by Frank Laspin
Let’s, for a moment, forget the fact that new Pitt football coach Pat Narduzzi is regarded as the top defensive football mind in college football today. Let’s put aside that some have said he is the greatest defensive coordinator in Big Ten history. Let’s, temporarily, throw out the notion that he is one of the best recruiters to poach local talent from the WPIAL and Ohio areas. Let us first start out by establishing this important fact: Pat Narduzzi, in mind and spirit, is a Pittsburgh guy.
At his introductory press conference, he spoke of childhood trips to watch the Steelers play at Three River’s Stadium, and how he was amazed to see Steeler great Mike Webster working out after a game. He mentioned family dinners, prepared by his mother, at the Narduzzi residence in Youngstown, Ohio, an address he still knows today. The newest Pitt football CEO shared the influence that his dad, legendary coach Bill Narduzzi, who once was the freshman coach at Pitt in the 60’s, had on him.
But the single, most important quote that all Pitt football fans should take away from that press conference is when he emphatically stated, “This is my home…Is there anything closer to Youngstown that’s a place you can win a National Championship?” That’s right, you weren’t imagining things. A Pitt football coach said the words “National Championship.”
Unlike his predecessors, one of whom talked more than a used car salesman, went 6-6, and bolted (in a high-octane fashion) to the next “dream job,” as well as the most recent guy to jump ship, who many wondered if he was even alive on the sidelines, Pat Narduzzi is the perfect combination of intelligence and intensity.
Self-admittedly he said, “I got a little bit of energy.” And that is something that is going to be needed to build this lackluster program into national prominence. He wants the Panther’s to have a “tough, blue-collar mentality.”
Did I also mention that Pat Narduzzi is regarded as the top defensive mind in college football today? But please do not take my word for it, just listen to what some prominent members of the media said about the hire:
Joe Schad, ESPN (via Twitter @schadjoe): “Pat Narduzzi’s blue-collar, hard-working, disciplined, and tough approach is an ideal fit w Pitt, which he would view as a destination job.”
Mike Ditka (told the Tribune Review)-“What I know of Pat, he’s a good football coach…I think they could come back to prominence, real prominence.”
Patrick Schmidt of AOL.com ranks him as the second-best coaching hire of the offseason, right behind Jim Harbaugh going to Michigan, “…ideal personality and coaching style that is a perfect fit for Pitt.”
Mentally, Coach Narduzzi has the water of the Monongahela, Allegheny, and Ohio rivers flowing through him, his vague “yinzer” accent is a breath of fresh air to the landscape of the Pitt football program (and I use the word “program” in its lightest context.) No doubt, he is the perfect man for this job. Don’t believe me? Just watch.
Bio (source pittsburghpanthers.com)
NARDUZZI PERSONAL INFORMATION
Born: April 22, 1966
Hometown: Youngstown, Ohio
Alma Mater: Rhode Island, 1990
Family: Narduzzi and his wife Donna have four children: Arianna, Christina, Patrick and Isabella.
COLLEGIATE PLAYING EXPERIENCE
Rhode Island, three-year starter at linebacker (1987-89).
Youngstown State, starter at linebacker (1985).
COLLEGIATE COACHING EXPERIENCE
Miami (Ohio), 1990-91, graduate assistant; 1992, wide receivers.
Rhode Island, 1993-97, linebackers; 1998-99, defensive coordinator.
Northern Illinois, 2000-02, linebackers.
Miami (Ohio), 2003, defensive coordinator.
Cincinnati, 2004-06, defensive coordinator.
Michigan State, 2007-14, defensive coordinator, 2013-14, assistant head coach.
Pittsburgh, 2015, head coach.
BOWL GAMES COACHED
2003 GMAC Bowl
2004 Fort Worth Bowl
2007 Champs Sports Bowl
2009 Capital One Bowl
2010 Valero Alamo Bowl
2011 Capital One Bowl
2012 Outback Bowl
2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
2014 Rose Bowl
2015 Cotton Bowl
FIRST TEAM ALL-AMERICANS UNDER NARDUZZI
Safety Kurtis Drummond (2014)
Cornerback Darqueze Dennard (2013 Unanimous)
Defensive Tackle Jerel Worthy (2011 Consensus)
Linebacker Greg Jones (2009 Consensus, 2010 Unanimous)
BIG TEN AWARD WINNERS UNDER NARDUZZI
Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year
Safety Kurtis Drummond (2014)
Cornerback Darqueze Dennard (2013)
Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year
Defensive End Shilique Calhoun (2013)
Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year
Linebacker Greg Jones (2009)