Yesterday, I mentioned the excellent interview conducted by the Post-Gazette's Sam Werner and the Trib's Jerry DiPaola of Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. One of the things he covered was the possibility (or lack thereof, really) of an on-campus stadium in Oakland.
Today, I wanted to take a look at the entire interview as a whole. So in the format of what I used to do with the Paul Chryst press conferences, here are ten of the topics he touched on along with my own comments.
Before you continue, I highly recommend you check out the entire article. I reference some of the quotes in small snippets below, but you really need to see his answers in their entirety. With that disclaimer of sorts, I give to you ten things that stuck out to me in addition to the stadium issue (in no particular order).
10. (On Steve Pederson's departure): "The question was really was the support there to make him effective in leading that kind of a search and putting that football program in a strong position."
Again, check out the whole answer via the link. But the gist of Gallagher's answer here was that Pederson needed the support of others in leading the coaching search. The whole timing seemed to be due to Paul Chryst leaving because without that, a coaching search doesn't happen.
You can argue who 'others' were in this context, but I have no doubt that it was fans, alumni, and donors. Pederson's disconnect with a lot of people in those groups has been well-documented and if there's anything that fans should take notice of, it's that their voice matters. Complaining about something long enough may not always bring about the desired result, but it will be heard.
9. (On if an athletic director would be named soon): "I think we're talking a good number of weeks."
This one kind of surprised me. I don't think there's any real rush here, but Gallagher said the search team was just starting to be put together (he also said they will use a search firm). Pitt has been without a regular athletic director for about a month now, so I'm a little surprised to hear that they're just now putting together the team that will conduct a search. Gallagher may have an informal idea of some candidates, but the fact that they're bringing in a search firm shows me that a decision isn't around the corner.
8. (On why they hired Pat Narduzzi): "...And he's basically a Western Pennsylvania guy. You can see that already in his interaction with the media and with others. He just understands the values and cultures of this region and he's just a great fit."
To be fair, Gallagher gave a few reasons why they chose Narduzzi. This was the one that stuck out to me, though. A lot of people have asked for a coach with local ties and while Narduzzi isn't a Pittsburgher, he grew up in nearby Youngstown. Narduzzi has said he considers this home. If he has success and a bigger job comes calling, will he leave? Only time will tell. but Gallagaher made it pretty clear that that was an attractive trait.
7. (On the money given to Narduzzi for assistants): "We think we've given him a pool that puts him right in the competitive band of where he needs to be. If he finds it's not enough, that means that he has to have more discussion with us. These numbers aren't carved in stone..."
A follow-up question was asked if Narduzzi had more money for assistants than has been given to Pitt coaches in the past and he said it has (though he refused to quantify it). One thing he said was that, in not so many words, you probably shouldn't read too much into it. Prices are up across the board and the amount for assistants is consistently increasing. I also like that a discussion for more money seems to be not out of reach for Narduzzi if he thinks he needs it. Pitt is, at least, willing to spend a little here.
6. (On background/traits of a potential athletic director): "We do want somebody who can come in and be a great athletic director immediately, not somebody who's going to be growing in that role over a period of years. We're running teams now, we have coaches now, we want to set the conditions for success now."
Gallagher went into a pretty deep discussion here and, really, it seems like they are willing to consider anyone from a variety of backgrounds. Someone with not only experience in athletics, but in business and leadership roles, seems to be the ideal candidate. I think it's a longshot anyway, but one guy that a lot of fans have called for is Dave Wannstedt. I just don't see it based on the way that Gallagher described.
The key thing is that he says that they want someone who is ready right away and not growing into the job. That's really interesting when you look back on how he described Narduzzi. Narduzzi didn't have head coaching experience but the very first thing Gallagher said when listing reasons why they hired him was that he was ready to be one. Like that job, Gallagher doesn't want someone that's going to be learning on the job, which is great to hear.
5. (On if he thinks Pitt will eventually have to pay seven-figure salaries for assistant coaches): "I hope not ... We can't raise students tuitions to basically underwrite athletics programs. That's not right either...Balance and context is an important thing."
This is one of the things that, personally, I love about Gallagher. I know that our focus here on the blog is about the athletics program, but Pitt is a wonderful school. I value my education there greatly and as much as I love sports, would hate to see a Chancellor making that more of a focus than Gallagher is. The institution is just a far more important thing and I love that he is still keeping the athletics stuff in check.
4. (On other changes in the athletics department): "Without recruiting, it's very difficult to succeed. You have to have the right coaches that buy in to what you're trying to do and make a commitment to develop and grow those athletes so they can be successful. That's a big priority."
Gallagher didn't say there would be coaching changes, but he essentially is saying that the coaches need to do their job and be good recruiters. It's no secret that while some non-revenue programs like women's basketball, volleyball, track and field, and baseball, have had successful seasons lately, others haven't. I'm not sure that Gallagher will be going to the athletic director calling for coaches' heads, but he made it pretty clear that he wants someone in there that will have the right coaches in place to be able to succeed and recruit.
3. (On a Steve Pederson buyout): "...I will say that the reporting that I've seen widely is very inaccurate in this case...The terms that we exercised were the ones that were already in the contract. There was no negotiation at this point to do anything other than that."
Nothing groundbreaking here, but I did want to bring it up because there has been some speculation that Pederson may have gotten a lot of money or that Pitt used ACC money to get rid of him. Any money he was owed was written into his contract already.
2. (On renewing the series with West Virginia): "What I will say is I would love to see the rivalry be a serious consideration when we put together our non-conference schedule. It should be part of the thinking. But this is what I want our new athletic director to really look into and make a recommendation. This is one you don't want the chancellor having a say in."
This answer really just struck me as off. The weird thing is that Gallagher offered very candid opinions on Pitt athletics in a variety of topics, but wouldn't touch this one. Now, don't get me wrong - I understand why he wouldn't commit and why he wants the athletic director to be part of the process. Pitt, for whatever reason(s), has very real issues about playing West Virginia, and it's understandable that he wouldn't want to be put on the spot there. But I'm not exactly sure why he can't have a say in a decision to play the game when he's had a say in everything else.
1. (On compensation for student athletes): " I think as a conference, we've supported the idea that you're a student-athlete, and that you're here to get an education. What is appropriate is to look at ways you can support students in terms of getting that education. When it comes to these full costs of attendance models and so forth, I think we've been very supportive of that."
Gallagher is towing the company (ACC) line here, as he should. We can go back and forth on what's ethical/right here, but the fact is that he can't really address this question any other way since this is the stance the ACC has taken.
Overall, I remain completely impressed with him. He said some other things - some of which JD may cover, but as I said, be sure to check out the whole interview. There's so much more there.
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