Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi has an interesting decision to make in the upcoming weeks as to whether or not to retain offensive coordinator Shawn Watson.
In his second season, Watson oversaw a Pitt offense that didn’t exactly strike fear in the hearts of defenses.
The Panthers finished the regular season 96th in the country in total offense and 84th in scoring offense and didn’t do anything to improve those figures in the Sun Bowl by scoring just 13 points against Stanford.
The disappointing season has many Pitt fans calling for the ousting of the offensive coordinator, and some have suggested that if Narduzzi is unwilling to do so, that athletic director Heather Lyke should step in and force him to.
A quick scroll through Lyke’s mentions on twitter should capture the mood of the fanbase.
@CoachDuzzPittFB can't be that stubborn to keep Watson around another year. I don't care how many years left on Duzz's contract, his seat will be on fire next year with another inept offense run by Watson. @Pitt_LykeAD already showed she will take action with other sports
— FireShawnWatson (@superstein61) January 2, 2019
— Michael Claus (@MichaelClaus4) January 1, 2019
— Mikey T (@m_a_b_37) January 1, 2019
— Pittsburgh Sports (@PittsburghInsid) January 1, 2019
If @Pitt_LykeAD does not influence @CoachDuzzPittFB on firing OC Watson then I’m disappointed. This offense going on 2 yrs has been completely terrible. If he keeps him then his head is on the chopping block
— Chris Kennedy (@CKenadee) January 1, 2019
First of all, meddling in the staff decisions of a coach is always going to be a bad look for an athletic director. That person was hired to do a job, and he or she should have the staff he or she feels give them the best chance of doing that job.
Sometimes, things do get to a point where an executive will sit a coach down and say, “The fans are demanding change. This is going to hurt our bottom line. Something’s got to give. What do you want it to be, you or someone on your staff?”
It’s even possible that Pitt is at a point in time where Lyke would be justified in having that conversation with Narduzzi over Watson’s future.
But the problem with that is that Narduzzi has six years left on his contract extension. There’s absolutely no way he’s getting fired any time soon. So the “it’s you or them” part of that conversation wouldn’t hold any weight.
There are less heavy-handed ways an athletic director can attempt to influence these kinds of decisions, and if Lyke truly believes that Watson should go, it’s my guess that would be the kind of tactic she’d employ.
But anyone suggesting that she ought to start with demands of the head coach in order to placate the fanbase isn’t dealing in reality right now.
Narduzzi isn’t going anywhere, and if he remains dedicated to Watson as offensive coordinator, he’s likely staying, as well.