Pat Narduzzi Has Brought Remarkable Stability to Pitt Football

Photo credit: Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

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Come with me on a journey to 2005.  Pitt has been playing at Heinz Field for four seasons now under Walt Harris, who had just brought the Panthers to the Fiesta Bowl.  Unfortunately he also announced he was leaving for a job at Stanford.  In need of a new head coach, Pitt would bring in alumni and former Pitt football player, Dave Wannstedt.  

While Wannstedt's recruiting abilities became nationally known, his on-the-field coaching career can be described as mediocre.  Aside from a legendary win over West Virginia that kept the Mountaineers out of the National Championship, Wannstedt finished 42-31 overall as a Pitt head coach.  After the 2010 season, Pitt parted ways with Wannstedt and a carousel of coaches began.

Pitt attempted to replace Wannstedt with Mike Haywood who was immediately fired after domestic abuse charges surfaced.  Haywood failed to coach a single game for the Panthers.  Pitt fans were then treated to "high octane" Todd Graham.  Graham lasted just one season at Pitt before leaving for Arizona State.  He would later be exposed as a terrible coach and even worse person at Hawaii.

Pitt then found some stability in 2012 with Wisconsin alum, Paul Chryst.  Chryst was even more perfectly mediocre than Wannstedt, finishing three seasons with a 19-19 record.  Chryst would then be offered his dream job at Wisconsin, and left after the 2014 season.

Smattered between them were a few interim head coaches, but at this point it felt like nobody wanted the Pitt football job.  Including interims and Haywood, Pitt had seven head coaches in ten years from 2004-2014.  It was becoming embarrassing.

Then, the university finally found current head coach Pat Narduzzi.  Since his hiring in 2015, Narduzzi has become the best Pitt football head coach in my lifetime.  He has given Pitt unprecedented stability since joining the ACC.  Pitt has also become the second best football team in the ACC since joining the conference.

Along the way he has compiled one ACC Championship and two championship appearances.  Had it not been for a Calijah Kancey ejection in the 2nd half of the North Carolina game this season, Pitt would have appeared in the ACC Championship two seasons in a row.  It was also revealed last night that Pitt has finished the last two football seasons ranked in the AP top-25.  Additionally, the Panthers are coming off a great Sun Bowl win with their backups against a ranked UCLA team that was playing their starters.  Pitt has become a perennial ACC champion contender.

Additionally, off the field the Panthers have become a desired landing spot for those players entering the transfer portal.  While neither quite lived up to expectations, the Panthers landed two highly coveted transfers last offseason in Kedon Slovis and Konata Mumpfield.  This offseason, Pitt has already landed previous 4-stars Phil Jurkovec, Donovan McMillon, and Derrick Davis and former 3-stars Cam Vieaux and Jeff Yurk.  They are also expected to land Dante Cephas, a highly coveted wide receiver transfer from Kent State.  

Pitt fans that lived through the 10-year span from 2004 to 2014 should not have negative feelings toward Pat Narduzzi.  Sure, sometimes he can be a loud mouth with the media and say some things in a tone that he shouldn't, but he has brought unprecedented success and stability to the program, at least since the 70's.  What used to seem like a spot no coach wanted to take, has now become a desired landing spot for coaches and players alike.  

To be frank, due to the frequent coaching changes, Pitt football was a laughing stock for quite some time.  There was very little respect for the program on and off the field.  Now, nobody goes into a game against Pitt and considers it an easy win.  When we all look at the schedules to start each season and do that exercise where we mark each a win or a loss, nobody is marking Pitt as a win with any sort of certainty.  

And in a college football atmosphere where teams are throwing millions at coaches, I respect the loyalty Narduzzi has shown to the program.  He is becoming a mainstay for the university and the last two seasons have shown the success that stability for a program can bring, and it doesn't appear to be slowing any time soon.