PITTSBURGH — This week, Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi signed a contract extension with Pitt that will keep him with the Panthers through the 2024 season.
The new contract will provide a raise for Narduzzi, stability for a program that desperately needs it and ammunition for Narduzzi to walk into a recruit’s house and pretty definitively say that he’s not going anywhere.
But Narduzzi was already under contract for four years and he’s coming off the worst of his three seasons as Pitt’s head coach. Both Lyke and Narduzzi said that the deal wasn’t as a result of another school attempting to poach him away, in fact, Narduzzi said that Lyke first approach him about an extension before the season even started. She also denied that the win over Miami had anything to do with the timing of the deal, though she described it as “fortuitous.”
So why now?
Part of the impetus for the new deal was an increased salary pool for Narduzzi’s assistant coaches. Lyke said Friday that was part of the deal, in addition to some other promised facilities improvements.
On Wednesday, USA Today showed why he needed it. The newspaper published a list of the salary of nearly every assistant coach in the country, as a compliment to doing the same with head coaches earlier in the year.
Former Pitt offensive coordinator Matt Canada was right near the top of the list, making $1.505 million to lead the LSU offense in 2017, which is just about $300,000 less than Narduzzi made at Pitt in 2016 as head coach. Georgia offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, who left Pitt for greener pastures after the 2015 season, earned $850,000.
Of course, Pitt is one of 25 schools that does not disclose the salaries of its assistant coaches. Most are private schools, but Pitt, along with Penn State and Temple, take advantage of a state law that only requires them to disclose the highest 25 salaries payed to university employees. Lyke declined on Friday to disclose any of the financial portions of Narduzzi’s contract.
“The first thing that he wants is to retain his assistant coaches,” Lyke said. “It’s not about [him] and again, I think that’s indicative of his personality and who he is. We obviously want to invest in our assistant coaching pool, which we have.”
So there won’t be any way to fact check whether or not Narduzzi does indeed get an increased assistant pool and how much, if any, effect it will have on his ability to get and retain top-notch assistants.
But there will be one way to judge the effect early on. Starting in January, Division I schools will be allowed to add a 10th assistant coach to the staff. That hire could be a chance for Pitt to bring in a top-flight assistant, perhaps another former head coach or coordinator like Charlie Partridge.
But there will be 128 teams all bidding for an extra assistant, so it will likely take money to make it happen. If Pitt’s 10th assistant hire ends up underwhelming, it could be a sign that Narduzzi doesn’t have as much money as is needed to operate on a level playing field. So could whether or not Pitt is able to hold off higher-level offers for any of their current coaches, as they have been unable to do in the past.
“Staff changes inevitably happen and I think with the 10th coach, you’re going to see a lot of stuff happen across the country,” Narduzzi said. “Everybody’s going to have another coach. People are going to be stealing from everybody. I’m just going to stay patient, see what happens, see who gets stolen. It’s going to happen. We’ll just kind of wait around and see what happens in that respect.”