April 30, 2007

At first I wasn’t sure if this was serious or not when I saw it, but you’re seeing it right in front of your eyes.

I know this is the gift you’ve been waiting to buy for that special someone. Current bid is at $3.25. Don’t wait, this is more than likely the last chance you’ll ever have to buy this card.

For a link to the auction, click here.

More Assistant Rumors

Filed under: Assistants,Basketball,Coaches — Chas @ 5:04 pm

Rumors and whispers about who will get the assistant coach spot for Pitt basketball continue. Last week it was speculation on a couple other D-1 Assistants who were from Western PA and wanted the Robert Morris gig. This week, maybe it will be a former college head coach and a present high school coach (Insider subs.)

Former College of Charleston head coach Tom Herrion and St. Benedict’s (N.J.) coach Danny Hurley are both being discussed as a possible replacement for Mike Rice, who left after one season to become the head coach at Robert Morris.

Dan Hurley received inquiries last year by Pitt about the open job. It never reached the offer stage, because Hurley decided to remain at what was one of the top HS basketball teams in the country. Hurley obviously makes Pitt very strong in the NJ area and into Philly and NY. Travon Woodall, one of his father’s players, already committed to Pitt and he and Nasir Robinson already reaffirmed their commitment to Pitt.

As for Tom Herrion. He was 80-38 in four years at the College of Charleston. That sounds good, but his win totals fell each year and the fans were quickly disgruntled with him. He was an excellent and assistant for Pete Gillen at Providence and at Virginia. In fact, the fall of Gillen at Virginia has been attributed to not finding an equally good recruiter. His older brother, Bill, is the head coach at New Hampshire (before that he was the Head Coach at East Carolina where he recruited and coached Mike Cook).

Both would appear to be excellent choices. Herrion has been an effective recruiter in multiple stops — regardless of geography. Hurley (if he’s interested), obviously, would provide a strong pull in NJ/NY/Philly.

Some Draft Thoughts

Filed under: Big East,Conference,Draft,Football,NFL — Chas @ 4:05 pm

Every year, the NFL Draft surprises me with some of the players not selected. Tyler Palko not getting drafted was something of a surprise, but in the context of this draft, it seemed that a lot of teams either were not overly enamored with the QBs available or just didn’t even come close to having a need. Only 11 QBs were drafted and there was no point where a run on QBs happened.

Other QBs of note, not drafted: Jared Zabransky (Boise St.), Chris Leak (Florida), Matt Moore (Oregon St. — and who Jaworski was banging the drum hard both days) and Luke Getsy (Akron). Yeah, thinking about it, the QB play in college football this past season was hardly awe inspiring. Conference USA had more QBs drafted (2) than the combined total of the SEC (1), Big 12 (0), ACC (0) and Big East (0). Yes, some has to do with underclassmen who start and a couple who came back for a senior season. Still, that says something about the overall quality of QB play.
That Clint Session went in the 4th round while H.B. Blades was drafted 6th is just one of those things that boggles my mind. I get that physically Session looks like the better prospect; but after 3 years or so of muttering/screaming/sighing “tackle, don’t hit” when Sessions gets in on a play, some attention should have been paid to which player was more productive. I hate ripping Pitt players, even when they piss me off, but Sessions has a more extensive injury history and less productivity than Blades. Sessions has never gotten the fundamentals with any consistency. He’ll do it for a while, but he quickly slips back to trying to hit and not thinking. Well, at least Sessions thanked the coach that got him to this point.

“I owe a lot to Coach Wannstedt for my development the past couple of years at Pitt, and he raved about me,” Session said. “I dreamed about this for a long time, and it finally played out for me. I’m going to get a chance to play in the NFL, I’m so excited about that.”

If you watched the draft coverage, you know it was a surprise to ESPN that Sessions was selected. They had no film ready for him.

Glad that Palko and TE Steve Buches are getting free agent shots with New Orleans and St. Louis respectively. Kind of surprised Punter Adam Graessle hasn’t signed a deal yet.

