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What separates Pat Narduzzi from other first-time head coaches

Narduzzi SI

Sports Illustrated

Pat Narduzzi officially accepted the head coaching position at Pittsburgh on Friday, culminating a quarter century-long journey from a graduate assistant position on Randy Walker's staff at Miami (Ohio) to now. Though Pittsburgh represents Narduzzi's first head coaching job, Narduzzi insists he's ready for this job because he's been a head coach - of sorts - working under Mark Dantonio for the past 11 years.

"The reason I want to be a head coach is so I can be the CEO of a program and start to lead nine assistant coaches. For the last 11 years I've been a walk-around coordinator so I feel like I'm a head coach of the defense. I don't coach a position - at least I haven't coached a position in the last 11 seasons. I'm not in charge of the linebackers. I walk around and I coach the coaches," Narduzzi said. "That's my job. All I'm doing now as the head coach is coaching a few more and letting them do their thing. Coach Dantonio lets his coordinators coach. I've been so fortunate to work with guys that let their coaches coach. That's the best thing you can do as a head coach - stay out of it."

The biggest question facing Narduzzi will be his offensive coordinator hire and the overall direction of the offense in his tenure. Narduzzi said he'll give input on how he thinks opposing defenses can be attacked, but for the most part that side of the ball will be the offensive coordinator's domain.

As head coach, Narduzzi's biggest task will be setting the tone for his assistants and his players.

"A ton of energy, passion and discipline. We're going to have knowledge," Narduzzi said of how his team will play. "We've got to have a ton of knowledge. We're going to play fast and physical. It's hard to play fast if you don't know what you're doing. Probably the best compliment we've gotten at Michigan State is, 'You guys play fast.'... Our kids can play fast because they know what they're doing."

Narduzzi explained how, exactly, he does that at during a talk at the Angelo Football Clinic over the summer. FootballScoop was fortunate enough to sit in for that talk.

"We'll play with a tough, blue collar mentality. And how else would you want it in the city of Pittsburgh?" he continued. "When someone plays the University of Pittsburgh, they're going to know they were in a brawl."

While many a hot-shot coordinator has taken that first head job and failed, Narduzzi comes in with a different set of tools than most. He's the rare first-time head coach that's not really a first-time head coach.

"I've been assistant head coach for the past two or three years, I feel like I've had had coaching duties. Coach Dantonio does not have a staff that's a bunch of yes men," Narduzzi said. "We're going to speak up. I really feel like everybody's had a role in the building of that program. I really feel like there's nothing missing here.

"To me, I feel like leaders are leaders. I feel like I'm a leader. I'm going from leading 50 to leading 100, and that's about the only difference."