Don't Buy Into the Pat Narduzzi "Rumors"

Associated Press File Photo

Pat Narduzzi is a smart guy.  There are few head coaching positions at Power 5 football schools and he has earned one of them.  I also believe Narduzzi’s agent is smart as well.  Narduzzi’s agent would keep up-to-date with social media and happenings around the country like any good agent would.

So he or she would know what resulted from rumors that Penn State head coach James Franklin was going to leave the central PA program to accept the head coaching position at either USC or LSU.  The rumors resulted in a 10-year, $80 million extension for the coach. 

Maybe it wasn’t the rumors that led to the extension, but what was it then?  It couldn’t have been his 11-9 record the past two seasons, or his 2-12 record against Top-10 opponents as the head coach of Penn State.  Not to mention, 12 of those losses include the last 8 straight games against Top-10 opponents. 

If the loss to unranked Illinois, when Penn State was favored by three touchdowns, is any indication, the program is going in the wrong direction.  So, since I’m not privy to the inner workings of the Penn State athletic department, I am going to assume it was the rumors that sped up the contract process for Franklin. 

Based on the Franklin extension happening just a few days ago, I would like to make an additional assumption as well.  My assumption is that Narduzzi, or Narduzzi’s agent, would also like to create some sort of buzz around Narduzzi potentially leaving Pitt, and see what it could potentially earn him.  Rumors are harmless, right?  Narduzzi, himself, never said anything about leaving so what’s the problem, right?

However, rumors have now apparently came to light, seemingly out of nowhere, that Pat Narduzzi may leave the University of Pittsburgh.  National college football writer for CBS Sports, Dennis Dodd, woke up yesterday morning and tweeted, “IF—big IF – Pat Narduzzi goes elsewhere hearing he will stay throughout the ACC champ game.”  What?

Not only is this the first time any rumors have surfaced about Narduzzi leaving, the Tweet was extremely cryptic.  So, I assume something along these lines happened:  Narduzzi’s camp reached out to Dennis Dodd and requested he generate some rumor buzz around the head coach leaving.  Then, if something does break, albeit a contract extension, him actually leaving, or just big Pitt football news in general, Dodd would be the first to know.  Therefore, I take absolutely nothing from these “rumors”, if you can even call them that.

Pitt is as good for Narduzzi as Narduzzi is for Pitt.  Sure, this is probably the best season will ever have as the head coach of the University of Pittsburgh, but that does not mean Pitt should move on.  Pitt is a 7 to 9-win program.  It is very difficult in college football to be much more than that.  There are very few elite programs that stay above the rest for an extended period of time. 

It’s especially difficult for a program trying to recruit from a player pool that has Penn State and Ohio State in the immediate area.  So Pitt fans should expect 7-9 wins per season, occasionally achieving more like this season, and occasionally achieving less like in 2017.  Narduzzi has established the Pitt program as one with this type of stability.  We will never see several seasons in a row of 10 wins, but we will also not experience several consecutive seasons of 5 wins or less.  Narduzzi, or a coach on his level, is the perfect fit for Pitt.

However, Narduzzi also knows Pitt is the best fit for him as well.  Each year Pitt has a chance to make their Power 5 conference championship, is consistently bowl eligible, and has previously granted contract extensions, proving the athletic department is happy enough with Narduzzi.  Who wouldn’t want that?

With certain programs come expectations, and with expectations comes a greater possibility of termination.  Being the head coach at the University of Texas is much more stressful than the University of Pittsburgh.  At Texas, coaches have 2-3 seasons to make the College Football Playoffs or the boosters buy out the coach’s contract and they are terminated.  Funny enough, Texas has not been any better than Pitt in the last ten years, while still holding their coaches to that level of expectation.  At least Pitt is self-aware.

Clearly that does not happen at Pitt as Narduzzi is completing his 7th season, making the ACC Championship just twice, and achieving one season of 9+ wins.  The pressure at other programs is not worth the expectations, nor the stress, when Pitt football is a steady job.

So to Dennis Dodd, and any of the rumors that Narduzzi is considering a switch, I don’t buy it.  I think these rumors were facilitated to generate a buzz and potentially Narduzzi can get his next big payday out of it.  I mean the program did just get $20 million from alumni Chris Bickell and maybe it’s burning a hole in Heather Lyke’s pocket.  However, rest-assured, or unfortunately depending how you feel about him, Pat Narduzzi isn’t going anywhere.