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Report: Pitt Hires WCU OC/QB Coach Kade Bell as New Offensive Coordinator

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Kade Bell is the man who will be tasked with turning around a Pitt offense that tanked in 2023.

Pitt has hired Western Carolina offensive coordinator and passing game coordinator Kade Bell as its new offensive coordinator, The Athletic reported. Panther-Lair reported first.

Pitt moved on from previous offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr. after two seasons following a season finale loss to Duke last month, and it sent Pat Narduzzi into perhaps the most important coordinator search of his Pitt tenure.

Bell will be tasked with turning around an offense that hit rock bottom under Cignetti last season, averaging just 20.2 points per game and 317.9 total yards per game, and he will have — largely — the same offense that Cignetti had in 2024.

Pitt secured the returns of Rodney Hammond Jr., Gavin Bartholomew and both Ryan Baer and Branson Taylor, and the hire of a young, innovative play-caller should excite those who may have been on the fence.

Bell is coming off a two-season stint at Western Carolina — an FCS program in Cullowhee, N.C. — and he turned the Catamounts into one of the most explosive programs in college football.

The Catamounts averaged 37.5 points per game and 504.1 yards (321.2 passing yards and 182.9 rushing yards) per game to lead the Southern Conference. And, in a complete flip from the 2023 season in Pittsburgh, WCU converted 44.2% of third down opportunities.

WCU quarterback Cole Gonzales threw for 2,803 yards with 28 touchdowns to eight interceptions, leading offense that broke school records for total yards and passing touchdowns.

Bell is a young, up-and-coming coach, graduating from Jacksonville in 2015 after a standout career as a quarterback, and he’s still fresh in the industry.

He started his coaching career as an assistant at Valdosta State (D2) in 2016, rising to offensive coordinator and passing game coordinator — leading an offense in 2018 that broke the Division II total points record.

Bell took the offensive coordinator position, also serving as an associate head coach, at Tusculum (D2) in 2020, and he spent two years with the Pioneers before taking the offensive coordinator job at WCU

Bell is likely the most important hire that Narduzzi will make in his near-decade as the Pitt head coach, as Narduzzi likes to be hands-off with his offensive personnel and let the offensive coordinator handle all of the day-to-day duties, and Bell will be tasked with turning around an inept offense that cannot flop again.

Bell is a change from how Narduzzi has traditionally hired, and he does not have any Power Five (or even FBS) experience, but he has certainly produced at his prior stops. Now he will have to produce at Pitt.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Sharon
Sharon
2 months ago

Courageous hire. Glad to see youth. We will be throwing the ball this year.

Kelvin Byrd
Kelvin Byrd
2 months ago

Can’t really criticize or support this hire. We will need to see if he can produce results. I am optimistic and relieved that Babers wasn’t hired.

H2Palko
H2Palko
2 months ago

Not impressed considering the individual stats of the offense he ran. I’m sure we are set for another old school run offense with an unathletic QB at the helm. Joy.

Baki Smolder
Baki Smolder
2 months ago
Reply to  H2Palko

Dumb

TJ
TJ
2 months ago

Welcome to Pitt Mr. Bell … H2P !

CES
CES
2 months ago

Looking forward to an explosive offense! Welcome to Pitt Coach Bell. H2P

Dixon
Dixon
2 months ago

Seems like a hell of a big jump from Westeren Carolina to Pitt. Narduzzi must really be impressed with this guy to make such a risky hire.

Baki Smolder
Baki Smolder
2 months ago
Reply to  Dixon

I agree. They should hire Matt Cavanaugh or Paul Hackett. They would be perfect for todays NCAA college game. Hiring someone young like Bell that players can relate to and a modern system that kids want to play in is really risky and dumb.

Dixon
Dixon
2 months ago
Reply to  Baki Smolder

Never said it was a dumb hire…just surprising. Actually, Cavanaugh or Hackett sounds more like a typical Naduzzi hire. As stated before, the fact that Duzz, uncharacteristicly, went with a young guy with no FBS experience (risky) must mean that he was really impressed with Coach Bell.

Jane
Jane
2 months ago
Reply to  Dixon

I know the school and conference it not close to being a big-time football

katuracassells@gmail.com
katuracassells@gmail.com
2 months ago

A guy that can coach quarterbacks and favors pass, oriented offense. In addition he is not an old retread. Just the opposite of what coach Narduzzi usually does. Refreshing change.

kevin
kevin
2 months ago

Welcome to the Panthers!
Hope it works out.
H2P!!!

Jimmy
Jimmy
2 months ago

Congratulations, Coach Bell, and welcome to the University of Pittsburgh!!

Section 122
Section 122
2 months ago

This smells like Narduzzi was told who to hire. No way he passes up someone who’s failed at other schools but is a life long member of the good ol boys coaching club like Babers. Hopefully, Pat stays out of the way and let’s the guy do his job. Now hopefully we get some capable offensive assistants b/c the RB, TE and OL coaches aren’t tearing it up currently.

Jane
Jane
2 months ago
Reply to  Section 122

This is not some great up-and-coming offensive coordinator from a smaller school. This conference was just a notch above five a high school.

Section 122
Section 122
2 months ago
Reply to  Jane

Still has to be better than what the players and us fans had to endure the past two years.

Baki Smolder
Baki Smolder
2 months ago
Reply to  Jane

How do you know? You are clueless.

Irish Protection
Irish Protection
2 months ago
Reply to  Section 122

Amen, because he’s destroying program. AD definitely involved. That’s why it was so fast. He won’t be successful with the washed up line Coach, TE coach, RB Coach. That line is a disgrace. He’ll bring in a QB from transfer portal. He will bring in at least 2 WRS and I believe a new line Coach will bring in a couple lineman. Need a QB.

Eli
Eli
2 months ago

Young and hungry, at least.

Denny
Denny
2 months ago

I don’t know much about him, however; his statistics as OC at WCU are outstanding. He deserves our support. Thank You

RealDeal
RealDeal
2 months ago
Reply to  Denny

He has a good bloodline. His father is former University of Florida great Kerwin Bell.

Biz
Biz
2 months ago

I think this is a good hire. Need some young blood in the staff that is willing to modernize the offense. Hoping for the best.

Rick Tilves
2 months ago

Can he bring his Sophomore QB with him through Portal ?

MDtkd
MDtkd
2 months ago

Pretty shocked that HCPN stepped out of what appears to be his comfort zone. I am all for this.

Irish Protection
Irish Protection
2 months ago
Reply to  MDtkd

It was the AD.

Jane
Jane
2 months ago

He comes from a small school and they didn’t
Dominate Against their better competition The school and the conference I know I frequent the school for work…I am a nay until he makes me a yay … PS Syracuse made the right hire

Section 122
Section 122
2 months ago

He will be the only member of the staff not enrolled in AARP.

T M
T M
2 months ago

No way Duzz made the Bell hire.. Too young & too innovative.. Duzz doesn’t want a passing game, only knows ground & pound.. If Bell flips Duzz’s stagnant offense, maybe Duzz will be asked to retire or move on & Bell become the new HC…. Time for Mr Boo City to hit the road. The comments he made about the team (blamed them for lack of talent & criticism of the Pitt season ticket holders (who help PAY his salary) should have got him suspended pending season end termination.. Unfortunately, he got an undeserved extension a couple of seasons ago… Read more »

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