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COACH PRIME V. COACH NARDUZZI: Who Do You Got?

Updated: Jul 18, 2023





At the ACC Spring meetings, 247Sports asked Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi about how new Colorado head coach Deion Sanders has constructed his roster.


Narduzzi, not one to mince words, responded that he didn’t care for the way Coach Prime handled the Colorado roster. “That’s not the way it’s meant to be,” Narduzzi said. “That’s not what the rule intended to be. It was not to overhaul your roster. We’ll see how it works out but that, to me, looks bad on college football coaches across the country… I don’t know how many of those 70 that left really wanted to leave or they were kicked in the butt to get out.” Ouch! No pulling punches there.


Narduzzi is the only coach to speak out about the way Deion Sanders gutted the 1-11 Colorado Buffaloes roster. He may not be the only one who thinks this way, but he’s the only one to publicly say it.


Now, you are not just going to take a shot at Coach Prime and expect it to go unanswered.


Sanders clapped back this past week, also speaking to 247Sports.


“What was his situation when he came to Pitt? He had a different situation than me. He is not mad at me, he is mad at the situation in football now that allowed his best player to leave a year ago. He’s not mad at me, he’s using me to shoot bullets at another coach who he has an issue with. I don’t know who he is; if he walked in here right now I wouldn’t know him.”

Again, ouch!


On December 26, 2014, Pat Narduzzi was hired as head football coach of the Pitt Panthers. At that time, the transfer portal did not exist. Pitt only added four players via transfer, three of which were allowed to play without sitting. Narduzzi built the Pitt program using few transfers. He’s an old school coach who wants to develop his own players.


But he also understands that times are changing. Either you move with the train, or it runs you over. Since the rules changed in 2018, Pitt has utilized the transfer portal, but has not relied upon it.


The problem Coach Narduzzi had with what happened at Colorado is that the entire roster was gutted. 70 players, some scholarship and some non-scholarship, have left the program. Most, apparently, at the request or direction of Coach Prime.


Narduzzi later mentioned that these are all kids who have families and goals and kicking them out was not a good look for coaches. As a parting shot by Narduzzi, he finished his comments to 247Sports with this:


“He’s not the only new head coach in college football. You hear about that anywhere else? No.”

Deion Sanders, or Coach Prime as he is known in the football world, was a highly successful athlete. He has won a World Series with the Atlanta Braves and a Super Bowl with the Dallas Cowboys. He is now looking to add a National Championship for the Colorado Buffaloes to his trophy case.


When Coach Prime was hired as the Buff’s head coach, he was inheriting a team that went 1-11 in 2022. At his first meeting with the Colorado players after being hired, Coach Prime made it clear what his feelings were on the current roster situation. In a video that went viral, Coach Prime said, “We’ve got a few positions already taken care of because I’m bringing my luggage with me and it’s Louis…Go ahead and jump in that portal and do whatever you’re going to do, because the more of you jump in, the more room you make.”


By the time the Spring transfer portal window closed, 70 players who were on the Colorado roster in 2022 had entered the portal. Taking over a 1-11 program would typically take years, and multiple head coaches, to fix. But the portal, much to the chagrin of Pat Narduzzi, allows a coach to overhaul the roster.


To be fair to Deion, he did not break any of the transfer portal rules. While some are criticizing the move, I feel Deion is thinking outside the box. He understands that, in today’s world, everyone wants results now. Why try to develop a roster that scored more than 21 points only once in 2022? And the defense ranked last in the country allowing 44.5 points per game, WOW!


So yeah, I can understand why Coach Prime would want to gut that roster.


The pressure is on Coach Prime now; is he a trend setter or an example? The first coach to truly replace his entire roster through the transfer portal. If the Buffaloes succeed, then it’s only a matter of time before another coach takes over a lowly program and guts that roster.


And if he fails, the critics will be out in full force trashing the decision to replace the entire roster. I see Coach Narduzzi’s side of the argument, the human aspect. When he took over at Pitt, those were his guys, no matter who their coach was the year before. Those were his guys, and none were told to leave.


But I also see Coach Prime’s side in this microwave world we live in. Got to have it now! Got to fix things now! Well, Coach Prime started that process, only time will tell if it was the right way to do it.


My hope, and I am sure I am not alone in this thought, is that Colorado and Pitt meet in a bowl game to end the 2023 season. Now, that will be a hot ticket and some incredible press conferences!

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