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December 8, 2017

Heather Lyke

Pat Narduzzi

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

HEATHER LYKE: Welcome, everybody. We're really glad to have you here, and it's awesome to be here with you. I'm honored to be here today with our head football coach, Pat Narduzzi. We're teammates, you know, and I have profound respect for him. He's a leader and he's a difference maker, and as our football coach, we're thrilled to have him here.

Speaking of leaders, I'll just say that neither coach nor I would be here today without the leadership of our chancellor, Pat Gallagher. His support and appreciation for how athletics can unite our university and engage our community is unwavering. We're grateful for the alignment of leadership we have with our chancellor and our board of trustees. I want to thank Chancellor Gallagher and our board for the decisions they have made to put us in a position to succeed.

I first met Coach on March 13th during my interview process. For many years, I had watched Coach from the other side of the sideline, and I knew his background, and I knew his style, but I really had never met him personally and gotten to know him. I was fortunate to do that during the interview process and start to build a relationship.

I'll just say that Coach Narduzzi is, obviously, incredibly confident, incredibly genuine. One of, you know, I don't know that there's a stronger word to describe him as far as his genuineness. He's detail oriented. He loves to work hard, and he has great expectations. I believe that he coaches for all the right reasons. The relationship that he has with his student-athletes and the impact he can have on their life is why he does what he does.

For an athletic director, there is no better person that I would want to be working side by side with. We believe that together we can build a team, a football program that competes for ACC Championships and National Championships.

We believe that decisions determine destiny and the decision we're discussing today is the decision to enter into a long-term agreement with Coach Narduzzi. In addition, a significant investment will be made into our football program. An investment that not only helps determine our destiny, but establishes Pitt as a destination.

You know, we want great leadership here. We want continuity of great leadership. We want Difference Makers here at Pitt. When you become a destination place, success can be sustained. I'll just say that when you study successful organizations and teams and is universities, it starts with finding difference makers who are the leaders of those organizations and maintaining continuity of the leadership. In our own city, obviously, the Steelers are a great example of that. In 48 years, they've had three head coaches. In those same 48 years we've had 12 in Panther Nation.

So Coach Narduzzi is a difference maker. He's the perfect fit for Pitt. His confidence and belief is often contagious, and every once in a while he'll profess that during a halftime interview, which isn't a bad thing. But, you know, you have to believe before it's going to happen, and I think that's what we both share in common is the belief that we can build it here at Pitt.

So I want to thank Coach Narduzzi for leading and building our football program. And we will surround him with the absolute best assistant coaches and the most talented athletic department staff possible. People who are striving to make this place better every day and want to compete at the highest level. Coach Narduzzi and his family, Donna and his kids, all belong in Pittsburgh and we are thrilled to have him here coaching for the long-term.

PAT NARDUZZI: My turn? I think we're done here. Thanks, Heather.

It's a humbling opportunity that Heather, the Chancellor have given me and my family, and really the University of Pittsburgh, and this Pitt football team. I was obviously thrilled so I thank everybody, and I thank Donna up there.

Donna, you had something to do with it a long time ago by bringing me here. I said this a long time ago it starts with leadership, and ever since Heather got here, and I was involved in the interview process that she's talked about, she's been incredible.

This conversation, I don't know if she's mentioned it in the past, but it happened before the season. She said, hey, after the season we're redoing this whole deal. I don't know if you remember that or not, I'm sure you do. But it started back then. You talk about a short period of time in New York City on Monday where I was able to ink it up and emails, incredible how fast it happened.

But it didn't take long to get the deal done because I want to be here. I want to be at Pittsburgh. This is not a destination job. I know there have been issues in the past, but it's all about the people. I love the Chancellor. I love our AD. When you're happy where you are and you're happy with the people that you're involved with and you can walk in the office every day and pick up the phone and call these people and text back and forth, that means everything. That's what it's all about.

