December 19, 2011

The Steelers Myth

Filed under: Coaches,Football,General Stupidity,Graham — Chas @ 9:20 am

There was a pleasant  attack on Fraud Graham (Yes, I would like to make that one stick) from the Steelers.

The Steelers practically threw a party when they heard that Pitt coach Todd Graham quit. That goes from the top to the bottom, from those who work in the offices to the coaches and every-day workers who came into contact with Graham and his staff in the building.

They described Graham as an arrogant man who had no use for anything the Steelers might have offered, and they say he resented having to share the building and the indoor practice field at the UPMC complex with them.

Before Graham, the Panthers and the Steelers ate in the same cafeteria, although at different times. Graham came in and put an end to that. The cooks at the cafeteria still prepare the food for the Panthers, but it is then brought over to the other side of the building, where Pitt created its own cafeteria to serve Graham’s players and his wishes.

Instead of embracing the advantages that an association with the Steelers might bring, Graham rejected them, even if there was little he could do about the shared facilities. That really came down to just sharing the indoor practice field and the parking lots because everything else is separate, including weight rooms, outdoor practice fields, locker rooms, etc. It’s one building, but it’s really two, like a big duplex.

I admit, I don’t understand the resentment. Other than the fact that just about every college football headcoach has at least a touch of “little dictator” in him and hates the idea of not controlling everything.

One thing I will caution about this hit piece. Despite the Pitt/Steelers shared Southside complex, there has yet to be a coach for Pitt that has done much with the Steelers side. Walt Harris, Dave Wannstedt and now Fraud Graham. None — and it never comes out until after they are gone — seem to interact much with the Steelers side. Graham seemed to have taken it to another place, but it isn’t entirely atypical.

For a pro football coach — from a position to the head coach — there just isn’t much time for much else. Especially at work. They’re in film. Meetings. Non-stop. And it is much the same for college coaches. Only with recruiting

Think about Jabaal Sheard talking before the Browns-Steelers game. Eating in the cafeteria and little else.

The shared facilities are a great selling point for recruits and is a very cost effective thing. But even the Steelers beat writer admits that it is a duplex. That suggests more like seeing each other in the parking lot more than in the hallways.

Also, I would dismiss that suggestion that Pitt consult the Steelers and Rooneys for the next coach. That was pretty much how Tom Bradley got his interview last year. And dear god no to this bit:

While they were at it, Pederson might even think of asking Rooney if he had anyone on his current coaching staff who might make a good candidate.

Go away.

Keith Patterson took advantage of sharing a complex with Dick Labeau. There was an article about it early in the season. Obviously Patterson doesn’t have Graham’s ego and is willing to learn something new. I would suggest that is why his D was good this year.

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Comment by notrocketscience 12.19.11 @ 9:35 am

Agree with you on Patterson. He has no chance at the Pitt job and I’m not suggesting he should. But I was impressed that he consulted LeBeau if for no other reason than improving himself.

Out of all the coaches Fraud Graham brought with him, Patterson and Dodge (Maybe) seem like sincere guys. But this needs to be a complete regime change. I’m hoping they wind up on their feet somewhere. And for their sake I hope it’s not with Graham.

Comment by Bowling Green Panther 12.19.11 @ 9:49 am

If Patterson is a stand up guy, he should want away from Graham.
I know he will be gone after the bowl game but I would have no problem with a new coach keeping him as a DC.

Comment by notrocketscience 12.19.11 @ 10:03 am

Why are we only hearing about this now from the Pittsburgh papers?

Comment by TX Panther 12.19.11 @ 10:03 am

I like Patterson as well. Graham was his college roommate and they are ‘best’ friends, but Patterson has far more integrity. If Mario is hired, he’s probably going to take Orlando as his DC unless Orlando is offered the FIU job.

Comment by TX Panther 12.19.11 @ 10:07 am

TX Panther I believe the article is from August

Comment by notrocketscience 12.19.11 @ 10:20 am

If Patterson and Dodge would leave right away, here is the Pitt coaching staff for the bowl:

HC – Bob Junko; OC – EJ Borghetti; DC – Donna Sams

Comment by wbb 12.19.11 @ 10:27 am

er .. Donna Sanft

Comment by wbb 12.19.11 @ 10:31 am

One minor nit:

they’re in film

Comment by Irishpanther 12.19.11 @ 10:35 am

It should be “they’re” in film. Not “their.” And to think you have a Pitt degree….

