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February 4, 2009

Holy crap. Way to not even let the ink dry on the NLIs.

Pitt football offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh is expected to take a job as an offensive assistant with the New York Jets, likely working with quarterbacks, according to a source.

Cavanaugh has been at Pitt since 2004, when head coach Dave Wannstadt hired him. Before that, he was the offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens.

“We all know Matt’s a great coach and I’m sure a lot of other people out there will be interested in giving him another opportunity,” Wannstedt said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if people had an interest in him, but at this point, I have nothing to say about it,”.

Stunning. I have to say I did not see this coming.

I’m thrilled. I was resigned to Cavanaugh returning and being here for more years.

Of course, it is still up to Coach Wannstedt to hire the next OC.

I’m not holding my breath for a creative and innovative coach. I expect he’ll be some ex-NFL retread that goes back years with Wannstedt. I’d love to be optimistic that he’ll go out and get a college guy like he did on the defensive side, but I refuse to get too far ahead of things.

The one good thing I can think is that you have to believe Greg Cross’s chances of being on the field for more than one game this year has just improved.

and the Walt talk begins….

Comment by Dan35 02.04.09 @ 4:53 pm

Walt’s ability with teaching up QBs is well documented. DW might feel uncomfortable with Walt around though. If DW can handle Walt being around remember Pederson hired Walt and didn’t fire Walt!And if you brought Walt in as Qbs coach you would still have an asst head coach, DC, and OC between DW and the QBs coach. Walt did a great job with Palko, Gonzalez, Turmin, Priestly, Rutherford, and the list goes on. Bring back Walt !

Comment by Marty 02.04.09 @ 5:03 pm

Is it even possible that Walt could happen? Do he and Dave ever talk to each other? For all the misgivings people may have about him he is a talented offensive mind, he lives in Pittsburgh, and he would be an improvment on Cavanaugh.

Comment by Jeff 02.04.09 @ 5:04 pm

We had heard a rumor early in the week that cav would go to the Jets and Harris would replace him. Didn’t want to write about it cuz it seemed strange but now that this happens we wrote about it: link to

Comment by Yinzer 02.04.09 @ 5:15 pm

on the other hand…What are the Jet’s thinking? How could we be so fortunate to have Cavanaugh taken off our hands? QB coach for the pros. You have got to be kidding me. When has he ever developed anyone into anything? Trent Dilfer?

Comment by Jeff 02.04.09 @ 5:20 pm

Wait, I thought Walt Harris was the worst coach in the world and that Rutherford and Palko sucked.

I never got the sense that Walt loves Pitt enough to return as offensive coordinator to a place where he used to be head coach.

And, for all of the “brilliance” of his offense, he also was the one that decided to keep Larry Fitzgerald on the sideline for 4 consecutive plays (1st & Goal – 4th & Goal) in the Tire Bowl in 2003. And the slide. And the quick kicks. And that formidable offense that beat Furman in OT.

Comment by Joey D 02.04.09 @ 5:25 pm

doesn’t love Pitt enough to come back? What are his other choices? I thought he was looking at HS jobs so I’m sure he wouldn’t be opposed.

The point is that every QB under Harris out-talented, out-played, and out-performed anything that they currently have. He wasn’t good at managing a whole team, but if the guy focused on just offense, I think he’d be pretty good.
Plus part of his offense not being great (the Furman OT reference) was how terrible the lines were under Harris, which isn’t as big a problem under Wanny.

Comment by Yinzer 02.04.09 @ 5:28 pm

Bring back Walt

Comment by Lee 02.04.09 @ 5:34 pm

Walt Harris’s offenses were fun to watch, productive, and entertaining…..having Walt and Dave on one team would be a dream come true!….Thank you J…E…T…S…JETS JETS JETS!!!

Comment by Marco 02.04.09 @ 5:35 pm


Comment by Brian 02.04.09 @ 5:39 pm

Wannstedt was on bendel earlier talking about recruiting. Bendel asked about cav and wannstedt said nothing is final and changed the subject. I am thinking this news may have broke a little early.