It's not about the money, the years, it's about the people you're working with. So it's easy to make a deal and a long-term deal at Pitt. So I couldn't be more excited. I'm sure you guys have questions, and I'll open it up for questions now.

Q. Heather, you mentioned you were already going in this direction before the season started. I'm just wondering how the first full year here, not even done yet, just what were your expectations going into this season and what were expecting from the program?
HEATHER LYKE: To continue to get better in every aspect of the program. The reality is you have to evaluate the team every year. We had a young team, and I knew they had to rebuild in a number of ways. We had a couple of questionable key positions that I know Coach was going to work through. But you have to trust your coaches. That's their job. I'm here to provide them the resources and the tools necessary to have success, and then you entrust that program to your head coach.

What I knew was he was a guy full of integrity, here coaching for the right reasons, and wanting to be here. So stability is something that we've never had at Pitt with the right people, so why wouldn't you consider that, and that's really the thought process I had early on.

Q. Other programs have had a number of head coaches since 2010. Why do you feel stability at the top given the current situation?
HEATHER LYKE: I mean, I think you look at successful organizations and successful teams, and when you have the right people in place, you win with people. Facilities, football fields are all 100 yards long. The difference when you talk to recruits and you evaluate programs is the people in them. Who do our recruits want to be coached by every day? Who are they going to live and learn with every day? That's, you know, it starts at the top.

Q. (Indiscernible) why seven years?
HEATHER LYKE: It's long enough to make a significant commitment. I think Coach has earned it, and his staff has earned it. We want to send a strong message that we want long-term commitment and continuity. Transition is really difficult. The football operation and any team is complex, but football is highly complex, and there are a lot of moving parts, so continuity is important to us.

PAT NARDUZZI: Lucky number seven, how about that? But I understand. But it was four years already. So, I'm shocked and again honored, but it was already four, so they added three to it. So it wasn't like I felt unstable. There has been support from the top since I got here. It just keeps getting better every year. When you look at why, you know, there is belief from the top that we're getting it done and doing it the right way.

You see it all the time, going back to your question, what was the expectation going into the season? My expectation was to win an ACC Championship. I don't care how young we are, we still went in with the same expectations. Whether we did it or not, play here, play there, inch here, inch there, the expectations are still that. I think we'll be a lot better going forward.

Q. How important was it, Heather, for you to capitalize on the victory and to give Pat the ammunition with the extension for long-term security for recruits?
HEATHER LYKE: Yeah, I think timing was important. But we were going to do this regardless of the outcome of the Miami game and regardless of whether we won an ACC Championship. There was no question that the expectations are not going to change. It was just fortuitous that we won, and there is a lot of positive momentum.

I think if you were at that game, you felt it, and you saw it, and you witnessed it, it's obviously an incredibly bright future, so I think it timed up really nicely.

Q. (Inaudible).
PAT NARDUZZI: For the last couple years I sat in homes and really for the first two years, two and a half years it never got asked. It was asked really not after this whole deal was done, but in the middle of when emails were going back and forth, phone calls, text messages, phone calls from the chancellor. I had a nice voice mail from the chancellor. I'm sitting at a home, I won't say whose home, but the mom asked a question. She said let me let you listen to this voicemail and this might answer everything.

So intelligent people are going to ask intelligent questions. It was a great question. Even without that voicemail, that just made it even better. But even without that, you had four years. I'm going to see their son get through. I've never had to worry about years. For most of my career, you worked off one-year contract. So years don't matter to me. It's nice that that support is there and that faith is there, but to me, I've never worried about that and never will have to.

Q. (Indiscernible) any kind of a difference?
PAT NARDUZZI: You know what, no, not really to be honest with you. You don't see it when you're talking with recruits. Recruits are how many tackles, where are you going to play me? What color are uniforms, those type of things.

