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USATSI Gallery - Northwestern vs No. 23 Pittsburgh - Pinstripe Bowl
The Panthers defeat Syracuse, on November 26, 2016.
USATSI Gallery - Georgia Tech @ Pittsburgh
The Panthers top Penn State, on September 10, 2016.
Photos from Pittsburgh vs. Villanova on September 3, 2016.
Narduzzi's wife, Donna, and their four children are a familiar sight in the Pitt football offices and at university events. This mirrors his own boyhood when he was a constant shadow for his father, longtime football coach Bill Narduzzi, in locker rooms and on the sidelines.
Those early experiences with his dad planted the seed for Narduzzi's coaching career. Moreover, it provided a vivid example of how he would one day handle a team of his own--like they were his own family.
"Coach Narduzzi always has an open door for us," says junior offensive lineman Brian O'Neill. "That's well known throughout our team. If we need to talk, he's there. It's great to have a head coach you feel comfortable talking to about anything. It doesn't have to be about football."
Like a team made up of blood brothers, the Panthers have played the past two seasons with a passionate style that reflects their coach. Narduzzi has provided the fire for a program that, prior to his arrival, was frozen in a stretch of middling results.
"Coach is real energetic, real hands on," said James Conner, who concluded his Pitt career as the ACC's all-time touchdowns leader. "Sometimes I think he's going to jump in the drills. He's just a real hands-on, real focused guy. He's the man for the job for us."
Narduzzi has directed Pitt to eight regular-season wins in each of his first two years, something the Panthers had not achieved since 2008-09. Narduzzi owns a 16-10 overall mark and 11-5 ACC record. The last Pitt coach to achieve as many victories in his first two years was the late Serafino "Foge" Fazio, who went 17-6-1 over his initial two seasons in 1982-83.
In ACC annals, Narduzzi is only the fifth man to begin his head coaching career with at least eight wins in each of his first two seasons. The others are Charley Pell of Clemson (1977-78), Ralph Friedgen of Maryland (2001-02), Jeff Jagodzinski of Boston College (2007-08) and Jimbo Fisher of Florida State (2010-11).
Under Narduzzi's direction, Pitt is seizing attention across the country as a rising contender in the ACC, a conference widely hailed as college football's finest last season.
In 2016, Pitt was the only school to have wins over two teams that finished in the top 5 of the final College Football Playoff rankings. The Panthers gave No. 2 Clemson--the eventual national champion--its only loss (43-42) and essentially kept No. 5 Penn State out of the playoff field by defeating the Nittany Lions, 42-39.
From an individual standpoint, Quadree Henderson earned Consensus All-America status as a return specialist after leading the country in kickoff return touchdowns (three) and combined kick return yards (1,166). Henderson enters his junior season in 2017 as one of college football's most dynamic players.
Additionally, guard Dorian Johnson was a first team All-American--the first Pitt offensive lineman to earn that designation in 22 years--and is a highly regarded prospect in this spring's NFL Draft.
Narduzzi was also instrumental in re-energizing Ejuan Price's career, which had previously been beset by injuries. Under Narduzzi's influence, Price emerged as one of the country's top pass rushers, totaling 24.5 sacks over his junior and senior seasons. He finished his Pitt career as a second team All-American and two-time first-team All-ACC performer.
"Coach Narduzzi is a confident guy," Price said. "He reassured me...I was going to be playing fast and I was going to be playing free and I just believed him. He was so confident about it. Why would I not believe him? He put that in me and I just ran with it."
In the classroom, the Panthers had 11 players named to the ACC All-Academic Football Team the past two years, the second highest total among conference schools.
Despite the success, Narduzzi is quick to point out there is more work to be done.
"We had some great signature wins last year but we've moved on to the next season," Narduzzi said. "We need to continue to build on what made us successful and learn from those instances where we fell short. We want to continuously be elevating our performance, on and off the field."
Narduzzi was named the Panthers' head coach on Dec. 26, 2014. He arrived at Pitt following eight highly successful years as the defensive coordinator at Michigan State. Under his direction, the Spartans were the only team to rank in the nation's top 10 in total defense and rushing defense each season from 2011-14.
Working under two-time Big Ten Coach of the Year Mark Dantonio, Narduzzi helped Michigan State to five Top 25 finishes.
In 2014, the Spartans finished with a No. 5 national ranking and 11-2 record following a stirring 42-41 victory over Baylor in the AT&T Cotton Bowl. Narduzzi's defense shut out the high-scoring Bears in the fourth quarter, opening the door for 21 unanswered points by Michigan State in one of the most thrilling games of the 2014-15 bowl season.
Michigan State boasted the nation's top rushing defense in 2014, yielding just 88.5 yards per game. The Spartans finished third nationally with 34 turnovers gained and eighth in total defense, holding opponents to just 315.8 yards per contest.
In 2013, Michigan State finished No. 3 in the country following a Big Ten title and 24-20 victory over No. 5 Stanford in the Rose Bowl. In the wake of that championship season, Narduzzi was named the 2013 recipient of the prestigious Broyles Award, annually presented to the country's top assistant coach.
Narduzzi tutored an impressive list of decorated defensive players at Michigan State, including first team All-Americans in cornerback Darqueze Dennard, safety Kurtis Drummond, linebacker Greg Jones and defensive tackle Jerel Worthy.
Dennard was a unanimous All-American in 2013, becoming the first Michigan State cornerback to earn that distinction. He also was the school's first winner of the Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to college football's top defensive back.
Dennard was a first-round NFL Draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2014, the first Spartans defensive back taken in the initial round since 1961. In the 2015 draft, another Narduzzi pupil, Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes, was a first-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings.