Comment by Todd Graham 12.19.11 @ 11:27 am

The piece about the the Steeers and the southside practice facility, I believe, was in Saturday morning’s Post Gazette. I think for prospective recruites, being next door to the Steelers is a terrific sales tool. I always wondered during the Wannstedt years why they never took advantage of Dick Lebeau’s zone blitz expertise.

Comment by Justinian 12.19.11 @ 11:34 am

Graham has fled yet again….

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Comment by velvil 12.19.11 @ 11:41 am

Clearly Todd Graham wants to throw a bunch excuses at the wall to minimize how bad he looks. I’m not a huge Steelers guy, but If you don’t think having a potential recruit like Chad Voytik run into Big Ben is nothing but a positive then you are really foolish. One of the many reasons why I’m glad Graham is gone. I can’t believe I supported this guy.

Does Wanny even know the meaning of blitz though?

Comment by Wardapalooza 12.19.11 @ 11:56 am

I like to refer to him as Turd The Scam Graham, he is an ass

Comment by WLAT and the Big Beat 12.19.11 @ 12:22 pm

The thing about the Steelers/PITT facilities is that are really physically separate from one another by doors that are always locked and security guards, etc. They just each have one-half of a huge building.

The contract states that neither program can share the outside fields at the same time and the PITT players are forbidden to initiate contact with any Steelers even if they see them in the parking lots, etc… But I’m sure there is some interaction there anyway but not as it would appear if you read articles about the place.

That shared cafeteria was used at separate times also.

In reality we inhabit the same humongous building on the Southside but we really don’t share or interact in any other way with the Steelers.

This is how it was explained to me last year and that’s what I saw the times I walked around in there..

Comment by Reed 12.19.11 @ 12:26 pm

How about Fraud Sham?

Comment by Barvo 12.19.11 @ 12:28 pm

I like Patterson. Maybe he will stay on the new guys staff. If he ever wants to be a Head Coach, he’ll have to leave Graham.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 12.19.11 @ 12:56 pm

Here is my thake on what happend with the prick TG.
He looked like a good coach at his outher jobs becuse he had 2 great offense coordinators.
and when he came here he knew he could get dickrods offense coordinator.
but when dick rods people left he knew he was screwed.
Pederson was giving him a hard time on who he wanted to bring in as his next OC per Zeise after a while our AD sticks his nose in were it should not be he did it to wanny also.
plus TG wife was bitching at home she missed Texas.
And he knew he had no QB for next year only a freshman and TINO he knew with out a good oc and with tino he was screwed so to shut the wife up he left what a prick he is,

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.19.11 @ 1:05 pm

Well stated Chas.

The only good from this story is that it makes you realize that perhaps PITT got a free “do over” for a guy who was burning bridges left and right.

As for the facilities… College football and NFL football are two different animals. NFL guys are fighting for their jobs on a daily basis (from head coach down to practice squad). They don’t have a NY minutes worth of time to reach out to the college guys who essential have 4 year guarantees to put in their systems.

That being said, it must be unbelievably motivating to sit in an NFL facility and watch the “professionals” go about their business. Especially a class organization like the Steelers. That is something that every college coach should make a priority to point out to each of their kids. My speech would be “there is where you want to be and this is the level of professionalism that it will take. Pay close attention to our NFL partner boys”. But as you pointed out, the narcissism of some college coaches will not permit it.

Happy Holiday Chas. Thanks for having the site!

Comment by PittFanInAtlanta 12.19.11 @ 1:13 pm

@ TX Panther: We are only hearing these stories now because unlike the NFL, Colleges have no obligation to allow access to the press. Anyone who rocks the boat can lose their access.

A recent example- Paterno thought he could have a “normal” press conference after the scandal broke by announcing that Sandusky talk was off limits, but had to cancel the presser after 200 outside reporters showed up loaded for bear.

