Pitt football head coach Pat Narduzzi held his weekly press conference on Monday. While these are sort of used to review the team’s last game and look ahead to the next opponent, today’s presser, of course, focused a lot on the departure of star safety Paris Ford.
Ford will opt out of the rest of the season, packing it in with four games left (five, if you include a potential bowl game). While Narduzzi did his best to focus on the team’s game against Florida State this weekend, the local media had plenty of questions about Ford.
Narduzzi offered few specifics but did mention, in case you were wondering, that this was 100% not about COVID. “No, no,” Narduzzi emphasized when asked if COVID played a role in Ford’s decision. “We’ve been really safe, so no.”
So what was the reason Ford decided to call it a career without even finishing the season? Even Narduzzi doesn’t really know — or at least didn’t care to say exactly. But if you read between the lines, it appears about preparing himself for a pro career without potentially harming himself before then.
“You know, I can’t fully answer that,” Narduzzi said when asked about the reasons Ford was quitting. “Those are decisions him and his family have got to make. They’re business decisions, they’re family decisions, and one that we respect. Just stuff that he’s got to do.”
But was it about the team’s success — or in this case, lack thereof? Narduzzi wasn’t biting, only repeating his stance that everyone has decisions to make. But, like most, I hardly think we would have seen this decision if, say, Pitt was 6-1 instead of 3-4.
One bit of news that Narduzzi did share is that he does not anticipate any others following in Ford’s footsteps.
“No, I don’t. I don’t at all,” Narduzzi said in terms of if he sees others taking their ball and going home. “I don’t see that. But, you know, I don’t have a crystal ball, and you never know. But I don’t see that right now, no.”
Another thing worth pointing out is that this doesn’t appear to be a snap decision. Ford talked to Narduzzi about it last week but Narduzzi says that Ford’s had thoughts of potentially not playing going way back to early this year.
“All along,” Narduzzi said, “Paris has had these thoughts in his mind going back to last year in February when he decided to stay, and then there’s all the opting out going on in the middle of summer during camp.”
Whatever Ford’s reasons for sitting out, he’ll now likely begin/continue preparations for the NFL Draft where he’s expected to be a relatively high pick.