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April 26, 2015

The Chancellor cast the die; the future is determined; there are no more options; events will proceed in an irreversible manner; the point of no return has been passed and we have received unto us a new Athletic Director.  In other words and as Justin states so well: “Pitt has hired Utah State Athletic Director Scott Barnes to replace some jagoff none of us liked”.

So it was announced yesterday that ex-Utah State AD Scott Barnes has been hired to fill the position that layed vacant for the last four months. His full resume can be found in this Blather article copied word-by-word from the subsequent PITT press release.

Before we get into the meat of the matter here are two good pieces that the PITT media dept. put out.  PITT rolled out the blue and mustard gold carpet for the introductory press conference. Here is the video introducing the long drink of water as our AD and the second is a photo slideshow of the same presser with photos of all involved including the only non-blond adult female in Utah, his wife Jody Barnes.  Funny how much more intelligent she looks then the last HC’s wife from west of the Mississippi. Plus he has a daughter named after a fantastic Pepperidge farm cookie – Milano – so he’s got a sense of humor also.

The local media seem to be happy with him, at least Jerry DiPaola doesn’t take any overt shots at the guy.

Just for local balance here is Sam Werner’s take on Barnes’ presser.  An even better read is Werner’s Redshirt Diaries where he lays down some of the more interesting and important pieces of information regard the Barnes hire.

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April 25, 2015

The new AD has been announced and he’s taller than me so I don’t trust him right off the bat.  Everyone knows that people over 6’7″ tall are shifty and not to be trusted.

Here is Barnes’ press conference and it was nicely done.

Statement from Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford:

“Scott is a veteran athletic director who is highly respected nationally, as evidenced by his chairing the NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee. He will be an excellent addition to Pitt and the Atlantic Coast Conference. I congratulate Chancellor Gallagher and the search committee on an excellent choice.”

Here is the official PITT Press Release

For IMMEDIATE Release
April 24, 2015

 BARNES NAMED NEW ATHLETIC DIRECTOR AT THE UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH
The Panthers’ new A.D. brings a distinguished and decorated résumé to Pitt.

 PITTSBURGH—Nationally distinguished as one of the top administrators in collegiate athletics, Scott Barnes has been named the new athletic director at the University of Pittsburgh by Chancellor Patrick Gallagher.

Barnes arrives at Pitt following an impressive tenure at Utah State University, where he was honored as an Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year for his work elevating the Aggies’ program. He owns 26 years of administrative experience at the collegiate level and recently served as chair of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee.

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April 24, 2015

Presser for the New AD

Filed under: Conference — Reed @ 10:02 am

We all saw the breaking news about PITT hiring ex-Utah State Athletic Director Scott Barnes as the new AD and here are the formalities of introduction.

MEDIA ADVISORY

From: E.J. Borghetti
Executive Associate Athletic Director/Media Relations

Re: Friday Press Conference

The University of Pittsburgh will hold a press conference to address its athletic director position on Friday, April 24, at 3 p.m. The press conference will be held on the first floor of the William Pitt Union (3959 Fifth Avenue) in the Lower Lounge.

Media outlets with marked vehicles only may park in the circle located on the Fifth Avenue side of the William Pitt Union.

 

UPDATE: There will be a livestream of the press conference.

Help On the Perimeter

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting,Transfer — Chas @ 7:21 am

Well, a domino fell Pitt’s way. Damion Lee is a graduate transfer from Drexel, and yesterday he opted to go to Louisville. That was enough for another graduate transfer, Sterling Smith, to rule out the Cards and opt for Pitt.

BorzSterlingSmith is a 6-4 guard, though I’ve also seen him listed at 6-2. Love the accuracy of measurements of high school and college players.

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April 23, 2015

Come on Down Scott Barnes

Filed under: Athletic Department — Justin @ 9:02 am

As numerous places have reported, Pitt has hired Utah State Athletic Director Scott Barnes to replace some jagoff none of us liked. Barnes has an impressive resume since he took over for the Aggies in 2008, including chairman of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee and four consecutive bowl games under two different head coaches. Most importantly, Utah State set fundraising records during his tenure that resulted in success on the field and infrastructure improvements. No word yet on his opinion regarding an on campus stadium.