Comment by Chuck Morris 12.19.11 @ 1:25 pm

Bet Mario will talk to Dick

Comment by 63Team 12.19.11 @ 1:36 pm

Stan Sav was discussing on his show this morning that Graham was flipping out when he found out he didn’t have a reserved parking spot at the South Side complex…even after he was informed that Dan Rooney, Tomlin and no one else had reserved spots.

We know this guy is a douche now but the more I hear the more I shake my head at how he was able to snow everyone that interviewed him at Pitt and no one picked up on his douchery.

Comment by FG 12.19.11 @ 2:01 pm

FG, That’s funny. Someone would have to be an idiot to bitch about a parking space, if Dan Rooney and Mike Tomlin didn’t have one. That’s whole concept of elitism that the Rooney’s don’t subscribe to. Unfortunately theuniversity didn’t terminate him as quickly as they did Haywood. I read somewhere that there is a one million dollar buy out in Graham’s contract.

Comment by Justinian 12.19.11 @ 2:22 pm

Despite the current mess, I look at the departure of Graham as a good thing. He was a bum through and through, and maybe now we can get it right. But the voice inside of me says that AD Pederson won’t let that happen. He lets his ego get in the way, too…

Comment by Mike C 12.19.11 @ 2:39 pm

while we’re piling on Graham, a couple tidbits from listening to The Fan last week.

1) Mrs DeCicco, whose son transfered to Wisconsin in August, took an immediate dislike to TG when she met him ar Pro day this past spring, when all TG wanted to talk about is how much money he had … which appears to be a recurring theme from players and others who he had made new acquaintances

2) a few Pgh area HS coaches have reported that TG told hthem how superior Texas HS football was to Western PA. Though likely true, what a stupid thing to say!

Comment by wbb 12.19.11 @ 3:32 pm

from what i know about the facility from a friend who used 2 work there. he said pitt was like the red headed step child and the steelers in the past , i mean organization from top 2 bottom. showed pitt no respect. even wanny who is a nice guy but lousy coach. there really was no interaction at all no running into each other in the parking lot ect..

Comment by hail2pitt 12.19.11 @ 3:48 pm

Don’t no why the Steeler people don’t get along with us. It’s our building, they are just tenants. You’d think they owned it or something.


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Comment by EMel 12.19.11 @ 4:08 pm

It would be expected that the NFL guys would not take time to talk with the Pitt team. However over the years I have heard a couple of things that would go against this.
1.) There was a story that M. Tomlin had a conversation in the cafe with one of the QBs after a game and commenting on pos/neg.
2.) The Pitt ammenities (i.e. weight room) has been said to be nicer than the Steelers’. Sounds like the Rooney’s are on the thrifty side. Some players had been known to come over to the Pitt side back when it may have been accepted.

Any (other) past players able to confirm or deny this?

Comment by Greg Lee 12.19.11 @ 4:09 pm

That’s pretty much, everything in a nutshell

And Patterson would be wise to divorce himself from Sleazoid. Hopefully he get an offer from us or someone else other than Sleazo.

Comment by EMel 12.19.11 @ 4:14 pm

There could some more comradery I believe if the Steelers would start drafting some PITT players.

They haven’t since 2000 I believe, Hank Poteat seems right.

Comment by EMel 12.19.11 @ 4:17 pm

@wbb. Wow. Yea it’s weird that a guy who talked all about humility and family would go around talking about how much money he makes. Just weird. The more I hear about him the more I’m glad he’s gone.

Comment by Baltimore in '84 12.19.11 @ 4:23 pm

I’m tired of hearing people say Cristobal would leave at the first chance of a “better” opportunity, people didn’t do due diligence on Graham so now they’re voicing concerns about Mario that should have been brought up against Graham.

Cristobal doesn’t have a history of using programs as stepping stones. Graham already did before he came to Pitt. Write a contract with a $3-5 million buyout – at least – for whoever eventually comes in anyway, but there’s no reason to think Cristobal would skip town in 2 or 3 years. 5, maybe. He has to actually prove himself at Pitt first (if he ends up being the choice).

Comment by deepelemblues 12.19.11 @ 4:31 pm

I get tired of hearing that too deep.

