Is Pat Narduzzi’s Seat Getting Warm?


For the University of Pittsburgh, it’s been an interesting year. They fired basketball coach Kevin Stallings after last season’s dud of a hard court season. They hired former Duke assistant Jeff Capel to fill that void. Athletic Director Heather Lyke beefed up the basketball staff as well.

On the football side of things, Lyke gave head coach Pat Narduzzi an extension in December. That extension was seven years keeping him in Pittsburgh until 2024.

Is Pat Narduzzi’s Seat Getting Warm?

Just four games into the new contract, Narduzzi’s flaws are becoming more and more prevalent. The doubters are coming out and the bad losses keep coming in.

It’s clear what Lyke’s intentions were when she awarded Narduzzi the extension: stability.

Since Dave Wannstedt resigned in 2010 the Panthers have had four coaches, although only three have coached a game.

Todd Graham coached one 6-6 season before bolting for Arizona State. Paul Chryst hung around for three seasons going 19-19 on the job. Narduzzi has been at the school since 2015 and is 23-19 so far.

The outlier is Michael Haywood, who was initially hired to replace Wannstedt before domestic abuse charges were filed against him. The charges were ultimately dropped and he is currently the head coach at Texas Southern University.

Knowing that Narduzzi signed a seven year deal, one might think he’s been very good in his position. Entering the year, Narduzzi is only four games over .500 and has only two marquee wins. The Miami victory at home last season was big. The 2016 Clemson victory, on the road in one of the hardest places to play, was even bigger.

But for every big win Narduzzi has, he loses a game like this past weekend’s North Carolina game. The Tar Heels are 2-9 in their last 11 ACC games. Both of those wins have come against Pitt.

Narduzzi was formerly the defensive coordinator at Michigan State before taking the post at Pittsburgh. He oversaw many elite defenses in his tenure in East Lansing, which is something you think would help Pitt. Under his tutelage, Narduzzi has yet to field a top-30 defense at season’s end.

Is 2018 Showing Any Real Improvement for Narduzzi?

In 2018, the defense has looked much improved and is a bit more seasoned. They have a couple of play makers like Quintin Wirginis and Dane Jackson.

Narduzzi has weapons like quarterback Kenny Pickett and running back Qadree Ollison. Yet, Pickett just had his first 200 yard passing game since the Miami upset in 2018. Narduzzi doesn’t allow Pickett to throw the ball a ton or down the field.

It’s hard to see what Narduzzi did to deserve a seven year extension. His record over the last four years, while slightly better than his predecessors, is mediocre at best. Further, there’s been a lack of consistency with the Panthers under Narduzzi. Seven years is a very lengthy extension for someone not named Meyer or Saban. Stabilization is important for a program, especially in recruiting. But is it worth settling for mediocrity? Is 6-6, with one big win every two years and disappointing losses to North Carolina what Lyke is looking for?

Due to the length of the extension and the coaching carousel Pitt had for years, Narduzzi’s job is likely safe, for now. The lengthy extension also comes with a hefty buy-out. He has marquee games against UCF, Notre Dame, Virignia Tech, and Miami to earn those seven years. He also could pull off another UNC-type loss because he’s done just that for every high-point in his tenure.

His seat is heating up, but it’s not getting too hot quite yet.

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