Per ESPN, DHR International was the search firm who headed up the effort.

New AD Today?

Filed under: Athletic Department,Hire/Fire — Chas @ 7:47 am

Yesterday was the ACC football coaches teleconference. Coach Pat Narduzzi was asked about the possibility of the Backyard Brawl returning. This was based on comments made by WVU’s new AD speaking on the topic.

Narduzzi gave the standard type of answer. Respecting the history. Speaking positively of such a game

“Obviously, you love to have those rivalries, and West Virginia is a great team in a great conference,” Narduzzi said. “We want to play the best. So we’re always going to schedule some of the best opponents we can and really embrace future and past rivalries.”

…but making no commitment.

“That’s something the new AD will have to answer,” Narduzzi said Wednesday. “We will have those conversations when he gets here and with chancellor (Patrick) Gallagher, as well.

I don’t know if its related, but there have been lots of tweets and rumors that Pitt will be announcing the new AD today. Not sure one way or another, but since we are nearing the start of the dead time, why not?

Open thread on the AD stuff. Hopefully there will be real news.

And if not, there is the topic of the Backyard Brawl and the non-con. On the matter, I can’t help but think that it would be nice to have some sort of round-robin in the non-con. A way to rotate partners for the schedule. Say, Syracuse and Pitt from the ACC with PSU and  WVU. Rotate home-and-homes with each. As much as I prefer the idea of annually battling the Nits, I like the Brawl. It’s good to have hate.

Final Slingbox Review

Filed under: Sponsored Post — Chas @ 6:40 am

*THIS POST IS SPONSORED BY SLINGBOX*

So I have had the Slingbox M1 for over a month. It’s been useful. I was especially grateful for it during the Final Four while visiting family and taking the kids around DC. All apologies to the various people I may have stumbled into while walking around the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum while trying to watch some pregame babbling.

It has been paying off on the weekends while my son has his Saturday soccer games and my daughter has softball practice Sunday evenings.

It’s been fun just to mess with the kids when I activate it on the TV they are using while I am out of the house. A little bit of a troll move on my part to switch it to SportsCenter when they are watching some god-awful Disney channel show (Phineas & Ferb, excepted), but I consider it payback for being exposed to even snippets of dialogue from KC Undercover.

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April 21, 2015

New Football Media Info

Filed under: Conference,Football,Media — Reed @ 11:10 am

New Press Release from the ACC & PITT regarding some media info:

Atlantic Coast Conference Spring Football Media Teleconference—Reminder

Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 22, 10:20 a.m.-12:50 p.m.

The ACC will hold its annual Spring Football Media Teleconference tomorrow,  Wednesday, April 22. The teleconference will begin at 10:20 a.m. with each of the Conference’s 14 head football coaches available as well as Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly. Each coach will be available for 10 minutes. This teleconference is for accredited members of the media only. The teleconference will also be streamed live through theacc.com and transcripts and audio files will be available.

The Schedule of Coaches:

10:20 a.m.—Brian Kelly, Notre Dame

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Talking Philly Recruiting

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting — Chas @ 7:12 am

In light of the utterly predictable, but still frustrating, decommitment by Mustapha Heron. Coupled with the transfer of Durand Johnson. Pitt has been offering some other players. Notably some players for 2015 and 2016 in the Philadelphia area.

Friend of the site, and former contributor/liveblog moderator, Josh Verlin has been back in Philly making a name for himself with relentless work covering the local basketball scene. That makes him one of the go to sources for information on recruiting of Philly kids. You can find him at his site and on twitter.

Josh was nice enough to take time out of a busy time of the year for those that cover recruiting to answer some questions.

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April 19, 2015

Let’s get the general atmospheric stuff out of the way first.  It was a fantastic weather day at 80o and sunny with enough breeze to cool the skin and blow away the scent of the bullshit being thrown around in conversations… in other words a perfect football day for a Spring Game.

