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February 9, 2012

One Month In

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Players,Recruiting — Reed @ 9:14 am

It’s been a month since Paul Chryst has been hired by PITT to be the Head Coach of the football program and the dust from that decision has pretty much settled.  His hiring came after a tumulus 13 month period in which we saw a six year HC fired, his replacement arrested and fired after a few weeks on the job and a third and divisive HC hired just to do a disappearing act after 10 months.

After Haywood imploded his career and Graham thumbed his nose at us what PITT needed in its next HC was a stabilizing and more conservative man to get the football program back on an even keel. I think we found that in Chryst. Just as with any head coaching search the fans weighed in with their favorites and inevitably some were disappointed with PITT’s choice and others were made very happy.

Now, after his first month, it appears that there is a contingent of fans who just feel the need to criticize everything Chryst did or is rumored to have done.  There is a laundry list of negative issues that these fans hold onto, mostly with no firm facts to support them.  Here are a few of the complaints about Chryst and staff from before he was hired to the present.

1.  Chryst had no head coaching experience.  Neither did Jackie Sherrill and we seem pretty satisfied with his work at PITT, don’t we?  This was a valid concern as inexperience in being the Top Dog can come back and bite the program sometimes.  But Chryst had been an OC with a Pac-10 and then a Big Ten school and had done well at that.  Leadership is a quality one develops in many ways and everyone who assumes the prime position has had to gather those qualities along his professional path. Chryst was heartily endorsed for the position by his AD Barry Alvarez who is well familiar with PITT and WPA football.  This is a ‘wait and see’ issue but there is no foundation to think he’ll not be able to assume the mantle and succeed.

2.   Chryst can’t or won’t recruit because he doesn’t like it.  This one cracks me up.  Even though his last boss, Wisconsin HC Brett Bielema, clearly stated that Chryst wasn’t tasked with geographical recruiting and that Chryst was the QB recruiter and the “Closer” for other high value recruits.  Still, some PITT fans weren’t, and even now aren’t, convinced that Chryst can recruit well enough to win at PITT.

We just finished out the 2012 recruiting class which Chryst came into working on with one month to finish before LOI day.  At last count PITT was ranked 30th, 39th and 46th by the three major recruiting sites. Basically we ended up in the top third of all D1 football schools. In addition, Chryst not only held onto the core quality recruits who had verballed under Graham but was able to get four more highly sought after recruits to come on board.  This was with a program that had been in chaos for 14 months.  As Chas stated in a previous post – it was a good class even without the specter of the coaching changes.  Of course the true measure of a recruiter is how he does in his first full year with a season of play under his belt.

3.  Chryst isn’t personable enough to be in the big spotlight.  It amazes me up that some PITT fans are still bitching about this.  I read just yesterday that Chryst had fallen down on the job because he didn’t call a press conference to 1) announce the final recruiting class and 2) to break the news about Jacobson be awarded a sixth year of eligibility.  Really, that was written more than once on different websites.  This is along with the general bitch about his ‘wooden’ personality.

Of course, the fact that Chryst himself said at his initial press conference that he would let his actions speak for themselves in place of hollow shouting from the mountain top is lost on some people.  As is the fact that PITT held a LOI Day event, attended by about 1,000 people and in addition held a press conference before that to discuss the recruiting class with the media.

Honestly, it would be ludicrous to hold a press conference to comment on one personnel issue.  Talk about getting into the weeds.  Chryst just doesn’t demand the spotlight as Graham did.

Last but not least there is my favorite…

4.     Chryst can’t hire quality coaches, took too long to fill his staff and then can’t hold onto the coaches he has hired.  This is an issue that can’t be measured at this point in any way at all.  But I’ll say this, to get Bob Bostad (more on him later) as OC, Dave Huxtable as DC and Joe Rudolph as QB & recruiting coordinator, hired away from a very successful Big Ten program ain’t chopped liver.  Getting a PA state legend and long time NFL star in Bobby Engram to coach the WRs, a position in real need of tutelage, was a great move also.  Still the fans point to his other staff as examples of dropping the ball according to PITT’s need.

I’ll admit hiring Inoke Breckterfield away from Oregon State is a strange move but perhaps there is method in Chryst’s madness.  It never hurts to have at least one crazy Hawai’ian around if only to be the heavy hand of discipline when the players start drifting toward Perdition.  They don’t hesitate to throw the first punch.  I know, I lived there and experienced it firsthand… but you should see the other guy.

