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May 4, 2016

There’s a “but” involved.

Been rumored for a month or so that Pitt and Penn State would face-off in basketball this year. BUT that it wouldn’t be any sort of “home-and-home” exchange. Sure enough, it’s going to be in New Jersey. And it is the undercard.

Villanova will play Notre Dame and Pitt will face Penn State in the first Never Forget Tribute Classic at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. on Dec. 10, sources told CBS Sports.

An official announcement is expected soon.

The first game of the doubleheader between the Wildcats and Fighting Irish will be available on CBS while the second will air on CBS Sports Network.

Villanova and Notre Dame will tip off at Noon ET with Pitt and Penn State expected to begin their game at approximately 2:30 p.m. ET.

So it is the undercard, but goes second. That’s different, but that is CBS for you. They will make the Nova-ND their Saturday noon game, and see if people can find their cable sports channel for the second game.

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The Cardiac Hill blog is running a “Bracket of Pitt” series that has  ‘all things Pitt” subjects listed much like we see during the college basketball NCAA tournaments.  Here is how they describe what they are going to do:

“The Cardiac Hill Podcast has a new segment; the Bracket of Pitt. It’s a 64-item bracket of everything Pitt. People, places, things, etc., basically if it has anything to do with the University of Pittsburgh, it’s in. I’ll be hosting the tournament primarily with Jim Hammett of Cardiac Hill. We’ll post the first episode here (and on SoundCloud) tomorrow with me & Jim discussing the bracket and you can vote for the matchups @CoreyECohen on Twitter; one vote per person. Each week we’ll put out a new episode discussing your results and advance the bracket accordingly! Let’s make some May Madness here at Cardiac Hill, we can’t wait to debut the #BracketOfPitt!”

This sounds like an original and fun idea and will fill up some of the Pitt sports dead time from now until the football Fall Camp opens up in early August.  Here is what the bracket looks like as a snapshot but click on this link to see the details.

Cardiac resized

Guess The Pitt Blather didn’t make the cut.

May 3, 2016

Basketball Notes, 5/3

Filed under: Basketball,Players,Prognostications — Chas @ 7:45 am

It’s the time for recruiting. Coach Kevin Stallings have put out plenty of offers. For transfers, grad transfers, still deciding kids in the 2016 class, and especially kids for the 2017 recruiting class.  Big men, guards, shooters, forwards. They have been all over the place. Nothing close to concrete. Makes it kind of difficult to get a handle on what they are looking for — other than players. Now it just comes down to landing some.

On media related news, Paul Zeise is leaving the Pitt basketball beat for the Post-Gazette. He’s been moved up to sports columnist/opinionator. Zeise was a very good beat writer first for Pitt football and then basketball. He’s been grinding for years on that side and has raised his profile on the general sports side for the last few years via radio work. It’s a well-earned promotion.

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May 2, 2016

As a quick followup to our “Where would Boyd be drafted?” contest two of us picked the Bengals (or Bungles in TX Panther’s case).

I weighed in at 9:28 am on the morning of Round One, before the draft started, with this:

OK – I’m thinking the Bengals take Boyd with their second round pick. I also think Holtz gets in on a surprise 6th or 7th pick tomorrow.  Pitts is left looking around like he never did on the field of play.

Comment by Reed 04.28.16 @ 9:29 am

Then the next day, before Round Two started, Texas Panther posted this:

He will become a Bungel

Comment by TX Panther 04.29.16 @ 7:32 pm

I win!!! I win!!!  Told you I was smart…

I also told you I love Mike Wysocki of The Pittsburgh City Paper and I just figured out why… he writes a lot like I do with tongue-in-cheek views mixed in with irreverence and some plain talking.  He also tends not to sugar coat things.

Since the last big interesting Pitt football issues just happened with Boyd being drafted we are looking a football desert over the next few months so I’m trying to find stuff that is interesting to readers yet pertains to us as Pitt fans also.

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April 30, 2016

Boyd is a Bengal – 2nd round

Filed under: Football,Players — Reed @ 6:56 am

This is what most Blather readers figured, some even picked the Bengals specifically.  He was the 55th player drafted and went just about where he should of.