The Station Square Riverhound stadium was jammed packed with fans wearing Blue & Gold and who were very involved in the day’s events.  PITT officials had said that they would allow the first 4,000 fans into the venue, a number which I was a bit skeptical of seeing, but the reality is they squeezed 5,300+ into the seats, standing room only spots and under the bleachers where a lot of moms and kids ended up because of the shade.

You guys know I don’t go off the deep end with positivity or expressing things in bold stokes but I will say this in all honesty, of all the scrimmages and spring games I have attended this was the only one with a true electric atmosphere in the alumni rooms, the sidelines, the media areas, the stands and most importantly with the coaches and players involved.  It buzzed all afternoon.

This wasn’t a case of just great logistics and advertising the football program for more season ticket sales, although it served that purpose also I’m sure, but it created a genuine excitement in the fans due to the numerous changes we have had since last Dec 26th when Narduzzi was hired. Interestingly enough the students and the fans in the stands actually stayed put until almost the end of the game and then left early only because the parking lots were jammed and there was a traffic jam in store.

Also, and maybe more importantly, there were beers to be had in the bars nearby afterward.  The athletic Media Department has done a very good job of highlighting the changes and using its resources to drum up interest and excitement for the 2015 season.

No, fans wanted every bit of PITT football they could get yesterday and PITT gave it to them.

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April 17, 2015

Spring Game Meeting Plan & Other Notes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Reed @ 4:00 pm

It looks like the “Gathering of the Blathering” will be a post-game soiree at Bar Louie’s with a stop at the Sheraton bar along the way.

Here is the address for Bar Louie’s in Station Square.

240 W Station Square Dr
Pittsburgh, PA
(412) 394-0500

From the map it looks like it is about two blocks east of the eastern parking lots of Riverhound stadium; in walking you would pass The Gateway Clipper Fleet entrance (owned by which PITT LB’s Father?), then past the Sheraton Hotel where we will refuel, then one more block to Bar Louie’s. It looks to be on the waterfront and hard to miss.

I probably won’t hang out on the field after the game for the interview so I think if we all meet at the corner of West Station Square Dr. and the entrance to the Gateway Clipper place (where the sidewalks looks to be red brick) right after the game ends then we’ll muster and go from there.

Again, here is the Google Map of where we will be after the game.

Looking forward to see you all…

Last Southside Practice Notes:

The P-G has an article on what has been the main topic of spring practice when it comes to future position battles. Yes, Bradley and Caprara again.  Here is an interesting quote on two points; first what he says about ‘others’ and second about the simplification of the read/react responsibilities under Narduzzi and Conklin:

He played in just four games last year and had five tackles. With a new staff in place, Caprara is taking advantage of the clean slate.

“I’m just seizing my opportunity,” he said. “I feel like in the past it was kind of unstable, people were bouncing around left and right and I think some people were looking out for themselves more than others. That’s how it was. But now I think I have a better situation than I did last year.” He also added that Narduzzi’s defense is simpler than systems he ran in the past.

“Last year, we had five or six alignments for each linebacker position,” Caprara said. “This year, it’s maybe two.”

Switch over to the Tribune-Reviews article on the last practice and we read about, not surprisingly, Nick Grigsby working at the Strongside Linebacker spot.  In following what is a nice storyline this spring, that being forgotten players by the old staff being worked as starting contenders now, DiPaola has this to say:

One of the highlights of the spring has been coaches giving several players, ignored by the previous staff, daily opportunities.

They include three juniors and a senior:

• Mike Caprara at money linebacker, where he is flipping on and off the first team with junior Bam Bradley.

• Nose guard Tyrique Jarrett, who is sharing time with senior K.K. Mosley Smith.

• Strong safety Jevonte Pitts, who makes his mark with physicality. For the moment, he has stepped ahead of sophomore Patrick Amara, who is out with an illness, but both players plan on the competition resuming this summer.

• Ejuan Price, a senior previously plagued by injury who could help ease a depth crisis at defensive end.

