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January 9, 2012

We are all pretending the BBVA didn’t happen. Probably for the best.

On Saturday, Pitt and head coach Paul Chryst officially announced six hires. The trinity from Wisconsin which everyone already knew: Bob Bostad,  Offensive Coordinator/O-line; Dave Huxtable, Defensive Coordinator; and Joe “Booger” Rudolph, assistant Head Coach/QB Coach.

Also confirmed, former Mt. Lebanon HS head coach Chris Haering, to handle the linebackers.

The new ones, though, are Jim Hueber to coach the tight ends and Todd Rice for strength and conditioning.

The reaction from Wisconsin fans are mixed. Not that it was surprising that Bostad left. Or even that Huxtable took the opportunity to be a DC once more. It is more the volume that left with Chryst. Especially Rudolph since he was one of, if not their best, recruiters.

When Chryst and Bostad left, they were wished well. Well-earned promotions, plus while excellent X-and-O coaches, they never had much of a reputation as recruiters.

Rudolph is a more frustrating loss for Wisconsin. They had already lost 3 assistants. Another (WR Coach DelVaughn Alexander) is heading to Arizona State — though whispers suggest that Alexander was encouraged to look elsewhere. With Rudolph gone they are down to one offensive assistant left on staff. And 3 weeks to National Signing Day. Despite Wisconsin’s success and back-to-back Rose Bowl appearances, there are a couple questions. This, despite the seeming logic of each coach’s individual decision.

The first four hires, generally have been well-received on the Pitt end. Quality coaches. Good reasons for optimism.

As for the other two to this point. Maybe more of a mixed bag.

Hueber definitely brings experience, and there is little doubt that he will make sure the tight ends know how to block.

Hueber most recently served five seasons with the Minnesota Vikings (2006-10) working with the offensive line. He spent 33 years coaching college football, including an exceptional tenure under Barry Alvarez at Wisconsin (1992-2005), where he helped the Badgers evolve into a national power. He spent his initial three years in Madison coaching the running backs before moving his positional focus to the offensive line.

Chris Dokish is unimpressed by the hiring of Hueber from a recruiting standpoint because Hueber is over 60. The flip side is that Hueber can sell the whole NFL experience aspect. The recruiting side, though, is valid. After Rudolph, there isn’t a hire to this point that I can point to who has an excellent recruiting reputation. X-and-Os look fantastic with this group to date. The talent, though, is still needed.

The common thread to these hires, though, is that Chryst knows and is familiar with them from the past.

Chryst, who was formally the offensive coordinator at Wisconsin, obviously worked with Bostad, Huxtable and Rudolph at Wisconsin, Hueber worked at Wisconsin with Chryst before he went to the Vikings, Haering and Chryst were graduate assistants at West Virginia under Don Nehlen together and Rice played for Chryst’s dad, who was the long-time coach at Wisconsin-Platteville.

Finally there is Strength & Conditioning Coach Todd Rice. He has been Notorious TOB’s (Tom O’Brien) S&C coach for the past 10 years at both Boston College and NC State.

The other issue will be winter conditioning for the returning players, but Chryst said he plans on giving them some time off since they have already missed the first few days of classes while preparing for this bowl game.

“It has been a long stretch for them,” Chryst said. “Todd [Rice] is one of the best at complete training.”

Outside of a few S&C coaches, most seem fairly interchangeable. Their philosophies may be different, but unless they have some sort of outsized personality or really connect with the players, you barely notice them.

The NC State fans don’t seem to have taken too much notice or concern about Rice leaving. Why? Probably because he left his job (fired?) there in December. That said, I’m a little nervous about the Rice hire. A BC guy I do know, sent me this message regarding Rice:

Your new S&C coach is going to drive fans nuts. He did at BC and NC St. All about stretching. Meanwhile your guys will seem flabby and slow.

How will we notice the change? We will see. The claim is that Rice is not rigid in his style of strength and conditioning — yet specific.

Even Rice comes to Pitt with no rigid way of training players.

“He has a very specific program that is about trying to help guys be the best athletes they can be,” he said. “Strength is a big part of it, but it’s flexibility and it’s nutrition. He is one of the best in just complete training.”

Several more spots to fill. Hopefully Chryst ventures a little bit out of his comfort zone.

