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Opinion

Vukovcan: Angry? Try Hopeless with Pat Narduzzi as Head Coach

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Anger, disappointment, discouragement, depression and frustration are some of the feelings Pitt fans must have had following Saturday’s 44-41 deflating loss to Western Michigan.

Those feelings don’t seem to directed at the team, but more specifically, directed at head coach Pat Narduzzi. Narduzzi has had his ups and downs as Pitt head coach, and Saturday afternoon was certainly a down, one that left many Pitt fans calling for the firing of the head football coach.

It brings a start contrast to the last time Pitt had a coach with a lengthy tenure of only slightly better than average results.

When Dave Wannstedt was fired in 2010, people were genuinely upset and felt Steve Pederson made a mistake. Fans, boosters, former players, media truly liked Wannstedt and always rooted for and gave him the benefit of doubt in many ways, regardless of some of his faults.

That certainly won’t be the case when Pitt and Narduzzi eventually part ways. I can promise you that very few people will shed a tear when that day comes, which certainly wasn’t the case with Wannstedt.

With the arrogance in which he has always conducted himself, you’d think that Pitt is currently a Top 10 program with a trophy case full of recent championship trophies but that’s hardly the case. The reality is his personality only drives people away from caring about Pitt football, which isn’t the smart thing to do when you’re a perennial 7-8 win team which draws 25,000 to 30,000 actual fans a game.

If you want a perfect example of his arrogance and how not to be honest in dealing with reality, watch his postgame press conference after Saturday’s game, which was his most embarrassing loss at Pitt.

When you’re in year seven of your tenure as coach, such an embarrassment as fans witnessed should not still be happening. Just imagine what we would’ve watched if Kenny Pickett didn’t decide to return for another season. Holy hell that would’ve been ugly not that Saturday wasn’t.

Getting out-classed by a MAC program happened because of Narduzzi’s stubbornness and arrogance.

The biggest examples of that is the defense that he continues to run despite not having the personnel to do so, he refuses to adjust or change anything from his days at Michigan State.

Western Michigan head coach Tim Lester was offensive coordinator for Syracuse in 2015. Lester said he watched that video about “300 times” this week and knew exactly how to attack Pitt because Narduzzi is still running the same defense as six years ago.

If that doesn’t describe a coach that refuses to change or adjust things than I don’t know what does.

This arrogance or maybe it’s just he doesn’t know how to fix things also describes something that’s happening on offense and actually has been happening for three plus seasons.

Pitt physically cannot run the football and haven’t been able to do so since the arrival of Mark Whipple and Dave Borbely. Is that just a coincidence? Maybe, but all I know is that it’s a problem and has been a problem.

Either it’s the blocking scheme, talent on the offensive line, talent at running back or the offensive coordinator but the inability to run the football negatively impacts plenty of things both offensively and defensively. Narduzzi hasn’t fixed this and when questioned about it, he gives arrogant answers and is in denial like he was following the Tennessee game.

Kenny Pickett has covered plenty of warts when it comes to this Pitt team but No. 8’s time will be finished this year and then what?

Do you have any confidence that a current quarterback on the roster can immediately come in and move the offense the way Pickett has done for the last two years? With no ability to run the football, it’s a hopeless feeling isn’t it? Or in other words another rebuild or a six-win season?

It’s becomes a hopeless feeling because you get the sense that Pitt’s administration and money people are satisfied with the job Narduzzi is doing and being OK and being a good program. Maybe the feeling is that in today’s current climate of college football, this is the best Pitt can be. They know they’ll never be like Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, etc. and are never going to be one of bottom feeders of the ACC.

If that’s how they truly feel, than Narduzzi is the perfect person for the job and he should remain as head coach for the foreseeable future.

However, if Heather Lyke and company aren’t just content with being mediocre, are tired of having no one in the stands at Heinz Field and want to raise expectations of the football program, than some hard decisions might have to be made after the season.

The University of Pittsburgh has been very patient with Narduzzi and have compensated him greatly and to this point, he hasn’t deserved either. Narduzzi needs to make serious changes starting with himself and his decision making process and if he isn’t capable of doing so, Lyke needs to be in the market for a new head coach.