Comment by Joey T 02.04.09 @ 5:55 pm

Real classy Matt, let’s wait till the kids sign all of their national letters of intent and then skip out of town! The writing must have been on the wall that the alumni wanted him out of town. At least our offensive production can’t get any worse than that 3-0 bowl game loss….GO PITT! WELCOME BACK WALT!!!

Comment by Marco 02.04.09 @ 5:58 pm

Two questions – 1. did DW quietly suggest MC find new work, or did he leave on his own? 2. regarding the recruiting rankings in the previous post, I believe Pitt had a limited number of scholarships to offer this year – how much does the quantity of recruits play into those rankings (i.e. would they be ranked higher if they had more scholarships to offer)?

Comment by B.B. 02.04.09 @ 5:59 pm

I am a Pitt fan and also happen to be a Jets fan…This is a cruel cruel joke. Ecstatic for my Pitt Panthers, and well, I guess its the same ol J E T S , jets jets jets…..
I would love to see Walt back, but Wanny likes his “circle” of boys…so doubt we will see Walt on the sideline. Does Wanny have any ties to Mike Shula?

Comment by Pitt&Jets Fan 02.04.09 @ 6:05 pm

HURRAY HURRAY HURRAY!!!! I can now buy my season tickets with a smile. My prayers have been ansered!

Comment by Tony In Harrisburg 02.04.09 @ 6:37 pm

This is just as sweet as when Paul Rhodes left but it brings up 2 questions.

1) If Shady knew Cav was leaving, would he have changed his decision on going pro? I would love to hear his answer.
2)I think Walt is going to be the new coach at Seneca Valley High School. I recently heard that he applied. (not sure if it is a head or assistant job) Wanny is very hard headed and would never bring in a pass first coach. Also, Wanny is a pure yinzer and Walt is a quiet California guy. I see it as a marriage made in hell.

Who will the new OC be? I am guessing someone from the NFL that will concentrate on a run first and manage the game type offense. (no risk, minimal return, cover Stull’s flaws) I can’t see Wanny bringing in a spread guy or anyone that would do anything unconventional.

Comment by AJ 02.04.09 @ 6:41 pm

I hope you’re wrong- an NFLer would be the same ol crap

Comment by Dan35 02.04.09 @ 6:53 pm

Great News But Why Is Everyone Stuck On Greg Xross We Got Kolby Gray Today Much Better Than Cross Make Him A Wide Reciever.

Comment by POLE 02.04.09 @ 6:57 pm

Great news about Cav leaving.
I like the idea of hiring Walt, but only as QB coach. Wanny should still insist on his guy being the OC and calling the plays – Walt was terrible at playcalling, but great at developing QB’s; plus, he was the only reason Larry Fitzgerald came to Pitt, and his presence could get some skill WR’s to come to Pitt.

Comment by Patrick 02.04.09 @ 7:05 pm

Dave needs to take hat in hand and approach Walt. If he loves Pitt as much as he proclaims, then he needs to take the next step

Comment by Gas 02.04.09 @ 7:15 pm

Now I will buy season tickets. This is a dream come true.

Comment by Jen 02.04.09 @ 7:16 pm

And FWIW….. Cav wasn’t @ the recruiting event tonight.

Comment by Joey T 02.04.09 @ 7:36 pm

Joey D – Walt’s horrible offense against Furman put up 35 points in regulation. Yea that game was embarassing, but the offense had nothing to do with it.

Comment by Hollywood 02.04.09 @ 7:57 pm

Why when we talk about the QB’s at Pitt does nobody mention Tino Sunseri as a viable option? I thought I read that the coachs are very high on him and that he did a great job running the scout team.

Comment by Jeff 02.04.09 @ 8:13 pm

That shutout in the Sun Bowl sealed it. Dave told him to start looking.

Comment by alcofan 02.04.09 @ 8:26 pm

Walt Harris would bring some life into Pitt’s offense and help develop the QBs and wide receivers. As was mentioned above Wannstedt and Harris may not be compatible. If they could come to some sort of compromise, I believe bringing Walt back would be a positive thing. Do not forget in what shape the program was before Walt came! He did a lot of good at Pitt.

