Pat Narduzzi calls new boss Heather Lyke 'dynamic'
March 20, 2017 3:29 PM
By Brian Batko / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
At any FBS school, the relationship between athletic director and football coach always seems to be worth monitoring. After her first news conference Monday as Pitt AD, Heather Lyke received rave reviews from third-year Pitt football coach Pat Narduzzi, who served on the 12-member search committee and was one of just two Pitt coaches to do so.
“What I saw today is kind of what I knew already and saw in the interview process. She’s dynamic. She’s impressive,” Narduzzi said. “I thought she did a great job today, and that’s what I expected.”
Narduzzi had never met Lyke before her candidacy to take over for Scott Barnes at Pitt but insisted some of her traits were readily apparent from their first interaction.
“Just during the process, the enthusiasm,” Narduzzi said. “You know, I’m an energetic guy, and she kind of matches [that]. Just to hear her talk, and her passion — I don’t care if it’s softball or whatever — whatever she talks about, she is passionate about it. I think when you have a passion and a work ethic and you can go do things like that, I just think it’s endless what you can do with her talent. She’s a great speaker, she can carry a one-on-one conversation, she can gain everybody’s attention here. She’s great people, and everything I’ve heard about her is the same.”
Keeping Narduzzi happy would likely be one of the most important factors for whichever candidate Pitt eventually chose to run its athletic department, but the coach noted that it’s a two-way street when it comes to the football program and athletic director working together.
Narduzzi: “There’s always new things that you want to do. … She wants to make things better and make it easier, and hopefully she has some ideas, like ‘Hey, what about this?’ Oh, that’s a good idea. So that’s what you want, is somebody who also comes in with that vision to say, ‘Hey Pat, here’s a different way to do it; let’s try this.’ So that’s what I want. I want someone that’s going to add to the program, not someone who’s just going to keep it status quo.”
As a former coach in the state of Michigan for several years himself, running the defense at Michigan State, Narduzzi was familiar with the longstanding troubles of Eastern Michigan football, especially in the Mid-American Conference in particular. Lyke may have made a slam-dunk coaching hire in Chris Creighton, who took Eastern Michigan to the Bahamas Bowl in 2016, his third season.
“You notice just because they’re in a bowl game,” Narduzzi said. “That shouldn’t happen up there, really. I worked in the MAC at two different places, Northern Illinois and Miami (Ohio), so I know Eastern Michigan. We played them while I was there, as well. They’ve done a nice job. And it’s not easy being five minutes from another college football team. The University of Michigan is right there.”
Pitt men’s basketball coach Kevin Stallings was not in attendance for Lyke’s news conference, but Narduzzi was one of many Panthers coaches present.
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