Only one Big East team didn’t have a single player drafted. Not Syracuse. Not UConn. Not Cinci. West Virginia. Go figure. That’s stunning. Their Center, Dan Mozes, won the Rimington Award for best Center and teams didn’t even blow a 6th or 7th round pick on him. All because he lacks ideal size.

It was great seeing Revis drafted at #14 by the Jets. On opening day, that means he’ll be lining up against either Donte Stallworth or Randy Moss of the Patriots.  Welcome to the League, Darrelle.

April 29, 2007

Surely you’ve seen by now that Darrelle Revis was taken by the New York Jets with the #14 overall pick in the NFL Draft. Any thought of him getting to stay in Pittsburgh was wiped out when he was taken one pick ahead of the Steelers after the “J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets” traded up. Hey, at least he didn’t go to the Patriots.

ESPN Insider has a final breakdown on the selection.

Scouts take: With both of the top two corners available and the Jets’ top need a corner, they decided to pull the trigger on the day’s first trade and pick up Revis. Although Revis can take too long to change directions at times and has some problems matching up with explosive slot receivers, he is still a first-round talent. More importantly, his instincts should make him an excellent fit for head coach Eric Mangini’s defensive schemes and he is a playmaker who can make a difference.
He could also make an impact as a punt return man, which is probably one of the bigger reasons the Jets chose Revis over Leon Hall. Another reason may be Revis’ fluidity. He does a slightly better job of opening his hips when he’s forced to turn and run downfield, so he’s less likely to get beat deep when left on an island.

It’s a bit ironic that he could end up taking the starting spot from another Pitt Panther, Hank Poteat.

The next Pitt player to be taken was picked today in the 4th round. Clint Sessions was taken 37th in the round (136 overall) by the Indianapolis Colts. The only lock to be starting at LB for the Colts in MLB Gary Bracket, leaving the OLB spots open for competition. He might not get a ton of time this year but in the future he might see some playing time.

Not long ago, with the #5 pick in the 6th round (179 overall), HB Blades was taken by the Washington Redskins. On ESPN’s TV coverage and their website, they keep reminding us that Blades lacks size and bulk for his position.

One player still waiting and hoping for his name to be called is Tyler Palko. He’s left with other QB’s like Florida’s Chris Leak and Boise State’s Jared Zabransky.

Easy Listening

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dennis @ 1:23 pm

Got a piece of mail from Pitt today. I never figured there would be a CD in it. The cover of the CD case looked like this:

There was also a letter with it thanking us for our support (and for not canceling our season tickets even with the type of home schedule they’ll play).

It features the Pitt pep band playing the “Victory Song,” “Hail to Pitt,” among others.

April 27, 2007

Dennis took a tepid pro-texting ban, but I disagree. I understand the outright ban on texting, insofar as the whole concept of regulating and controlling it would be extremely difficult and tricky. Limiting it to certain times, only controls when received. Last I checked, you can put text messages in a draft folder and wait to send them. Still, the reaction by the NCAA seems to be an overreaction to new means of communication — simply banning them all.

The move comes a week after the NCAA’s management council recommended passage of the ban, which also eliminates communications through other electronic means such as video phones, video conferencing and message boards on social networking Web sites.

E-mails and faxes would still be permissible and subject to current NCAA guidelines, which include some time periods that prohibit coaches from contacting recruits in any form.

The ban on texting is going to be a double-edged sword for Pitt athletics. Specifically in football and basketball. The ban on texting, coupled with the limits on phone calls and other communications limits building a relation with players. What it does, is re-invite the middle men. Whether it be a friend of the targeted recruit or the HS (or prep or JUCO) coach.

While there is disagreement on this issue, one thing is clear: This new regulation is going to put the onus back on the high school coaches to become more involved in the recruiting process. Instead of texting a prospect to have them call them when they’re free, college coaches will now rely on the high school coaches to help them build the relationship with the prospects.

That can be both good and bad, but most college football assistants agree the bigger schools will have an advantage thanks to this ruling.

High school coaches might be more willing to help get a kid to call back if they’ve received a message from a national power like Notre Dame, Texas, USC or Florida. But what about the smaller schools or a school that’s trying to build a program?