Comment by SCPittMBA 02.04.09 @ 8:46 pm

The calls to bring back Walt are vintage Pitt. “Back to the Future” didn’t work out too well with Majors. Wanny should move forward and find a young, hungry offensive position coach to come in.

Comment by dcpanther 02.04.09 @ 8:52 pm

I was home to watch the Super Bowl and saw a report on one of the Pittsburgh sports newscasts saying that Walt was about to be named the head coach at some High School in Pittsburgh (the name escapses me right now)…this was a few days ago and that was all I heard…I wonder if this may change things? I never thought walt was a great head coach but the man knows QB’s anf offense. I know he also attends a lot of the Pitt football games so he is obviously still somewhat attached. Lets see what DW comes up with on this one…I suddenly feel a lot better about next year just knowing that anyone but Cav will be the OC. I love Cav but he wasnt helping.

Comment by Rex 02.04.09 @ 9:30 pm

Here is an article on walt. I wanted to say Steel valley but he is the head coaching candidate for Seneca valley:

link to

Comment by Rex 02.04.09 @ 9:35 pm

As far as the question, What were the Jets thinking…

I might remind that during the days when Vinny Testeverde was with their team, Paul Hackett was the Offensive Coordinator. Yes, that Paul Hackett.

I think the question should be, Will the Jets ever start thinking?

(Yes, I know. Big talk from a fan of a Dave Wannstedt-coached football team.)

Comment by Brian H in Brooklyn 02.04.09 @ 9:40 pm

Praise be the lord…thank god…i can’t believe this…

…He should make a good decision like he did hiring a qualified college D coordinator last year….hire a college o coordinator…

…and if walt comes back, that’s fine, as long as Wanny has the final say on all calls…”Quick quick??!!? GTFO Walt. Choose a real play to run…”

We don’t need Walt to recruit (Cav didn’t either). We need him to develop QBs – he could do that. Dave keeps him doing dumb crap (slides, quick kicks, etc) and he’s good at what he does – hell, half of O$U would love to have him back.

Comment by Stuart 02.04.09 @ 9:46 pm

link to

Wanny Speaks about the class…

Comment by POLE 02.04.09 @ 9:54 pm

Quick Kick!!!!

Comment by pittprowler 02.04.09 @ 10:13 pm

You all are stoned talking about Walt as OC. QB coach maybe, there must be better talent out there that is young and talented – someone that can bring in a fresh approach that will generate points, excitement and put fans back in the stands.

Like the class.

Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Andrew 02.04.09 @ 10:13 pm

I think you’re stoned if you don’t think that if Harris was given the reigns of the offense, that the offense wouldn’t be MUCH better. But Wannstedt would never hire him. It’s not happening.

Comment by Mark 02.04.09 @ 10:55 pm

i must agree with the other jet/pitt fan on here who posted earlier…it awesome that cav is gone but its a mean joke that he has to go to the Jets where we already have qb problems…..the jets will never learn

Comment by jet/pitt fan 02.04.09 @ 11:00 pm

Slightly off-topic, but is the RSS feed broken? I stopped getting updates back on January 8th. Tried adding it again tonigh — nothing.

Comment by Dave in Orlando 02.05.09 @ 12:55 am

I think the next person will do a better job, doesn’t matter who. I would take Pat Summitt over Matt “Spontaneous” Cavanaugh. One day we look brilliant, the next day we lay a goose egg on the 13th game of the season?! We couldn’t score 6 points against Oregon State?! I am not going to say Harris is the best option but we would have scored 10 points WITH a quarterback slide. Of course Stull would have broken a toe on that play but we would have won The Sun Bowl.

Maybe we should go for an OC from a smaller school. Who is Central Michigan’s Offensive Coordinator? This has to be an attractive position with the receivers we have on this team. At least we have something to look forward to. I feel bad for Matt, I tried to like him but as the season went on my eyes ran out of tears. I don’t have enough tears left to cry IF the basketball team loses in the sweet sixteen again. They made it so I can’t cry.

