December 26, 2011

I read a poll the other day which showed that the Green Bay Packers were now “America’s Team” beating out the Steelers in popularity across the U.S.  I bah humbug that.  However, I can say without hesitation that the University of Wisconsin’s football team just picked up thousands of new fans prior to their bowl game.  As our AD said “On Wisconsin, baby

The reason for that is our hiring of Paul Chryst, ex- Wisconsin Offensive Coordinator.

Pitt fans seem to have feelings ranging from “like but will withhold judgment” to being ecstatic that PITT hired him as the Panther’s new head coach.  I haven’t read or heard one negative thought about him since his initial press conference when he was introduced as the HC.  On paper it looks like a good hire and Paul Chryst himself looks to be the type of guy we want leading the football program.  He’s got some real work ahead of him though.

First off, he must reassure his returning players that he is both sincere about his wanting to be their coach and secondly he must allay their worries about the effects of what has hit them like a runaway freight train over the last 12 months.

Any change in a coaching staff is tough to deal with but these players are experiencing a string of events which may be unprecedented in college football.  The current roster members, less true freshman, have had, in essence, six head coaches in the last 384 days.  Unfreakinbelivable!

Wannstedt, Bennett, Haywood, Graham, Patterson and now Chryst.  I’d call in a Murder’s Row but the first five couldn’t shoot straight and the jury is out on the sixth.

Chryst has to be able to convince the players that things are going to be different going forward.  He has to be honest with them and with himself in acknowledging that it isn’t going to be either smooth or easy.  We PITT fans need to acknowledge that also else we set ourselves up for a big disappointment.

Secondly, he has to hire a competent and loyal staff.

In a large sense I feel that any program wanting to move from average to consistently successful is all about the things that happen off the field of play anyway.

It must hire the right HC then he has to pick a complementary staff that knows their business and can execute the HC’s orders; the staff being real educators and good coaches and having loyalty to the HC are what is needed.

It isn’t always best to hire old friends or people who he has worked with in the past to be your staff coaches.  It is the safest course of action sometimes but in eliminating other candidates who don’t have those ties right off the bat severely limits your talent pool to choose from.

I remember watching an interview years ago, I believe it was with Vince Dooley, on this issue.  He said that what he did sometimes was to call three of four established and successful HCs and ask them “if you were assembling a new staff today, who would it be?  Then he looked for names that showed up twice.

Third, he and his staff must identify and convince prospective recruits who fit their overall philosophy to come play football for the University of Pittsburgh.  I used the formal title for PITT because he has to get kids who are not only comfortable with him personally but who want to be PITT student athletes and represent the school in the best possible light.  This is a real tightrope for PC as he will have to sometimes balance talent and character when offering a HS student a football scholarship.

It isn’t possible to bat 1.000 when doing this type of recruiting but it is possible to do your best, with no short cuts, in finding this balance.  Believe me, there are those kids out there to be had.  From what he said, convincingly I may add, at his press conference I believe that Paul Chryst takes his role of an educator and as a role model as seriously as he does the head coach of the football team.

His recruiting pitch to the HS players and their parents has got to have as a main point his wanting these young men to have “the best four years of their life” at the University of Pittsburgh as he stated in his conference.  Notice that Chryst didn’t say the best four years of their football career.  He said best four years of their life.  That is a powerful promise to make to these kids and parents but it will sway a lot of quality athletes our way and they will be the type of person who others will want as a teammate.

Some problem children will slip through the cracks, that always happens but Chryst has to set getting ‘the best and the brightest’ as his goal.  Remember, PITT has already stated that we will honor all the scholarships offered to committed recruits.  However, the players who Graham targeted for the rest of the open scholarships may not be the same kids Chryst wants.  He has to be ready to fire off the starting line when the NCAA mandated ‘Quiet Period’ ends.

Some have asked why Chryst isn’t skipping the Rose Bowl to be here as soon as possible to start getting his PITT career going. PITT would never ask him to do that for a variety of ethical reasons.  But the biggest logical concern is, why set the new HC up for failure 11 days into his hire?

There is no upside doing that whatsoever.  We absolutely do not want his first PITT game to be a defeat with a following eight month wait until he can get a win to offset it. Besides, it is way more important that he and whoever he has on staff by that time are doing other necessary work in preparation for the off season.

