The Pitt Fan base got their wish.
Offensive Coordinator Shawn Watson was let go earlier today, and seemingly as a bonus, Wide Receiver coach Kevin Sherman was let go with him.
The only surprise is that Narduzzi actually pulled the trigger. Speculation was rampant that loyalty would outweigh performance, and Watson would get another year, but in the end Shawn Watson’s performance was just not good enough, if not for the coach, then certainly for the fans, who made a public spectacle of cancelling season tickets and sending direct feedback to Athletic Director Heather Lyke via email and social media. Right, wrong or indifferent the people spoke, and Pitt listened.
And while College Football is not a democracy, it is in many ways a business, and the fans are the customers. So two points to Pitt for listening to their customers, especially when the data supports it.
Watson’s undoing, of course, was his inability to move the ball and score, which are fairly basic requirements for an offense. Watson presided over the lowest combined two-year yardage and scoring totals since 2011. When you layer in his inability to use and recruit Tight Ends, his lack of Quarterback development, and the horrendous three-game stretch at the end of 2018 which resulted in three losses and 8.7 points per game, the writing was on the wall.
Here is a look at what Watson accomplished at Pitt:
2018, 7-7, 6-2 ACC, Won Coastal Division
- Pitt ranked 98th out of 130 in yards per game (370)
- Pitt ranked 94th out of 130 in points per game (25.6)
2017, 5-7, 3-5 ACC
- Pitt ranked 97th out of 130 in yards per game (366)
- Pitt ranked 101st out of 130 in points per game (23.9)
And so the questions begin.
Will Pat Narduzzi fall into the same old trap? (Hiring for relationships instead of track record)
Will Pitt go cheap? (How much was Watson making? Will they increase the salary pool? Pitt has certainly gone cheap in the past, and it would hard to get somebody much worse than Watson)
The elephant in the room of course is “Can anybody work with Pat Narduzzi”? He’s now gone through three coordinators in four years, and while not all of it can be attributed to Pat himself, that is not the kind of turnover that makes any boss look good.
But…lets assume the turnover wasn’t Pat’s fault. Two of Pat’s lost OC’s were lured away by what is widely regarded as the best conference in College Football, and certainly the richest. Jim Cheney (UGA) obviously upgraded his situation, and Matt Canada (LSU) was lured by a big payday and clearly didn’t consider the downstream consequences of chasing the money.
Let’s also assume Narduzzi doesn’t fall into the same old relationship trap, and lets assume Pitt decides to open up the pocketbook. Now this is a fun game.
Who would they hire? What system will that person bring? What kind of an impact would they be able to make in 2019? For the love of God can they please be an ace recruiter?
What I can say is that the rumblings on social media and the blogs have been positive. Supposedly important people at Pitt wanting to get the right guy in place. Are the rumblings real? I certainly hope so. We all saw what happened for Pitt Basketball when we cut Stallings and brought in Jeff Capel. Making a similar move at Offensive Coordinator would add some momentum to a Pitt Football program that sorely needs it.
Hail to Pitt