Judging by the Tweets and comments, new Pitt Head Coach Todd Graham made a lot of people feel more than really good about the hire. Excited, thrilled, juiced. His energy was palpable. Apparently it also extended to some of the players as there are reports that Cameron Saddler and Ray Graham both phoned into The Fan to express their own excitement over Todd Graham.
There is no way to avoid the comparisons to the Mike Haywood presser last month. Where Haywood was really brief — the whole press conference clocked in at 25 minutes with AD Steve Pederson speaking for more than five minutes, this one went a bit over 35 minutes with a very short intro by Pederson.
Where Haywood was stoic (stone-faced?) and spoke only of discipline and molding young men; Graham was animated and spoke openly of wanting to win championships.
Graham was glib and ready for nearly any question. About the only time he looked even momentarily flummoxed was when one reporter asked him about his comments the previous week, “You know, my wife informed me that if I go anywhere I’ll be going by myself. So, that’s a little hard for me right now being 46. I don’t really want to do that.”
It took him a moment there. I don’t know if he was surprised that anyone up in Pittsburgh saw that quote, or if he just expected softball questions in his introductory presser. He did recover, to essentially say that they talked a lot about it and made the decision. Unsaid was that the money helped.
Graham set the bar high for himself. No question. Recruiting rivals loved throwing out the “wall around Western Pennsylvania” quote from Wannstedt’s opening presser every time a decent recruit from the WPIAL didn’t choose Pitt. No doubt plenty of people have filed away some of Graham’s quotes.
Whether it was about winning — the Big East, a BCS bowl, BCS Championship — or about whether he is a short-termer looking for a bigger team/deal, “Just watch and see.” We will and plenty of others will as well.
He also stated that the 2011 recruiting class isn’t salvageable, it will be the finest class (in the Big East? Pennsylvania? Ever? In hindsight? He didn’t say). He and his staff are ready to get out recruiting. He has hired a bunch of guys from DickRod’s Michigan/WVU staff. Something that can only help in recruiting.
In fact, he stated that while there are still a couple coaching spots unfilled, it was vital to get seven spots filled immediately so they can get out on the road recruiting.
I’m calling it now. The Spring Game is going to have its biggest turnout — ever.