One common thread is that Caprara, Mosley-Smith, Pitts and Price went to Woodland Hills, but the other is all of them give the defense hope.

I’ve been waiting for Jarrett and Caprara to get decent chances since they were recruited.  I am also pulling for Taleni to get in there somehow because of the sentimental Hawai’i connection I have but he’s been virtually invisible.

Here is an older but good read from the Indiana Gazette on the plans for Conner to be more active with other aspects of the game.  The writer forgot to list the possibility of Conner switching to the Nose Tackle position now that we’ve seen the DE position come out of extremis:

Pitt junior running back James Conner is a workhorse. In his sophomore year, he reset the record books with 26 rushing touchdowns, and his 1,765 yards rushing were the fourth-highest total in school history.  Yet for all of Conner’s heavy workload — he averaged nearly 23 carries a game — there was something missing. The reigning ACC Offensive Player of the Year had only five catches for 70 receiving yards. It’s a stat Conner and first-year offensive coordinator Jim Chaney would like to improve in 2015.

“It was obvious when I came out of the game what was going to happen,” Conner said. “I will still get my fair share of carries. I need to just try to expand my game.”  Conner said he didn’t have extensive knowledge of the passing offense a year ago. Conner figured his main job was to ground and pound his way through any defense that was thrown at him. He is working to fix that during spring drills.

“I had a little trouble learning the playbook,” Conner said. “My role was to be successful running the ball. It is exciting. I haven’t had a receiving touchdown since I have been here, so hopefully I will get one this year.”

Here is what I’ll be closely looking at the on Saturday; who looks good for that WR2 and WR3 position, how does Bertke look in his first ‘starting’ role, Who is separating themselves at the DE spot and how good is our special teams play.

OK… Off to PGH for construction duty for a friend then the ball game on Saturday.  Hope to see anyone who can get down to Riverhound stadium for the scrimmage and let’s keep our fingers crossed for no injuries.

Spring Game: What to Watch For

Filed under: Football,Narduzzi,Players — Justin @ 7:24 am

The rosters are set. Blue vs. Gold. Fitz vs. AD. Voytik, Boyd, and Conner vs. everyone else…wait, huh? The setup of the teams is a bit odd. The seniors were divided into two teams and they took turns drafting from each position group in a snake style draft. For example, at WR, Team Fitz took Tyler Boyd, then Team AD took Dontez Ford and Zach Challingsworth, then it continued on from there. Basically, it’s a bunch of mini-fantasy football drafts. By drafting this way, it ensures one team doesn’t end up with 3 QBs and 1 WR like it could if they did it straight up. The downside is we won’t see the first team offense or defense in one piece. That will make evaluating results a lot more difficult because a starter could be up against a walk-on and thus the result may not be indicative of much. Will this be fun? Yes.  The football nerd in me prefers to evaluate though.

It’s odd, but I’m not eager to see Tyler Boyd or James Conner. I know what those guys bring to the table. I don’t now what Reggie Mitchell can do at safety in the new scheme. I don’t know how much the offensive line will miss Rotheram and Clemmings on the right side. There are a few big position battles like WR and the entire LB corps. These are the types of things I’m eager to have answered, but some of them will be hard to see in the game.

There’s still a lot to look for even if the focus needs to be on individuals instead of units. Here are the things I’ll be watching: (more…)

April 16, 2015

In-Between #14 and Other Notes

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Players — Reed @ 9:30 pm

Pitt Spring Practice #14;  April 16, 2015

It seems a bit like a broken record but the fact that after each practice Mike Caprara figures prominently in the discussion is pretty surprising.  At this time last April he wasn’t on anyone’s radar for playing time at all let alone being a starter.  Let’s keep an eye on him and Bradley during the game and see if we get any hints as to what shakes out at the beginning of Fall Camp with those two.

Neither the P-G or the Trib have any coverage of the last actual practice up yet but here are the links to their PITT Football pages so you all can check it first thing at work tomorrow, and remember to check the beat writer’s blogs also..  I’ll be on the road so this will be my last coverage also until the after-game report is done.

