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FSU football hires Harlon Barnett from Michigan State as defensive coordinator

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A key coaching opening is finally filled.

Rutgers v Michigan State Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images

Ever since the hiring of new Florida State head coach Willie Taggart was announced, the matter of just who would round out his staff has been a primary concern of Seminole supporters. At the forefront of that angst: the defensive coordinator spot, which has now been filled, as the ’Noles will hire Harlon Barnett away from East Lansing per Bruce Feldman. He was previously the defensive coordinator for the Michigan State Spartans.

A safety as a player, Barnett played his college ball at MSU from 1986-1989 before embarking on a professional career from 1990-1996 that saw him spend time with the Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots, and Minnesota Vikings. Barnett’s coaching career commenced in the high school ranks of Ohio before he became a grad assistant at LSU under Nick Saban (where he was on the same staff as Jimbo Fisher) in 2003.

Barnett was hired away by his hometown Cincinnati Bearcats just a year later to become their defensive backs coach, a role he played for three seasons until taking the same position with Sparty in 2007. He remained the secondary coach through 2014 and in 2015 became Michigan State’s defensive coordinator, while retaining his coaching responsibilities with the DBs.

This is a rare coaching position that is not getting younger during FSU’s staff turnover— but it’s basically a wash. Barnett is about 8 months older than the man who had his job previously, Charles Kelly.