So, I freely admit to nearly having a panic attack when I saw the email from Pitt's media relations with a statement for the press from head football coach Pat Narduzzi.
I immediately assumed it to be regarding the status of safety Jordan Whitehead, which has been a hot topic since he sat out last weekend's game against Marshall. I had that part right but fortunately, it wasn't the bombshell announcement you might expect when a coach issues a full-out press release based on one player missing a single game:
"As head football coach, I feel a tremendous amount of responsibility for the well-being of our players. That includes protecting their privacy when appropriate. Jordan Whitehead did not play in last week's game for reasons that are personal in nature. I won't comment further on the topic other than to say I fully anticipate that Jordan will be available to play this coming Saturday against Georgia Tech."
Obviously this still sheds little light on why Whitehead missed the game and still doesn't even address if it was related to an injury or not, if we're being technical. By stating that it was personal, I guess we're supposed to glean that it is not injury related, but the statement is still incredibly vague.
Ironically, the statement by Narduzzi today seems to be him trying to clear the air with the media here since so much has been made of the entire situation. But a statement wouldn't have even been necessary if Narduzzi simply mentioned if it was injury-related or not. Sure, media would have wanted to dig a little further perhaps since that's their job. But I think much of this could have blown over rather quickly with Narduzzi simply addressing if it was injury-related or not after the Marshall game. By not doing that, it, unfairly or not, raised all sorts of raised flags.
I'm all for protecting players and applaud Narduzzi for seemingly wanting to do that here. But the injury/no injury thing is such a harmless question that it seems like it should have been addressed from the get go.
The further this goes, the more attention it continues to draw. Now we know that it's some kind of personal issue and while I don't think the media and fans need to know every detail about every player, the whole way this entire thing has been handled remains incredibly odd. If Whitehead suits up this week, I expect it will blow over in relatively short order. But if not, then what?