Dunlap: Good For Narduzzi For Doing It His Way

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said his will be the “lone voice” for the program in the week leading up to the Penn State game.

Translation: Members of the Pitt football team are prohibited from speaking to the media.

What’s the big deal?

Why has this caused a stir among some media members?

Does it really matter what some players have to say Monday-Friday?

Will sports journalists and broadcasters be so darn subjugated by an inability to talk to student-athletes that they can’t do their jobs?

Oh the oppression!!!

Get over it. Really.

I don’t know, I’m just puzzled by any disturbance caused by situation; by the fact that it has grown into a point of contention the way it has for some.

You see, this one is very simple to me: This isn’t just “some game” and Narduzzi is, plain as day, not treating it as such. This is a game against an in-state rival for Pitt that they haven’t seen since 2000.

A Penn State program that causes Pitt fans to seethe and froth just at the mention of them or the view of those plain white jerseys or the helmets with that simple blue stripe down the middle.

That said, Narduzzi — still really in the infancy of building a program — wanted to step out of the normal mode of operation and close ranks this week. He wanted to ensure his players didn’t provide any bulletin board material and wanted to not just limit distractions, but get as close as he could to confirming they would be zero.

That had to be Narduzzi’s thought in complementing his player interview blackout with closed practice sessions all week, too.

His program, his choice.

Narduzzi would seemingly know his team better than anyone, so I don’t fault him one bit for making the decision if he felt it was part of a vehicle that could help him arrive at a final destination of defeating Penn State.

Think about this: Will limiting his players from doing media interviews have any adverse impact on their clear and defined goal of trying to win this week? I don’t know for sure, but I have a hard time understanding how insulating them in this situation is at all a negative.

This Penn State game — the first one in 16 years — is foreign to just about everyone going through it. So maybe, just maybe, Narduzzi wants to be overprotective this first time through Penn State week and see how it goes, get his feet underneath him in this rivalry and then will loosen things when the teams meet in the future.

That’s my guess.

I also can’t blame him because, from my vantage, a win against Penn State would do more in terms of visibility for the Pitt program than just about anything right now — even a ton of media coverage in the week leading up to the game against the Nittany Lions. That’s why it feels like Narduzzi is choosing this path this week, taking his chance that going with a media blackout (and tolerating short-term blowback) might be all worth it because it could be the best route to what could turn into a win that could propel this team to long-term success (one over Penn State).

And, really, no matter the result on Saturday, what’s going to happen; is the media going to stop showing up to cover Pitt football? Are they going to boycott?

That simply won’t happen.

It all comes back to this for me in terms of the media members bellyaching: If you can’t find something to write or talk about in regards to old rivals playing each other for the first time since 2000 without a couple quotes from current players, maybe you need to start trying a little harder.

Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at colin.dunlap@cbsradio.com. Check out his bio here.

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