Perhaps my favorite bit of fan panic along these lines was when the rumor of Bostad going to the NFL Bears as their OC was circulating.  The fear among the Great Pessimists was palatable and Bostad’s imminent departure was blamed for PITT not landing all of the HS Offensive Lineman east of the Mississippi.  Bostad’s continual denials that he was leaving was just a smoke screen of course, why stay at PITT when you could coach in the NFL?  Inferiority complexes run rampant I say.  So he stayed, which a reasonable mind would see as loyalty to both PITT and Chryst.

Apparently losing Eddie Faulkner was a devastating blow also and can only be remedied by rehiring DW’s RB coach David Walker who singly handedly molded McCoy, Lewis and Graham from the raw untalented clay that they were in HS.

But Wait!!  There is one more but not about Chryst.  One poster on another site has continually asserted that because Rushel Shell didn’t like to lift weights in HS he’ll be a bust in college… seriously.  Personally, I don’t care if Shell bangs his unhelmeted head against a brick wall 40 times before kickoff, something he’s doing has worked pretty well so far.

The bottom line with all of these complaints is that we fans won’t know the success or failures of them until there is actual and concrete evidence to point to and talk about.  Of course, that won’t stop the Nattering Nabobs of Negativity’s long running sideshow.

Thanks Chas.

Comment by Reed 02.09.12 @ 9:27 am

When does spring camp start. Then we won’t worry about the coach and the pessimistic fans can start bashing the QB’s again.

Comment by Tackle made by Hugh 02.09.12 @ 9:28 am

Let’s just jump to the ACC and not play the conference USA (New Big East). The last thing this program needs is to lose to Fordam or Toledo or APP. St like Michigan did.

Comment by Tackle made by Hugh 02.09.12 @ 9:33 am

Hugh, last year PITT started the spring practices on March 14th concluding with the Spring Game on April 16th.

I would think the time frame would be March 12th to the game on April 14th (a Monday and Saturday respectively).

So, only a month before we can start talking about real football news.

Comment by Reed 02.09.12 @ 9:42 am

When Pitt hired Sherrill as head coach, he was hired away from the head coaching job at Washington State. Just a single year of head coaching experience, but not a good example of an assistant getting his first chance at being the head guy.

Comment by KeithS 02.09.12 @ 9:43 am

To be fair, Pitt’s track record of late has been terrible. Consequently the negative doomsday Pitt fans, like my father, have been right the last 18 months before things happened.

I like to stay positive and wish for the best. My father wants Pitt to avoid mistakes.

My stay positive approach hasn’t worked since after the Bowling Green loss and and before the 35 point blown lead against the Bearcats.

Comment by Freebird 02.09.12 @ 9:49 am

Whether it’s Haywood, Graham, Chryst or Urban Myer, no coach can be fairly judged when taking on a new head coaching position until at least his 3rd year. Chryst had a month to put a new staff in place, keep the top recruits comitted and attract new ones. And even now, what he did in his first month can’t be fairly judged.

Would I feel better if his staff had more eastern and southeastern ties? Sure, but again, let’s not panic. Remember, exactly a year ago, most people on this site were all totally enamored with the new coach and his staff.

Comment by wbb 02.09.12 @ 9:50 am

Reed, you gotta stop reading all of Joe D’s comments. Most negative Pitt fan ever. Glad he doesn’t post on this site, although I can’t figure out how he missed this one.

Comment by longsufferingpittfan 02.09.12 @ 10:03 am

All except you and DRW huh?? Didn’t fool you!!

Comment by Dan 02.09.12 @ 10:05 am

Let’s just hope Joe D doesn’t find this site. He’s already contaminated Panthers Prey after being a pain in the ass on Smizek’s blog.

Comment by TX Panther 02.09.12 @ 10:08 am

1. A Coordinator at an AQ school and a HC at an FCS school both come with question marks. Can the coordinator make the move to the Head Coaching spot? Can the HC at an FCS school handle the added pressure/scrutiny that comes with an AQ school? We tried the latter, let’s see how the former plays out.

2. I’ve read a couple of things about Chryst regarding recruiting. One article said that other members of the staff would do most of the leg-work and Chryst would be called in to seal the deal with recruits. (It’s probably been weeks since I’ve read that so I can’t provide the source) PC gets a pass for this past year, next year will be more of an indication whether he can recruit from a HC position.

