Let’s clear up a few things from the last article’s thread that pertain to myself and Pitt football. There always seems to be the question hanging that I either like or dislike Pat Narduzzi as the head coach at Pitt. That is a question that has multiple answers. To simplify this I’ll say I think he was a good hire three years ago. But a lot happens in two and a half seasons to build opinions on.
First off and let’s make this perfectly clear – I do NOT want to see Pat Narduzzi fired. Some other posters may want that but you haven’t read that from me at any point. I think he deserves a full four/five years at least and he certainly deserves a chance to right the ship after the dust settles on this (hopefully) aberrant season.
Do I “like” Pat Narduzzi?
Yes, in many ways. I think his work as the leader of the football program and the players off the field has been excellent and I have agreed with his disciplinary measures. This is a big deal for me because I believe these young men are student/athletes and a large part of any HC’s job at Pitt is to show leadership to them and instill discipline among them.
As far as pure football goes I think he is an average head coach who has done pretty well so far… with mainly other HC’s players. But with that he also made the move to get Nate Peterman in at QB and ’16’s OC Matt Canada to Pitt and thus we had two eight win seasons in HCPN’s first two years. Pretty good work there, especially given our program’s record over the last five or so years.
I think he makes mistakes on gameday and is too risk-adverse to roll the dice and win sometimes – and BTW, after a full two years as a HC he should have minimized those by now. A good example is his opting for 3 points vs 7 points in the 4th quarter of the NC State game when down 28-14. He chose the FG because “that is what the chart says to do” instead of gambling and trying to make it a one-score game. We can argue this forever but my point is he is averse to risk taking.
Is he a good motivator of his staff and his players? Yes, in the main. You don’t beat Penn State and Clemson last season without getting those kids ready to play. Yet there have been times that we have come out of the gate either flat or too cocky which happens to all HCs at some point. I’ll say that I expected more consistency on this issue by now – the YSU game showed me that this year’s team had some real problems with this when we deadpanned after halftime… and then some players said publicly that they “let up” in the 2nd half almost costing us a loss to a FCS team.
So I sometimes question his in-game coaching but at the same time realize that when Saturday rolls around his role is mainly passed over to the Coordinators for in-game decision-making – both in personnel use and in playcalling. Except for timeouts, punt/no punt or crucial play calls as described above.
This is an area where I feel he has stumbled and mainly because he has watched his defenses start out rather poorly in 2015 and get worse over the last two years… yet he still sticks with his defensive coordinator Josh Conklin.
I think that is almost mind-boggling stubbornness and that it cost us a shot at a true excellent year last season – one where we could have at least been playing for an ACC championship or even, possibly, perhaps, the NCAA Playoffs. We won’t see that high quality of an offense again for many years in my opinion and in a sense it was wasted because our defense was so very bad.
Fans seem to think the opposite about his staff work here and I believe it is only because it was Narduzzi’s decision to hire Conklin in the first place… but so what? Conklin is an employee and certainly can be let go for not doing his job well enough.
As far as Pat Narduzzi as a person?
I feel like he is probably a great guy to have as a friend – who knows? But he has also made some business decisions that I believe have not helped him in his tenure at Pitt so far. Two of the bigger ones are his treatment of the media and his not only running closed practices but keeping such an info clamp on minor issues that he leaves the fans – who he is supposed to be working to please – scratching their heads.
There is a big difference about not being a “totally open” or “totally closed” HC. Most HCs find a comfortable medium somewhere in there based on their personalities with an eye toward both the football program along with the Administration and fans (and donors – don’t ever forget those). Narduzzi is a totally closed type of guy and I think that will hurt him in the long run.
I know for a fact that one of the reasons Narduzzi was hired in the first place was the University believed that his personality and energy would fit right in with Pittsburgh as a city and as a football town – and so had an eye on increased athletic donations in choosing him. That, aside from a single targeted bestowal by one couple, hasn’t happened and we still linger at the bottom of the ACC in donated income and pretty close to the bottom listing of any university of comparable size.
One point here when talking about a HC’s openness. There are certain things that a HC and his staff literally can’t talk about and that is academic issues with his players. Those are covered by Pitt’s student privacy policies so that is black and white. However, disciplinary issues and injuries can, and I believe should, be discussed within certain boundaries. Narduzzi shuts the door on almost everything.
When you talk about a HC one of the most immediate and important things to address is his recruiting – and this is tricky because in reality the results of that can take a couple of years to come to light. That is why when I talk about HCPN’s recruiting so far I always say “I think” or “I believe” that his recruiting is, and this is my opinion again, not that good.
But other fans look at his recruiting and have been saying it is great or fantastic when we really haven’t seen the results play out yet… in most cases. I think that is it solely because it is Narduzzi’s classes in most cases, and since most fans love Narduzzi so they just must be great players. Obviously I don’t hold that view.
And that is something that I feel is going to bite him in the ass in the years to come because we have been missing out on a lot of heavily targeted blue-chip kids, both local and afar, who have been choosing other schools. The staff even admitted this was the case after the 2017 class was signed.
I think Narduzzi has been a good hire and has been a decent HC so far – you just can’t sneeze at eight wins per in his first two seasons – and that he needs and deserves to have the length of his initial five-year contract to get the program in steady and solid shape. The fact that he was extended two years back in 2015 until 2021 means nothing – that was done for solely for recruiting purposes. Give him a full five years to show what he’s capable of which means two more years after this 2017 season to see what we truly have with him.
If we swing back up from this down year – and I think we will at least in part next season then make the hard decision to keep him or not. But at the same time we fans have to realize the Pat Narduzzi himself might want greener pastures and that is when the big $$$ decisions come in. Will Pitt put out extra millions per year to keep Narduzzi? We’ll see and I doubt it but at this point in time I think what he’s making for what he’s doing is just about right.
My overall score since we are talking about sports:
On the Field – I give him a “C+” (maybe B- depending on the next five games).
Off the field – I give him a solid “B”. Mostly because of his personnel handling of over 100 student/athletes who he obviously cares about as individuals. I could drop him a bit for his dealings with the media because I think he’s making a mistake there but I’m a nice guy so it’s a “B”.
OK – back to real-time football games. We are facing the Blue Devils – heavy on defense, light on offense – down in North Carolina. Some of the POV’ers will be attending – have a great time and send photos.
Reed’s predictions for the game:
Until this team can show me an offense that can score more points, on their own by scoring more, than the opponent I feel we will be on the losing end of games. So with what i think is a pretty good Duke defense I think we’ll see:
Duke 28 – Pitt 20