Johnny Majors was here for only 4 years, and wont he National Championhip. I’ll take that anytime, everyday, twice.

Jackie Sherrill was here for 5 or 6 years. We went to a Sugar Bowl, a Fiesta Bowl and two Gator Bowls. We were number 2 twice. If you expecting someone to stay for 10 years. Isn’t going to happen unless Pitt shells out some big bucks, which is why they lost Sherrill, imo.

Only a PITT man would stay for 10 years and most of you don’t seem to want a Pitt man.

So that’s that!

Comment by EMel 12.19.11 @ 4:49 pm

I believe there are some NCAA rules about a college team sharing a practice facility with a pro team and that Pitt had to get a waiver approved to have its facility with the Steelers.

Comment by Penguins Fan 12.19.11 @ 4:51 pm

Any contact between the college/NFL sides is coincidental and accidental. They are required to steer clear of the Steelers and the Steelers are not allowed to use PITT’s facilities (weight room) just like PITT can’t use theirs.

Now, what some of the seniors should have done is find out where the Steelers drink beer after their practices and just ‘drop in’ by accident for a cold one.

More and more there are stories coming out about Graham’s actions and personality that are most probably true – at least I believe all of them.

People have asked me why I didn’t agree with the pessimistic and the guys who couldn’t stand him and here’s why.

On the football side I thought he was doing the right things and that his recruiting was going to pay off in 2012 and especially in 2013. I really had no problems with him on football theory and how he handled the team as far as football and discipline goes. On the latter I commend him for taking decisive actions and not having multiple incidents under his watch while he was here. On the former I’ll say this because we all disagreed with each other. I still don’t have a real problem with his answers to the problems with the offense. Sunseri sunk us this year and I actually would have thought people knew that anyway.

So, My problems weren’t about his football approach and I’m notice that some guys who felt the same changed their tunes pretty quickly on Wednesday.

As to him personally?… I was stationed in Texas and have worked with Texans who are the exact same way as Graham is publicly. I realized from experience that in Texas the saying is “Go Big” in everything and they do, sometimes in ways grating to a Northerner. The difference is those guys I worked with and lived with were actually sincere in their bluster and backed it up with thier actions out of the limelight and got results. Graham’s “used car salesman” routine didn’t bother me as much as it bothered guys who spent more time, or live now, in PGH. I actually didn’t even think about it much because I was more concerned about the actual PITT football side of things.

I figured he was a football coach with a Texas sized ego and a Texas sized way of selling his program. I didn’t realize that was a cover for a scheming, lying, totally self-centered individual. There is a difference between the two and I was wrong some counts about Todd Graham.

To me, any of these three guys being mentioned feels like a breath of fresh air as opposed to what we know about the departed.

Comment by Reed 12.19.11 @ 5:26 pm

Just wondering… is the only reason some fans are so opposed to Cristobal because they think he’d leave early for another job?

Isn’t this pretty much an endorsement for how good he is as a coach, how people in the business feel about him and how successful he’ll be at PITT?

We wouldn’t be worrying about that at all if we felt he was a mediocre head coach.

Comment by Reed 12.19.11 @ 5:50 pm

EMel, I’m fine with a Pitt man. I just don’t see one on the short list of canidates that they’re interviewing for the job.

About Jackie Sherrill his 1st season as head coach at Pitt was in 1977 and was here though the 1981 season. He was a southerner and ultimately wanted to coach at Alabama.

Comment by Justinian 12.19.11 @ 6:03 pm

Nice “nail” to end the discuss, Reed. Reminds me of a TV commecial for some motel. Applause!!

Comment by CompLit 12.19.11 @ 6:11 pm

Reed for me yes cristobal was my first pick then i read the story some one posted on here abought his wife.
than i thoght abough TG and his wife and that made me think he would not stay.
so i looked into fickell more and lked what i read.
Ithink what i want you cant get any more i would like the coach that is at a school for 20 years wins 12 games in his forth year and adverages 8 wins a year for 20 years’
i want for pitt our own BEAR BRYANT or some one like that.

