Back in December, I wrote this commentary suggesting that Pat Narduzzi consider bringing in someone with a Pitt or WPIAL background to the coaching staff. That happened today with the addition of Eric Kasperowicz as a volunteer assistant. Here’s what I had to say back on December 28.
Pat Narduzzi added another responsibility to his holiday work list after the announcement that his longtime assistant Rob Harley had accepted the job of Arkansas State defensive coordinator.
That means Pitt is now in the market for a new linebackers coach to join their staff.
Narduzzi hit home runs with his last few assistant coach hires in Archie Collins, Chris Beatty and Cory Sanders and will look to repeat that with Harley’s replacement.
Although Harley was a solid assistant coach, Pitt could use this chance to improve in a couple of areas that would benefit the program, particularly in the area of recruiting.
Looking at the makeup of the current staff, two things are missing. The staff is void of anyone that is from Western Pennsylvania and it’s also missing anyone that has worn the Pitt Panthers uniform. While some might look at that as overrated, I disagree and believe it’s beneficial if you are able to find the right guy.
When trying to get a top WPIAL player to commit to your program, it’s never a bad thing if that coach is from Western Pennsylvania but can also talk about what it’s like to stay home and play for Pitt. The only former Pitt player that Narduzzi has had as an assistant was Tom Sims, who was his first defensive line coach. Especially in college, I believe it’s an important element.
Even though it isn’t as talent rich as a decade ago, the WPIAL is a fertile ground for Power Five talent and although Sanders has done a nice job the last two years as Pitt’s lead WPIAL recruiter after replacing Harley, it would benefit Pitt to have a homegrown person as their lead man.
I’m sure Narduzzi has already been in touch with various candidates but if he’d like to go with my way of thinking, here are a couple candidates that would fit the description and could do very well.
Jarred Holley is a former four-year starter at safety for the Panthers and is currently the safeties coach for Greg Gattuso at Albany. Holley also served as a defensive graduate assistant for Arizona State following the end of his playing career. Holley was one of the smartest players during his time at Pitt on and off the field and has the qualities to be a star in the coaching industry.
The other person that I believe should be considered is a coach that I’ve previously endorsed and would no doubt be a star in college coaching and that’s Pine-Richland head coach Eric Kasperowicz.
Kasperowicz’s resume as a coach is star-studded. He’s a proven winner over a long period of time, winning two Pennsylvania state championships and being a finalist for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Coach of the Year in 2017.
On a yearly basis, he produces Division I and Power Five talent such as Phil Jurkovec, Andrew Kristofic and many others. During the course of his coaching career, Kasperowicz has developed relationships all throughout the WPIAL, which are invaluable.
Along with that, Kasperowicz has the credentials of being a 1993 Parade All-American safety at North Hills High School. Before selecting to stay home and attend Pitt, Kasperowicz also had Penn State, Michigan State, Georgia Tech and Syracuse as his final schools.
Kasperowicz is a Western Pennsylvania native, a former Pitt Panther and a marquee name in coaching. He’d be a home run hire for Narduzzi to add to the staff.
If Narduzzi wants to stay local, here are two more interesting candidates:
Scott Farison, the Duquesne co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach and Dave Plungas the Robert Morris defensive coordinator. Both are solid defensive-minded coaches that are familiar with the recruiting footprint and would add to the local standing of the staff.
Pitt has a chance to add youth to their staff along with hiring someone that fills some areas that I believe they’re lacking in. Let’s see how Narduzzi decides to go with this vacancy.