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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.

Revis Interests Steelers

Filed under: Alumni,Draft,Football,Good,NFL,The 'Burgh — Dennis @ 8:44 am

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin held a press conference yesterday and discussed many topics including Alan Faneca’s contract as well as the upcoming draft. Revis is nowhere near a lock to stay in Pittsburgh but the possibility is definitely there.

“He’s got a nice combination of size and speed, and he’s a young guy. You would imagine there’s a lot of football in front of him,” Tomlin said of the Aliquippa native, who declared for the draft after his junior season at Pitt. “He seems to have his head on straight and he’s a sharp young man, so he has a lot of things that are attractive about him.”

The Steelers don’t have a ton of places where they need to bring in a new player (and were probably one of the best 8-8 teams in NFL history) but positions like cornerback and linebacker might be in for some change. Look for both Revis and PSU’s Paul Posluszny to be very possible choices.

I also have a feeling Revis would love the opportunity to stay home and move to the locker room down the hall from Pitt’s.

Rambling on Rhoads

Filed under: Assistants,Coaches,Football,Wannstedt — Chas @ 8:28 am

This bit from Bill Simmons on Celtics Head Coach Doc Rivers reminds me of what Defensive Coordinator Paul Rhoads has in Pittsburgh.

I haven’t ventured into the clubhouse. I’m not sitting at a press table typing deadline game stories and ignoring the game that’s happening right in front of me. I haven’t had the distinct pleasure of spending time with Doc after a tough loss and being wowed by his winning charm and humor. I haven’t been spun the same BS excuses that everyone else back home has been spun, and my lips aren’t covered with green Kool-Aid stains.

Should it matter if Doc happens to be a good person and a swell dinner companion? Sure, if he’s a friend or family member. But what if he’s coaching your favorite team and you don’t know him from a hole in the wall? What then? Should it bother you that the team won half as many games as it did two seasons ago? Or that we haven’t been able to defend a high screen since Eric Williams was still alive? Or that we’re consistently sloppy on both ends of the court? Or that opponents routinely shoot 50 percent or better no matter who’s out there?

Seems like all of that can be applied to Pitt and Rhoads running the defense. In his time at Pitt, the fundamentals — player positioning, tackling, footwork — have been bad. The defensive schemes don’t change regardless of their failures. Regardless of the personnel. Rhoads is the DC. As a top assistant, he’s supposed to be helping recruit the players for the team. As the DC, he is supposed to know the players on the defense as well as anybody and how to use them. Yet, there are no consequences.

I see it. All the other fans see it. Even the media acknowledges it, insofar as the defense is bad. Yet it is not Rhoads’ fault.

It’s bad attitudes on the team, a lack of leadership, poor talent, Walt Harris’ fault. Always something else.
Wannstedt’s support of Rhoads has had me baffled. I figured he got to stay because Rhoads was popular with the Athletic Director and Chancellor Nordenberg — not to mention the fact that he was one of the few assistants with a well-compensated contract — but that he now gets into year 3 under Wannstedt has been an ongoing search for the “why”. It leads to theories and trying to figure out why. Maybe it leads to the crazies, but I’m a little scared as I consider the following scenario.

You have a coach who looked good at first with someone else’s talent. Sure, things failed at key points, but the expectations are there.

As time goes on, though, things get worse. The talent is slipping. Yet, because, the guy is so engaging and likable the press and media stay positive and supportive of him. As do the people in charge. The fans who only see and care about what is happening on the field, however, are not so positive. They see a defense getting worse and worse and no one holding the DC responsible — or at least asking questions. Instead they are fed a litany of excuses for the DC. The excuses fail. Feeding instead: further frustration and anger.

Finally, it reaches a point, where even the press can’t excuse it any longer as the problems are so obvious and it all comes down to the coach. Then they have to go after him. And do. Almost with a vengeance and with gusto out of embarrassment that they helped prop him up and undermine their own credibility. In fact, the mocking and invoking his name as a punchline goes on for years after he is gone.

We haven’t reached the “finally” stage — yet.

Now think about Coach Wannstedt’s tenures in the NFL at Chicago and Miami as Head Coach. There is a disturbing parallel. It has me concerned that Wannstedt sees much of himself in Rhoads in that way, and is trying to help/protect him. Even as Rhoads’ tenure as DC continues towards the same outcome.

It’s just a theory, but when it comes to explaining how a DC can survive a steady 8-year slide and be under his second head coach, theories are about the only thing out there.

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