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.19.11 @ 6:58 pm


There is one coach with a history of loyalty available…

Comment by Stfan 12.19.11 @ 7:42 pm

Reed, you asked me yesterday what I thought of Cristobal after I had logged off. I have no favorites amont the alleged top 3 .. and if Terryl Austin was included, then would have no favorite among the Top 4. Maybe Cristobal and Fickell because of their HC experience (although Fickell only had 1 year in a top program .. but he was in the limelight so it may be like 2 or 3 years.)

Comment by wbb 12.19.11 @ 7:59 pm


“Just wondering… is the only reason some fans are so opposed to Cristobal because they think he’d leave early for another job?

Isn’t this pretty much an endorsement for how good he is as a coach, how people in the business feel about him and how successful he’ll be at PITT?”

NO – Example: Todd Graham. He left after one season and a 6-6 record for a team picked to finish 2nd in the BE. Most national folks think he is not that good of a coach.

My questions about Cristobal centers around him not really proving much. The guy has been a FIU for 5 season and had 1 (yes 1) winning record (2 if you throw in the .500 year and the bowl that he won). PLEASE NOTE THAT THE ONE WINNING SEASON THAT HE HAD (THIS YEAR) WAS WHEN FIU’S STRENGHT OF SCHEDULE (SOS) RANKED 119 OF 120 D1 SCHOOLS!

I know that it is an upstart program but he really hasn’t done anything of note. Seems to me like he is young and energetic and people want him to succeed. I hope that he does but his record doesnt suggest anything that would convince me that he is nothing more than just another “hail mary” pick.

2007 Florida International 1 11 0 (W’s .083)

PTS/G: 15.1 (120th of 120) ? Opp PTS/G: 39.1 (116th of 120)
SOS: 0.05 (68th of 120)

2008 Florida International 5 7 0 .417

PTS/G: 24.7 (69th of 120) ? Opp PTS/G: 28.3 (80th of 120)
SOS: -3.80 (107th of 120)

2009 Florida International 3 9 0 .250

PTS/G: 22.9 (88th of 120) ? Opp PTS/G: 35.3 (111th of 120)
SOS: -1.27 (82nd of 120)

2010 Florida International 7 6 0 .538

PTS/G: 28.8 (50th of 120) ? Opp PTS/G: 27.3 (65th of 120)
SOS: -5.08 (106th of 120)

2011 Florida International 8 4 0 .667

PTS/G: 26.2 (67th of 120) ? Opp PTS/G: 19.4 (16th of 120)
SOS: -7.13 (119th of 120)

Florida International 24 37 0 .393

please tell us what this guy has proven? He is young – yes.
He is a head coach – yes (not a very good won based on W’s and L’s I might add. Again, the one winning season was this past year when his SOS ranked 119 of 120 D1 schools.

Why are we throwing “hail mary passes” for H.C. at a BCS school that will soon be in the ACC ?

We have proven that we are willing to pay 2M. Add another 200-300K and you could get just about anyone to come. Why are we looking at this guy? I don’t get it.
The argument isn’t that he might leave. The argument is that he hasn’t proven that he can win even with a weak SOS and soft conference (Sun Belt)

Let me remind you of the teams in the Sun Belt Conference that he wasnt successful at dominating.

1 Arkansas State
2 Western Kentucky
3 Louisiana-Lafayette
4 Florida International
5 North Texas
6 Louisiana-Monroe
7 Troy
8 Middle Tennessee State
9 Florida Atlantic

The more you peal back the onion the more you realize that this decision is not grounded in anything other than a severe case of hope. We might has well throw a dart at the wall of D1 HC to get our pick

Comment by Pitt fan in Atlanta 12.19.11 @ 8:16 pm

SO here it is we gamble on the star who has not won big time but who has done good things every body says so.

or we gamble on the coachs from big time schools who havent won big time them selves but are from big time schools.
i say risk it all go with the starthat way we could go to the top or to hell lets risk it what say you. cristobal all the way .

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.19.11 @ 9:00 pm

stfan i know i think abought that i do

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.19.11 @ 9:03 pm

I am in my cups at this time EMel

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.19.11 @ 9:16 pm

@ Atlanta,

How is Teryl Austin any different? Dude doesn’t even have a record because he’s never been head coach…if that isn’t severe hope I don’t know what is.