A fact that people have overlooked is that a team is only allowed so many assistant coaches; the HC plus eight others for a total of nine (I believe).  We have five holdover coaches working from now until the bowl game is over.  So Chryst can have only himself and three others doing actual football work while on salary until the Jan 8th,  the day after own bowl game.  Those four guys are going to be busy as hell from Jan 3rd  to Jan 8th  and it’s more important that gets done correctly then it is to thrust him into what is basically a no-win situation coaching our bowl game

So, all that said, where does our new head coach stand right now?

IMO Chryst has an uphill struggle is one sense in that he has the last 30 years of PITT history, where the valleys outweigh the peaks, to shake free of before he’s able to raise this program up to the standards we all want to him to meet.  He has an administration that, contrary to some fan’s beliefs, are more than willing to support him in this.  He has a group of alumni and donors who love PITT football and support it but who also do not demand a say in what goes on within the program, which is vitally necessary for the HC’s comfort.   That’s a lot of help right there.

The winning recipe is to get a guy, keep him and his staff in place for a few years and give him the resources to get the job done.  It may not be national championship quality in the first few years but it will be a team that competes for conference championships on a regular basis.

So,  all in all it is a good thing that we hired Paul Chryst.  Now we wait to see what he can do for us.


DAN yes i want himm to coach the rose bowl to i never said i dident.
but i am worryed because after the game he has one week to recurit before a nother dead time and as of now there is only him and his OC TO DO IT.
the commits to keep on bord and new kids to talk to with only the two of them.
just saying he needs to hire people.
i could be wrong but did not TG have like 5 or 6 coachs in a week or so.

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.27.11 @ 10:49 pm

You’re probably right Frank. No , I wasn’t saying you didn’t want him to coach, I was just metntioning it.

I really don’t know, I guess I’ve never noticed that before.

I really don’t know what the usual time is in putting together a staff????

I agree, the sooner the better for the recruiting, you’re right.

Like I said, hopefully he has a bunch of people lined up that can help, as soon as they get the go ahead to be hired. Hopefully he has some more on board by the end of the week.

Comment by Dan 12.28.11 @ 3:31 am

Dan and Frank, I believe that Chryst isn’t even under contract with PITT yet. Otherwise how could he still be on UW’s staff for the Rose Bowl? I would think his contract will start 12:01 am on Jan 3rd. All the articles we have read about Bostad are stating “He is coming” not that “He’s been hired”

That said, there is nothing stopping he and Chryst from calling recruits as per Dan’s comment above. But he’s in Pasadena now with the UW team I believe, or at least splitting his time.

One other thing about this is that at this point PITT can have administrative staff recruiting and calling recruits. Just like last year, Bob Junko, who is a legend around PITT and the local HS football scene, and Director of football operations Chris LaSala can act as recruiters until Chryst gets here and he & his staff can actually knock on recruits doors for PITT.

You just know that Junko is burning up the phone lines getting in touch with all his HS coaching contacts and letting them know Chryst is the real deal.

The above is what I think is happening in some form or another, it would be nice if a local beat writer would look into the logistics of what is happening with this issue now.

Frank – I wouldn’t worry too much about this years recruiting class. Even if the worst case scenario is that our commitments stay intact and we swing and miss at some others we are still in very good shape. You always have to assume that you’ll experience some recruiting chaos when you have a complete staff change.

What is really unusual though is that this class, so far, seems intent on staying together and attending PITT.

But it isn’t unusual at all for recruits to wait until right up to the Letter of Intent week (ending on Feb 2 this year), before committing somewhere. It isn’t just four and five star kids who do that either… Jabaal Sheard was a three star and chose PITT on LOI Day and others have done the same.

Click on this link to our 2009 recruiting class and then click on “Commit Date” to get the latest ones on top.

Here’s who committed after Jan 1st:


Schlieper- 2/03 – LOI Day
Gordon – 1/30
Mason – 1/22
Nunez – 1/20
Hendricks – 1/11
Gray – 1/11

2008 – 6 players

2007 – 6 players

2006 – 5 players

2010 was a weird recruiting class with all the defections after DW’s firing so we had 17 kids verbal after Jan 1st – and that turned out to be a pretty good class which may actually be a great one in a year or two.

