It appears Pat Narduzzi is about to become the next head football coach at the University of Pittsburgh.

From this vantage — on paper at least — that appears to have just about no negatives.

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Multiple reports on Tuesday linked the Michigan State defensive coordinator and assistant head coach to an agreement that will complete, in short order, making him the successor to Paul Chryst.

Again, what are the negatives?

Narduzzi is a man who just finished his eighth season commanding a Michigan State defense that has become one of the most dominating in college football. The Spartans have ranked in the Top 10 in total defense the past four seasons.

Quite simply, Narduzzi, 48, has performed wizardry with his game plans.

The one hint of a negative with hiring a man so deeply entrenched on the defensive side of the ball is simple: Narduzzi better find a good offensive playcaller.

It’s no secret college football, in a way, has become an outscore ‘em, out firepower ‘em, put-points-on-the-board show where teams more apt to score in the 40s have a greater measure of success than those in the 20s.

That said, Narduzzi is a guy with enough of a name to lure a good enough playcaller to Pitt — it is just a matter of Pitt giving him the funds to hire that top-end assistant.

Something tells me a guy in a job as secure as Narduzzi as a Michigan State coordinator would never agree to become Pitt’s head coach if he wasn’t given the salary commitments from Pitt to go out and make solid hires to his staff.

Also, can we finally dispel this notion that Narduzzi could use Pitt as a “steppingstone” job?

To that, I say “so what.”

Answer this as honestly as you can: How many jobs in college football right now aren’t steppingstones? A half-dozen, maybe?


Florida State?

Ohio State?

Georgia, maybe?

Notre Dame?



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Hell, Chip Kelly had borderline-unlimited funds via an incredible shoe deal, went 46-7 at Oregon and still used the school as a steppingstone to get to where he ultimately wanted to be —- the National Football League.

In short, if Oregon can be used as a steppingstone, Pitt is one. That’s just the reality of college football right now.

So what if Narduzzi were to replace Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio — for some reason — in a few seasons? Narduzzi would be measured for what he did in his time at Pitt, not that he left for a job that pays more with more prestige. That’s the current climate in college football; if you are not in tune to that, you’re merely a dinosaur now.

This notion that Pitt needs long-term stability is a pipedream — what they truly need is just longer-term stability than the past few coaches gave them.

Lastly, there’s one lingering negative, if Narduzzi would be hired, that needs punched right in the teeth.

One undercurrent that has appeared — just as it did when Todd Graham and Paul Chryst were hired — is this small faction of Pitt fans (but more so media members) who keep banging a drum louder than a sonic boom for Tom Bradley.

The Media Friends of Tom Bradley have, in a way, become sickening as they pine for the West Virginia Senior Associate Head Coach and Defensive Line Coach.

It feels like anyone not named “Tom Bradley” destined to be hired by Pitt is doomed to live under a curtain — by some media folk in this town — that Bradley would have done a better job and should have their job.

How unfair; how ridiculous.

Tom Bradley seems like a nice enough guy and had wild success as he coached at Penn State from 1980-2011, but for whatever reason, the brass at Pitt — multiple times now — has identified other people as better-suited for the job.

And not just at Pitt.

Bradley has been in the mix for head coaching jobs at other Division I schools and come up short.

Perhaps it’s time to look for a different hill to die on than the Tom Bradley Hill, even though it would appear some of The Media Friends of Tom Bradley — because, perhaps, he’s their buddy — will fight for him with their every last inch of life.

It is all so bizarre, really.

In 2013, Narduzzi was named the Frank Broyles Award winner, a prize bestowed upon the best assistant coach in college football for that season. It was in 2013 he constructed a defense in East Lansing that was tops in the Big Ten for a third consecutive season.

Right now, Narduzzi has a defense ranked seventh nationally and is a coordinator on a team with a 10-2 record, going to the Cotton Bowl and ranked No. 7 in the country.

If you find a bunch of negatives with the guy, you are purely looking too hard for negatives.
Pitt couldn’t have done better.

Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at He can also be heard on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at Check out his bio here.

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