Comment by sweet caroline 12.19.11 @ 10:03 pm

Wbb – I’m in the same boat. All three look OK yet none jump out at me.

I don’t see the attraction for Austin except for that he’s a PITT guy.

We’ll see, I think by the end of this week anyway.

Comment by Reed 12.19.11 @ 10:14 pm

@ sweet caroline

That is my point exactly. If we are going to use the HC experience as a criteria then let’s at least get one that has a resume of winning.

Otherwise everyone is in the same boat. Austin included.

Comment by Pitt fan in Atlanta 12.19.11 @ 10:16 pm

fan in atlanta,

This is what Cristobal had to deal with when he took the FIU job:

link to

“”What we didn’t know, we were pulled into a closed-door meeting and informed we were going to lose 30 scholarships,” he said. “We’re going to have the worst [Academic Progress Rate] in the country, and we were going to inherit five years’ probation from the former staff, and we were going to have 17 ineligible players come to us from the former staff. The list went on and on.”

And Cristobal went on and on.

“We didn’t have a practice facility and we were going to build one, [but] we had grass without a drainage system. The locker room had old lockers, fit for 55, 60 people. Then the weight room was going [woefully underequipped, in so many words], all for the first four years here at FIU.”

He’s done a good job basically starting from nothing.

Cristobal, Fickell, Chryst, I’d be happier with one of the first two but any of the three would be acceptable to me.

Comment by deepelemblues 12.19.11 @ 10:30 pm


Thanks for the article. It does say a lot about how far FIU as a university has come. Not sure what it says about Cristobal considering that he hasn’t done much in the W’s and L’s column. Clearly he has improved the academic performance of the current fball player which is a good thing.

I am not against Cristobal or anyone in particular. We simply need to align our expectations with our picks. You pick a guy with an unimpressive W’s and L’s record and you have to accept that it might be (probably is) a reach.
YOu pick a guy without HC experience and it a reach.
You pick a guy that has a record of winning and the odds are that he probably will do the same eventually.

I simply don’t see how any of the candidates mentioned (the 3 and others mentioned in the past) really distinguish themselves from one another. 1 H.C. (2 if you throw in the OSU guy) who hasn’t won. Multiple Coordinators that come from winning program but aren’t proven. Multiple NFL guys who aren’t proven.

Is the state of college football really that bad? As I have stated before. The most important thing to keep in mind with unproven coaches is to make sure that you are not falling prey to the “Peter Principle”. That is the risk. PITT has falling prey to the “PETER PRINCIPLE” many times over the last decade.

Perhaps this is the best that we can ask for…

Comment by Pitt fan in Atlanta 12.19.11 @ 10:51 pm

Reed and pitt fan and outhers you know what we forgot last week was a big vist week end at pitt for recruits but is not this week end a big vist week end also.
and if so they will want a coach in place or did i lose a week end in this mess.
it will be cristobal bye thur when is next home bb game the new coach will be there for sure.

Dominus Cimentarius
vertas et virtus

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.19.11 @ 11:06 pm

he will be there for the game on dec 23

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.19.11 @ 11:32 pm

No one and I mean no one in the athletic department at Pitt has any credentials to tout when it comes to football. 30 years of mediocrity or worse isn’t a fluke, it is a way of life.
There isn’t an employee there who has really worked anywhere else and the only world they know is this never ending merry go round that ain’t all that merry.
Sorry folks, it is business as usual in the athletic department at Pitt. “Us” versus “them”. They couldn’t sell water to a beached fish.
Our leader may be right about not relying on the Steelers for guidance, but the level of arrogance in the athletic “department” is real, albeit wholly unwarranted.
Hard to not get a messiah complex when you can turn 20,000 people attedning your games to a 41,000 announced crowd.
Some dude about a score of centuries ago made a big splash by turning the same trick with fishes and loaves. Only thing about him…he was a humble dude.

Comment by sfpitt 12.20.11 @ 2:57 am

Interesting blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A design like yours with a few simple adjustements would really make my blog shine. Please let me know where you got your theme. Thanks

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