3. The troll in the hoodie up north does quite well in the NFL with little to no personality. The NFL casts a much bigger spotlight than Pitt.

4. Bostad, Huxtable and Booger were quality hires. But since they were already very familiar with PC, can they count? Engram was a great player and hopefully will be a good coach. We won’t know this until some of the current staff leaves and PC has to hire again.

But wait!!! – Herschel Walker never lifted weights either…..just sayin…..

Comment by pghFred 02.09.12 @ 10:18 am

hah, I thought exactly about Joe D when I read this article. Actually Chas once chastised me on twitter for reading Smizik’s comments section. I have since tried to stop that bad habit!

Comment by ajb240 02.09.12 @ 10:23 am

I have no problem with Coach Chryst. From what I’ve seen and heard, he sounds like a good guy.

He was that at LOI Day and he said “when you get a head coaching job, you want it at a place like PITT. You have to understand the history, the tradition and honor of being at PITT.”

And that kind of sold it for me. He’s not WPA born and bred, but being for a place like Wisconsin, it’s as close as you’re gonna get.

Comment by Lou Gagliardi 02.09.12 @ 10:31 am

why is Smizik’s comments section inferior to this one? Because it brings in more subjective opinions than this one does .. which may differ with those of Chas and Dokish?

Sounds like poliitcal shills telling its followers not to pay attention to TV / radio shows and publications of the other side.

Comment by wbb 02.09.12 @ 10:38 am

wbb, are you serious? No offense, but to call some of the vitriol and general nonsense posted by the commenters on Smizek’s (and to a lesser extent Zeise’s) blog “subjective opinion” really is funny! Many of the posts there read as though they are simply trying to get a rise out of the author or other commenters. Unfortunately, much of the time it seems to work…

Comment by JCE 02.09.12 @ 11:49 am

If Pitt is able to go to the ACC next season, it would be able to pick up a few of the recruits from Rutgers that new feel betrayed with the exodus of the members of the coaching staff, and may be looking else where.

Comment by markp 02.09.12 @ 11:49 am

Smizik is such a Paterno buttboy. That is why I don’t read him.

Comment by Houston Panther 02.09.12 @ 12:00 pm

JCE, all I know is that a SUBSTANTIAL more number of commenters on Smizik’s and Zeise’s blog ( as well as callers-in to 93.7 The Fan) had Graham immediately pegged as the fraud he turned out to be. The comments here IMO are at time too passionate to give a subjective opinion and often go over the top … either positively or negatively .. about a subject.

I also believe that subject matter is more objectively presented on those blogs than here.

Comment by wbb 02.09.12 @ 12:11 pm

Reed, Great Post! You are right on! Sometimes we have too many AD wannabe’s commenting negatively because a coach is not meeting their perceived timetables for success. I ask an open question to all of those AD’s. ” Who has more to gain and lose in this staff’s success, you, the fan or the coaching staff?”

Comment by jw in Raleigh 02.09.12 @ 12:14 pm

Yes, Mr. Smizik went way out of his way to criticize Pitt (by association) again/ He must peruse the nation’s sports pages to pick irrelevant tidbits abour formerPanthers. The Kaplan article he presented today is an exanple. The guy made a big goof, recognized it and apologized for it.So be it. I’m thankful Bob Smizik is not my priest or I’d rot in purgatory. Rev. George in Columbus

Comment by Rev. George Mehaffey 02.09.12 @ 12:20 pm

There should be a Pitt blog that sends out positive vibes to everyone on it.
There is too much negativity surrounding Pitt(me included) but I for one am determined to be more positive and supportive, then again I kinda like what JoeD has to say.

Comment by frankarms 02.09.12 @ 12:34 pm

Maybe somebody above already pointed this out: the author was wrong when he said jackie Sherrill had no HC experience. He had at least one full year as Wazzu’s HC.

Not much, agreed … but more than zero.

Comment by Imma Man! Im 40! 02.09.12 @ 12:37 pm

wbb — can’t disagree that the crowd here may be somewhat less objective than the average online Pittsburgh sports fan. But at least the discussions here tend to be just that — instead of devolving into mudslinging contests as they frequently seem to on Smizek’s blog (or Pantherlair for that matter.)