Comment by Panthoor 02.05.09 @ 2:22 am

Walt did a lot of good at Pitt. Which players of Wannstedt’s have won any awards in 4 years? Walt’s Antonio Bryant was an award winner in 2000 or 2001. Wanny hates change – don’t see Walt happening. Maybe if Dave can be convinced he’ll have more time on the golf course with a skilled offensive coordinator on staff he will listen.

Comment by TonyinHouston 02.05.09 @ 4:19 am

I’ll bet anyone beers on me at Bettis’ Bar on Opening gameday that Harris won’t be on PITT’s staff in 2009.

If I lose, any takers drink beer free all day.

If I win, any takers have to buy me a beer anytime they see me on gamedays next season…

Comment by Reed 02.05.09 @ 4:25 am

A syllogism ripe for Philosophy 80:


“We’re not changing anything on offense,” Wannstedt said. “We’re not going to go to the option. We’re going to run the pro-style offense that we’ve always run.”


Wannstedt said Pitt sent letters to gauge the interest of the nation’s top 100 quarterbacks.


Gray was one of a handful who responded.

Comment by steve 02.05.09 @ 7:13 am

God help the New York Jets…..

Comment by dan 72 02.05.09 @ 7:39 am

It always seems to be superlatives…I think Cavanaugh was probably a pretty good choice as OC when Wanny hired him. Then Wanny stuck with him a little too long. If you want some insight into what makes Cavanaugh tick, read John Feinstein’s excellent book “Next Man Up”. It’s a very entertaining story AND gives a lot of insights into coaching performance. I think Matt wanted Pitt to succeed but was a victim of his experience as a professional coach. The athletes play the game not the coaches.You can design a great game plan and then get your O-Line manhandled like we did in the Sun Bowl and Cav looks like an ass. Oregon State was not Uconn. We might push those guys around up front but not OSU. Cav was not all bad but he failed to design offenses for the players we have. I hope we find an imaginative young guy from the college coaching ranks that has some insight into getting the best from our kids.

As for Walt, I think a lot of you guys are right. He would be a great addition to the staff but I don’t think it will happen.

Comment by The Hagen 02.05.09 @ 8:25 am

I watched Gregg Gross in the spring game last year and he had the longest run and pass play in that scrimmage. The pass was for a TD, not sure about the run.

During the fall scrimmage I was hoping he would get a few snaps with the 1st team. When that didn’t happen IMO that GG saw the handwriting on the wall.

I do believe he could throw the ball as well as Bill Stull.

Comment by joel 02.05.09 @ 8:37 am

I didn’t have as big an issue with Cav as many of you apparently did … and I do think the Sun Bowl fiasco was much more due to our o-line being manhandled. However, the issue I have on that game is that he could have least tried something else when all else failed.

He had a month to prepare for that game, and OSU just showed that they couldn’t stop a spread attack vs Oregon. He had plenty of time to prepare a spread package, yet the only spread play they ran all year was a snap to Shady who tried to pick his hole — 1 play.

The other issue was the lack of use of two very talented TEs. Dickerson made two very good catches downfield this year, but both were in desperation time, late in the games vs Cincy & OSU. Why did these plays have to wait for desperation time?

Comment by w bill 02.05.09 @ 8:51 am

Just bring in a new guy who is willing to go with different schemes. A pro-style offense is not a bad style if it is executed properly. I would prefer more packages and different looks.

If they hire Walt, will they also bring Ray Kirkley back for his 9th season?

Comment by Joey D 02.05.09 @ 10:05 am

I love the pro-style offense if it is the New England Patriots offense – not the Lions! It will all depend on what Dave wants to do cause lets face it he runs the team (good or bad). The offense could not be much more bland/ predictable than it was at times. They did score alot of point last season though – is that due to the scheme or opponents?

Comment by Greg 02.05.09 @ 10:44 am

This is a potential major upgrade for the team. We have watched QBs come in and stagnate since DW and Matt took over, now there is at least a chance for someone to work with Bostick, Cross, Sunseri, et al. to help them develop.

Comment by Mitch 02.05.09 @ 12:20 pm

[…] Pittsburgh fans are actually thrilled to see their offensive coordinator move […]

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