Pittsburgh has been positioned as the center of the transfer portal world this week after star wide receiver and 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner Jordan Addison announced that he is on the market. USC quickly emerged as a potential landing spot, and a phone call was reportedly made by Panthers coach Pat Narduzzi to first-year Trojans coach Lincoln Riley that, let’s just say, wasn’t exactly a chat between friends.
The offseason connection between Pitt and USC isn’t exclusive to this week’s dust-up, though.
Former Trojans starting quarterback Kedon Slovis transferred to Pitt during the offseason after three years leading the Trojans. On Thursday at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Challenge charity golf event, Narduzzi went out of his way to explain that there’s a glaring difference between the cases of Slovis and Addison.
“He [Slovis] wasn’t looking for a payday. He was looking for the right place to be, with a great culture,” Narduzzi said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “He’s a guy who actually went into the (NCAA transfer) portal the real way, the right way. He had a lot of opportunities with name, image and likeness, but I think he was looking for the right fit. He was looking for the right personnel. We had a lot returning on offense.”
Narduzzi wasn’t asked to address the Addison news. At the very least, though, it’s the kind of passive-aggressive shade that can stoke the fire of a rivalry that didn’t exist until the transfer portal era.
Slovis thew for 7,576 yards and 58 touchdowns in 27 games for former USC coach Clay Helton. He earned the starting gig as a freshman after JT Daniels’ injury in Game 1 despite entering fall camp as the fourth-team quarterback. He threw for 3,502 yards and 30 touchdowns as a freshman in 2019 and earned Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year honors.
Narduzzi is in search of the replacement for first-round draft pick and Heisman Trophy finalist Kenny Pickett, who was selected 20th overall in the 2022 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. While Slovis is the favorite to earn the starting job with the Panthers in 2022, redshirt senior Nick Patti is also in contention heading into fall camp.