Comment by JCE 02.09.12 @ 12:45 pm

It’s been a rough 18mths & the hoop team is not helping the situation. As an Alum i am behind PITT 1000% but man it’s frustrating @ times. Be positive==always== Just win baby!! Hail to PITT!

Comment by DC33 02.09.12 @ 12:50 pm

JCE, the mudslinging here is reserved for the Hoopies, Marinatto … and whoever is the Pitt antichrist at the moment

Comment by wbb 02.09.12 @ 12:51 pm

The author forgot to dissect one concern that’s legit (at least to me). Chryst’s moves so far remind me a LOT more Paul Hackett’s death valley regime than Jackie Sherrill.

The fact that the author didn’t know Sherrill had HC experience suggests maybe he’s too young to remember Hackett. But I do, I lived it. Hackett dug such a deep hole in such a short time that it took Pitt more than a decade to repair the damage.

But Chryst & Company have a ways to go to be considered even adequate recruiters. His comment that he doesn’t recruit, all he does is issue invitations and open the door (and, presumably, stand back to avoid being trampled in the inbound stampete…) was curious at best, at least disconcerting and naiive, and perhaps even foolish and alarming. I’d like to hear him explain himself, in case it was taken out of context.

The author conveniently neglects to mention that more 3- and 4-star recruits fled the incoming class than he/they backfilled and replaced. However, I will give him a pass for the first year on such short notice.

Comment by Imma Man! Im 40! 02.09.12 @ 12:53 pm

one more thing JCE .. if the Boston College AD didn’t nix the UConn invite from the ACC, the people here on this site would have a much different opinion of the ACC and Syracuse and much more defensive of the BE

Comment by wbb 02.09.12 @ 12:55 pm

Imma Man – I’m probably older than you are. I just spaced out on the fact that Sherrill was at WA State for one year.

I was serving overseas during the Hackett years so wasn’t too aware of what was happening at the time…but how in the world does 30 days of Chryst’s work, with no practices, scrimmages or games, possibly remind you of the failures of Hackett’s three year tenure? That’s a real reach and is exactly what I was talking about when I said that some PITT fans look for things to complain about.

What you and others fail to even consider is that it wasn’t only a numbers game for Paul Chryst this year, otherwise he would have issued all his scholarships available. To place importance on the difference in stars between the players who left and the players who come aboard means that you value that and disregard whatever wants and needs Chryst and staff were also trying to fill.

But regardless, it is literally impossible to accurately judge this recruiting class as to how much they are going to contribute until they actually do something.

I also wonder why so many PITT fans are so quick to dismiss the fact that this class was held together so well after Chryst was hired. Just two Januarys ago we watched a whole recruiting class disappear. I understand that fans love to point to Voytik and Shell calling the other recruits but if you actually believe that would have kept recruits coming to PITT if they didn’t want to play for the newly hired HC then I think that is naive.

Its like the situation with J.J. Denman after he committed to Rutgers. Chryst gets an in-home visit scheduled then Denman’s father called and asked that PITT not come because he ‘didn’t want his kid pressured’. OK, what do we expect Chryst to do after that, break down the back door with the PITT Recruiting SWAT Team? It isn’t like he didn’t keep a full court press on there.

I’m not saying he lit up recruiting this season but he did a decent job of keeping the class together and in landing some highly sought after recruits in positions of need. In doing so he should be afforded a modicum of respect for his efforts and results, but that seems to be just too much for some fans to do.

Comment by Reed 02.09.12 @ 2:46 pm

Not sure why everyone busts Paul Hackett. Valerie-Briscoe-Something-or-other, a Vice chancellor of some sort of crap, raised the admissions standards during Gottfried’s and Hackett’s reign. She wanted to make Pitt he next Harvard. That said, Pitt couldn’t recruit.
I’m not saying that Hackett was a great coach – clearly, he was terrible at USC – but it wasn’t all his fault.

Nevertheless, Chryst should not be compared to Paul Hackett.

Comment by Gas 02.09.12 @ 2:49 pm

Didn’t the gets of JP Holtz, Desean(sp) Rippy, Bam Bradley & Terrel Jackson(prolly missing someone) far outweigh whoever we lost? The OL we lost to WVcc wasn’t very highly rated, see I forgot his name already. And the others are in name lost non-retention as well.

The problem with the PITT boards, wherever they are is: they seem to attract a fair amount of trolls. And some of these trolls are pretty well cloaked, well others aren’t.