Tribune-Review

Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Also, here is a nice older article from the university’s Pitt News on the relationship between Chaney and Voytik.  I can’t remember if I had posted this before or not.

Pitt Live Wire Feature

Prior to Saturday’s Pitt spring football game, Coach Pat Narduzzi held the First Annual Blue-Gold Game Draft. See all the “highlights” and reaction in the following video:  Blue-Gold Spring Game Draft.  It truly looks like everyone had a blast doing it and I’d have loved to have been a fly on the wall there. Good team bonding and a great culinary incentive.

A reminder that Pitt greats—and NFL stars—Larry Fitzgerald and Aaron Donald will serve as honorary coaches on Saturday. “Team Fitz” is the Blue squad, while “Team A.D.” will be in Gold.

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Spring Game Roll Call & Notes

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Players — Reed @ 8:22 am

First, the Panther Spring Game Draft has been completed and here is a set of photos proving that even a .500 ball team can still have fun.  Also, here is the front page of The Pitt Live Wire Blog which has more tweets and stuff about said draft.  Apparently there is some wagering going on between the people involved.  From Jerry Dipaola…

Then the Trib follows up with Marty Stewart writing a nice article on DB Dennis Briggs.

Sam Werner of the P-G chips in with another Spring Game overview.

Time to get serious if we want to try to meet other Blatherites at the Spring Game.  I’m driving up from MD for it and will have media credentials that will allow me to roam the sidelines during the scrimmage.  With that I will be assigned parking in the West Lot probably closest to the stadium.  I’ll park there but will wander to wherever anyone wants to meet and I really want to get together if possible beforehand.

I’ll be driving a silver Prius Wagon (I know… but at 45 miles to the gallon I’ll take the jokes) and will be the tall (6’6″) guy with a mustache and wearing blue “Coast Guard” ballcap.

Here is the venue website  and here is an overhead view of the stadium and parking lots.  They are advertising taking 4,000 fans into the stadium. I’m not sure how but the place holds 3,500 seats.  I also am wondering if we’ll really pull 3500 fans into the stadium for the game. I hope so and there does seem to be a uptick in interest and energy among fans.  Apparently the stadium lots will open up at 11:30

Lets do try to arrange something – I’ll chip in $$$ for beer/booze and provide sparkling, even if politically incorrect, conversation.  Someone take charge and arrange something.  I’m the writer not the party planner. If we miss each other before the game then let’s pick a bar to go to afterward.

(BTW — anyone who lives in the tri-state area and doesn’t go to the game isn’t a real fan. Seriously, you’re not.)

 

 

April 15, 2015

In-Between #13 and Other Notes

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Media,Players — Reed @ 9:13 am

Pitt Spring Practice #13;  April 14, 2015

Some interesting stuff came out of yesterday’s practice. The first thing that caught my eye is LB Coach Harley talking about Caprara and Bradley. It certainly appears that not only does Caprara have a shot but that he may just win the SLB position outright.  I have heard he’s really showing leadership and FBI (Foot Ball Intelligence) out on the playing field.

Challingsworth has been in the news more and more lately and it seems he’ll be in the Top Three WRs going into the fall camp.  Good for him and he’s a local kid and a fan favorite.  Here is some of Jerry DiPaola’s article in the Trib today:

Tyler Boyd caught 78 passes last season for Pitt.  The next four wide receivers combined for 47, and that entire quartet is gone.  Somewhere in assistant coach Kevin Sherman’s “little pod” of young pass catchers, Pitt needs to find some help to prevent opponents from continually putting double-team defenses on Boyd.  It’s still early in the process — even after 13 practice days this spring — but Sherman has candidates.

Junior Dontez Ford appears to have won the starting job opposite Boyd (at least for now), while sophomores Zach Challingsworth and Jester Weah and redshirt freshman Elijah Zeise are chief among players competing for the No. 3 job. Challingsworth might be slightly ahead of the pack at the moment, a designation that could change as soon as Saturday at the Blue-Gold spring game.

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