 

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Joe
Joe
29 days ago

If you are having a pass happy offense that doesn’t spend much time on the field, you need to recruit more defensive players. You can:t xpect a defense to face 86 plays and not tank. Teaching pass blocking is easy compared to run blocking. You need coaches who can teach run blocking, recruit to match the needs and coordinate a balanced offense.

Clark
Clark
29 days ago

I have to agree that we were out coached in this game. Lester knew how we would defend and prepared a good plan. But I have to say Pitt aided the plan with poor plays on both sides of the ball. Coach Narduzzi should have known this was coming and made game specific adjustments. There’s really blame to go around to everyone. The coaches did poorly and so did the players. Got to fix this by next week or the ACC schedule will be a disaster.

kevin
kevin
29 days ago

Great article! I truly feel Narduzzi is still learning on the job, like a first year coach. He is still playing a 1980s defense and never adjusts at half, or ever! And no one is talking about the really stupid call to go for it on 4th and 4, late in the game when only down 7. It put us down 10 and pretty much sealed the game. No decent head coach would have done that. If he’s a defensive guy, and thats’s why we hired him, he has to be totally embarrassed with the last 7 years of his… Read more »

Jeff
Jeff
29 days ago
Reply to  kevin

And Narduzzi nearly blew the Tennessee game by asking a Freshman kicker to make a 56 yard field goal while an SEC crowd is raging in the background. We got really lucky that stupid decision didn’t cost us.

Kenneth Robertson
29 days ago

WMU ran the slant play all first half. Pitt didn’t adjust. WMU ran the slant play all second half. Pitt didn’t adjust. Pat is suppose to be a defensive coach. Will Heather adjust?

Richard Johnson
Richard Johnson
28 days ago

# 0 is not a natural linebacker, he tipped his blitzes all day not blaming him just the scheme. They threw to his side every time he blitzed. Most Nfl teams can’t play man defense especially with no linebacker help underneath. He needs to go.

Clark Martineau
Clark Martineau
28 days ago

He had sacks against Tennessee didn’t he?

Terrence
Terrence
29 days ago

Narduzzi needs to go plain and simple Mike you bring up alot of good points I don’t need to say anymore

Bob
Bob
29 days ago

Pitt was out coaches all game. I can’t believe that our defense couldn’t get one stop. It’s crazy that in a game that Kenny Pickett had 6 touchdown passes that we lose. We had no pressure on their qb all day, they tan on us at will and hallett couldn’t cover my 6 year old son on that slant pass. Narduzzi has proven over the last 7 years that he won’t change and he gives the same damn answers after every bad lose and there has been many. I’m a 20 year plus season ticket holder but unless some major… Read more »

kevin
kevin
29 days ago
Reply to  Bob

It’s very difficult to play man coverage if you don’t jam the WR at the line to slow them down. I see other teams even use a LB to jam the WR then the DB picks up coverage. Playing 10 yds back also allows for a quick WR screen (over and over). I get that the DBs don’t want to get beat deep and play off the WR, but it’s not working!!!!

NARDUZZI: PLEASE make changes or I hope Heather does!

Bob
Bob
29 days ago
Reply to  kevin

I agree Kevin. That’s my point as Narduzzi has never changed his defense and people know how to attack it. He needs to mix up his defenses or like you said at least jam the receivers to give our defensive lineman time to get to the quarterback. The only bad thing is we know that good teams will then attack our corners one on one deep balls and beat us. If Narduzzi is a defensive mastermind then he needs to figure this out now or be let go after this year as I have no faith in anything ever changing.

Jeff
Jeff
28 days ago
Reply to  Bob

And to be honest we should have better options after 7 years than Owen Drexel at center. Those bad snaps really hurt as well. When Drexel was taken out they put Keldrick Wilson in at right guard. I actually prefer having Jake Kradel at center. The only problem is when Kradel is at center I don’t want Wilson at right guard. It’s hard for me to believe there isn’t a better option there.