This may be fine in Western Pennsylvania for football, with Coach Wannstedt and schmoozing the HS coaches in the area. It becomes an issue, though, in trying to recruit kids in other areas. It brings back the emphasis on bigger programs that are on TV plenty and the local programs in any geographic areas.

Even coaches in support of the ban agree with that.

“It would kind of push it back towards the teams that are on television the most. Those teams might benefit from it,” [GT Coach, Paul] Hewitt said.

“If you look at the whole timeline of recruiting, they used to say it’s about out-working people. They would call kids every day, then write letters to kids every day. Then about 1990, they said you could only call once a week and limited how many days you could go see kids and that kind of took away some of the parity.

“Now, with this whole text-messaging thing, kids are now having communication and open dialogue with more programs. Obviously the programs at the bottom trying to make their way up are probably text-messaging more than the guys that are at the top. In a funny way, I think the parity we see in college basketball is about the levels of communication we have with kids.”

That will make things interesting for Pitt basketball. Don’t expect Pitt to be on the Mouse Monopoly at the same level as this past season. Louisville and GT are the early leaders for most appearances based on early expectations. Syracuse and UConn will get their usual appearances. Pitt will be on TV, but they won’t be the lead dog.

What bothers me is the middle men. You know they will be there. And that means you need them for access. That also opens the door to all sorts of slimy dealings from those who can use the access to the recruits for their own benefit.

Finally, there’s the big loophole — e-mail and cell phones. Every major carrier now can let you tie an existing e-mail account to your cell phone to receive them. Essentially the same thing, only e-mail is treated like regular mail so it is unlimited. So much for solving the problem.

In that respect it’s like money and politics. The money is going to flow, no matter what barriers and blocks are put in the way.

The New Recruiting Frontier

Filed under: Coaches,Dixon,NCAA,Recruiting,Scandal — Dennis @ 9:05 am

Technology is shaping the world we live in and the recruiting world can be bundled in with that statement as well. The text messaging of recruits has really picked up some publicity within the last year or two and now the NCAA has banned coaches from texting their recruits.

Coaches are reacting in all different ways from “I think we should be allowed to do it any time we feel,” to “Only on weekends,” to “The ban is a good thing,” to “I don’t even know how to work the damn phone.”

According to Andy Katz, Jamie Dixon feels each text message sent should count as a recruiting call. There is a limit of one call per week to a recruit so in effect you would be allowed to send one text per week to a recruit. Not a bad idea, but since the limit of characters you can send in a single message is around 160 characters then it makes much more sense to call the potential player.

That may have not been a bad route for the NCAA to take. The coaches that want to freely text message their players would see that with a limit, it makes more sense to call and texting would happen much less without placing an official ban on it.

I don’t think free texting should be allowed. Some of these high school kids want to live their lives and being constantly bombarded is unnecessary. If you can’t have unlimited phone calls and visits, who should texting be a free for all? I think I might also get creeped out if I’m getting a message every 5 minutes from an old man (read: 72-year-old Arizona coach Lute Olson).

April 26, 2007

Reminder that I will be doing a segment or two on The Sports Contraption with Dave Dameshek tonight on 93.7 The Zone. It should be sometime after 7:30. As of this time, Dave’s wife has not gone into labor. The appearance will be live, but hopefully with a bit of a 9 second delay in case I release an expletive deleted. Yes, I tend to keep it clean on the blog, but as my friends can attest, I am not nearly so good in conversation.

Dave’s even got his own entry on Wikipedia where you will learn about his extensive relationship with Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla projects.

I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully I won’t provide too many dead air moments or um and ah too much.

Now that Mike Rice, Jr. is heading out to Robert Morris, Coach Dixon has a plum and crucial assistant coach position to fill. Big East Basketball blog suggests that a couple of the runner-ups to get the RMU job might be considered for the Pitt assistant job: former Kentucky assistant Scott Rigot and Baylor assistant Matt Driscoll.