Narduzzi coached 19 first-team All-Big Ten selections. Four players won the conference's top individual awards under his watch, including two Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year honorees (Dennard in 2013 and Drummond in 2014). Shilique Calhoun was the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year in 2013 while Greg Jones was the overall Defensive Player of the Year in 2009.
In coming to Pittsburgh, Narduzzi was reunited with former Michigan State running back Le'Veon Bell, now a Pro Bowler with the neighboring Pittsburgh Steelers. Although Bell played on the opposite side of the ball, he faced Narduzzi's defense every day in practice in East Lansing from 2010-12.
The fiery defensive coordinator made a strong impression on him.
"When I watched the way he acted with the defense, I could just always tell that our players loved him," Bell said. "They loved playing for him. He is just an overall great guy. He is a player's coach. He is a guy who is always for his players. He loves his players. He always puts those guys first."
Prior to Michigan State, Narduzzi spent three years (2004-06) as defensive coordinator under Dantonio at Cincinnati, helping the Bearcats to a pair of bowl invitations.
In 2003, Narduzzi was the defensive coordinator at Miami of Ohio under the late Terry Hoeppner. The RedHawks stormed to a 13-1 record that season, capturing the Mid-American Conference (MAC) championship and defeating nationally ranked Louisville in the GMAC Bowl to finish No. 10 in the Associated Press poll.
While quarterback Ben Roethlisberger headlined Miami's offense, Narduzzi's stout unit topped the MAC in rushing defense (19th nationally), scoring defense (22nd nationally) and pass efficiency defense (34th nationally).
Narduzzi served as linebackers coach at Northern Illinois for three seasons (2000-02). NIU won a pair of MAC divisional titles during his tenure and in 2002 had the league's top rushing defense.
From 1993-99, Narduzzi coached at his alma mater, Rhode Island, serving as the Rams' defensive coordinator his final two seasons. He began his coaching career at Miami of Ohio, working as a graduate assistant in 1990 and 1991, before earning his first full-time position as receivers coach for the 1992 season.
Narduzzi was an All-Ohio performer at Youngstown's Ursuline High School, leading the Irish to the Steel Valley championship and state playoffs as a senior in 1984. He was a starting linebacker under his father, the late Bill Narduzzi, as a freshman at Youngstown State University in 1985 before transferring to Rhode Island, where he became a three-year starter for the Rams from 1987-89.
Bill Narduzzi was head coach at YSU from 1975-85. He led the Penguins to two NCAA Division II playoff appearances, including the national championship game in 1979, and twice was named the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) Coach of the Year.
Bill was a tremendous influence on Pat's decision to pursue coaching as a profession.
"He's smiling from above," Pat said at his introductory press conference in reference to his father. "I got here because of him, without a doubt. A guy who would wake you up on a Sunday morning and get two hours of work in before church. He pushed and guided me through the process of coaching.
"There were plenty of conversations at the kitchen table growing up in Youngstown where I lived. He's excited, I know that. He'll be watching down, so we'll have another coach up in the big press box."
Narduzzi completed his bachelor's degree in physical education at Rhode Island in 1990 and later earned a master's degree in sports studies at Miami of Ohio in 1992. He and his wife, Donna, have four children: Arianna, Christina, Patrick and Isabella.
|BORN||April 22, 1966|
|ALMA MATER||Rhode Island, 1990|
|FAMILY||Narduzzi and his wife Donna have four children: Arianna, Christina, Patrick and Isabella.|
|COLLEGE PLAYING EXPERIENCE|
|Rhode Island||Three-year starter at linebacker (1987-89)|
|Youngstown State||Starter at linebacker (1985)|
|COLLEGE COACHING EXPERIENCE|
|Miami (Ohio), 1990-92||1990-91, Graduate Assistant; 1992, Wide Receivers|
|Rhode Island, 1993-99||1993-97, Linebackers; 1998-99, Defensive Coordinator|
|Northern Illinois, 2000-02||Linebackers|
|Miami (Ohio), 2003||Defensive Coordinator|
|Cincinnati, 2004-06||Defensive Coordinator|
|Michigan State, 2007-14||2007-14, Defensive Coordinator, 2013-14, Assistant Head Coach|
|Pitt, 2015-present||Head Coach|
|BOWL GAMES COACHED|
|2004||Fort Worth Bowl|
|2007||Champs Sports Bowl|
|2009||Capital One Bowl|
|2010||Valero Alamo Bowl|
|2011||Capital One Bowl|
|2013||Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl|
|2016||New Era Pinstripe Bowl|
|FIRST TEAM ALL-AMERICANS UNDER NARDUZZI (at Pitt)|
|2016||Returner Quadree Henderson (Consensus)|
|2016||Guard Dorian Johnson|
|FIRST TEAM ALL-AMERICANS UNDER NARDUZZI (at Michigan State)|
|2014||Safety Kurtis Drummond|
|2013||Cornerback Darqueze Dennard (Unanimous)|
|2011||Defensive Tackle Jerel Worthy (Consensus)|
|2009-10||Linebacker Greg Jones (2009 Consensus, 2010 Unanimous)|
|ACC AWARD WINNERS UNDER NARDUZZI (at Pitt)|
|2016||Running Back James Conner - Brian Piccolo Award|
|2015||Safety Jordan Whitehead - ACC Overall and Defensive Rookie of the Year (Media)|
|2015||Running Back Qadree Ollison - ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year (Media)|
|2015||Safety Jordan Whitehead and Running Back Qadree Ollison - ACC Co-Rookies of the Year (Coaches)|
|BIG TEN AWARD WINNERS UNDER NARDUZZI (at Michigan State)|
|2014||Safety Kurtis Drummond - Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year|
|2013||Cornerback Darqueze Dennard - Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year|
|2013||Defensive End Shilique Calhoun - Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year|
|2009||Linebacker Greg Jones - Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year|
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