Pitt Football: Hiring Of Pat Narduzzi Could Take Panthers To A New Level


Aug 29, 2014; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi reacts to a play during the second half of a game at Spartan Stadium. MSU won 45-7. Mandatory Credit:

Mike Carter


Earlier this month, Pitt fans had to suffer as their head football coach once again left for another program.  This time Paul Chryst, who was endorsed by Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez to become Pitt’s coach and add stability, was re-taken by Alvarez after only three seasons and a mediocre 19-19 record with losses to Youngstown State and Akron.

Before going further into the coaching discussion, I’d like to give some credit to Pitt for having 3 players selected to the NFL Pro Bowl: CB Darrelle Revis, RB LeSean McCoy, and rookie DT Aaron Donald.  Only Miami had more players with 4, while other schools with 3 included Alabama, Cincinnati, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.

Pitt had more Pro Bowlers than West Virginia and Penn State combined.

It has been reported that Pitt will hire Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi to become its next head coach, and I am ecstatic about this hiring.

Chryst’s departure may have been a blessing, as Pitt may be upgrading its head coach, and athletic director Steve Pederson was fired.  Pitt has now reassured a commitment to football.

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Narduzzi’s defenses have ranked nationally in the top 10 in each of the last four seasons.  This season, the Pitt defense looked horrible under Matt House, so this is a much welcomed change.

He also won the Broyles Award in 2013, given to the nation’s top assistant coach.

He also interviewed at Colorado State, but did not further pursue the job, as he indicated that Pitt was a destination job for him.

Narduzzi will inherit a well-built offense, led by ACC player of the year James Conner, who will be a junior. Dynamic playmaking wide-receiver Tyler Boyd, and versatile quarterback Chad Voytik will also be juniors.

With so much freshmen and sophomore talent returning (Pitt was the youngest team in FBS), this is certainly a job that was wanted by many.

When you look at the athletic facilities, playing at Heinz Field where the prestigious Steelers reside, a top-notch educational institution, and the history of Pitt football, anyone who says this isn’t a dream destination simply is wrong.

Pitt football has been stagnant under Pederson, but with a new chancellor at the helm, it appears that Patrick Gallagher wants to put Pitt football back on the map.

I now have hope that Pitt may bring back the traditional script and old-school colored jerseys that were donned by Tony Dorsett and Dan Marino.  I also have faith that we will begin to see better nonconference opponents and a commitment to renewing the Backyard Brawl.

Hiring Narduzzi is a great first step, as players loved him at MSU, and he is already familiar with recruiting in the area.  His teams depend on a top-notch secondary, and incoming freshman Jordan Whitehead fits that role.

As for the Pitt head coaching search, Narduzzi topped a field that included Marshall head coach Doc Holliday, Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell, and Pitt interim head coach Joe Rudolph, who many players were lobbying for.

As for trying to learn more about Narduzzi, here is what some people had to say via social media:

  • ESPN GameDay analyst David Pollack: “Narduzzi to Pitt is a GREAT hire!!!!!!”
  • Radio host, former MSU and Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Ike Reese: “He’s a fantastic coach.  Pitt would be lucky to get him.  Wishing him the BEST!!”
  • Steelers offensive MVP and former MSU running back Le’Veon Bell:  “They’re gonna love him.  Our players loved him, they loved playing for him.”
  • ESPN college football analyst Todd McShay: “Narduzzi’s defenses at MSU have always impressed me w/ discipline, toughness, and effort.  Should be a good fit at Pitt IMO.”
  • ESPN analyst Joe Schad: “Under Narduzzi, Michigan State has consistently led or been among the nation’s leaders in turnover margin.”
  • WVU fan and local owner of the world famous Bert’s Hot Dog shown on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives Bob Bertolotti: “6-6 about to get better.”
  • City of Champions co-editor and Thundering Herd fan Matt Gajtka: “Thanks for not taking Doc!”

These are certainly exciting times to be a Pitt football fan.