Interim Cincinnati coach will lead team in bowl game

CINCINNATI -- Defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi was
appointed Cincinnati's interim head coach Monday, a few hours after
Mark Dantonio left for Michigan State.

Narduzzi will coach the Bearcats (7-5) in their bowl game, which
hasn't been determined. Cincinnati became eligible for a bowl by
winning four of its last five games, including an upset of
then-unbeaten Rutgers.

Athletic director Mike Thomas said Narduzzi is a candidate for
the permanent head coaching job, which he hopes to have filled
before Christmas.

The 40-year-old Narduzzi has been defensive coordinator under
Dantonio for the last three seasons. Cincinnati's defense was one
of the youngest in the nation last season and it made dramatic
improvement this year, moving up to 36th in Division I-A in yards allowed.

Narduzzi also was a defensive coach at Miami of Ohio, Northern
Illinois and Rhode Island.

Thomas thought it was better to let the coaching staff handle
the bowl game without Dantonio.

"I spoke with Mark this morning about whether or not he would
stay and coach the bowl game, and it came out as a mutual decision
that we would find a replacement for the game," Thomas said. "At
the end of the day, it was my decision. I feel as though it is best
for this program for Mark to move on with what he is doing at Michigan State."

At the start of his third season in Cincinnati, Dantonio asked
fans to fill the Bearcats' 35,000-seat stadium. They didn't come
close to a capacity crowd for any game. There were about 7,000
empty seats for the final home game against Rutgers, even though
the school offered tickets at a deep discount.

Thomas said the inability to draw fans was a factor in Dantonio leaving.

"I think that the fact that at Michigan State they get 70,000
fans to come out to games, and here in Cincinnati, Coach was lucky
to get 25,000," Thomas said. "I think that definitely played into
his decision."