PITTSBURGH — Pat Narduzzi said he’s staying at Pitt in a lengthy back-and-forth session with the media at the Panthers’ South Side practice facility on Wednesday.
Narduzzi, who will be entering his sixth year at Pitt in 2020, was widely considered to be one of the top candidates to replace Mark Dantonio as the head coach at Michigan State.
“I’m here at Pitt and I want to be here at Pitt,” Narduzzi said. “That’s where I want to be.”
He and athletic director Heather Lyke referenced many times that Narduzzi had to make a decision, indicating that he was offered the job at Michigan State, though neither outright said as much.
Lyke said that she called Narduzzi on Tuesday evening after Dantonio made his announcement.
“We talked about the situation that presented itself yesterday afternoon and wanted to make sure he knew that we wanted him to be at Pitt,” Lyke said. “It’s a relationship business, that’s what we’re in, and so I just connected with him and got his thoughts on what he was thinking.”
After thinking about it overnight, Narduzzi got back to Lyke Wednesday morning and indicated his desire to remain at Pitt, citing his relationship with her and the talent he’s returning from the 2019 team.
“The reality is that you’ve got to sleep on things in life,” Lyke said. “These are decisions — career, family, life decisions — that you don’t make in an hour.”
Narduzzi was also mentioned as a candidate for the open Rutgers job earlier in this cycle, a situation that he flatly denied interest in. This one, though, was different, given his history at Michigan State. Narduzzi was the defensive coordinator at Michigan State under Dantonio from 2007-14 and credited Dantonio with being one the men that mentored him along his coaching journey.
“You know how much success you had at another place,” Narduzzi said. “You enjoyed it, too. If you didn’t enjoy it, you wouldn’t have stayed there for eight years. There’s always that pull. It’s not an easy decision. …
“When it comes down to it, it’s about the people. I know what I’m dealing with here at Pitt. I know every day, when I call up Heather Lyke and say ‘hey, how about this,” she’s getting it done. I just know that. I don’t know that about any place else in the country like I know that here.”
Narduzzi called the repeated inquiries about his coaching future “a pain in the tail,” but Lyke admitted that other Power Five programs being interested in Pitt’s head coach is ultimately a good thing — as long as he stays.
“It’s a great problem, but Pitt is a destination place, and I think we’ve made that pretty clear with a number of coaches that we’ve brought in and are keeping,” she said.
Narduzzi also addressed his long-term plans, saying that he does not have aspirations to coach in the NFL and that he wants to remain at Pitt for the foreseeable future.
“I want to win championships here,” he said. “I have no desire, I can tell you that right now, to really be in the NFL at this point. … I want to win championships here. That’s our goal. We got a great football team coming back. Don’t underestimate that. I’m excited about our players. Our players are committed and their head coach is committed.”