February 17, 2009

Briefly interrupting the Pitt basketball lovefest for the obligatory update on the Pitt football quest to replace the offenseive coordinator. After it all appeared that Noel Mazzone was poised to be the new offensive coordinator, things have changed.

Not only does this hire have to be the right fit and have the right credentials and a track record of success, it needs to be someone who can generate at least some excitement and help sell tickets. And don’t underestimate that last part — there is no question the pressure is on Dave Wannstedt to hire a coach with at least some pedigree of success and a track record of quarterback development.

That’s why the latest guy Wannstedt’s radar — California offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti — is such an intriguing name.

Unlike Noel Mazzone, who has fallen way down (if not completely off according to several soures) on the list for a variety of reasons…

[Emphasis added.]

A stunning admission, even via sources, to Paul Zeise. What that says to me, is that Noel Mazzone was killed not  by his track record or anything involving money or the interview. He was killed by the reaction to the leaked news of his impending hire.

It was a universally panned decision. When the closest thing to backing it was, “let’s wait and see” or “I trust Wannstedt,” well that isn’t support.

The credit, has to go to the fans and the often derided message board denizens for making this happen. They are the ones who wouldn’t simply accept being fed the sanitized resume of Mazzone without looking closer.

It is the fans that may force Wannstedt to have to hire outside of his comfort zone. To actually have to consider someone with an imagination and sees the offense as more than something to fear will put the defense in bad field position.

No, it won’t be Walt Harris taking over the offense. (A shame, but not surprising.) It also won’t be a mere NFL retread/crony.

If the Pitt brass/staff looked towards the boards for advice on how to run the program, don’t you think Greg Cross would have taken more than three snaps this past season? And furthermore, wouldn’t he be rocking a mustard yellow helmet with the script logo? Just saying…

Comment by LGP 02.17.09 @ 9:50 pm

its that news of the potential hire spread on message boards. Most likely, there were a large number of people threatening to drop season tickets as a result of this. I highly doubt that people were threatening to drop season tickets over one player seeing the field or wearing a helmet.

Comment by Willy Ralphard 02.17.09 @ 10:00 pm

PSI and KDKA are reporting that Cigneti has been offered the job

Comment by w bill 02.17.09 @ 10:44 pm

I’m not purchasing season tickets until I have a mustache guarantee that Cross takes at least 15 snaps.

Comment by pittjd 02.17.09 @ 10:48 pm

What’s the deal with so many folks wanting Cross to see more action? Or, are those posts dripping with sarcasm?

Don’t get me wrong, I think Stull is a poser and probably had his best days in HS, but shouldn’t we really be clammoring for not only a solid OC that can bring new life into our offense, but also someone that can smell some talent on the recruiting trail? Cross makes the current squad more interesting, but the plays designed for him are telegraphed to the opposing defense and playing him more often hardly seems to be the answer.

Comment by Desmondo 02.17.09 @ 11:08 pm

how do you know what plays were designed for Cross? He only took 2 snaps all year, one being a 16 yd TD run against Iowa

Comment by w bill 02.17.09 @ 11:19 pm

Good for Walt, and he gets to stay close to his new home.

Comment by Dugdog 02.17.09 @ 11:27 pm

Paul Zeise is also reporting that Cignetti has been offered

Comment by w bill 02.17.09 @ 11:31 pm

Ok, Desmondo, for your insolence, make that 20 snaps.

Comment by pittjd 02.17.09 @ 11:46 pm

pittjd…no disrespect intended. Just trying to understand the love for Cross. I can’t believe I sometimes miss the days of the beloved Pete Gonzalez.

I’ll jump on the 20 snap bandwagon and even up it to say throw him in the lineup on atleast 20 of the some of the same plays as Stull. Mix it up. Put him out wide. Do whatever. Hell, I’m even for putting a cardboard cutout of McCoy out there to see if that could get us a first down.

Comment by Desmondo 02.17.09 @ 11:58 pm

I fired off an email and let them know I was not going to renew my season tickets if they hired Mazzone.

Comment by Tony In Harrisburg 02.18.09 @ 12:00 am

Hahah I think the LeSean McCutout idea is best. Although the team would have to make it believable; perhaps duct tape the McCutout to an RC car to give it some mobility and have Stull practice fake handoffs.

As for Cross, well, I think the love really stems from fans being plain bored. I mean I think we all got real excited about the Wildcat even when it didn’t work.

Comment by pittjd 02.18.09 @ 12:33 am

Nobody is mentioning the fact that Cross ran backwards for a 10 yard loss on his second snap.

He also took 2 snaps in the South Florida game for a total of 8 yds.

Wannstedt said. “We have a package for Greg – we’ve had it all year – and it’s just a matter of finding the right opportunity.”

Pitt unveiled our version of the “Wildcat” in the Notre Dame game. It is just that Shady takes/took the snaps in the Wildcat, not Cross.

I’d rather have Shady running the ball instead of Cross, besides Shady is a better passer.

Comment by shadyforpresident 02.18.09 @ 7:32 am

I don’t get the whole lovefest for Cross. I know he is a talented athlete and all, but he has not proven himself, so the lovefest seems purely speculative. Granted, he has also not really been given a chance to show himself. Hopefully, whatever hire they bring in will be a good analyzer of talent and see how to use the weapons they have. I also think Pitt could free up an extra scholarship by putting Stull where he belongs..on the womens softball team. I am pulling for Sunseri and intrigued by Kolby Gray as well. Hopefully news will come soon on Cignetti.

