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Pitt names Northwestern LB coach Randy Bates as defensive coordinator

Jerry DiPaola
| Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, 1:30 p.m.

Pat Narduzzi and Randy Bates, longtime Big Ten assistant coaches, used to talk defensive technique by phone.

Now, all Narduzzi has to do is walk down the hall and knock on Bates' door.

Two weeks after losing Josh Conklin to Wofford (S.C.), where he is now head coach, Narduzzi named Bates his defensive coordinator Saturday.

Bates has spent 36 years coaching college football, the past 12 as Northwestern's linebackers coach. He helped the No. 17 Wildcats finish 10-3 this season and defeat Pitt, 31-24, in the 2016 Pinstripe Bowl.

“I've known Randy for a long time and have the utmost respect for him as a teacher and recruiter,” Narduzzi said in a statement. “He is a tireless worker, always learning and always striving to improve as a coach.

“I've shared many phone calls with him discussing techniques, schemes and opponents. But what is most impressive about Randy is the type of person he is. He values relationships and is really invested in the student-athletes under his watch. Randy will bring great passion and knowledge to Pitt, and I know he'll put a great mark on our very promising defense.”

Bates has coached at several schools in the past four decades, including Kent State, where one of his pupils was former Steelers linebacker James Harrison.

At Northwestern, he coached All-America Anthony Walker Jr., now with the Indianapolis Colts, and Paddy Fisher, a 2017 Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-American and the Big Ten Network's Defensive Freshman of the Year.

“I knew it would always take a special place and outstanding opportunity to draw me away from Northwestern,” Bates said in a statement. “After talking with Pat Narduzzi, I knew Pitt was that type of place. It is a tremendous honor to join a program with such a rich tradition and history.”

Bates' additional coaching stops include Louisiana Tech, where he was defensive coordinator in 2005, and Kent State (1998-99).

The 1983 Ohio State graduate also coached at New Hampshire (1992-97), Navy (1989-1992), St. Joseph's College (1984-1988), Miami (Ohio) (1983-84) and Muskingum (1982-83).

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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