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Saunders: The Downside of a Seven-Year Deal



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.

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.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Eric Payne
Eric Payne
3 years ago

Travis Koontz was aggressive recruited by Pitt. When he committed,Pitt made a strong push to secure him again. During the course of their recruitment,he had a conservation with Shawn Watson. From his remarks, I instantly knew that he was unimpressed with their conversation and I knew that he wasn’t coming to Pitt. What surprised me was that the kid was looking for reassurance that he would have a role in the offense and Coach Watson either dish’ t hear him or did not care. I blame that conversation with losing Travis Koontz.

Pat adonizio
Pat adonizio
3 years ago

It isn’t Watson, unless he makes decisions as to how to address QB position, but don’t think so as he was here last 2 seasons, and the position has been disaray since HC first recruiting class. How many QB transfers in have we had, how qb’s have left?
Can’t have continuity or player development with that kind of merry-go-rount.

Terry Durko
Terry Durko
3 years ago

Isn’t the OC from 2016 available?(Canada) I believe he was the acting head coach at Maryland last year and did not get the head coaching job. He would be great if Nazz would take him back.

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