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Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi questions wisdom of ‘free agency’ in college football

Jerry DiPaola
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Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi on the sideline against Va. Tech in the first half Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018 at Heinz Field.

Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi may need to find a new holder for his kicking game next season, but he’s otherwise barely affected by the NCAA’s transfer portal that ushers free agency into college athletics.

But that doesn’t mean he likes it.

“It’s become really a mess,” he said Friday morning. “I don’t know if I’d say it’s good, bad; it’s free agency. It just gives kids a way to find a different place if things don’t go perfectly. I really don’t like it at all.”

Narduzzi met with reporters inside an ice house in Market Square where the Dollar Energy Fund, with the help of Pitt football players, was raising money to help Pennsylvanians with their winter heating bills.

Narduzzi offered some strong opinions about the portal that was instituted by the NCAA on Oct. 15 and allows schools to initiate unrestricted contact with student-athletes who enter their names, even if they eventually decide to stay.

“I think kids are going to make a lot of bad decisions,” he said. “We’re just teaching the kids that there’s an easier way to get out of this, instead of working hard and trying to improve your status.

“I’m sure if there are reasons to transfer … but when you have 20 guys on your team transferring, whatever it is, really? “I feel bad for some of these coaches with kids just wanting to make a move. I think it’s bad for college football.”

Narduzzi said he has heard estimates of 2,000 names on the portal, including all divisions of college football.

Two former Pitt players appear on it — wide receiver Darrien Street and tight end Tyler Sear, who already have left the program. Narduzzi said backup kicker and first-string holder Jake Scarton also entered his name, but he would be welcomed back if he chooses to stay.

“Scarton asked me a while ago. I said go ahead,” Narduzzi said. “I think it’s a good idea for him. He’s sitting behind (kicker Alex) Kessman. I think Jake’s a really good kicker. He needed to feel good about where he really was and I think there’s a lot of places he can go kick. He’s got a talented leg.

“I’m not so sure he’ll leave. He might stay.”

Generally speaking, however, Narduzzi said, “If a kid’s name goes in the transfer portal, you can pretty much kiss him goodbye.

“I’m not going to have one guy with one foot in and one foot out.”

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry at [email protected] or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.