We dam sure better get a second QB one is not enough and you are right abought offensive line men.
If they want caprara and rippy that is ok but that is 6 LB this year and what 5 last year how many LB do you need .

i would think OL men or QBs would be a biger worry or TE

Comment by FRANKCAN 01.10.12 @ 4:00 pm

I read a comment earlier about it being to late to get a Grad transfer. Didn’t Russell Wilson enter Wisconsin in the fall. I read he had two or three weeks with Paul chyrst. Not bad.

Comment by Why me 01.10.12 @ 4:14 pm

Yeah, just found the story about Wilson’s late transfer.

link to

Comment by Why me 01.10.12 @ 4:17 pm

Frank, i agree about qb and ol. Chad voytik is recruiting kyle dodson and jj denman and jj denman is very much in play. As for qb, ive said it before that option A should be to get a transfer Option B should be another qb in the class of 2012. I dont think pitt can afford to miss out on both of those.

Comment by Pk 01.10.12 @ 4:39 pm

To Paul Shannon at 9:41 PM last night

Who cares if a QB can’t read. I want a kid who can throw a leather football, run like a friggin deer, avoid sacks, make plays, AND beat out Tino. I don’t care if the QB comes from a walk on, a JC, a transfer, a prison, Ped State, the top lesbian rugby player, …. Whatever Just someone WHO CAN BEAT OUT TINO. Is that too much to ask for? But that is what I need to keep my hope alive, keep my faith for my Panthers, and to allow my to watch.

I have faith that the new coach will find that QB either hiding on our roster, in Voytik or someone new.

Comment by Dish 01.10.12 @ 4:58 pm

back at ya on the good day, FRANKCAN. keep us posted on the coaching staff, the recruits and any QB transfers.

Comment by bossdaws 01.10.12 @ 5:43 pm

Dish – I think that just by virtue of not having a “PITT man” as HC will wipe out any trace of cronyism with the QB position. Not having Todd Graham will wipe out any rigid “The QB has to be this and only this type” approach.

At last we have a chance to see a HC with a totally clean slate and no agendas to fulfill when it comes to picking a QB to run his offense.

I have no idea who that will be but just the fact that we’ll see an honest competition at that position is heartening.

Hey, Chryst may even decide to have his QB coach work extensively with Gonzalez to bring his passing up to par. Not sure that will happen of course but at least it could.

Maybe Chryst and Bostad see something in Myers where they want to give him the best shot possible, or even keep Anderson involved in some way.

There’s a lot of things that can happen and for the first time since 2008 I think we’ll see the process play out the way it should.

Comment by Reed 01.10.12 @ 6:47 pm

Hey guys, Dokish just reported,

“Apparently Paul Chryst is not done trying to raid the Wisconsin Badgers football team. J.J. Denman, a 6’6″ 310 lineman from Pennsbury HS in Fairless Hills, PA is expected to visit the Panthers this weekend, nearly three months after verbally committing to Wisconsin. Denman originally verbally committed to Penn State in May.”

If Chryst can add some more big signings to add to this years recruiting class, it could make a big difference.

Comment by Justinian 01.10.12 @ 6:48 pm

If Sunseri starts, we can’t be any worse off then we were in 2012. We’ll run the pro-set we go 8-5. Maybe even win our 2nd tier bowl game. Then we’re done with him. I could handle that.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 01.10.12 @ 6:57 pm

I meant 2010. We won’t be any worse then we were in 2010.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 01.10.12 @ 6:57 pm

no info just a guess bobby engram is a coach in sf knows coach brother lives in murrysville has been coach for 2 years could he be our next wr coach
also on staff is greg jackson who coached 1 yea at wisconsin is a DB coach is he just waiting for the playoffs to be over just a guess.

Comment by FRANKCAN 01.10.12 @ 7:02 pm

Justinian, i just saw that too. thatd be HUGE!! In every sense of the word!

Comment by pk 01.10.12 @ 7:57 pm

if he commits of course

Comment by pk 01.10.12 @ 7:57 pm

If Sunseri starts, we can’t be any worse off then we were in 2012. We’ll run the pro-set we go 8-5. Maybe even win our 2nd tier bowl game. Then we’re done with him. I could handle that.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 01.10.12 @ 6:57 pm