Comment by Heel Hater 02.18.09 @ 7:40 am

I didn’t mean to turn this into a Greg Cross debate. The point of my initial (and rather sarcastic) post was that the Pitt program isn’t taking direction from the masses on the Rivals and Scout boards. If Steve Pederson lurked on to get ideas on how to run his football program, Cav would have been out the door after the loss to Ohio U.

Furthermore, who knows if Mazzone was even in the running? I don’t know for sure. All that crap we read on the boards, and even on Zeise’s blog, is ALL speculation that is mostly based off of rumor.

I have an easier time believing that Pitt is doing a thorough job in making the correct decision. I don’t buy this BS story that Pitt intentionally leaked Mazzone’s name to gather fan reaction and then act accordingly. That’s just absurd.

What makes more sense? How about they interviewed the guy and Pitt isn’t interested in offering him the job. If Pederson and Wannstedt thought that Mazzone was the right guy, they would have hired him. It’s that simple. Remember, Pederson hired Callahan at Nebraska… and at the time, do you honestly think one Husker fan liked that choice?

And as far as threats of people not renewing season tickets… come on. Pitt’s attendance is already a joke. If a few clowns stick to their guns and don’t renew their tickets because of Pitt’s choice of OC, the end result would be just a few more empty yellow seats that would blend in with the thousands of other ones.

Comment by LGP 02.18.09 @ 8:51 am

First of all, the play that Cross had a 10 yard loss against UF was ran from a PRO set not the Wildcard. He faked a handoff to the left and bootlegged right which did not fool the outside OL who takcled him for the loss.

Also note that when Shady ran the Wildcat this past year, it was just two plays … he would he either go right or left trying to pick his hole. Even the year before, they had Porter going in motion and a few times Shady handed him the ball for an end around — they didn’t even try the motion thing tis past year. The year before Shady completed a pass to Byham vs UConn — that wasn’t tried this year.

There was no imagination concerning the Wildcar this past year making me think Cav was over his head in designing plays and really didn’t want anything to do with it. (they didn’t even try it for 2 whole games after Cross made is 17 yd TD vs Iowa.)

Comment by w bill 02.18.09 @ 8:58 am

to correct my above post — I know its the Wildcat not the Wildcar

to finish the above post — Cross didn’t play after he was tackled for the loss — he was injured on that play but was avilable for the balance of the games. It just seemed to me that Cav just couldn’t wait for Cross to fail so he could justify not using him again.

Note that the Wildcat was only used after that in desparation — against ND when Bostick had his 1st start and in the Sun Bowl. I would have to think that the Wildcat formation would be a perfect offense when Pitt is near the goal line, and all of ts options are used instead of only Shady right or left … or the fade pass to Baldwin

Comment by w bill 02.18.09 @ 9:07 am

I believe that Shady was 1 for 2 in passing this year (2008) for a total of 14 yds. So he had more than two options out of the Wildcat.

Comment by shadyforpresident 02.18.09 @ 9:53 am

I have heard from several sources that Cignetti Jr. accepted Pitt’s job this morning in a call to Wannstedt.

Comment by JSS 02.18.09 @ 9:55 am

I just did a quick search to see what was out there on Cignetti, here are a few nuggets:

Cignetti was most successful serving as the offensive coordinator at Fresno State for four years from 2002 until 2006. In 2004, Fresno State’s offense ranked fifth nationally and seventh in 2005. In 2004 Fresno State became the sixth team in NCAA history to score over 50 points in four consecutive games. The 2004 team also led the Western Athletic Conference in average yards per carry and amassed 65 touchdowns.

another article from Cal when he was hired:

link to

Comment by Rex 02.18.09 @ 10:27 am

Wanny has always been a defense first coach and wants a game manager (not playmaker) at QB. Cross was brought in because he was available and Pitt needed QBs. He was not primarily brought in because of his supposed playmaking abilities, which when you come to think of it are only his legs and not arm nor head. He was brought in out of necessity because Wanny does not put a high premium on QBs.

You can only hope that some high up have counseled Wanny of the need for more creativity on the offensive side of the ball. As someone stated above the goal is to score more points than the other team and you do that by having playmakers at OC and QB.

Comment by Kenny 02.18.09 @ 11:24 am

hope they get cignetti…this guy looks like the real deal

Comment by sid 02.18.09 @ 11:40 am

I believe Cignetti can put big points up. I think his job at Fresno is a better indicator of what he can do. At Cal, who knows which plays Tedford was calling or encouraging Cig to call.

Comment by Willy Ralphard 02.18.09 @ 11:51 am

I could care less if a JUCO ever sees another snap from center for our team…I don’t have anthing against Cross, but come on now…not buying season tickets unless a JUCO gets to play??? If it was not Stull that was playing, then Cross was not the answer. Basically, Cross was Shady’s backup in the Wildcat…How many of Shady’s snaps would you give to Cross?

Comment by HbgFrank 02.18.09 @ 12:27 pm

I was just joking about not buying season tickets because of lack-of-Cross.

I also read in the paper today a new study has found that, in some people, the brain shrinks in volume as it gets older, yet it nevertheless grows heavier. Scientists are baffled.

Comment by pittjd 02.18.09 @ 1:06 pm

UPDATE- looks like Cignetti is probably on his way:

link to

Comment by Dan35 02.18.09 @ 2:18 pm

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