Pat Narduzzi introduced as next head football coach

By Chris Puzia / Sports Editor

Pat Narduzzi is officially Pitt’s next head football coach, and the 37th in the program’s history.

Acting Athletic Director Randy Juhl introduced Narduzzi at a press conference Friday at 3:30 p.m. The former Michigan State defensive coordinator said that Pittsburgh “is my home.”

“I’m highly motivated to build this football program to national prominence,” Narduzzi said. “I’d like to win a bunch of football games here.”

Narduzzi replaces Paul Chryst, who accepted an open head coaching position at Wisconsin on Dec. 17. Chryst coached Pitt to an 18-18 regular season record in three seasons.

Narduzzi said that Chryst “has done a heck of a job here at building this program back up.”

“[Chryst] had a chance to go back home,” Narduzzi added. “Can you blame anybody for going back home?”

Juhl said that the head coaching search committee’s goal was “to not only hire the best coach, but also a person who was committed to achieving success in a manner consistent with the values of the university.”

While he had not yet had his first team meeting with his new Pitt players, Narduzzi said that he would have his first meeting with them on Friday night.

Narduzzi worked as Michigan State’s defensive coordinator for eight years, and in 2013 he won the Broyles Award, recognizing him as the country’s top assistant coach. Michigan State led the Big Ten Conference in total defense in both the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

This season, Michigan State is ranked No. 8 nationally and has allowed 293.5 yards per game, which ranks seventh best in the country.

Narduzzi remained noncommittal on whether he would bring in his own assistant coaches or keep the ones currently with the team.

“We’ll have a pretty powerful staff,” he said. “Every coach that gets a head coaching job has a list of guys [that they want to bring in].”

Narduzzi said that list is “three-deep, maybe four-deep at some positions.”

He added that he will “certainly” consider retaining current Pitt assistants.

“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.

Including interim coaches, Narduzzi will become Pitt’s seventh head coach since 2010, when Dave Wannstedt resigned from the position.

“I’m a loyal guy,” Narduzzi said about the recent head coaching turnover at Pitt. “I’ve been with [Michigan State head coach] Mark D’Antonio for 11 years…I’ve been looking for the perfect place.”

Narduzzi played his freshman year of college football as a linebacker at Youngstown State, which Pitt plays in its season opener on Sept. 5.

“Our goal was not only to find the best football coach but also a person who would uphold the values and the mission of the University of Pittsburgh. In Pat Narduzzi we have found that person,” Juhl said via a press release. “Pat is widely recognized as a rising star in the coaching profession who is ready to lead his own program.”

Narduzzi talked about Pitt’s recent appearance of a stepping-stone program rather than a destination program, and attempted to silence fears about his longevity.

“It’s a dream come true for me and my family,” he said. “I hope it’s a dream that will last for many years to come.”