Pitt's flagship 93.7 FM The Fan recently interviewed new head football coach Pat Narduzzi. If you've not yet heard it, definitely head over there and give it a listen.
A lot of it was the typical stuff that we either heard in the press conference or afterwards. Some things, like being asked about James Franklin, he dodged. He was also asked about renewing the series' with Penn State and West Virginia, but he deferred to the administration on that - which is fair, obviously. There were a few things of note here, however.
One thing brought was Pitt's attendance issues. He seemed to place a lot of the responsibility on himself to get the place full. Narduzzi spoke about needing sell the program to people and getting the fanbase to buy in, even going so far to say that it was his job to get people into the stands.
That's big to me. Winning (and he acknowledged this) solves a lot of problems. But Narduzzi knows that part of his job is to get out in front of the public and give people a reason to attend. It will take him a little while to get up to speed, obviously, but he's a personable guy that should be a good face that Pitt can put out there to try to hype up the program.
Another thing that Narduzzi hit on was the recruiting aspect. I'll be writing more about this later, but Michigan State, like Wisconsin when Paul Chryst was there as the offensive coordinator, was able to win without landing a load of five-star recruits.
Narduzzi said the focus will be on getting guys that are good fits - guys that may not necessarily be five-star recruits ranked by the recruiting sites. Specifically, he said that his job is to find quality players and develop them, rather than to take every 5-star kid. In his words, some of the 4-5 star guys are good players and sometimes they're not.
To me, it's always been a fine balance. If Narduzzi lands a class built up of 2-3 star kids, there will (and should) be questions. But you also have to recognize the other side of it that you can win without the most highly-touted guys. Like I did with Chryst, I'm willing to trust his judgment. The thing Pitt fans won't want to hear is that we won't be able to gauge his recruiting acumen for at least a couple of years until some of his players start getting onto the field.
Sticking with the recruiting angle, one thing that Pitt fans should be happy about is his interest in recruiting. Narduzzi brings a much more enthusiastic stance to recruiting than his predecessor, Paul Chryst, who by all accounts wasn't a strong recruiter. Not only is Narduzzi considered a good recruiter, but he actually loves that part of the job.
He said that he loves to recruit kids and is a people person that enjoys that side of coaching. You really need to listen to the interview where he talks about this because my words here won't be able to adequately describe his enthusiasm for it.
That's really another positive for me. A head coach can get by if he has strong recruiters, but to have a head coach with desire to do it is a big plus. One issue that Chryst had was that his staff wasn't comprised of ace recruiters. He was still able to do a good job recruiting the offensive line and getting some quality skill guys on offense, but because the defensive recruiting was so weak, it resulted in very average classes.
Part of that, as I've written in the past, is because he was at a disadvantage to begin with due to all of the instability of the program. But part of it also is the fact that there probably weren't enough guys with strong backgrounds of recruiting success. Recruiting is something that Narduzzi seems to not only understand, but actually embrace.
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