#parent | #kids | Pitt notebook: Pat Narduzzi says players can improve their brand by staying out of trouble

Pat Narduzzi keeps a sheet of paper in his office that he considers just as important as any page in the playbook.

On it, Pitt’s football coach keeps track of off-the-field problems that arise involving college athletes around the country.

Occasionally, he takes it out and share its contents with his players.

“I try to educate them on what’s going on,” he said. “They’re like in shock. They can’t believe it. (They say), ‘Coach, I had no idea.’ ”

He was proud Wednesday to declare on the ACC Network that his team has gone an estimated 1,500 days – he said the exact number is back in his office — without an off-the-field incident that required disciplinary measures.

“I’m constantly reminding them, ‘Guess what? It can happen to you,’ ” he later told the Tribune-Review. ” ‘Don’t think you’re too big that something bad can’t happen to you.’ ”

Over the years, Pitt athletes have been involved in their share of societal misdeeds. But that number has decreased in recent years under Narduzzi, who is approaching his seventh season, the second-longest tenure for a Pitt coach in the past 53 years.

He said behaving properly is even more important now that athletes can sell their brand to the highest bidder.

“Everybody talks about name, image, likeness, right?” Narduzzi said. “We talk about branding yourself. We’ve been talking about this since I got here (after the 2014 season).

“Branding is not getting in trouble. Have yourself a deal and screw up and get a DUI. See how fast that deal goes away. Your branding is done. Your image is done.”

Pitt’s vaxxers

Narduzzi said 92% of Pitt’s football players have been vaccinated against covid-19.

“It shows you our kids are together. It shows you they’re a team,” he said.

“Not everybody wants to get it. Nobody wants to get it. Who wants to have a shot in the arm? But our kids have been well-educated by the doctors and the trainers.”

(And by the coach himself, who said he follows national and international news through his USA Today app and all three network news programs).

“Our kids don’t watch the news. They had no clue what a Delta variant was,” he said. “Now, they know. I have to be the news to them.”

Narduzzi hopes to increase the team’s percentage.

“I’d like to be 100%. That’s total victory,” he said. “We don’t have to worry about forfeiting the game or not having our starters in for the game. It’s not fair to anybody.”

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at jdipaola@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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