Here is the Trib’s take on this:

“I felt like I should have been (drafted) earlier, but it doesn’t matter,” he said. “Just take advantage of the opportunity.”

Boyd said he is eager to join Bengals star receiver A.J Green.   “We can definitely be the top duo in the country,” he said.

Going to play for one of the Steelers’ AFC North rivals didn’t bother him. He said his supporters, many of whom spent Thursday and Friday night with him at the Omni, won’t desert him.

“At the end of the day, they are going to be on my side because they love me and care about me,” he said. “Everyone here who came to celebrate can come up there and watch me continue my legacy.”

Here is a bit of a blast from the past – a podcast by Kevin Gorman (who used to cover Pitt football along with Jerry DiPaola) of the Trib – he talks a bit about the draft.

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April 29, 2016

Well, last night went about the way it was expected to for Tyler Boyd:

Tyler Boyd wasn’t selected in the first round of the NFL Draft, but he went to sleep Thursday comfortable and confident his NFL career will get started Friday.

Boyd was joined by family, friends and teammates in a crowded suite at the Omni William Penn, Downtown. Among those seated with him while he watched the draft was former Clairton coach Tom Nola, ex-Pitt teammates Terrish Webb and Titus Howard, and Pitt running back James Conner.

When Boyd’s name wasn’t called among the 31 picks in the first round, he took the disappointment with a quiet shrug.

“It doesn’t matter what team picks me or what round I go,” he said. “I just know I’m going to take full advantage of the opportunity. I just want the opportunity to see my name come across that screen.

“I’m just trying to stay as calm as possible. I have anxiety in me, believe it or not. If not today, I’m going to do the same thing (Friday).”

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No, nothing about Laremy Tunsil’s moment of honesty — before a PR (or assistant agent) hurriedly hustled him out of his press conference. Good times coming to Ole Miss.

The satellite camps are still allowed. This has been one of the sillier controversies of the spring.

The SEC and ACC pushed for a complete ban — and got one — on the camps because of paranoia and wanting to protect their natural recruiting areas. They can dress it up however they want, but it was only about protecting their own self-interests. And yes, Coach Pat Narduzzi was fully in support of such a ban, but  I still don’t get it.

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April 28, 2016

Boyd Watching – NFL Draft Tonight

Filed under: Uncategorized — Reed @ 9:26 am

Lets have a small contest to see who thinks what about what draft pick Tyler Boyd will be and what team will grab him.  Also, if you think Pitts and Holtz might get drafted…

Take a look at this website that has info on Boyd plus videos from 13 of his games over the last two years.

Here is just one of many assessments of Boyd:

Summary: Heading into the 2015 season, there was real excitement for the skill position talent at Pittsburgh. Running back James Connor and wide receiver Tyler Boyd were dynamic play-makers since coming to the Panthers. In Boyd’s first game for Pittsburgh in 2013, he gave Florida State some real problems in coverage, and that was a Seminoles team that ended up going undefeated and winning a National Championship. That outing set the tone for him to break a lot of Larry Fitzgerald’s freshman records. Boyd caught 85 passes for 1,174 yards with seven touchdowns in 2013. He also ran for a score and returned a punt for a touchdown. In 2014, Boyd notched 78 receptions for 1,126 yards and eight touchdowns. Boyd looked poised for another big season as a junior, but Connor went out for the season with a knee injury. Defenses sent a lot of double coverage Boyd’s direction and kept him from producing a lot of big plays downfield. He still totaled 91 receptions for 926 yards and six touchdowns. The junior had 40 carries for 349 yards, too.

For the NFL, Boyd is a well-balanced receiver. He isn’t a burner, but has enough speed to get separation with a burst to rip off yards after the catch. Boyd is a quick route-runner who gets space from cornerbacks coming out of his breaks. He is a physical runner and is dangerous after the catch. He tracks the bell extremely well, makes acrobatic catches and outfights defensive backs for 50-50 balls. Generally, Boyd has reliable hands, but he can have some brief spells of drops in bunches.

