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Sunday July 21 2019
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Up Close With Pat Narduzzi

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Pitt introduced Pat Narduzzi as their new head football coach last month. The former Michigan State defensive coordinator replaces Paul Chryst, who left for Wisconsin at the conclusion of the Panthers season.

The 48-year-old Narduzzi, a Youngstown native, spoke to the media last month.

Q: What was it that appealed to you about Pitt?
A: Where do I start? There are so many things... I've had many opportunites in the past, and I walked into my head coach's office and said, "Yeah coach, I got a call from such and such, but I don't know..." On the morning I got that call this year, I walked into that office with a big old smile on my face because I knew this was the place. I knew I was going to after the job and I wanted the job. So what is it? It's a beautiful area. I've loved the toughness here. I love the hotbed of football that you've got in this Pittsburgh area and the surrounding areas. It's a beautiful area to live. When I was kid growing up in Youngstown, we took some trips to this area and went to some Steelers games. I've just got fond memories of Pittsburgh. One of my fondest memories as a little kid, one of the most impressive things I ever saw was after Pittsburgh had beaten Buffalo, I got to walk into the weight room, and there's Mike Webster. He's in there lifting weights after the game. But I spent a lot of time in this area and I just think it's a beautiful area. I think you can win championships here. It's a world class university and they expect the best here.

Q: What do you know about this Pitt football team that you are inheriting?
A: It's a young football team. Eighty one underclassmen. Thursday nights I sit at home on my computer and work on our game plan, and I'm focused on my game plan, but I peek up [at the Thursday night college game on ESPN]. But I saw Pitt play at one point, and I saw the toughness, I can't say I've watched a ton of football yet, but we'll have plenty of time to get into that. But I know we have a young football team. We've got a young tailback that plays a little bit of defense that's a pretty darn good football player, and we've got someone who can thrown the ball too. We've got plenty of tools and weapons to compete in the ACC.

Q: How important is it to you to have the resources available to put together a good staff?
A: Obviously that's very, very important and we need to put together a great staff here. There is support from the top to be the best here. I won't get into details, but we've got every weapon and tool that we need to get the best coaches here on our staff and we'll do that. We'll have a pretty powerful staff. I feel really good about where we are.

Q: Your father was the longtime football coach at Youngstown State and you've talked about how much an influence he was on you. What would he think today?
A: He used to always say, "I'm tickled pink." I don't know what that was, but that was always something that came out of his mouth. But he's smiling from above. I got here because of him. Without a doubt. He's pushed me through the process of coaching, I believe. There were plenty of discussions at the kitchen table growing up, at 2261 Fifth Avenue in Youngstown, where I lived. He's excited, I know that, and he'll be watching down from above. So we'll have another coach up above, in the big press box.

Q: What can you say about the notion that Pitt is a stepping-stone job instead of a destination job?
A: That’s a great question. I’m a loyal guy, first of all. I’m not sure why [the selection committee at Pitt] hired me, but I would think that maybe one of the reasons is because I’m a loyal guy. I’ve been with Mark Dantonio for 11 years and I’ve had the opportunity to leave, but I’ve been looking for the perfect place.

Look at Coach Paul Chryst, who did a heck of a job here in building this program back up.  He went back home… Paul probably felt this was a destination job, but then he had a chance to go back home, and can you blame anybody for going back home? So to answer that question, really, this is my home. This is my home. Is there anything closer to Youngstown that’s a place where you can win a national championship? So Pittsburgh is my home, it’s 50 miles down the road from where I grew up, it’s a tough city like Youngstown is. I wouldn’t call it a destination job, but it’s a place I want to be for a long, long time, if they let me. This to me is home.


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