Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi disappointed over sharing national TV stage with Steelers
Pat Narduzzi is disappointed more consideration wasn’t given to his football program and the ACC when the NFL forced Pitt to share the national stage Thursday night with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Steelers’ only Thursday night game this season will kick off in Cleveland only 20 minutes after the start of North Carolina’s game against Pitt at Heinz Field. Both games will be nationally televised, Pitt on ESPN and the Steelers on Fox.
“They have to start to look and say, ‘What makes sense for the city of Pittsburgh?’ and that obviously wasn’t done,” Narduzzi said Monday during his weekly news conference.
“What are we doing here?” he wondered. “You look at it and say it’s not good for the ACC playing on the same night as an NFL franchise in your same city.”
Of course, it’s ultimately a situation Narduzzi and Pitt can’t control, so they can only hope attendance won’t be affected.
“I don’t make the schedule,” Narduzzi said. “They give me the schedule. We’ll play them wherever they are, and it just happens to be the case this week.”
The Steelers and Pitt have had few conflicts in the past, most of them when the final preseason game occurred on the same day as Pitt’s opener. That was the case in 2008, ‘10 and ‘13.
There hasn’t been a conflict with a regular-season Steelers game since Thanksgiving 1991. But Pitt’s game with Penn State that day started at 11 a.m., and the Steelers played the Cowboys in Dallas at night.
In this case, Pitt and the Steelers are both playing games that are vital to their hopes of reaching the postseason. With a victory, Pitt (6-3, 3-2) can move within a 1/2-game of first-place Virginia (7-3, 5-2) in the ACC Coastal. The Steelers are in the midst of a four-game winning streak as they jockey for a playoff berth in the AFC.
Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke said there will be ample updates from Cleveland and in-house televisions tuned to the Steelers game.
“Overlapping games is obviously not ideal,” she said in a statement, “but it won’t be a deterrent for our players and coaches when they play North Carolina. We hope our fans provide them with the support they deserve in this highly important ACC game.”
Pitt did make one minor concession to the Steelers on Monday when Narduzzi delayed his news conference 45 minutes so it wouldn’t conflict with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin’s weekly session with reporters.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .