If Narduzzi Disliked Slovis' Leadership, Why Wasn't Patti Starting?

Photo credit: Neil Redmond/Associated Press

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I want to start this blog by saying how much I like Pitt Panther head coach Pat Narduzzi.  He's the best Pitt football coach of my lifetime.  In fact, I wrote to that fact earlier this year. There's no denying it.  At least, on the field.

But off the field, the guy keeps putting his foot in his mouth. Narduzzi was on Sirius XM radio on February 3rd, and was asked about new transfer quarterback, Phil Jurkovec.  In complimenting Jurkovec, he took an unnecessary shot at last year's starter Kedon Slovis.  Narduzzi said that, "This guy's (Jurkovec) a leader.  We haven't had that since Kenny Pickett."

It doesn't take a Mensa member to connect those dots.  Pickett graduated in 2021.  Slovis started in 2022.  We haven't had a leader at the QB position since Pickett.  Like I said, an unnecessary shot at Slovis' leadership capability.

But while Narduzzi probably thought he was winning this exchange, I think it actually makes him look bad for multiple reasons.  One, in today's college sports world, getting a transfer for one season is not unusual.  So speaking out of pettiness against a guy who wasn't successful in your program for a year does not entice transfers.  Maybe Narduzzi feels a type of way about Slovis leaving after one season, but it clearly wasn't working on either end.  So it just comes off as petty from Narduzzi.

But secondly, and even more damning of Narduzzi, is that if he felt this way about Slovis, why did he start every game that he was healthy for?  It was very clear that in this season's Frank Cignetti-ran offense that the run game was the primary focus.  Pitt really just needed a capable game manager who wouldn't turn the ball over.  In fact, the main reason Pitt did not beat North Carolina and go to their second straight ACC Championship game is because Slovis had two costly turnovers late in that game.  Plus, Calijah Kancey was inexplicably ejected, but that's besides the point.

So if Narduzzi felt this way about Slovis, why wasn't Nick Patti starting?  Or even given a chance?  Patti was a competent backup, and showed as much in the Sun Bowl win over UCLA.  Had Patti been given the chance to start earlier in the season, he may not have made such costly mistakes as Slovis did against UNC.  

Now, I don't think Patti is as good of a quarterback as Slovis.  However, clearly Narduzzi didn't think much of Slovis.  So doesn't Narduzzi saying this about Slovis, when he has Patti available, appear as more of an indictment of Narduzzi's decision-making than Slovis' leadership ability?  If Narduzzi disliked Slovis so much, why wasn't Patti starting?  You, the head coach of the football team, had the ability to replace him.  Do so. 

But don't pettily talk about a player in their 20's, and potentially affect their future career because he decided to transfer out from a situation where he clearly was not wanted.  I'm actually happy to move on from Slovis and see what Jurkovec can bring to the team, but he doesn't need to be publicly called out by his old head coach.  It's a bad look for Narduzzi on multiple levels, and it's not unlike him to make petty statements like this publicly.