Narduzzi preaching stability

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh head football coach Pat Narduzzi’s most difficult season did little to shake athletic director Heather Lyke’s faith. She quickly worked out a new contract for Narduzzi that will run through 2024.

The Panthers finished 5-7 in 2017 and will miss a bowl game for the first time in a decade. Still, Pitt finished strong, upsetting then-No. 2 Miami on Nov. 24. It’s the big picture, and not the small one, that has both Narduzzi and Lyke optimistic about the future.

Lyke, in her first year as Pitt’s athletic director after holding the same position at Eastern Michigan, sought consistency in the leadership of the football program, which is something that hasn’t always been the case at Pitt. Narduzzi is the Panthers’ fifth coach since 2010. In no mood to go looking anytime soon, Lyke first approached Narduzzi about a new deal before the 2017 season even began.

“When you study successful organizations and teams and universities, it starts with finding difference-makers who are the leaders of those organizations and maintaining continuity of the leadership,” Lyke said. “In our own city, obviously the Steelers are a great example of that. In 48 years, they’ve had three head coaches and in those same 48 years, we’ve had 12.”

In an era where head coaching tenures are shorter than ever, Narduzzi seems to have no problem putting down some roots. He spent seven years as defensive coordinator at Michigan State before moving to the next level and if he stays to the completion of this contract, he’ll have been at Pitt for 10 years.

“I’m not a guy that goes out looking for jobs,” he said. “Loyalty means a lot to me and loyalty is a two-way street: me being loyal to the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh being loyal to me. That’s what it comes down to.”

The desire for stability from both sides was seemingly the reason that Lyke was able to overlook Pitt sitting out bowl season.

“We had a young team and I knew that they had to rebuild in a number of ways,” Lyke said. “We had a couple of questionable key positions that I know Coach was going to work through. But you have to trust your coaches. That’s their job.”

Lyke also added that the deal includes an increase to Narduzzi’s salary pool for assistant coaches and facilities improvements. She declined to disclose the financial details of the contract.