In his career at Michigan State, fifth-year senior defensive end Shilique Calhoun has made a habit out of wreaking havoc in backfields and collecting hardware. He is a two-time second-team All-American and the Big Ten’s 2013 Defensive Lineman of the Year.
But in his final season in East Lansing, his former defensive coordinator, Pat Narduzzi, is no longer with him. Narduzzi left to become the head coach at Pittsburgh this year, leaving behind a defense that was consistently among the nation’s best.
The Daily sat down with Calhoun at Big Ten Media days in August for a discussion about Narduzzi, Jim Harbaugh and the NCAA.
The Michigan Daily: What did you like about playing for Coach (Pat) Narduzzi, and what do you miss about it?
Shilique Calhoun: I like the fact that Coach Narduzzi, you know, he never lets down. He’s always high-intensity. He’s going to be that crazy guy. He’s kind of like a fan. He’s a fan in a coach form. He wants to see you do better, he knows you can do better. He’s gonna tell you how much you should be doing better, and I think that’s exactly what I’ll miss about him. How wild he was, how crazy and how much in love with the game he was, and in love with us as players he was.
But we have great coaches, Coach Tressel, Coach Burton, Coach Barnett, that are definitely going to step up and do a great job, and they’ve been doing a great job for so long. It wasn’t just Narduzzi, but I will miss him, because that is my guy.
TMD: How different will the defense be without Narduzzi?
SC: We’ll still be the same Spartan Dawgs. I mean, that’s who we are. Our coaching staff does a great job of, you know — it was never a point where we felt like Coach Narduzzi was handling everything. Everyone had a hand in everything that we did. So there’s gonna be no need for picking up the slack. He’s irreplaceable because he’s Coach Narduzzi, but at the same time, he would have never left us in a terrible condition.
He understands what we have, and he understands the potential that we have, and he understands the potential we have as players and coaches. So I know we’re going to have a great year. We’re still going to have that same swarming-to-the-ball defense, all green helmets on everything. That live sideline, he’s not gonna be coming down it this year in the fourth quarter, but somebody will.
TMD: What do you think about all the attention on Jim Harbaugh and Michigan football the last six months?
SC: No comment? I’ll leave it at that. No comment.
TMD: The NCAA makes a point to say that student-athletes are treated the same as students, but the punishments are a lot harsher. How does that strike you?
SC: They’re harsher? I hadn’t noticed (laughs). No, I think because we’re in the public eye, and not only that, but (because) we’re stereotyped as role models so early on. Even straight out of high school, little kids look up to us. So I do understand why they do it and why it’s so harsh. But at the same time, I think the university should probably look at it as, we are still kids. 17-, 18-, 19-year old people coming out of high school, who … we’re still learning.
I’m a little older and a little wiser to know you can’t do (certain) things like that. But some guys are really young, and they don’t know any better. And of course they have to be taught a lesson, but I don’t think it should be as harsh sometimes. I don’t think, sometimes, that the hammer should be brought down on us, because we are just regular students. Even though we do play football, we are regular students also.
TMD: Is it actually helping anyone to have those harsher punishments?
SC: I think it does. I think for people who are moreso hard-headed. I think that it helps them realize that it doesn’t matter who you are — you’re going to be punished for what you’re doing. If you’re not doing the right thing, it’s going to be brought to the light, and you’re gonna, you know, reap what you sow.