Saleh reportedly denies interview request at Michigan State - 247Sports

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Scratch another name of the list of potential Michigan State hires. San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh will not pursue the opening left earlier this week by Mark Dantonio. Saleh plans to remain as Kyle Shanahan’s top assistant, according to NFL reporter Tom Pelissero.

Pelissero reports that Saleh informed Michigan State officials that he would not pursue the job after they requested an interview with him earlier this week. Saleh “feels he has unfinished business” in San Francisco after the 49ers lost to the Chiefs in the Super Bowl.

Both Iowa State’s Matt Campbell and Pittsburgh’s Pat Narduzzi quickly expressed plans to not pursue the job.

Saleh was originally one of two NFL names that emerged as serious names of interest at Michigan State. The other was recently-fired Giants head coach Pat Shurmur, who is now with the Denver Broncos.

“This is a live name that’s been vetted internally and discussed as a real candidate,” Yahoo’s Pete Thamel reports. “Shurmur is a Michigan State graduate and brings four years of NFL head-coaching experience. The results haven’t been there, but he’d be a safe transition away from Dantonio and be able to sell recruits on a coach who can get them to the NFL.”

Michigan State’s leadership met with the media Tuesday night after the surprising news of Dantonio’s retirement. A national search is already underway.

“As Mark said, it’s been an evolving conversation,” Spartans AD Bill Beekman said. “We’ve had a number of talks over the last number of weeks and months. But I think at some level — although Mark’s one of those people that I wish we could find a way to clone or keep here forever — with that said, because transitions are natural things in life, we’ve been planning for the various permutations and the various options for some time, and have a process in place by which we’ll expeditiously find a successor.”

Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell became the frontrunner early on in terms of public perception. Fickell addressed those reports on Signing Day when he said, “I have talked to nobody, and that’s the truth,” Fickell said. “Obviously I am very good friends with Mark Dantonio. I’ve stayed in contact with him. I have not communicated with anybody except Mark Dantonio in the last three to four weeks from Michigan State. I haven’t been thinking about it, haven’t been focused on it. We have five guys signed for us today. I was thankful I didn’t have to answer any questions because I didn’t talk to anyone.”

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