Rigot, you may recall, was a name being considered last year. Scott Rigot is from Bethel Park — the Pittsburgh area connection that many seem to love — and he was an assistant at Hawaii — where Jamie Dixon was once an assistant. Rigot apparently was not beloved by Kentucky fans who did not seem to think highly of his recruiting skills or thought they weren’t used well — even if no one was sure why he was disliked. He was a graduate assistant at South Carolina under Tubby Smith which apparently helped him land the job at Kentucky. He was also rumored to be one of the staff members who was going to be let go last year and was — according to many rumors — supposed to be one of the reasons Tubby Smith left for Minnesota (the AD wanted a major staff shake-up to improve recruiting which Smith was resisting).

Aside from his local ties and possible ties to Dixon by way of Hawaii, I’m not sure what he would bring to Pitt for recruiting:

Despite a host of message board “insiders” posting how Rigot bungled a recruiting trip here or there, there is no actual proof other than the fact that UK whiffed on a names last fall. That said, Rigot was supposedly brought on board for his skills with getting Juco and Euro players. Apparently, those skills were either oversold or underdeveloped. What Rigot does bring to the table, the average fan cannot truly know, despite the volume of Cats Pause readers who claim to.

So we’ll have to see about that.

As for Driscoll, went to Northgate High, got his degree at Slippery Rock, was a head coach at LaRoche College (Div. III) for a few years before being an assistant under Larry Shyatt at Clemson. He is the top assistant for Scott Drew (even filling in  on a night after Drew had an emergency appendectomy). Baylor fans seem to like the guy. Driscoll has a good rep in recruiting nationally. It makes him seem like the more appealing candidate.

The question would be, does he want to leave Baylor for another assistant job? Especially now. Baylor is on the verge of coming off all the NCAA restrictions, and the Bears have reportedly done well in the last couple years in recruiting. If Baylor finally starts putting it together it would be a heck of a rebuilding job and make Driscoll a hot candidate.

Thank goodness for blind speculation.

Someone Out There Can Help

Filed under: Admin,Football — Dennis @ 3:36 pm

I’ve been inspired.

We should do the whole Chad Johnson checklist thing for Paul Rhoads. We could have all the Big East running backs and put a check for all the backs that rack up 200 yards rushing against Paul Rhoads’ defense. Should be a ton of checks.

That was left by commenter Adam.

Since I only have Microsoft Paint on my computer (boo!) I’m asking for the help of the Pitt Blather community. If someone makes one that I can post here, I’d be fully appreciative. I’m thinking in the area of 400-500 by 400-500 pixels (or somewhere close) would work well. Send your submission to There’s no special prize but full credit will be given.

Be creative, make it look nice, and we could have some fun with this.

April 25, 2007

I’ll be making my Pittsburgh radio debut tomorrow on the Dave Dameshek Sports Contraption on 93.7 The Zone. Yes, that’s right. Despite doing this for 3 and 3/4 years, this will be the first time a radio show will be speaking to me. That sure keeps the old ego in check.

You can listen on the internet, but you have to do a free, short registration (so do that early). The only thing that might cancel the appearance will be if his wife finally goes into labor. She is apparently due any time, so…

The show is new (as is the whole program format) and Dameshek has been active in reaching out to the Pittsburgh sports bloggers. On Monday he had the guy behind on for a couple segments. It’s a smart approach in that it gets some different people on the radio who pay close attention to Pittsburgh sports giving some different views. Not to mention create some positive vibes with the online community and more promotion for the show (such as this post).

As you can expect the discussion will be on Pitt, though I’m sure other things may creep into it.

Looks like Mike Rice, Jr. will be taking the RMU job (hat tip to JoeyT as well). Dokish at Pittsburgh Sports Report also is reporting this in the e-mail updates (no direct link yet). He notes, as I did yesterday, that this is the 3d Pitt assistant to get a head coaching job in the last 2 years and it could put Nasir Robinson and Travon Woodall back into play.