Q. (Indiscernible) having two coaches in the last ten years, why would it be different?
PAT NARDUZZI: You want me to answer that? I'll start off. I've never been a guy looking for a job. I don't have an agent. I've got a lawyer. I'm not a guy who goes out looking for jobs. You have those big eyes like you don't believe me, like you're shocked. That's good. I like that.

But, well, sometimes I lie to you because I have to. I can't tell you about the depth chart until Saturday. But I've got to be honest with you. But I've not been a guy that looks for a job. I like to have stability. I don't like moving around.

I walk into so many high schools and ask coaches how they like their jobs and all that, and they've got a great thing going in high schools. Those high school coaches always want to jump up to the next level. And I'm like you guys don't understand how well and how good you have it sitting in high schools, having stability. Maybe you're not the Coach next year, you're still a teacher there. So that means a lot to me. With four kids and with my youngest being a tenth grader, it's important to her. If you ask her does she want to move, she's going to tell you no. I can promise you that. She's happy up in North Allegheny.

Loyalty means a lot to me. Loyalty is a two-way street. Me being loyal to the University of Pittsburgh, and Pittsburgh being loyal to me. That's what it comes down to. Ten years would be a dream to be here, and I intend to be here for ten years. I don't have the desire to go anywhere else.

What do you want to do? I want to build this program. If you walk around this building from three years ago when I sat over here in a press conference, you guys were sitting in chairs and this was a flat room, what this place looks like, to me, I love to build, and we're building a championship university here, and we expect to win.

This whole building has changed. That's fun. We have our mark on it. Heather is putting her mark on it in the future with all the things she's talking about doing. There are great things happening in Pittsburgh, and I'm excited about it. That's what gets me going?

HEATHER LYKE: I'll just echo, obviously, the belief in the people and the opportunity to go and make an impact and a difference here is why there is a confidence that you know that you have the right leader and he's going to build it the right way, and you're doing it together. You strategize on things, and plan on things and build a vision and we're going to make it happen.

Q. This also involves an investment in the football program. What were this of the things that you saw that needed investment, and what were some of the things that Pat asked for?
HEATHER LYKE: Sure, well, the first thing he wants is to take care of his assistant coaches. You know, it's not about Coach. That's indicative of his personality and who he is. So, we obviously want to invest in our assistant coaching pool, which we have. Then, if a Coach doesn't have a plan and a wish list and here are the things that we can do that make us better, here are the things that cost money, here are the things that don't cost money, if they don't have their thoughts put together, it makes me concerned.

Coach has a very detailed plan. We've gone through that. We've identified some additional facility projects to do here, again, ways that we want to put our fingerprints and make an impact here on our student-athletes' lives, I say a lot, the decisions we make impact the lives of other people's kids. And that's how we approach this. How do we better impact the student-athletes' lives while they're here, whether it's a training facility, expansion of the weight room, those type of things to enhance the program. But we've got a list, and we're going to knock it out.

PAT NARDUZZI: We have a list, and it doesn't have to be in a contract. Those lists are a trust thing that we're working to get better. Whether it happens in six months, two years, whatever it is, there is a trust. But it's not like, hey, let's make a deal. If you do this, we'll sign this. It works like that some places, but it gets done when it gets done. Whatever they can do, we'll take it and run.

Q. She mentioned a couple things, what do you see as kind of the next thing? What do you see as the next project?
PAT NARDUZZI: I don't even know if we get into it. We'll see when we get there. I don't want to give you a project and have you say, hey, what happened here. We've got ideas, and she mentioned one of them, expand the weight room, and we'll leave it right at that. There are little things.

Put it this way, I think this facility is incredible. The size of it is maybe bigger than any facility I've been in. The quality is the same way. When we bring kids into campus on recruiting weekends, they love it. The partnership we have with the Pittsburgh Steelers is incredible. This whole facility is top-notch.

When you walk up-and-down, every year there is something changing, but we're going to continue to change and make things better. Not only for recruiting purposes, but for the student-athlete.