I will not criticize the new coach until he makes that fateful decision, and we all know what that will be. haha

Comment by Emel 02.09.12 @ 2:55 pm

I remember her, she was Vice-Chancellor in charge of making PITT football irrelevant, again.

Her uncle held the same position at PITT from 1964-1972.

What’s scary is there is somebody like that, lurking around Oakland no doubt.

Comment by Emel 02.09.12 @ 3:03 pm

Emel – is that fateful decision you refer to either a quick kick on third down or a punt when inside the opponent’s 40 yard line?

Comment by Reed 02.09.12 @ 3:10 pm

@Reed… & no.

Agree with you that football staffs always need at least one Inoke on them.:-) I thought he came from UCLA though. Speaking of UCLA, they have always stuck with their script Ucla on their helmets. Something Pitt needs to reconsider and Chryst should re-install at Pitt since he seems to have an understanding of our vast tradition.

Comment by Emel 02.09.12 @ 3:23 pm

Joe D. was one source of inspiration but his thoughts are echoed by others also.

I can’t really seem to remember any post of his that was positive toward PITT football in any way. I’m sure there is one out there but I can’t recall it.

That one poster, “Speakyourmind” on Scouts, who railed endlessly about Chryst’s inability to draw anyone to PITT, disappeared pretty quickly once Chryst landed Lewis and Holtz and was looking good for getting Rippy, Bradley, and Jackson also.

Imma – I’ve read and heard that quote from Chryst and I do think you’re taking it way too seriously. It was obvious to me that he was generalizing and saying he wanted the University and the football program to be just as big a drawing point as anything else in recruiting is. He makes a good point as there is some work to do in that area after the last 13 months. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater with that turn of phrase.

Also, don’t hold your breath for an explanation from Chryst either, it isn’t that important for him to clarify what he said just to satisfy some fans. He’s not going to be jumping in front of a microphone every 30 seconds like his predecessor did.

Again, if his recruiting sucks next year then you’ll actually have something to point to.

Comment by Reed 02.09.12 @ 3:30 pm


I never heard the story (before now) about Pitt raising its admission standards, and I’m an alum. That would be a factor.

I’m not saying Chryst & Company can’t recruit (at least not yet), jury’s still out. But I do wonder why he (reportedly) didn’t pick up the phone for weeks after he got hired, and I wonder why he’s hired some assistants without any ties to Pitt’s natural recruiting base. Think Urban Meyers was slow to hit the ground running in the recruiting department?

I’d rather see a guy with Texas or California ties than Idaho, Montana or Hawaii. May as well have a guy with ties to Argentina.

TX & CA are so brimming with talent, at least some would naturally make their way to Pitt just for numbers. Even Boise lives on recruits from elsewhere (especially CA), and they’re in Idaho.

And I’d really like an explanation to his comment that he doesn’t believe in selling to a kid, he just offers and opens the door. That was such a ridiculous comment, it must be a hoax, right? But if not, uh oh…

In short, I hope Chryst “gets it” that recruiting is everything in CFB. But classes in the 40s & 50s simply won’t cut it if the goal is to thrive in the ACC. This year will be a better judge of their collective abilities (fingers crossed).

Tell ya one thing, tho: If Chryst simply benches Tino Sunseri and plays anybody else at QB, he’ll win my undying allegiance even if we go 0-fer.

Comment by Imma Man! Im 40! 02.09.12 @ 3:43 pm

Urban Myers was hired in late Novemmber and OSU got a waiver for him to recuit as the head coach even though Fickell was acting head coach until bowl game. OSU AD knows how to get the biggest bang for his buck .. plus face it .. Myers has 2 national titles and has the street cred.

Comment by wbb 02.09.12 @ 4:48 pm

Pitt fans have a right to be at least somewhat skeptical of coaching hires. There have only been two good ones (Majors1 and Sherrill) since Johnny Michelosen left in 1965.
Hopefully, Chryst will be the third.

Comment by Houston Panther 02.09.12 @ 5:42 pm

Houston, I’m more skeptical of PITT’s football program as a whole than I am of the individual hires themselves. Also, I don’t like to convict someone until I have grounds to do so.

There is 360 degrees to coaching college football and recruiting is one of them. It is very important no doubt, but other things have to fall in place for a successful team and program. First off, recruits have to have a favorable impression of PITT, then they have to want to be here to play football for a specific coach.

