Here is a thoughtful article on Pat Narduzzi’s tenure by Thomas Eicher…aka “Ike”.
It’s been four years now since Head Coach Pat Narduzzi (HCPN) has taken over as head coach for the Pitt Panthers. So where is this football team right now? And what kind of immediate future does the team have? I’m going to break down these questions two ways, One: Narduzzi’s entire 4 years at the helm, and Two: This past year.
Of course this is strictly my opinion.
First the overall: With one game to play this season, Narduzzi’s overall record stands at 28-23. No, I do not think that’s the kind of record to stand atop a mountain and sing his praises about….at least not until we all look back at all the previous PITT head football coaches since Jackie Sherrill.
Believe it or not, 28-23 is one of the the best four year records since Mr. Sherrill. I know, that’s not saying much, but it does say something.
Yes it’s true, Pitt football hasn’t inspired a whole lot of jumping up and down since Sherrill left for Texas A&M in 1982, so I will say that HCPN is at least on par with previous head coaches at PITT since their last heydays in the early eighties….
First, Narduzzi has a 16-10 record in his first two years. This was with Paul Chryst’s players and transfer QB Nate Peterman. Luring Peterman into the fold was probably Narduzzi’s best move so far, and it really helped get his tenure off to an impressive start.
Then the proverbial 3rd year slump hit, resulting in a not-so-good 5-7 record and a missed bowl game.
That put the ‘Duz at 21-17 which is a .552 winning percentage, which is basically what he stands at now. (28-23 is .549).
Ike is directionally correct. By the numbers, Narduzzi has the best winning percentage through the first four seasons for any coach since Jackie Sherrill, except for Mike Gottfried. Narduzzi just barely beats out Foge Fazio. Note that if Pitt Loses the 2019 Sun Bowl ‘Duzz’ winning percentage will drop to .539, and if we win it will increase to .558
2015 – Present Pat Narduzzi: 28-23 .549
2012 – 2014 Paul Chryst: 19-19 .500
2011 – 2011 Todd Graham: 6-6 .500
2005 – 2010 Dave Wannstadt: 25-23 .520
1997- 2004 Walt Harris: 20-26 .430
1993 – 1996 Johnny Majors II: 12-32 .270
1981 – 1992 Paul Hackett: 13-20-1 .295
1986 – 1989 Mike Gottfried: 27-16-2 .600
1982 – 1985 Foge Fazio: 25-18-3 .543
1977 – 1981 Jackie Sherrill: 39-8-1 .810
While we are on the subject of bowl games…Narduzzi’s record is 0-2 in bowl games. That fact sticks in a lot of peoples’ craw and I can kind of see why, but in reality, it’s only two games and one was against a seriously more talented team in Navy. The Northwestern game was much more controversial and much more hotly debated so I’m not going back there. I just don’t think we need to harp on Narduzzi’s bowl record until we have more criteria to go by.
So now we are on to year four. So what do we know about this past year? It was said Pitt had one of, if not the toughest Out Of Conference (OOC) schedules in the country. I’ll buy that, mostly because of the way Pitt got blown out against Penn Sate and Central Florida. Those two games were hard, but the Notre Dame game gave us all a little hope.
The tough schedule was punctuated by the QB’s PITT had to face. Two early Heisman trophy candidates in Penn States Trace McSorely and UCF’s Milton McKenzie. They both handed us early losses, along with highly regarded Ian Book out of Notre Dame, who handed a close loss but a tough one. Tack on Syracuse’s veteran QB Eric Dungy (a PITT win) and PITT face some really great talent to start the year.
Facing such stiff competition probably wasn’t the best way for Kenny Pickett to start career as a P-5 quarterback and it may have set him back a little. A couple more easier games like Albany would have been nice. Kind of like Syracuse’s schedule.
Editor’s Note: Syracuse went 3-1 OOC . Wins were against Western Michigan, Wagner, and UConn. The ‘Cuse’s lone loss was to Notre Dame. Pitt went 1-3 OOC and played Albany, Penn State, UCF and Notre Dame. PSU, UCF and Notre Dame were ranked in the top 20 (if not the top 10) when we played them. Syracuse finished the regular season 9-3. Pitt finished 7-5.
Starting out the season with a 3-4 record left a very disgruntled fan base breathing down PITT and Narduzzi’s neck.
Then he comes out and boldly predicts that he would see all the media down in Charlotte for the ACC championship game. The laughter could be heard all the way to North Carolina, by the way.
And yet, Narduzzi’s stated goal at the beginning of every season is to win the Coastal Division and go to a bowl game. These two goals go hand-in-hand of course. They win the division there’s no doubt about a bowl game.
Yet if we are all honest with each other the goal was more of wish with a prayer, and after that loss to the Irish, the season began to look bleak at best.
Still, Pitt somehow managed to accomplish both goals, and found itself in the ACC championship game. So I guess Narduzzi was right after all.
PITT didn’t fare very well in that game against Clemson. Actually the last two games were rather pathetic including the last regular season game against Miami. So here we are, PITT standing at a average 7-6 record and that’s how they arrived.
So what kind of job has Narduzzi done so far at PITT and more importantly, what does the future hold for this football program?
I think a better question to ask is, where would the PITT football program be if they left Narduzzi go and started over? Probably a step behind where they are now, in my opinion.
But onto evaluating the coach…and the program.
The PITT football program is not nearly where I would like it to be at this point after 4 years of Narduzzi, but I also understand we’ve had to overcome the past 40 years of poor management and mediocrity. What Narduzzi has accomplished it isn’t all that bad. Moving forward I do see a dim light at the end of the table.
All things considered, battling through a tough schedule, breaking in a young starting QB and overcoming an early losing record, (i.e. keeping the team together in the face of adversity), and keeping his promise of getting to the ACC championship game is impressive to me.
Do I give Narduzzi an A+ since he’s been at PITT and this year? Heck NO! Am I excited to see what the future holds the next few years? Heck YES!
I’m giving Narduzzi a solid B as PITT’s head football coach