job of keeping the team together.

I think being a defensive backs coach is a perfect fit for him. He has a ton of experience both as a player and coach at this position, so I have no doubt he will excel at Northwestern.

Harlon Barnett’s reputation at Michigan State

There isn’t one bad thing I can say about Harlon Barnett. He is the definition of a true Spartan. The season may not have gone as we hoped, but the wins and losses shouldn’t matter to his legacy.

During his time as interim head coach, Barnett led MSU to a 2-8 record with wins over Nebraska and Indiana. He was also close to road wins against Iowa and Rutgers, but late game collapses hurt the Spartans those games.

Barnett also spent five years as a player in East Lansing under George Perles. He was a three-year starter playing defensive back and was also a captain as a senior. Barnett was part of the legendary 1987 team that won the Big Ten and 1988 Rose Bowl. During that season, he compiled 73 tackles, three interceptions, and three fumble recoveries.

Harlon is and always will be a legendary figure in Michigan State history. He was part of some historic teams in the 1980s as a player and was also part of Mark Dantonio’s staff from 2007-2017 during the height of Dantonio’s era. Even though his tenure in East Lansing may have ended on a low note, what he did for the program now and in the past should make Spartan fans forever grateful.

I don’t usually cheer for other Big Ten teams, but I’ll always be rooting for Harlon throughout his entire career. He undoubtedly deserves our support after everything he’s done for MSU. I just hope the fanbase can continue to show him the support he deserves.

Lead writer for Spartan Shadows since April 2023, writing over 450 articles. Michigan State basketball, football and recruiting expert. Class of 2019 graduate from Michigan State University specializing in Sports Management. Daily MSU runs a popular X page (@daily_msu) covering all things MSU Sports.

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