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February 3, 2004

You may want to gaze longingly at these rankings for awhile. Given that Pitt is likely to lose its best two recruits to Miami (damn) and Penn State (@#%*@#!) on National Signing Day tomorrow, this is probably the last time that you’ll see our 2004 recruiting class ranked anywhere near the top 25.

First off, here’s the Official College Sports Network ranking (top 25 only) by ESPN’s Bill Hodge. Pitt is barely hanging on here at #25. Losing Morelli and Johnson will certainly knock us right out of this one.

No. 1 Southern California (Top JCs)
No. 2 LSU
No. 3 Michigan
No. 4 Florida State
No. 5 Ohio State
No. 6 Oklahoma
No. 7 Georgia
No. 8 Miami-Florida
No. 9 Texas
No. 10 Tennessee
No. 11 Texas A&M
No. 12 Alabama
No. 13 Florida
No. 14 Oregon
No. 15 Maryland
No. 16 Penn State
No. 17 Michigan State
No. 18 Washington
No. 19 Kansas State (Top JCs)
No. 20 Arkansas
No. 21 California
No. 22 Missouri
No. 23 Texas Tech (Top JCs)
No. 24 UCLA (Top JCs)
No. 25 Arizona State
Tie No. 25 Nebraska
Tie No. 25 Oregon State
Tie No. 25 PITTSBURGH
Tie No. 25 Purdue
Tie No. 25 Washington State

Next we have TheInsiders.com’s ranking (once again, top 25 only). Pitt has never been ranked in this one all year long.

1 LSU
2 USC
3 Michigan
4 Florida State
5 Georgia
6 Oklahoma
7 Miami
8 Ohio State

9 Texas
10 Tennessee
11 Florida
12 Penn State
13 Maryland
14 Texas A&M
15 UCLA
16 Washington
17 Notre Dame
18 Oregon
19 North Carolina
20 Arizona State
21 Washington State
22 Alabama
23 Texas Tech
24 Michigan State
25 NC State

Finally, we have Rivals.com’s ranking. Unlike the other two rankings discussed here, Rivals ranks college football classes all the way up to #124. This is important because unlike the other two rankings, Rivals has already taken Morelli and Johnson off of Pitt’s list of commitments. This dropped us all the way down to #44 on their list.

1 Southern Cal
2 LSU
3 Florida State
4 Michigan
5 Ohio State*
6 Oklahoma
7 Georgia
8 Miami-FL
9 Texas
10 Tennessee
11 Oregon
12 Texas A&M
13 Alabama
14 Maryland
15 Florida
16 Penn State
17 Michigan State
18 Washington
19 Kansas State
20 Arkansas
21 California
22 Texas Tech
23 Nebraska
24 Oregon State
25 Missouri

41 Virginia Tech
44 PITTSBURGH
49 West Virginia

*(Incidentally, the main talk about Ohio State’s recruiting class on Sports Radio 1460 (WBNS) Columbus centers around how well the Buckeyes have done in Pennsylvania after years of absolute futility. Tressel now has four Pennsylvanian recruits (3 of them 4-stars), including Woodland Hills’s Devon Lyons.)

Sports talk radio in Central Pennsylvania is, of course, ecstatic over the potential defection of Anthony Morelli to Penn State. At least one Nittany Lion fan that I overheard while driving around Altoona this week declared that with Morelli’s change of heart, Penn State has once again reasserted itself over Western Pennsylvania and that Pitt will soon be but a basketball school. Whatever. However, I can’t deny that it hurts us.

Anthony Morelli may or may not be overrated, as John from Fox Chapel so strongly suggested earlier this week. Likewise, Johnson may or may not be overrated. However, Chas is right about perception being reality in the strange world of college football. If Pitt loses its two most touted recruits (each right out of its own backyard), and moreover loses one of them to Penn freakin’ State, our name recognition as well as our reputation as the up-and-coming football program in Pennsylvania will take a hit. Perceived recruiting success is important to building a program, even if it isn’t quite as important as success on the field (not that Pitt has had enough of that lately). And as a member of a conference that almost certainly will lose its BCS bowl berth as well as most of its credibility in a year, Pitt football is desperate for any sign of success right now.

Next year’s recruits will remember what happened this year and wonder why Morelli and Johnson suddenly changed their commitments. Wouldn’t you?

That’s why I’m sad to see Morelli go, even if he may not be the best intellectual fit for Walt Harris’s complex offense (by far, the strongest part of John’s argument).

Hail to Skipping Work on Snow Days (We’re getting at least a foot in the Southern Alleghenies).

Flip Side to the Good Stuff

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chas @ 9:08 am

That would be the basketball team.

Pitt is now #4 in both polls. The team got the week off from any games before they play tomorrow at home against a bad St. John’s team that can’t keep the top talent in their own playgrounds.

Actually the concern for Pitt with St. John’s will be who they hire as their next head coach. St. John’s president seems very determined to make a splash. Big names aren’t a concern, but St. John’s should be looking for a major up and comer with strong NYC Ties Bobby Gonzales at Manhattan is an obvious top candidate, but there are whispers that they may go after Pitt assistant and top recruiter (especially in the NY area) Barry Rohrssen. Eventually Rohrssen will leave Pitt, but it would be in Pitt’s best interest to keep him for at least 2 more years with Dixon.

Pitt can’t take St. John’s lightly, even if they are winless in the Big East. They just beat UCLA, which, even though UCLA isn’t great is still a decent team. There is also the worry of looking ahead.

Saturday, Pitt will have to travel to South Bend. A place where they haven’t won a whole lot of games. Notre Dame always seems to give Pitt problems, and you can bet they will look to knock off #4 in the country. Given how they played against Pitt last month, they have every reason to believe they can.

Recruiting Countdown

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chas @ 8:34 am

The Trib-Review expects Pitt to lose both Morelli and Johnson from their recruiting class.

Both Johnson and Morelli appear ready to renege on their pledges to Pitt. Johnson is expected to sign with Miami and Morelli with Penn State on Wednesday, the first day seniors can sign binding national letters of intent. Verbal commitments are non-binding.

“There’s no news, other than he’s made his decision,” Morelli’s father, Greg, said Monday night. “He’s going to announce on Wednesday (at 9 a.m. at Penn Hills). He’s happy. He’s done thinking about it.”

Johnson, a 5-foot-11, 205-pounder ranked as one of the nation’s top 10 running backs, returned Sunday from official visits to Miami and Florida. Sources said Johnson told the Hurricanes he was coming.

His decision, however, could depend on that of Reading All-American linebacker James Bryant, whose finalists are Pitt and Miami. Bryant’s brother, Sam, is a redshirt freshman safety at Pitt.

Nothing seems to be coming from Miami, other than beating Ohio St. for an OL from Strongsville, OH. Not that everything is perfect for them in recruiting:

Case in point: Aaron Jones and Kenny Ingram, Orlando-Edgewater High School standouts ranked among the top players in the state, announced on live TV last week that they would attend Florida State.

Ingram, a receiver, really stuck it to the Hurricanes. Choosing between UM and FSU hats, Ingram donned the Hurricanes cap as if to signify his commitment. He then looked into the camera, chuckled and tossed the hat aside, replacing it with the Seminoles cap.

Before the end of January, Johnson appeared to still favor Pitt over Florida, so it will probably be Pitt or Miami for him.

At this point I feel resigned to losing Morelli. I am just hoping that Johnson decides on Pitt.

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