Yes we could be worse off, because we’ll be breaking in a new qb with no real backup option in 2013. You start Voytik this year(2012) against the lightweight non-con games. See how he performs, if he’s not up to the task, you always have Sir Tino to fall back on. You already know the limitations of Sir Tino. As far as 2nd tier bowl games, the BBVA Compass Bowl is not close to a 2nd tier bowl game, it’s more like a 4rth tier bowl game. And we can go 6-6 with Voytik just as easily as with Sunseri. And we all can live with possible growing pains of Voytik, I don’t think many of us will make it ANOTHER SEASON with Sunseri. The Bowl Tiers below:

1rst Tier Bowls: Sugar, Rose, Orange, Fiesta, & obviously the BCS NC game

2nd tier Bowls : Cotton, Outback, Capital One, Gator, Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl

3rd tier Bowls: Sun, Holiday, Champs Sports, Alamo, Belk, Insight, Ticket City

4rth tier Bowls: Liberty, Music City, Independence, Las Vegas, Hawaii, Pinstripe, BBVA Compass, Meineke Care Care (new one in Texas)

5th tier Bowls: Beef O’Brady’s, Kraft Fight Hunger, Military, Armed Forces, Poinsettia, Little Caesars, New Orleans, New Mexico, Famous Idaho Potato

*Note: Bowl game names listed in the 4rth & 5th tiers are subject to change at a moment’s notice.

* The BBVA Compass Bowl could have easily fallen into the 5th tier. Only the fact that PITT played in it the last 2 years kept it from being so.

* 34 Bowl Games and the NC game required more than a 2 or 3 tier bowl rating system of days gone by, when there were only 15-20 bowl games.
And you only had to go 3 tiers deep.

Comment by Emel 01.10.12 @ 10:07 pm

EMel, I think that when Chryst is looking at 2012 he has to consider other QBs than just Sunseri and Voytik.

I do believe that Myers will be given a fair shot at competing and that Anderson, if he’s still around can be in the three deep also. Plus, we have a good athlete in Gonzalez who, with dedicated passing coaching may surprise.

I’ll bet that Chryst’s first inclination is to redshirt Voytik and that would be best for PITT all around if he does. Personally, I wonder about just how good Voytik is going to be and I’ve a feeling that his potential, and our expectations, are being pumped up to unreasonable proportions – at least for 2012.

I’m sure it’s a common phenomenon with football fans but WE PITT fans tend to do this way too much and I think the beat writers contribute to it also. we did it with Bostick back in 2007; we did it with Sunseri big time back in 2009 & 10 and … and we did it with Myers this year and last.

Let’s not do it with Voytik. The odds are that he’ll be a decent college QB and those may be slim. Very few guys really excel at QB in college and even less do so thier freshman year.

I’m looking forward to seeing what Voytik can do of course, I think he’s talented. but I’m much more looking forward to see what our current crop of QBs can do in 2012 under a new coaching staff – especially Myers and yes, Sunseri as much as it hurts to type that.

Comment by Reed 01.11.12 @ 7:25 am

I would love to see Myers or Voytik win the starting job next year because I believe they both have better upsides than Tino … better arms, faster, etc.

However, if they don’t … don’t blame Tino or his dad.

Comment by wbb 01.11.12 @ 8:29 am

haha, okay emel … a third-tier bowl. Louisville won 7 games in the regular season and ended up in the Belk.

But I’m not here to get into a pissing match over the prestige of non-bcs bowls. And I’m a firm believer that unless a true freshman comes in and just kills it – which is TOUGH to do as a quarterback – it’s better for him to have year in the system. And I’ll take 8-5, which is what Tino did in 2010 and a redshirt freshman quarterback in 2012 over 6-6 with growing pains.

But hey, that’s just my opinion. And you’ve got yours. At the end of the day we are going to have to wait and see. Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Atlanta Panther 01.11.12 @ 9:05 am

Does anyone know when the Spring Blue-Gold game will be? When does spring practice start?

Comment by Panther Fan in Hoopieland 01.11.12 @ 10:14 am

Spring practice usually starts 2nd or 3rd week of March and ends mid April .. sorry, don’t have dates.

Comment by wbb 01.11.12 @ 11:18 am

Two unsigned high school all americans paul chryst should target are darius hamilton of new jersey & son of former pitt star keith hamilton also stefon diggs of maryland who started @ wide reciever with voytik in the army all american game !

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[…] was already a little worried about Rice. This sort of story doesn’t […]

[…] coach, Todd Rice, and WR Coach Bobby Engram. But even then, there is a rather familial connection. Rice played for Chryst’s father in college. Engram was an offensive assistant on the 49ers last season — where Chryst’s […]

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