Boyd is a versatile athlete who could also chip in on some carries out of the backfield like he did for Pittsburgh. He is not an explosively fast wideout, and he doesn’t have mismatch size. Thus, Boyd isn’t viewed as a first-round receiver.

Overall, Boyd is an underrated prospect in the 2016 NFL Draft class. He could end up being a really nice value pick on the second day. Boyd could be a very good No. 2 receiver, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he exceeds expectations in the NFL. Boyd is a pure football player who could be a nice chain-moving weapon. In the 2016 NFL Draft, Boyd could be a second-round pick and he shouldn’t get out of the third round.

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April 27, 2016

Let’s hope we see a scene similar to this tomorrow night with Tyler Boyd being the subject:

The Post-Gazette’s Sam Werner weighs in with an article asking if Boyd could be the only Pitt player drafted this year.  Here is the depressing part:

Beyond Boyd, tight end J.P. Holtz and cornerback Lafayette Pitts figure to be the next most likely candidates to hear their names called this weekend, though it’s likely one or both will have to wait to try to catch on with a team as an undrafted free agent.

Holtz played in all 52 games over his four-year career, starting 48. He said NFL teams have approached him about possibly switching to fullback and he has no objections.

“I’m willing to do whatever I need to do to make a team,” he said after pro day.

Pitts also didn’t miss a game the past four years and started 51. According to Brandt, he clocked in at 4.44 seconds at Pitt’s pro day and should have plenty of offers from teams after this weekend if he isn’t selected.

If Boyd is the only Panthers player chosen, it would mark the second consecutive year Pitt had just one player chosen. Offensive lineman T.J. Clemmings was the only one to go a year ago. Pitt had three players chosen in 2014, which broke a three-year streak of having no draftees.

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April 25, 2016

Well, to start off… due to popular demand we have started a “The Pitt Blather” Facebook page.  Here is the link for that.  I did it on a whim. Actually that isn’t true, I did it because we had talked bout it six months ago and I figured “How hard can it be?”

Honestly, you won’t see any more content on there than you do on here.  I set it up sp that it is more of an advertisement for new readers so the can become commenters and we can then cut some of the commenters on here that are pissing us writers off.  You know who you are and start packing up your laptop and get ready to move on.

Just kidding I think. What I’ll do is when we have posted a piece up on here I’ll copy the link and post it for the Facebook readers to use to come over here to read it.

I also asked that if any readers want to comment on and discuss the offense then to please do it on the Blather site itself.

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April 24, 2016

Pitt Sports Academics on the Rise

Filed under: Uncategorized — Reed @ 8:34 am

From the Pitt Media Department:

PITTSBURGH – The University of Pittsburgh athletic programs posted strong numbers in the most recent measurement of the Academic Progress Rate, as scores were released by NCAA Wednesday afternoon. Division I student-athletes across the country continue to make gains in the classroom, earning all-time high results in the APR.

“As a whole, we are pleased with the level of progress we have made in our APR scores during the most recent reporting cycle,” said Athletic Director Scott Barnes. “An overwhelming majority of our programs showed an increase in scoring and we have a terrific plan in place to continue that growth. Seven of our teams posted their best scores since the APR was introduced and we are going to use that positive momentum to keep building on our already strong academic profile.”

Pitt had 13 of its 17 programs perform at or above the national average, including the women’s tennis team that posted a perfect 1000 for the second straight year and the fourth time overall since the start of the APR. Other programs performing at or above the national average were men’s swimming & diving, women’s cross country, men’s basketball, women’s volleyball, women’s swimming & diving, women’s basketball, softball, wrestling, women’s track & field, men’s cross country, men’s soccer and football.

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April 23, 2016

Trib reports on James “Mr Everything” Conner’s visit on the Ellen DeGeneres Show – in case you missed it please watch the video posted below…

Shortly after a video of the segment appeared on DeGeneres’ website and on TribLive.com, Conner began receiving interview requests through Erie videographer and family friend Mike Gallagher. Reporters called from Kansas City, Denver and Jacksonville, Gallagher said.