Now to stay positive on the two recruits. In earlier stories, Robinson had been into Pitt for a year prior, but Rice helped clinch it. As for Woodall, his HS Coach is Bob Hurley and he has never had one of his kids back out of a verbal. Still, you don’t know until they sign. Pitt will have to pay them some extra love, attention and hand-holding to play it safe.

Still, congrats to Mike Rice for getting the job. I wish he could have stayed a little longer, but it just points that Pitt is a good place for ambitious assistants.

Final amusing media note. Andy Katz in his blog (Insider subs) had noted yesterday that Rice was going to get the job and then backed off of it a bit today.

There were false rumors Tuesday that Pitt assistant Mike Rice had the Robert Morris job. He’s the likely frontrunner, but as of early Wednesday, nothing was done yet.


Wondering About Blades and Palko

Filed under: Draft,Football,NFL — Chas @ 10:26 am

Sure, sure Darrelle Revis will be going in the 1st round, maybe somewhere in the teens. That’s a given. What is unknown is where H.B. Blades and Tyler Palko will go in the draft — beyond being second day picks.

Based on the draft guides (ESPN, Pro Football Weekly and Sporting News), Blades has remained consistently projected to go in the 4th round, + or – 1 round. The knock on his size, is actually a common theme for many of the linebackers in the draft.

  • Jon Abbate, Wake Forest, 245, 5′ 10+”
  • Buster Davis, FSU, 244, 5′ 9+”
  • Sam Olajubutu, Arkansas, 227, 5′ 8+”
  • H.B. Blades, Pitt, 247, 5′ 10+”

And of course, they all cite NFL linebackers like Zach Thomas, London Fletcher and Sam Mills as undersized linebackers who succeeded.

The common theme for the successful undersized players, is that they are energy guys or “high motor” players. Not necessarily the fastest, the strongest or such. Instead, they are the most tenacious and hard working. In that way, I like both Abbate and Blades to have success in the NFL.

Blades can’t wait to find out where he is going, and is ready.  Blades has the added advantage of having played special teams at Pitt. The versatility is important, especially since it is the most likely place he will see action with a team as a rookie.

As for Palko, he’s been projected as a 6th or 7th rounder. He is appealing as a late grab since he has played in both the pro sets the past two years and the West Coast offense before that.

Plus, it would seem his agent, Ralph Cindrich, has been coaching him to play up being the son of a high school coach and that he’s been around football his whole life. Not a bad approach, as he’s trying to sell himself to coaches and GMs who are essentially football lifers themselves.
With the Rams, he grabs the Marc Bulger link — late draft pick, Western PA, not too big, Big East school. Palko has also had visits to the Ravens.

Schedule Poster 2007

Filed under: Football,Schedule — Chas @ 8:37 am

Looks like the Football Schedule Poster is released. Or at least available for downloading as wallpaper (640×480).

Pitt 2007 Football

There’s also 800×600 and 1024×768.

That’s Joe Clermond, LaRod Stephens-Howling and Derek Kinder.

April 24, 2007

What Will Rice Do?

Filed under: Assistants,Basketball,Coaches,Recruiting — Chas @ 8:46 pm

It seems Pitt Assistant Coach Mike Rice, Jr. is a leading candidate for the Robert Morris job. Not a total shock that Rice is already getting interest in other jobs after only one year on the job at Pitt. One of the reasons I liked the hire was his ambition. It’s been reflected in his activities in recruiting. That’s a good thing with young assistants. They know that it isn’t their X-O and teaching in practice that gets them noticed. It’s their reputation as a solid recruiter. Rice has done an excellent job in his first year recruiting for Pitt in 2007 and beyond.
The downside is that it might put early verbals like Nasir Robinson and Travon Woodall back into play.  They can’t sign until the early signing period in November.  Rice was heavily involved in their recruiting. I’m not saying that will happen, but there is always the possibility.

Ideally, I’d like to see Rice stay at least one more year to help Pitt get a little better in the Philly/South Jersey region that he has really helped them become a factor in recruiting. The good part, if Rice got the job would be that 3 coaches in two years getting head coaching gigs. It makes being an assistant at Pitt even more attractive and means more interest and desire by a better pool of candidates.

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