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Pitt Football

Farrell Files: Has Narduzzi Been Good or Bad at Pitt?

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Eight years ago, on December 26, 2014, Pat Narduzzi was introduced as the next head coach at Pitt. Coming off some serious embarrassment it was hoped he would be a fit and, equally as important, he would last. It’s been a really good run.

Remember the embarrassment. I’m sure Pitt fans don’t need to be reminded but from a national standpoint the Pitt program was considered a national joke of sorts. After Dave Wannstedt recruited the WPIAL well and had Pitt more than respectable, he was forced out in what looks like an idiotic move in hindsight. Pitt’s teams weren’t great, and he had more disappointing seasons than his two great ones (9-4 in 2008 and 10-3 in 2009). But recruiting was going well, he was a Pitt guy, and they certainly could do worse. And they did.

Michael Haywood was hired and never coached a game after being arrested for domestic violence. Todd Graham was hired to replace him, went 6-6 in one season and left for Arizona State. Paul Chryst was hired to replace him, went 19-19 in three seasons and bolted for his alma mater Wisconsin. The perception of Pitt was they couldn’t make a good hire and couldn’t keep average hires from leaving.

Narduzzi was hired from Michigan State where he was a well-respected defensive mind under Mark Dantonio and the hope was he’d stick. And stick he has. He’s 61-41 overall and 41-25 in the ACC. This include two division titles and resulting appearances in the ACC title game, likely something few expected when he was hired. In 2014 the ACC was dominated by the Atlantic division with Florida State a juggernaut and national champ and Clemson an emerging title contender. The Coastal however was up for grabs with Georgia Tech and their triple option offense leading the way. Narduzzi immediately made Pitt a division contender finishing second in his first two seasons. But this is where the story gets good.

After a rough 5-7 season in 2017, Narduzzi got a bit of luck. The ACC Coastal was brutally bad with teams like Georgia Tech, Virginia, Miami and Duke all sporting average records and beating each other up. Pitt beat the Jackets, Cavaliers and Blue Devils in the second half of the season to claim the division with a tepid 7-5 overall record but a 6-2 conference mark. Out of conference losses to Penn State (51-6 ouch), UCF and Notre Dame didn’t matter as they handled business in the conference and earned the right to play Clemson for the ACC title. They of course got drubbed 42-10 by Trevor Lawrence and the Clemson team that won the national title, but it was a season where Narduzzi started to show he belonged. 7-5 after a 5-7 season may not sound like much but the division title went a long way. Pitt finished the season 7-7 after the ACC title game loss and a bowl loss to Stanford but Narduzzi hasn’t had a losing season since.

8-5 in 2019 and 6-5 in 2020 weren’t much to brag about but the Panthers were back in the ACC title game again in 2021, this time beating Wake Forest to win it. It was another key step forward for Narduzzi and established him as a man secure in his status as the head coach and not nearing a hot seat anytime soon. Pitt finished 11-3 that season and, despite high expectations and a disappointing 8-4 season this year so far, things are rolling along for Narduzzi. I expect them to get drubbed by UCLA this week in the Sun Bowl with so many opt outs and losses to the transfer portal, but another winning season isn’t so bad when you think about the bleak years after Wannstedt.

Fans will complain about many things of curse. Recruiting has been a disappointment in the 2023 class, many think he drove former OC Mark Whipple away to Nebraska and didn’t do enough to keep WR coach Brennan Marion (and WR Jordan Addison), but Narduzzi does things his way. He’s always been stubborn, always. It will ruffle feathers and leave fans upset at times, but the results have been solid.

As you know I’ve covered college football from a national level for ages now. I always like to give fans of a team a 10,000-foot view of their program, recruiting, coach or whatever. Here’s my take on Narduzzi — he’s established continuity for Pitt, he’s a good coach and average recruiter who develops players and Pitt is lucky to have him.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Pittband
Pittband
1 month ago

If he’s such an average recruiter, then how has he put a number of kids into the next level? Money drives college sports and Pitt doesn’t have the resources of the SEC, Big Ten or Notre Dame. Send Rooney and his pro team away and all of a sudden Pitt has the resources. I know it’s blasphemy but it’s true.

On Campus Stadium Please
On Campus Stadium Please
1 month ago
Reply to  Pittband

He is an average recruiter…Coming off an acc title and he has all 3* signees. If pitt is happy with 7-8 wins a year then duzz is the guy, Heather seems to think so.

kevin
kevin
1 month ago

I think he is slightly above average. We are close the top 20 every year (sometimes up and sometime below), and that’s about where he rates in my mind. It’s very hard to get any higher, and takes commitment on all parts. Now with transfers and NIL, everything has changed. SO… we will see how Pitt adapts to the changes.
H2P!!!

Reese26
1 month ago

Recruiting in major college football comes down to one thing – Money. The major programs have the money to spend on recruits, because that’s what these kids are looking for, they go to the highest bidder. Pitt doesn’t have the alumni support that the major programs have, the end result is the recruiting classes you see. Having said that, Duzz isn’t recruiting these 3 star kids with the intention that they’re playing right away. His program has more than enough depth across the board that these kids typically redshirt and don’t really see the field until their 3rd season and… Read more »

Denny
Denny
1 month ago

Overall, he has been good for Pitt. Paul Chryst’s heart was not into it, and Fraud Graham was a awful person. At least Pat likes our part of the country.

Rooster
Rooster
1 month ago

Pat Narduzzi is a good coach. I am glad we have Pat especially after all the instability the program has suffered through.

Dixon
Dixon
1 month ago
Reply to  Rooster

Agreed, sure there are better coaches in college football, but not many of them are at schools similar to Pitt in size and resources.
BTW all that instability in the program was created by one man….best move Pitt made was to get rid of slick Stevie P.

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