Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi apologizes to players after comment following loss to Notre Dame goes viral

Pittsburgh head coach Pat Narduzzi runs on to the field before an NCAA college football game against Notre Dame Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Michael Caterina)

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi believes he should be judged by his nine years of work with the Panthers, not a brief soundbite following a blowout loss to Notre Dame in which he openly questioned the talent of his roster.

Narduzzi came under fire both internally and externally for a comment he made following the 58-7 setback to the then-No. 14 Irish that added another difficult moment to the worst season of his largely successful tenure.

“I’ll go back, as a football coach you lose a lot of good players from a year ago and you think as a coach you’re going to replace them and obviously we haven’t,” Narduzzi said Saturday. "Again, it starts with me. I didn’t do a good enough job coaching today. Put it on me and we’ve got to make plays.”

The Panthers went 9-4 in 2022, winning the Sun Bowl. The loss to Notre Dame dropped Pitt to 2-6 this season heading into a visit by No. 4 Florida State (8-0) on Saturday.

A version of the first part of Narduzzi's statement went viral, with current and former players expressing concern.

Narduzzi said he began reaching out to his players on the flight back from South Bend and took the unusual step of posting on X a few hours after the game that the loss was fully his fault.

The 57-year-old Narduzzi, who is 64-47 with the Panthers and guided them to the 2021 ACC title, said he apologized to the entire team during its usual Sunday night meeting for comments that “didn’t obviously come out the way I intended them to come out.”

Asked what he intended to say, the usually blunt Narduzzi demurred.

“I don’t even think it’s up for discussion,” Narduzzi said Monday. “I really don’t need to get into it. ... and it doesn’t even matter at this point. So I’d rather just move on.”

Narduzzi said his players told him “they were all good and said, ‘Coach, I totally understand.’”

The loss to now-No. 12 Notre Dame put Pitt on the cusp of being ineligible for a bowl game for just the second time since he was hired in December 2014. He has provided stability for the Panthers, who began the season with the second-best record in the ACC behind Clemson since 2015.

Narduzzi is not concerned about how his comments might play in the home of recruits or players who may enter the transfer portal at the end of the season.

“I always have loyalty to our football team, period,” he said. “And, you know, you can look at that and then you can look at one 6-second snippet ... Which one are you going to go with? So it’s up to you.”

Narduzzi called the relationships he has with his players “critical" and believes that has not changed.

“You're not defined in one game or one afternoon, you're defined over time,” he said. “And I think over time, my guys are my guys. ... I know how bad they're hurting after that loss ... But my major message was: ‘I don’t care. I love you guys. I wouldn't trade you for anything, period. Those are my guys, and that's the way it will always be.”


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