I’m sure Chryst, and anyone else who coaches major college football, understands that recruiting is important. The rumor that ‘Chryst didn’t call anyone for weeks’ isn’t necessarily true. There were some specific recruits he didn’t call – William Parks being one of them. After Parks said that in an interview the message boards & blogs lit up and all of a sudden Chryst didn’t know how to dial a phone. It became evident down the line that most of the recruits Chryst didn’t call right away were the ones he wasn’t hot and bothered to keep as prospects.

However, there were numerous recruits saying after that that they had received calls within a few days of his being hired. I do believe it isn’t one of those situations where we know exactly what happened behind the scenes. If it is something he needs to work on I’m sure he can learn lessons from his past actions just like anyone else.

Comment by Reed 02.09.12 @ 7:05 pm

Everyone is blowing cheysts “open the door” comment WAY out of proportion. What i take from that is that hes going the get the kids that want to be at pitt, not a bad thing. Also, the fact that chryst was in charge of recruitibg quarterbacks ( the most important position on the field, ps, he got sone darn good ones ) and was the closer for a national contender tells me that he can recruit. On rivals it says that robert foster is pitts top target which is promising because that tells me that chryst and his staff are going to treat him like what he is, their primary target.

Comment by Pk 02.09.12 @ 7:16 pm

Wbb it is dark out side what is that you say no it is light out side. that is abought par

Comment by FRANKCAN 02.09.12 @ 7:17 pm

Reply to Pk’s “What i take from that is that hes going the get the kids that want to be at pitt, not a bad thing.”

Agreed. But I cannot recall the last time I saw a 2-star or better recruit who listed only Pitt in the schools he was considering. And maybe that’s because there never was one, I really can’t say for sure.

Here’s what I can say for sure: the problem is, most kids that want to go to Pitt don’t know it yet. Instead they list anywhere from 3 to 23 schools in which they have medium or better interest. So you gotta sell them, explain why Pitt’s it for them.

And if we don’t, you can bet the house that, for example, Urban Meyer is explaining until he’s hoarse why the Bugeyes are his best choice.

I just hope that Chryst understands that. We’ll see soon.

Comment by Imma Man! Im 40! 02.09.12 @ 8:13 pm

Pitt is an urban school with a quasi-apathetic fan base. It can be a tough sell to be sure, but I don’t think that’s breaking news. Anyone who comes here and has watched a single noon game against UCONN with 20,000 in the stands understands this, and I suspect that applies to coaches as well as players. It won’t change near term, but we still managed to get some pretty good athletes on the team every year, so I’m sure Chryst has as good a shot as anyone to recruit some quality talent.

What I do like about Chryst is that he’s coming from a school that wasn’t exactly the pinnacle of Big Ten football not so long ago. Wisconsin is definitely not Michigan/Ohio State/Michigan State. I’m not even sure they’re Penn State. More like a Perdue/Indiana/Illinois. Not too many athletes dream of playing Big Ten football in Wisconsin. It’s Wisconsin – they’re famous for cheese. At least not until relatively recently. The coaching staff managed to take Wisconsin to the top of the Big Ten heap, and they had to recruit against the big guns in the conference. Did they get the best of the best? I’m guessing not very often; those guys wen’t to Ohio State to sit on the bench behind the best of the best of the best. But the Wisconsin staff managed to coach those guys up a level or two, and things started to turn around. Recruits got a little better, and the coaching consistency remained, and all of a sudden – hey look, we’re in the Rose Bowl.

It’s not that simple; not even close, but can you tell I’m really, REALLY hoping against hope that Pitt doesn’t f*$k this up again???

Comment by thestumper 02.09.12 @ 10:14 pm

I’ll withhold my opinion about our new HC until the actual results of the season begin to be tallied, as long as he never utters the excuse that “Tino gives us the best chance to win”.

“We don’t have anybody else to play quarterback” would be a more acceptable comment if Chryst decides to stick with Sunseri again in 2012.

Comment by Dr. Tom 02.10.12 @ 7:19 am

From what I understand about recruiting in the Big10 was that once a recruit gave a oral commitment the other schools laid off.
Maybe Coach Chryst doesn’t realize that this isn’t the way it is anywhere else and has to fight harder. More cutthroat than what he is used to.
His approach may work(hopefully)in the future after he brings Pitt back to prominence, but right no he’ll have to fight like hell.

