Pat Narduzzi didn’t wait for the Pitt plane to land on the way home from Notre Dame. He went to a few players to discuss what he said following the loss to the Fighting Irish.
And when Pitt held its team meeting Sunday night, he made sure to open with an apology to the entire Pitt football team.
“We had a Sunday night meeting in here, after an emotional Saturday afternoon and evening, but I started off with my players — first thing I said, as I sat here at the podium, I apologized to our guys, to our football team, about my postgame comments, which didn’t obviously come out the way I intended them to come out,” Narduzzi said Monday at his weekly press conference.
“Sometimes that happens, but I looked at it over the last 48 hours, 24 hours, and there’s nothing worse than a loss. Losses hurt. The first thing I did was jump on the plane and watch the video on the iPad, but the loss hurts and everybody in that locker room was hurt. But when you feel like your players are hurt from something the head coach said, that hurts even worse. It makes you sick to your stomach. I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep last night.”
Narduzzi met with players Sunday, some early Monday and he’s always emphasized that his office door is always open. And he feels like his players understand him well after what transpired late Saturday night.
“I talk to our guys all the time about our program goals, and I won’t get into all four of them, which have been here since I’ve been here in eight-and-a-half seasons. Relationships are the number one thing we talk about all the time. And the relationships I have with our players are critical. That never ever can change.
“When you don’t have relationships with your team, you have an issue. I had a great team meeting with them last night last night. I think they know where I’m coming from, I think they get it. Relationships are everything. It’s why I coach, it’s what I do. It’s what I’ve done for years. To me, it’s always been, players love the coaches and the coaches love the players. If you don’t have that, you’ve got issues. So, I feel really good with where we are going this week.”
And of course, Narduzzi once again placed the blame upon himself and the coaching staff for the failure against Notre Dame over the weekend.
What you see is what you coach, he said, and clearly, the coaching was not up to par.
“It all starts with me,” Narduzzi said. “I wasn’t happy with the way we got prepared or the way we played, if we don’t play good, it comes back to me. So, I obviously didn’t have the guys ready to play like I’d like to, and our coordinators obviously didn’t have the guys ready to play like we’d like to.”
After the rough night, on and off the field, Narduzzi is ready to move forward. It was a difficult night on the field, but Narduzzi feels confident that the team is sticking together, playing together and ready to rebound against a tough opponent this week.
“Nobody is graded on one night, whether it’s a player or whether it’s a coach, whether it’s your play or what you say,” Narduzzi said. “There’s always another Saturday and there’s always another presser. There’s always a next. To me, you’re not defined in one game or one afternoon, I think you’re defined over time. And I think over time, my guys are my guys. I love my guys. I know they’re hurting after that loss, but my major message was, ‘I don’t care, I love you guys, I wouldn’t trade you for anything, period.’”
Pitt hosts No. 4 Florida State at Acrisure Stadium Saturday at 3:30 p.m.