Pitt Players Say New Defensive Coordinator Brings Energy

One of three defensive coaching changes this season, defensive coordinator Randy Bates receives a warm welcome from his players

Shelby Cassesse
August 09, 2018 - 6:06 pm
Pitt defense
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PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) - When describing their new defensive coordinator Randy Bates, several members of the Pitt defense used the same word: energy. 

"He brings a lot of juice," said redshirt senior linebacker Seun Idowu. "I've seen him keep that same type of energy throughout since he got here. It's been the same throughout this whole process until today. I'm sure it's going to be the same tomorrow. That's a real measure of toughness."

Bates is a coaching veteran, spending the past 36 years with eight different schools. He came to Pitt from Northwestern University where he was the linebackers coach for 12 seasons. He also made stops at Navy, Louisiana Tech and Kent State where he coached James Harrison. A long-time friend of Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi, Bates replaced Josh Conklin who is now the head coach at Wofford in South Carolina. Though Bates has divvied up his coaching career with many schools, he began his media day interview Thursday talking about his signed Roberto Clemente memorabilia.

"I remember him being my idol," he said about the Pirates great. "A lot of kids don't even know who the heck he was, right? They know the name if they lived in Pittsburgh."

Bates is not the only new face on Pitt's defensive coaching staff. Secondary coach Archie Collins and safeties coach Cory Sanders are also beginning their first season with the Panthers. One might think that could cause some differences of opinion or disagreement, but Sanders says the experience of combining so many new ideas has been largely positive. 

"I think it'd be difficult if you had people with big egos that didn't want to understand the other person, but I think there's always open communication, and I think Randy is so great about that of you voicing your ideas to him. It's always been open lines of communication and has been good with us three." 

The transition to a new defensive coordinator along with the arrival of Collins and Sanders has been pretty seamless from a player perspective, as well. 

"It's obviously never easy when you go from one coordinator to another, but I think that he's doing a great job of adjusting to us and also, we're adjusting to him," said redshirt senior defensive back Phillipie Motley. "We're loving it. I love it."

Pitt's defense has received some praise internally for its depth and maturity this season. Bates believes the talent is there, but hopes his players will bring the same energy that he brings to them.

"I'd like to see our image be that we are aggressive, that we play with an enthusiasm and an excitement that the city of Pittsburgh is all about athletically," said Bates. "I hope we bring that with us to the field and I hope we get the fans excited."