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The new regime: Narduzzi announces new assistant coaches

By Chris Puzia / Sports Editor

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When Pitt introduced Pat Narduzzi as its next head football coach Dec. 26, the next question many people asked was whether he would bring in his own assistant coaches or keep the current ones.

During his introductory press conference that same day, Narduzzi said he would “certainly” consider retaining the assistants already at Pitt.

“We’d like to keep every one of them, but head coaches come in, and you’d like to bring your own guys, too,” he said.

But over the past few weeks, Pitt and Narduzzi have announced several new assistant coaches to replace the former ones. Here is a rundown of who Narduzzi has hired so far:

Defensive coordinator: Josh Conklin

Conklin is the former Florida International defensive coordinator and led his team to a top-35 finish in total defense last season. Conklin was also a nominee last season for the Broyles Award — which Narduzzi won in 2013 — that recognizes the top assistant coach in the country.

Florida International’s defense finished fourth in the country in takeaways last season. Conklin replaces Matt House, who was Pitt’s defensive coordinator since 2012.

Offensive coordinator: Jim Chaney

Chaney, the Arkansas offensive coordinator, will fill the same role for Pitt starting next season. The Razorbacks ran a pro-style offense last season — same as Pitt — and Chaney had spent the last two seasons with the team. Last season, Arkansas scored 30 points against their SEC foe Mississippi, which finished the season with the best scoring defense in Division I.

Before coming to Arkansas, Chaney worked as Tennessee’s offensive coordinator for four years. He will now bring his long-term SEC experience — a conference often regarded as the best in college football — to the ACC with Pittsburgh.

Arkansas finished last season with the 45th best scoring offense in the country with 31.9 points per game. In comparison, Pitt finished last season tied for 46th by averaging 31.8 points per game.

Chaney replaces Joe Rudolph, who served as Pitt’s interim head coach in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl against Houston. Rudolph followed former Pitt head coach Paul Chryst to Wisconsin to retain the same position.

Running backs coach/special teams coordinator: Andre Powell

Powell worked as Maryland’s running backs coach for four years before he comes to Pitt this season. Maryland running back C.J. Brown led the Terrapins last season with 539 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.

Powell also previously coached future NFL running backs like Willie Parker at North Carolina and C.J. Spiller at Clemson. He takes over for John Settle, who was the running backs coach at Pitt and now holds the same position at Wisconsin.

Cornerbacks coach: Renaldo Hill

Hill played professional football from 2001 to 2010, before becoming an assistant coach at Wyoming, where he also worked with the cornerbacks.

Offensive line coach: John Peterson

Peterson is best known for his work at Ohio State. He coached there for eight years, from 2004 to 2011. Following this, Peterson worked at UAB for two years.

Tight ends coach: Tim Salem

Salem spent the past three seasons at Illinois, where he worked as special teams coordinator. He also coached the running backs in the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

Defensive line coach: Tom Sims

Sims, a former Pitt defensive lineman, spent the last five seasons at Youngstown State University in Ohio, where he worked in the same capacity. Youngstown State beat Pitt 31-17 in the Panthers’ season opener in 2012, and the two teams will meet again on Sept. 5. Sims also previously worked on the defensive lines at other schools like Kansas, Illinois and Minnesota.

Linebackers coach: Rob Harley

Harley spent last season at Florida International along with Conklin. Before that, Harley worked as a graduate assistant at Michigan State for two years under Narduzzi.

Strength and conditioning coach: Dave Andrews

Andrews played tight end on Ohio State’s 2002 national championship team. Last season, Andrews worked at Notre Dame as a member of the team’s strength staff.

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The new regime: Narduzzi announces new assistant coaches