Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi: 'We play some darn good football in the ACC, and I think people forget about that'

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi stood behind comments he recently made about Michigan State and the Big Ten during his appearance at ACC Kickoff on Thursday, reiterating that he felt confident about Pitt's chances in that conference based on what he saw in their game against the Spartans in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.

Pitt played that game last December without first-round pick Kenny Pickett, who opted out to begin preparations for the NFL draft. Backup quarterback Nick Patti was injured early in the game, leaving third string Davis Beville to play the rest of the way. Though Pitt jumped out to a 21-10 lead in the fourth quarter, the Spartans rallied for a 31-21 victory.

In comments during an interview with local Pittsburgh podcast Bazzy's Black and Gold Banter earlier in the week, Narduzzi said Pickett was "a 21-point difference. Michigan State gets their butt kicked in. It's at least a 14-point difference if Nick Patti plays the whole game. ...

"You talk about Big Ten and SEC and ACC. If that's one of the best Big Ten teams, let's go to the Big Ten and win it every year. I don't want to hear about this Big Ten dominance and SEC dominance."

When asked about those comments Thursday, Narduzzi said he was merely trying to convey how strongly he felt about the strength of the ACC. Narduzzi served as defensive coordinator at Michigan State from 2007-14. Pittsburgh won the ACC championship a year ago.

"You hear all these things during the summer about the Power 2s and all this stuff. We'll just start there. You know, we play some darn good football in the ACC, and I think people forget about it," Narduzzi said. "I've coached in the Big Ten for eight years, so I know it. I feel very confident -- and, again, it's not being arrogant. It's just kind of knowing the landscape and knowing what we played against in the Peach Bowl. That's just confidence. That's no disrespect to the Big Ten or Michigan State. It's just about Pitt and about the ACC. I think ACC football is really, really good, and that's really the comment there that I was trying to get across."