So, don’t worry too much about how late in the game it’s getting – Chryst and staff have more than enough time to close deals with the recruits they want.

Dan – you wrote “Ha ha, yes, Big Guy, I would buy you many beers with exceitement!!!” Are you Albanian or something – that sounds just like the 30+ spam emails I get every day.

Comment by Reed 12.28.11 @ 7:43 am

As Chas touched on last week, there seems to be a number of Pitt commits that are willing to stay .. including some key ones (Shell, Voytick to name only two).

One key possible commit who according to both Pantherlair and Pantherdigest continues to have High interest in Pitt is Ryan Watson. Funny thing is that has him as a 4-star OG while Rivals has him as a 4-star DE.

Wherever he plays, I’m sure he will be very welcome.

Comment by wbb 12.28.11 @ 9:33 am

I guess because everyone appears to be happy with PC (which IMO appears to be a good hire), I guess everyone is now ready to give Slimy Steve a pass. First, I don’t think this was all his hire, second, he has to go. I know Beano and respect Beano, but I’m sorry, The Pete was going to get built no matter what, so were the other facilities. Sorry, Steve is another TG and he has to go.

Comment by 13-9 12.28.11 @ 9:42 am

Zeise is he lost in the wilds of pa no new post in 3 days.

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.28.11 @ 10:14 am

13-9, I not sure you can say that the Pedersen Sports Complex would have been built without SP. The initial planning and fundraising was started in 1999 – three years before Pederson left for Nebraska.

You don’t take any forward actions on a project as large as this without having funding donations firmly in your pocket – and this is exactly what the AD is responsible for. I know for a fact that SP got that private money $$ obligated by the three main donors – Cost, Vartabedian and Urbanic, by his hard work.

These things don’t magically appear. the athletic department is just about solely responsible for it from start to finish. The Chancellor and the BOT really remain pretty hands off.

I don’t think you can say the events center would have been built either. Just as with the Sports Complex above all the initial planning and construction funding was done back in 1998 & 1999 when Pederson was the PITT AD.

link to

Look at the timeline of project contained in the link above. All the major checkpoints happen during SP’s first tenure here. The main this is that he got the Petersens to pony up $10M – which at the time was the largest gift ever to PITT.

Say what you will about SP’s hiring of Haywood and Graham and those are two black eyes, if Nordenberg thinks that is enough to warrant his dismissal I won’t argue too much.

But PITT football fans have real tunnel vision when it come to the Athletic department. Lets not wonder why he’s still at PITT and why Nordenberg wants to keep him on staff. Do not underestimate how well Pederson does in the 360 degrees of his job. He gets things done and we have some state of the art and beautiful facilities to prove it. Those things don’t just happen with the AD as a passive bystander, they just don’t.

Comment by Reed 12.28.11 @ 10:58 am

Reed can we have a new post abought football thi one is to long thank you

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.28.11 @ 11:53 am

There is absolutely no question that Pedersen’s first term here qualified him for being re-hired; he did many good things. However, since his return on 11/30/07, his record is much worst than the guy he fired (28-12 since Pedersen’s return.)

He must be credited for Pitt’s pending inclusion in the ACC, but I refuse to believe that it was more his doing than the ACC wanting Pitt .. the ACC held all of the cards.

I think Nordenburg should force Pedersen to resign and take an admin job .. possibly in fundraising.

Comment by wbb 12.28.11 @ 12:15 pm

Reed, more of a Baboo from Seinfeld.

I see one on the basketball post from “Alexander”.

“I’ve learned a lot from your blog here. Keep on going my friend, I will keep an eye on it”

LMAO, Reed, you and Chas have now have every reason to keep blogging, Alexander has given his approval, and, from time to time, he’ll do you the service of checking it out!!!!!!

Comment by Dan 12.28.11 @ 12:20 pm

Reed, thanks for the effort and insights. One last thought on QB’s for next year. Tino may suck, but he’s still the starter until someone else proves they are any better.

Comment by San Diego Panther 69 12.28.11 @ 4:07 pm

I haven¡¦t checked in here for a while as I thought it was getting boring, but the last few posts are good quality so I guess I¡¦ll add you back to my everyday bloglist. You deserve it my friend

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