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Pitt HC Pat Narduzzi Has Learned A Lot at Every Stop in His Journey



Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi.

Pat Narduzzi has learned something from just about every coach he’s ever worked with during his lengthy coaching career.

Keith Floyd, who was the head coach at Rhode Island in the 1990s, offered Narduzzi his first full-time job. About $30,000 a year. Randy Walker, who was the head coach at Miami (Oh.) in the 90s, helped Narduzzi get a feel for his football team.

Joe Novak, who served as the head coach at Northern Illinois from 1996-2007, taught Narduzzi tough love. Don’t you ever put your coat on first at a high school clinic. Ever. Terry Hoeppner, who coached at Miami (Oh.) for nearly 20 years, taught Narduzzi that practice is overrated. Mark Dantonio, of course, taught Narduzzi a whole lot.

But if there’s been one person that Narduzzi has learned the most from, on and off the field, it’s his late father Bill.

“I played for my dad back in 1985, so I wish I was in the coaching profession with him,” Narduzzi told Wes Durham in a recent interview with ACC Network. “I wish he lived past age 51, and I could’ve really watched what he did. But I saw it from the yard, saw it from the kitchen table and I saw it from my freshman year playing linebacker for the head coach, the defensive coordinator and the linebackers coach.

“So, I’d say I’ve got that toughness factor, I’ve got the ability to communicate and relate to players that he had. Obviously, a mind for football, I think. He was a defensive coordinator, and he had some great defenses and developed his own defense. I feel like we’ve done the same thing here at Pitt and where I’ve been throughout the years.”

Bill was the head coach at Youngstown State from 1975-85, compiling a 68-51-1 record over that span — with a trip to the NCAA Division II championship game in 1979. He was the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) Coach of the Year in 1984.

If Narduzzi does anything on gameday that reminds him of his father, after playing for his father during his freshman season at Youngstown State in 1985, it’s a certain pregame approach.

“My dad always had a pocket rosary in his hand or in his pocket, so I’ve got that with me on gameday, my daughters or my wife makes sure I’ve got one of those available at all times in case I lose one because I’m susceptible to losing things,” Narduzzi said. “I’ve got extras, I could go in my briefcase tomorrow, if you see me unzip that thing, you’re gonna see a bunch of them probably fall out of the briefcase.”

Bill passed in 1988 following a battle with Hodgkin’s Disease, but his son has always kept him close to heart during his coaching journey.

Narduzzi is entering his 10th season at the helm of Pitt football, and while he’s coming off the least successful season of his career, he’s approached the bounce back in a new way. He gutted the offensive staff, hired former Western Carolina offensive coordinator Kade Bell to run the offense and completely gave himself to the idea that the Panthers needed drastic changes to bounce back.

“Sometimes you have to be your own guy and go with your gut,” Narduzzi said. “So, I can’t tell you — I think the one thing I have a good feel for is coaches, and there’s no age discrimination, old or young. It doesn’t really matter. I can hire a 55-year-old coach or I can hire a young coach. When I was defensive coordinator at Rhode Island, I hired an old coach and he asked me why do you want an old son of a gun like me? Why do you want to work for a young guy like me? That was John Gutekunst.”

Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi and wide receiver Kenny Johnson.

Pittsburgh Panthers wide receiver Kenny Johnson (2) Pittsburgh Panthers head coach Pat Narduzzi October 5, 2023 David Hague/PSN

Narduzzi is entering Year 10 largely because Pitt wanted to find consistency after a tumultuous post-Dave Wannstedt era. Pitt didn’t want someone who viewed the job as a stepping stone.

There have been ups and downs, but throughout it all, Narduzzi has certainly brought stability back to a program that went through Michael Haywood, Todd Graham, Keith Patterson, Paul Chryst and Joe Rudolph either being hired or coaching at least one game between 2010-2014.

“I’m loyal, and I think they were looking for some loyalty,” Narduzzi said.

Narduzzi is 65-50 (43-31) in his nine seasons in Pittsburgh, and he’s only one season removed from the most successful two-season stretch in the last four years.

RELATED: Pat Narduzzi Confident in Pitt Defensive Rebound in 2024

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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