DETROIT — Like most fans, Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke was disappointed by the end of the 2019 football season.
But she’s confident that the staff in place is the right one to lead Pitt forward. In fact, not only does Lyke have confidence in head coach Pat Narduzzi, but she expects his entire staff to return for 2020.
“The reality was there are a lot of bright spots,” Lyke said before Pitt’s appearance in the 2019 Quick Lane Bowl. “There are a lot of guys returning. There’s a lot of opportunity moving forward. The continuity of the coaching staff is critical. We’ve made that a very important focus and priority and we’re really thrilled to have our coaching staff back and, obviously, to get some players back who were injured early in the season and the preseason.
“We have a lot of potential. There is a tremendous opportunity next season. The schedule tees up pretty well. We’re excited about what’s to come next year.”
Lyke said that stability, in particular, is something that she hopes will benefit the Pitt program. Offensive coordinator Mark Whipple and wide receivers coach Chris Beatty are still on their first season with the program.
“It’s significant, yeah, if you look at any tremendous programs that have been able to build and sustain some level of success. Our goal is to make Pitt a destination place where you can win ACC championships and compete for national championships across the board. You win with people and we start there. We’re going to keep who we believe in and can help take this program.”
Pitt could face some challenges in holding off competitors for top assistants such as Charlie Partridge and Beatty, but Lyke seems content in Pitt’s ability to hang on to what they deem important members of the staff.
“You never know. We’re still in bowl season, but I don’t anticipate it,” Lyke said. “I feel that Coach Narduzzi really values his coaching staff and they are a great unit and have come together very strong. We’re going to do what we can to keep our coaches.
“If they go on and become head coaches, that’s sort of a different story. But we want to keep them here for the jobs that they’re doing and Coach Narduzzi values all of them and the input and the impact that they’ve had. And so do I.”
Lyke did not hire Narduzzi, but she signed him to a seven-year contract extension in 2017 that runs through the 2024 season — five more seasons after the current one.
“I think he continues to become a better head coach every year,” Lyke said. “I think we’ve got a lot to do in the offseason to evaluate everything in the program, which we do every year. I don’t think this year is different in any way.
“But I think there’s a tremendous amount of talent coming back and a real opportunity to make an impact next season. Finish some games, eliminate some penalties, do some things [differently] that we were all disappointed in in many ways, him included. No one takes it harder than him. No one expects more than him.
“But I’ve got a lot of confidence in his staff and keeping the continuity of that staff together. They’re very, very good.”