“I had one message from a guy who wants to pitch him to Campbell’s Soup,” Gallagher said. “I responded I need him to beat Penn State first.”  The NCAA does not permit college athletes to do endorsements.

DeGeneres’ producers taped an interview with Conner in Pittsburgh several days before his appearance in which he said doctors told him the cure rate for his disease is 85 to 90 percent.

“That’s more than enough for me,” he told DeGeneres. “I’d be good if you said 2 percent. It’s on. Let’s go.”

Here is the video, have a handkerchief handy for the tears…

The Pitt News cover the show also.

“If you think you’re having a bad day, and then you see him at practice with one of those masks on, it’s amazing,” Galambos said.

DeGeneres and Conner discussed the limitations chemotherapy puts on his training, as well as his future plans for the upcoming football season.

“The only thing I can’t do is — I have a port in my chest — so I can’t really get tackled,” Connor said.  “Good for you, you can’t get tackled. That’s a great thing,” DeGeneres responded, laughing.

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April 22, 2016

Chad  Voytikex-Panther and our 2104 starting QB Chad Voytik is Eastern Kentucky bound. The Football Championship Series (FCS) “Colonels” play in the Ohio Valley Conference  and, if you care to, you can follow Mr. Voytik’s progress on the internet via their “Live Audio” links at this website.

He’s not going to have an easy time of it there if he wants to grab that starting position right off the bat but it appears to be a better situation for him to get playing time than had he stayed at Pitt.

I wrote two weeks ago about the Colonels (Colonel = Eagle; get it?) and their returning starting QB Bennie Coney who has played well there.  However, it wasn’t such great play that he can’t be sat down (we heard that before on here) , but also isn’t a situation where Voytik is going to waltz in and automatically get the starting job handed to him as if there was no incumbent in that position at all.

Coney had decent stats at E. Kentucky with 225 completions in 367 attempts (61.3%) for 2471 yards.  He also had a very good 23 TDs to 8 INTs ratio that showed he didn’t turn the ball over a lot.  That’s about a 10:1 Completion to TD ratio and is very good.  His overall QB rating was 134 and that’s OK too.

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April 20, 2016

One thing not talked about much from Saturday’s game was that the Gold offense ran a Todd Graham-like hurry-up offense run a bit.  Please tell me that we aren’t going to a speeded up offense this season.  Yes, we saw a great run by Henderson on a quick snap, but let’s get a decent offense in place first before we start the trickeration.  Just wanted to get that out of the way.

To follow on a continual theme on here and elsewhere, Jerry DiPaola’s 24:19 minute podcast (below) starts out with the comment “If Nate Peterman gets hurt the season is over…

That’s an exaggeration hopefully but it is now a very public concern.  We saw how Bertke and DiNucci played Saturday and I didn’t see one bit of progression in Bertke from when I watched him on a more regular basis in past practices and scrimmages.  DiNucci, in my opinion, just doesn’t have D1 talent.  So for all intents and purposes it will be up to Manny Stocker to step up if Peterman goes down with and injury or if his playing goes into the crapper.

There is one very important thing to remember about the difference between spring and fall camps.  Tryouts are basically over when fall camp comes around.  Narduzzi and Canada will go with Peterman and Stocker as QB1 and QB2 respectively from Day One and Stocker will get all the snaps not given to Peterman.  He’ll get more one-on-one coaching and be the secondary guy in film sessions and unit meetings.  That will mean he’ll be sharper and more in command of the offense by the time the opener rolls around.

Now, if we can get him to grow three inches before then….

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April 18, 2016

If anyone can actually tell me what Conner is saying I’ll buy them a beer.  I got “great weather“, “opportunity” and “LA” …I think this is what wbb commented on yesterday.  That will be a great venue for Mr Conner to get his message across though.

“He will travel to Burbank, Calif., on Tuesday to tape a segment of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” that will air at 4 p.m. Thursday on WTAE-4. His message to cancer victims: “Keep fighting.”

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