Pitt’s Pat Narduzzi Signs New Contract Fresh Off ACC Title

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh and football coach Pat Narduzzi have agreed on a new contract that will keep Narduzzi with the Panthers through at least 2030. The deal comes three months after Narduzzi led Pitt to its first Atlantic Coast Conference championship on its way to an 11-3 record and a No. 13 ranking in the final AP Top 25 poll, the program’s highest postseason ranking since 1982. Narduzzi is 53-37 in seven seasons with the Panthers. His 53 wins rank fourth all-time in program history.

Cincinnati’s Fickell named 2021 Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year 

(Photo Provided by American Heart Association)

HOUSTON, January 12, 2022 – Coach Fickell from the University of Cincinnati was named college football Coach of the Year at the American Heart Association’s Paul “Bear” Bryant Awards, presented by Marathon Oil. The 36th annual awards program benefits the Association, the world’s leading voluntary health organization devoted to a world of longer, healthier lives for all. 

In his fifth season as head coach at Cincinnati, Fickell led the Bearcats to a perfect 13-0 regular season record in 2021. The only undefeated team in the country, Cincinnati was selected as the #4 seed in the College Football Playoff, making them the first team ever chosen from the Group of Five conferences.

In accepting the award this evening, Coach Fickell said, “Thank you to the American Heart Association for saving lives and to the Bryant Family. To be in the same realm of the guys nominated tonight, it’s an honor. To even be mentioned in the same sentence as ‘Bear’ Bryant is incredible. Football is the greatest team sport known to man. To us, ‘T-E-A-M’ means ‘Together, everyone achieves more.’ On behalf of the University of Cincinnati, an amazing coaching staff, this team and the seniors who created the atmosphere, culture, style and expectation, it is my honor to accept this award. Thank you to our team and the 32 seniors that made this season incredibly special. It’s truly humbling and an honor. It has been an amazing ride.”

Held tonight in Houston and broadcast live by the Bally Sports Southwest sports channel, the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award annually recognizes the country’s top college football coach for coaching excellence and leadership. The Coach of the Year award is voted on by the National Sports Media Association, current NCAA College football coaches, former Coach of the Year Award winners, the Bryant Awards’ Executive Leadership Team and the Bryant family.

In 1983, football coaching legend, Paul “Bear” Bryant, died from a heart attack. Moved to amplify and drive education surrounding heart disease after his passing, the Bryant family teamed up with the American Heart Association in 1986, building on the Association’s Coach of the Year Award to create the Paul “Bear” Bryant Awards program. Each year since then, the awards have celebrated “Bear’s” legacy by recognizing coaching excellence while raising critical funds for research to eradicate cardiovascular disease. Funds are raised through event sponsorships, an auction and individual charitable donations.

Mel Edwards, Senior Vice President and Executive Director of American Heart Association’s Houston Division said, “Congratulations to Coach Fickell! We are excited to use the platform of this award to reach new audiences for the American Heart Association’s mission, giving us the opportunity to educate and empower people about heart health on a bigger field. We are meeting people where they are and sharing a message that resonates about heart-healthy lifestyles that athletes follow to stay gameday fit. Coach Fickell embodies that every day.”

Fans were able to participate in the awards with the second annual Coach of the Year Fan Vote, sponsored by KPMG. Starting in August 2021, fans cast votes for their favorite coach online at bryantawards.org/fan-vote/. In a hard-fought battle, Coach Sam Pittman, University of Arkansas, won the Fan Vote with over 30,000 votes. These dedicated fans can catch the program when it is re-aired on various Bally Sports affiliates in the coming weeks.

In addition to the Coach of the Year, the Paul “Bear” Bryant Awards program presented the Conference Coach of the Year Awards to coaches from each of the “Power Five” collegiate athletic conferences (Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big XII, Pac 12 and Southeastern Conference) and one from the “Group of Five” conferences (American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, Mid-American Conference, Mountain West Conference and Sun Belt Conference).

