The Athletic has not been kind to Pitt in the past in their rankings and they didn’t show much love to head coach Pat Narduzzi either.
In an article ranking the college football coaching tiers, The Athletic writers Chris Vannini and Bruce Feldman ranked Narduzzi as a “Tier 4” coach. The ranking system was out of tiers 1 through 8, with more specific “Tier 1” rankings for the top head coaches in Alabama’s Nick Saban, Georgia’s Kirby Smart and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney.
“This group of coaches is just below the Very Good group and could move up a tier with one more good season,” Vannini wrote about Tier 4.
Neither Vannini nor Feldman expanded on their justification for putting Narduzzi in that Tier. Out of all the ACC coaches, Narduzzi finished No. 8 on the list out of 14 head coaches.
Louisville’s Jeff Brohm, North Carolina’s Mack Brown, Wake Forest’s Dave Clawson, Miami’s Mario Cristobal and Florida State’s Mike Norvell all placed into “Tier 3.” Vannini and Feldman also placed Penn State head coach James Franklin into that tier as well.
“This is the Very Good group,” Vanini wrote. “Many have delivered consistent results, and some have BCS/NY6/CFP wins, but they haven’t broken through to the national championship tier.”
Narduzzi has a 6-1 record against the ACC head coaches in Tier 3, with the only loss coming against Brown last season in Chapel Hill, N.C. He also defeated Clawson twice, once in 2018 to clinch the first ACC Coastal Division Title and then in 2021 for the ACC Championship.
In Tier 4, Narduzzi is placed alongside fellow ACC head coach, NC State’s Dave Doeren. Eastern Michigan’s Chris Creighton, who Narduzzi beat in the 2019 Quick Lane Bowl, is also here.
Jacksonville State, who are in their first season of FBS Division I football, have their head coach, Rich Rodriguez, in Tier 4 as well.
Pitt fans remember Rich Rodriguez mostly from his time as head coach of West Virginia from 2001-07. With just one game to win before they’d play in the BCS National Championship game, Rodriguez and his team played the worst football of the 2007 season, losing the infamous, or famous to Pitt fans, 13-9 Backyard Brawl game, that dashed those National Title hopes and saw many WVU players crying on the field post-game in Morgantown.
The ranking that Vannini and Feldman gave to Narduzzi is quite interesting, considering that out of the other ACC head coaches, he is the only one to actually win an ACC Championship. Since he became Pitt head coach in 2015, he has the second most wins in the ACC with 41.
Pat Narduzzi heads into his ninth season as head coach of the Pitt football program, holding a record of 62-41 overall and 41-25 in ACC Play. Pitt hosts FCS school Wofford for their season opener this Saturday, Sept. 2 at 3:30 p.m. at Acrisure Stadium.