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Pitt Football

Close Not Enough for the Panthers Under Narduzzi



Getting the football program to the “next level” and becoming a consistent 9-10 win football program is something fans have wanted from Pitt for years.

So far, it hasn’t happened.

Achieving nine or 10 wins isn’t necessarily an accomplishment at programs like Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State but it would mean something and be a symbol of growth at Pitt. That statement is backed up when you go back and look at the recent win totals at Pitt.

Consider that over the last 35 years, Pitt has only had three seasons in which they’ve won at least nine games (2002, 2008 and 2009). How rare is a 10 win season? Going back to 1906, Pitt has only achieved five 10+ win seasons. That’s five seasons of 10 wins over the last 113 years.

Aside from stability in the program, if you’re looking for one area that’s preventing Pitt from having that really good season it’s falling short in close games.

That’s especially true when examining Pat Narduzzi’s five-plus year tenure. As the saying goes, ‘close but no cigar’. Narduzzi’s career record at Pitt is 39-31 and of those 31 losses, 18 have come by a touchdown or less. As Pitt fans and everyone associated with the program are aware of, the two losses this season were by scores of 30-29 and 31-30.

No one should feel better, much less think progress is being made because of the closeness of the games. The bottom line is a loss is a loss and moral victories are of no value in year number six of a coaching regime. If anything, it’s a sense of frustration because of how close Pitt is getting to feeling a real sense of accomplishment.

Let’s look back at some of these seasons during the Narduzzi era and look at what could’ve been if Pitt would’ve been able snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

2019: Finished with a record of 8-5. Included in that are three losses of seven points or less that were are very winnable.

*Lost to #9 Penn State, 17-10
*Lost to Miami, Fla., 16-12
*Lost to Boston College on Senior Day, 26-19

The common theme in those game was the offense letting the team down and failing to score at least 20 points. If Pitt wins one or two of those games and they achieve that 9-10 win season.

2018: Finished with a record of 7-7 and once again, they can’t make plays late in the game and drop three winnable games decided by five points or less.

*Lost to North Carolina, 38-35. Very bad loss considering that Tar Heel team finished the season 2-9.
*Lost to #5 Notre Dame, 19-14
*Lost to Stanford in the Sun Bowl, 14-13

Like was the case in 2019, two of those three close losses saw the offense unable to score 20 points. Those three games were all very winnable which would’ve given Pitt a 10-4 record instead of 7-7.

2017: Finished with a record of 5-7.

*Lost to Syracuse, 27-24
*Lost to North Carolina, 34-31
*Lost to Virginia Tech, 20-14

The Virginia Tech game featured the infamous four fails from the 1-yard line. A touchdown would have sent the Panthers to a bowl game.

2016: The year the Panthers stunned No. 2 Clemson and beat eventual Rose Bowl-bound Penn State. Finished with a record of 8-5. This was a season in which 10 or even 11 wins was very possible. Except once again Pitt was unable to win the close ones.

*Lost to Oklahoma State, 45-38
*Lost to North Carolina, 37-36
*Lost to Virginia Tech, 39-36
*Lost to Northwestern in the Pinstripe Bowl, 31-24

2015: Finished with a record of 8-5 in Narduzzi’s first season at Pitt.

*Lose to Iowa, 27-24
*Lose to North Carolina, 26-19
*Lose to Miami, 29-24

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Curtis Colbert
Curtis Colbert(@bear071562)
1 year ago

Close games are when the head coach and his staff really have to earn their money by making the right calls most of the time. A time to stop the high fives and atta boy crap, quit cheerleading and focus in 100% on each game situation. Have seen very little maybe even less, of that in all those years.

Frank James
Frank James
1 year ago

The Duzz will always lean on “we are this close”. Him, and the whole staff need to move on.

1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Vukovcan

This is a bad take Mike. You are acting like a 9/10 win season is easy. Penn State which is the watermark of success on this site has had four 9/10 in the last 10 years.

Pitts program was in shambles 5 years ago and will continue down that road if people continue to push for turnover.

Serious question who is better than Narduzzi that would coach here and not leave immediately when they were successful?

Frank James
Frank James
1 year ago
Reply to  local_troll

It’s impossible to get 9-10 wins consistently in PSU division, going up against OSU, Michigan, etc.
a young offensive mind is a better option, and if Duzz was successful he’d be gone as well. The only reason he didn’t take MSU job was his old program is in shambles and he knows he would get destroyed in that division. Duzz needs to go.

1 year ago
Reply to  Frank James

Your answer about the new coach is a mythical person.

And the big ten East is so overrated. They have killers like Maryland, Rutgers, Indiana, etc.

Plus this year is an anomaly because we lost two wins against Ohio and Marshall.

James From Florida
James From Florida
1 year ago

This is the 6th season of Duzz and its the same thing year in and year out.

The administration either settles for mediocrity or makes a change.

No guarantees if the change will work out but in season 6 we see no real progress.

1 year ago

Mike, just want to say that I appreciate the factual and honest assessments that you and Alan have been providing. It does no one any good to talk about everything with rose colored glasses on, so I thank you for that. We should NEVER accept mediocrity.

Section 122
Section 122
1 year ago

Can anyone at PSN confirm word out there that Pickett has a broken foot?

Pat Adonizio
Pat Adonizio
1 year ago

Those 10+ win seasons were mainly bunched between Majors last season when we won the National Championship in 1976, and 1981 when Majors successor Jacky Sherrill posted 3 straight 11 wins seasons from 1979-81. Mediocrity was the son of Foge Fazio who took over the best team in college football and quickly turned us from a football power to an an also ran, with losing records in his tenure. Perhaps the most infamous decision was the hiring of Foge(by all accounts a great guy and defensive genious) and leaving George Welch at airport and never interviewing him so we could… Read more »

John P Stengel
John P Stengel
1 year ago

4 close games (3 very close) against middling ACC teams so they are middling. Big fan and will continue to support them, but I don’t see them breaking out of that profile. They get about the same level of talent as the other teams in the middle.

1 year ago

Mike, I agree with the point you are making, it’s time for Duzz to win the close ones. We should be winning 9 or 10 games per season given the money Pitt is spending. My only objection to your article is when you said “How rare is a 10 win season? Going back to 1906, Pitt has only achieved five 10+ win seasons. That’s five seasons of 10 wins over the last 113 years.” You are correct but you are being very miss leading since the number of games per season has not been consistent. Excluding 2020, most recent season… Read more »

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