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Steigerwald: Will History Change for Narduzzi and Pitt?



Is this it for Pitt?

It’s still September and it’s a young team that could still make improvements, but the Pitt football program is a disaster.


There were signs of major progress for a while under Pat Narduzzi, most notably wins over two Top 10 teams, Penn State and Clemson last season, but it’s starting to look like Same Old Pitt.

A young team with a new quarterback getting blown out by teams like Penn State and Oklahoma State is not good but somewhat understandable and expected. Barely beating a team that doesn’t belong on your schedule in overtime and getting blown out in the first conference game is way too much like Same Old Pitt.

Rice comes to Heinz Field this week which means there can be very little good news for Pitt next Monday. Nobody will give Pitt any credit for beating a 1-3 Rice team that is coming off a 61-7 loss to Stanford last week and there will be more discussion about the number of empty seats than about the game.

That’s if Pitt wins.

If Pitt loses…let’s just say Pitt better win.

Coach Pat Narduzzi, September 10, 2016. — DAVID HAGUE

We’ve now reached the point where we don’t know if Pat Narduzzi is a good head coach. We know he’s a good assistant coach just like we knew, Foge Fazio, Paul Hackett, Walt Harris, Dave Wannstedt and Paul Chryst were good assistant coaches.

Todd Graham and Mike Gottfried were good head coaches before taking a shot at Pitt and both failed. One was run off, the other ran off.

Chryst couldn’t win at Pitt. He was 19-19 in his three years and managed to lose to Navy, Akron, Youngstown State, and Connecticut. He got a lot smarter when he went back to Wisconsin where he was a good assistant. His team is 3-0 and ranked 10th in the country. Chryst’s record since getting out of Pitt when the getting was good is 24-6.

Wannstedt managed to lose to Ohio U. and Bowling Green.

Pitt should not have fired Foge Fazio.

Pitt should not have fired Walt Harris and Pitt should not have fired Dave Wannstedt.

Narduzzi could still turn things around but history says he won’t and says it’s only a question of whether he gets fired or quits. When you’ve gone through this many good, proven, successful coaches for 35 years and you still have a mediocre, wannabe football program, at what point do you face the fact that you’re in over your head?

If Narduzzi can’t turn it around and ends up like Fazio, Gottfried, Harris, Wannstedt, Graham and Chryst (I forget the name of the guy who was coach for an hour and a half and was fired and refuse to look it up because it doesn’t matter) what’’s next? Is there a Pitt alum or a local college football fan who has the patience or the stomach to sit through another new coach’s introductory press conference?

I was around and covering Pitt’s 33-3 run under Jackie Sherrill and I remember how much everybody around the program despised the Athletic Director, Ed Bozik.

He had the nerve to suggest that it wasn’t right for Pitt to compromise its academic integrity to win football games and Sherrill had been around college football long enough to  know that he had just seen a sign that he needed to look for a new job.

He didn’t get fired. He quit.

If you went back and looked at the kids who were being recruited and signed by Pitt in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s – the only time that it has risen above mediocrity in the last 70 years – you would probably find a huge number of kids who would never get into Pitt today.

Is Narduzzi a failure as a head coach?

Pat Narduzzi at the Pinstripe Bowl — MATT DEWKETT

It’s way too early to make that call but the more legitimate question at this point is can anybody achieve the expectations of Pitt alumni and fans?

How much time does Narduzzi have?

He’s in his third year and noting that is happening right now is going to make it any easier for him to recruit the kinds of players required to become a Top 10 program.

Will Narduzzi be the coach who benefits from Pitt administration, alumni and fans finally coming to the realization that the glory years of Johnny Major and Jackie Sherrill aren’t coming back or will he be another victim of expectations that no coach will ever meet?

How many good coaches have to fail before it becomes obvious that it’s not about the coach?


Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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