Q. Kind of keeping with the topic of the increased investment. Having said increased investment in Pat as well as the program, I'm wondering if you're going to release the full terms of the contract, and for Pat, with that increased investment, do you plan on making any staff changes this off-season?
PAT NARDUZZI: Staff changes inevitably happen. I think with the tenth coach, that you're going to see a lot of stuff happen across the country. Everybody's going to add another Coach, so people are going to be stealing from everybody. I'm just going to stay patient. See what happens, and see who gets stolen because it's going to happen. So we'll just kind of wait around and see what happens in that respect.

HEATHER LYKE: Yeah, and we don't intend to release any further details about the Coach's contract.

Q. Are you concerned your staff will remain intact?
PAT NARDUZZI: Who knows.

Q. When you look at what's going on around the country with the coaching carousel, what was it to lock up Pat long-term in that sense, and making sure that he wasn't one of the dominos involved in all this?
HEATHER LYKE: Obviously there is a lot of volatility and transition in the profession. But it was more about what's best for Pitt? As we discussed, early on, I knew that this was an important commitment that we needed to enhance and improve in football and make a statement well before a lot of the transition happened. So I think that that was just the nature of the business, but it didn't impact what we were going to do all along.

Q. (Indiscernible) generally speaking and relatively speaking, how does it stack up?
PAT NARDUZZI: You just keep going, huh?

Q. Generally speaking.
PAT NARDUZZI: He's got the other end.

HEATHER LYKE: I'll just say it's better than it was, right? It's very competitive.

PAT NARDUZZI: Again, it is very competitive. It only matters if it makes the head coach happy, wherever that is. This is a big-time place, we're in the ACC conference, we're competing. That's probably all you need to know.

Q. You got your extension two years ago, and you said you were kind of surprised it came so soon. Were you surprised this time around at all?
PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, I'm always surprised. I'm just a football coach. I just want to go coach, recruit, have relationships with our players. I'm always surprised.

I think Heather will tell you I was surprised. Like, really? She was talking with the chancellor, going back and forth, and I'm like, come on now, Heather, that's too much. I just want to coach football. I'm not into all that stuff. I'm not looking for a new job. I'm not looking for a raise. I'm looking to coach a football team and win a championship. So I'm always surprised when things like that happen.

Q. When you meet the number two team in the country two years in a row, Pat said he's not looking for a job, but sometimes other schools are looking for a coach. Did anybody inquire about Pat? Was there anybody that expedited this whole thing that made you say let's get this done?
PAT NARDUZZI: No. There you go. That's two nos.

Q. As your program approaches 2024, what is your vision for the program on a national scale?
PAT NARDUZZI: Say that again?

Q. Your vision (Indiscernible)?
PAT NARDUZZI: I think that's a vision. I look at our coastal division and the champions we've had, this year it's Miami, last year Virginia Tech, the year before it's North Carolina, it's Georgia Tech, it's Duke, there hasn't been the same team. Guess what? There are only so many teams that vision's going to come around and we're going to win a championship. I like the pieces we have coming back. We're going to compete.

The first two years we were only a game away from really being in that conference championship game, and that's where we want to go. We want to win an ACC Championship. If you get into the ACC Championship game, you've got a chance to move on and be in the Final Four. You look at those nine National Championship crystal balls out there, that's where we want to go, and we want to put a tenth one up there. That's the goal. I don't think anybody would come here if we didn't have that goal.

With where we are in this division, and I think the Coastal is probably the most competitive division in college football from top to bottom, but it's not as dominant as the Atlantic Division where it's going to be Florida State every year. That's why I love this job. That's why I think we can be in that conversation. We have the ability to be in that conference championship game.

I hope it's the number two team in the country that we face, because we're probably going to beat them, right? There you go. I think I'm going to put big billboards up in here for the schedule for next year. I'm going to put number two. Everybody's going to be number two.

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