Rob
Rob
29 days ago

I totally agree that Narduzzi never adjusts and keeps relying on his scheme and keeps getting burned. I wonder if Heather Lyke is happy with not only the embarrassment of yesterday, but the arrogance in his post game comments. I remember like it was yesterday when he was hired and Pitt was in a bowl I believe against maybe Houston and the defense was getting torched, and Narduzzi was up in the press box saying that won’t happen under my watch. Well seven years later it has on numerous occasions. Narduzzi has to go, he has had numerous opportunities to… Read more »

Krackerjack Kid
Krackerjack Kid
29 days ago

Great article and spot on. I have said it time and time again. Narduzzi is the dangerous combination of stubborn, arrogant and dumb. He repeats his childish statements year after year and NOTHING changes. Nobody keeps him accountable. Between the 15 yard penalty he earned his team yesterday, the terrible play calls, the unwillingness to try something different in the run game, and bad strategic calls (4th down anyone?), and totally being outsmarted on defense, it’s clear he’s is stubborn and can’t change. Add the terrible comments in the presser after and he is even more embarrassing. What to his… Read more »

James from Florida
James from Florida
29 days ago

Mike,

I think you covered all the points, this game is probably the beginning of the end for Narduzzi. The program has not progressed under his leadership and yes, without Pickett it would have been a blowout loss.

Seven years into his tenure and the same issues exist year in and year out.

MrThisThatSoForthandTheOther
MrThisThatSoForthandTheOther
29 days ago

Mike

Great article and thank you for it. The long suffering Pitt fans need more articles like these from the people like yourself. I feel like the only way that a change will be made is if more of these articles are published to embarrass the administration into doing something. Isn’t 7 years of mediocrity at his price tag enough?!?!?
Narduzzi is never going to learn. He is never going to change. He is too arrogant for that. Enough is enough.

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
29 days ago

Flip flop much? Last weeks piece was about turning a corner. One week later calling for his head? Ok.

Jeff
Jeff
29 days ago

All those feelings stem from knowing that it’s not a talent issue with Pitt as Alan pointed out in his well written article. The frustration comes from witnessing idiotic decisions and being outcoached.

Let's Believe
Let's Believe
28 days ago

After yesterday’s game, I’m going to be changing my name on here to “Waiting To Believe.” Pitt has to make a statement on what kind of program they want to be. USC fired their coach after going 1-1. Narduzzi has had 7 years and is loaded this year with 5, 6, and even 7 year seniors who also need to take ownership of this loss as well. Pitt is one of the most experienced teams in the country and ok Narduzzi creates a culture where players want to stay. But the results remain the same. Want fans in the stands?… Read more »

Let's Believe
Let's Believe
28 days ago
Reply to  Let's Believe

On a side note I’m looking forward to the “Narduzzi versus Dipaola” weekly battle during this week’s press conference. Usually I feel Jerry is just being obnoxious but this week… Go get him Jerry! Lol

Giovanni
Giovanni
28 days ago

Thank you for the insightful and intelligent analysis. I’ll begin by saying that BIG kudos are due for Pickett, the Pitt receiving core (especially Addison), Baldonado, Kancey, and perhaps Brandon Hill. Vincent Davis is the biggest producer of the RB’s and always gives his all. Pitt has so much more talent than WMU. Pitt will continue to be an impressive pipeline for the NFL draft while WMU will be lucky to have any players drafted. So how did Pitt look so badly versus WMU (and against so many less talented teams during Narduzzi’s 7-year stint as head coach)?? Well, as… Read more »

Doug Lehman
Doug Lehman
28 days ago
Reply to  Giovanni

WMU currently has 12 players that are in the NFL they get players drafted every year pit has 24 playing in the NFL. wmu was ranked number 11th final rankings 2016 WMU, you under estimated WMU talent level vs Pitt. Elite MAC beats subpar ACC. It happens.

Last edited 28 days ago by Doug Lehman
Charles Cosentino
Charles Cosentino
28 days ago

Fire Duzz

Rolmar
28 days ago

Didn’t know that Pitt was still playing football

Mitch D.
Mitch D.
28 days ago

Wow…..you actually printed these 2 sentences in a row:

“when you’re a perennial……team which draws 25,000 to 30,000 actual fans a game.

If you want a perfect example of…….how not to be honest in dealing with reality…”

Last edited 28 days ago by Mitch D.
Duquesne FB

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