The 2021 Conference Coaches of the Year awardees are (in alphabetical order by finalist last name): 

  • Big XII – Dave Aranda  Baylor University 
  • ACC – Dave Clawson  Wake Forest University 
  • Group of 5  Luke Fickell  University of Cincinnati, American Athletic Conference 
  • Big Ten  Jim Harbaugh  University of Michigan 
  • SEC  Kirby Smart – University of Georgia 
  • Pac 12 – Kyle Whittingham  University of Utah 

As previously announced, college coaching legends John Robinson and David Shaw were recognized at the awards event. Coach Robinson received the 2022 Paul “Bear” Bryant Lifetime Achievement Award presented by Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston, and Coach Shaw received the 2022 Heart of a Champion Award

Marathon Oil Corporation, an independent exploration and production company based in Houston, has served as the presenting sponsor of the Paul “Bear” Bryant Awards for more than a decade, underscoring the company’s commitment to health and wellness and supporting initiatives that promote the well-being of workers and their families in the communities where they operate. 

“We are thrilled to welcome Coach Fickell to this elite group of Bryant Awards Coach of the Year winners,” said Lee Tillman, Marathon Oil president and CEO. “Marathon Oil, along with the Bryant family, is proud to support the lifesaving mission of the American Heart Association while carrying on Coach Bryant’s legacy.” 

For a recap of the event and behind the scenes details visit facebook.com/bryantawards or twitter.com/bryantawards. To learn more about the awards history and for 2022 event information visit bryantawards.org. 


Pitt Lands Former USC Quarterback Kedon Slovis

Pitt lands former USC quarterback Kedon Slovis
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Kedon Slovis is trading USC for Pittsburgh. The former Trojans quarterback announced he is heading east to join the ACC champion Panthers, where he will get a chance to replace ACC Player of the Year Kenny Pickett. Slovis entered his junior season at USC as a Heisman Trophy contender but he struggled to find any rhythm. He passed for 2,153 yards with 11 touchdowns against eight interceptions in nine games before being lost for the season with a leg injury.

Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh is AP coach of the year, Fickell 2nd

Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh is AP coach of the year, Fickell 2nd
By RALPH D. RUSSO AP College Football Writer
Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh is The Associated Press college football coach of the year. He led the Wolverines to their first Big Ten title in 17 years and a berth in the College Football Playoff. Harbaugh is the first Michigan coach to win the award and the first from the Big Ten since Penn State’s Joe Paterno in 2005. Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell finished second. Baylor’s Dave Aranda was third and Michigan State’s Mel Tucker was fourth.

No. 20 Pitt Can Wrap Up ACC Coastal With Win Over Virginia

No. 20 Pitt can wrap up Coastal with win over Virginia
By The Associated Press undefined
No. 20 Pittsburgh can clinch its second ACC Coastal Division title in four years with a victory over Virginia. The game will be the last appearance at Heinz Field for Pitt star QB Kenny Pickett. Pickett needs 163 yards passing to break Rod Rutherford’s school record for yards passing in a single season. The Cavaliers are hopeful quarterback Brennan Armstrong can play. Armstrong did not play during last week’s loss to Notre Dame due to an injury. Pitt has won four of the last five meetings with the Cavaliers, but Virginia’s lone win during that stretch came during a visit to Pittsburgh in 2019.

Pickett, No. 25 Pitt Escape Howell, UNC 30-23 in OT

By WILL GRAVES AP Sports Writer
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Kenny Pickett hit Lucas Krull for an 11-yard touchdown pass in overtime as No. 25 Pittsburgh held off North Carolina 30-23.  Pitt kept firm control on first place in the ACC’s Coastal Division with two weeks to go after blowing a 16-point lead before collecting itself in overtime behind Pickett. Pickett completed 25 of 43 passes for 346 yards with three touchdowns and an interception on a night he became the school’s career leader in yards passing. North Carolina’s Sam Howell threw for 296 yards but his fourth-down heave in overtime was intercepted.