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Pitt's hire of Pat Narduzzi one of best in college football's offseason

Photo used with permission of the University of Pittsburgh athletics department -

The hire of Pat Narduzzi as Pitt's next head football coach was widely seen as a positive one. Grantland actually ranked all of the new hires in Division I and the Narduzzi coup was near the top of the list of the 14 hires made.

3. Pittsburgh

Regardless of the coach, Pitt is a perfect little marvel of mediocrity: Since 2010, the Panthers are 33-32 overall under three different full-time head coaches and just put the finishing touches on their fourth consecutive 6-6 regular season. In Pat Narduzzi, though, at least they have a fairly good idea what they’re getting. Narduzzi has spent the last 11 years as a defensive coordinator under scowly boss Mark Dantonio (first at Cincinnati, then at Michigan State), and he arrives with a clear mandate to remake the Panthers in the defensively driven image of MSU, a longstanding also-ran itself that has quietly won 11 games or more in four of the past five years on the strength of its defense. All those gritty, blue-collar, off-to-the-mills-in-our-hardhats groaners people love to trot out in reference to Pittsburgh? In the case of a Narduzzi defense, they might actually apply.

Interestingly enough, the article actually brought up something I wondered aloud on Twitter recently - is Pitt actually better off with Narduzzi than they would have been if Paul Chryst had stayed? Grantland was positive on the Chryst hire by Wisconsin, but slotted it several spots lower at No. 6.

Part of that is because of the enthusiasm around Narduzzi as a top coordinator while Chryst has been a pedestrian .500 coach at Pitt and has a track record. For that reason, I'm not sure that I'd rate the Narduzzi hire that high simply because there's always a significant amount of risk in hiring a coordinator that is a first-time head coach.

If Narduzzi comes out and wins more than six games for Pitt, that doesn't mean Pitt is better off with him than they would have been under Chryst. This is still Chryst's team and we won't know for some time how Narduzzi handles the job with recruiting and winning games on the field. But, overall, I did like the hire and after the dust has settled in the coaching changes this offseason, Grantland calls Pitt a bigger winner than Wisconsin here.

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