With Boyd response, Narduzzi will set tone for tenure at Pitt

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With Boyd response, Narduzzi will set tone for tenure at Pitt

By Stephen Caruso / Contributing Editor

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Upon his appointment as Pitt’s head football coach in December, it appeared that Pat Narduzzi’s first challenge would come Sept. 5 on the gridiron. Now, it appears his first test will stem from his own locker room.

Following a June 12 incident, the Jefferson Hill Police Department arrested Pitt star wide receiver Tyler Boyd on suspicion of driving under the influence, and subsequently charged him with a DUI four days later.

The University has been in need of a strong leader on the football field, and it looks to have found it in Narduzzi. His former players at Michigan State have spoken about his energy and intensity — his more candid moments prove his attitude is not an act.

So considering how Narduzzi deals with this challenge will set the tone for his career at Pitt, it is important he acts firmly — and fairly — with Boyd.

At a fundraising event during his Panther Prowl tour last week in Chadwick, Pa., Narduzzi did comment on Boyd’s charges in a manner more subdued than usual.

“I don’t really want to get it into it, but it’s a learning situation,” Narduzzi said. “The first person I look at is myself. What could I have done better?

When a member of the audience asked about possible punishment, Narduzzi was not specific.

“We are going to look at every case individually and address it that way,” Narduzzi said.

In his first year as head coach, Narduzzi needs to prove his leadership. Taking partial responsibility is a good step, and it seems to fit with his reputation as a player’s coach who attempts to develop players, not just recruit well.

But, just to be clearer than Narduzzi’s language, Boyd needs to be suspended, whether it be one game or two.

The NCAA standard for DUI appears to be a one game suspension. From Alabama to Washington, players caught driving under the influence get off with a minor punishment. But Narduzzi’s focus has to be on creating a brand to go with Pitt football — hard-nosed and focused. Such off-the-field transgressions should not be tolerated by a coach hoping to win and create an atmosphere to help players grow not only as athletes, but also as responsible adults.

At a time when the success of football programs is often coupled with off-the-field issues, Narduzzi should make it clear from the start that his will be a program with higher standards.

Of course, losing Boyd will hurt for one or two games. Past Boyd, wide receiver depth on Pitt’s roster is almost nonexistent — not to mention, his talent level is irreplaceable. But this issue is about more than just winning. DUI is a serious crime, and one that can cause immeasurable harm. Everyone makes mistakes, but everyone must also face consequences.

Narduzzi said at the same event that he has no intention of making his stay at Pitt at short one.

“Are you going to stay? That’s the big one … I’m here. It’s about getting the right people and getting the right fit and making it work,” he said.

If Narduzzi has interest in genuinely rebuilding a Pitt football program that can fight for titles and be a point of pride for the University, then his move with Boyd is important.

Let’s hope he makes the right move.

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