Comment by frankarms 02.10.12 @ 7:43 am

frankarms, That gentleman’s agreement in the “Big Whatever” may have been somewhat valid in the “olde days” befote “Suburban Urban” arrived, but it is passe now. Just ask Penn State, Michigan State and Wisconsin. What do you think Bielsma of the Badgers is complaining about. Mr. Meyer is doing exactly what he sais he would do. Talk about “high octane” ! Ha! The Buckeye coach is nuclear. I’m sure the Chryst staff is aware of that. It is hard, however, to compete against a filled 108,000 stadium and no competition from a pro team. Rev. George from Columbus

Comment by Rev. George Mehaffey 02.10.12 @ 7:55 am

Considering that every school loses recruits to other schools… PITT to PSU, PSU to OSU, PSU to PITT, etc… There is every reason to believe that won’t come to a screeching halt no matter who is coaching where.

What will be the real test of recruiting IMO isn’t the superstar kids DW, Graham or Chryst land but the three and two star kids who are coachable and develop the way we want college players to develop.

If you look back on PITT’s recruiting since Wannstedt was hired we have had nine 5* recruits:

06 – Byham, Dickerson

07 – Jacobson, Bostick and McCoy

08 – Hale, Nix and Baldwin

10 – Clemmings

Out of those nine how many were great “STAR” players? I’d say two in McCoy and Baldwin. Byham and Nix were very good players and four year starters. Jacobson is a decent starting player who has never played to the hype. Dickerson didn’t shine as a 5* should when he was tried out on offense early in his career and did nothing on defense. Bostick, Hale and Clemmings made minimal impact, if any, over their time at PITT.

But the bulk of our successful players and even some of our biggest stars were not 5* players but solid 3* or 2* players who exceeded their potential – Dion Lewis, Sheard, Romeus, Street, Shanahan, Holley, Houser, etc….

Those are the kids who are going to make or break a successful team, the ones who don’t get national recognition but play well within their responsibilities. The problem with PITT football in the latter years is that we relied on a superstar to carry the day and the rest of the team just wasn’t solid and deep enough to win the necessary games.

We had great running backs with minimal passing to offset their playmaking. We had OLs that were paper thin after the starting five. We didn’t have a center to save our lives for the most part. We had great DL play with average LB play behind them. We fielded QBs who were average at best and subpar under pressure and the one JUCO QB we brought in was a poor fit all around and couldn’t throw a pass at the college level.

IMO it was as if DW and Graham gambled on their star RBs to be the offense and couldn’t field a well rounded team to support those star’s efforts.

Russell Wilson played superb Heisman worthy QB for the Badgers last year but he had a starting supporting cast that was talented and effective across the board and that’s what got them to the BCS level.

Long way to make a point but I’ll be satisfied if PITT gets its fair share of 5* kids. However, I want to see the play quality of all the starting 22 players raised with this new coaching staff when they target and get the players they want on the roster and then coach them to be the best they can be. I don’t care if they are 4* or 2* just as long as they produce as coached.

Comment by Reed 02.10.12 @ 8:56 am

Curvin Richards was at Pitt when I was there and I knew him, he never liked to work out either, just give him the ball and let him run. he seemed to do well woth that, and his successor in Curtis Martin was rumored to not be a gym rat either. If there is any truth to either, like Shell, just give him the ball and let em run!!!!

Comment by blaise 02.10.12 @ 10:45 am

Pitt has never taken the time, money or effort to build a “program”. It takes all 3. In the past, we have lived from coach to coach and in simple terms, that is a flawed business plan. No one will stay as a HC at any school for very long. With paterno dead, Beamer is probably the last of the Mohicans.
The correct business plan is to brick by brick, build the program by including as many people in the process as is possible, asking for, receiving and then spending wisely money given by alums and friends and consistently given the coaching staff the tools with which to work.
TIME is the hardest of all because people lose patience and perception is reality. It is more difficult to do it now than ever before, but it will be harder 5 years from now so no need to despair…we are in the game.
The bad moves by the athletic department are out there for everyone to see, but behind the scenes, good moves are being made…not enough IMO, but they are a start. Here are some good moves;
New soccer, baseball, softball facilities on campus. Wrestling, gymnastics with an old home suited to them specifically. Turnover in the athletic department from legacies that Pitt refused to terminate, THE MOVE TO THE ACC..
NEEDED MOVES: A plan? Does the ADepartment have a Plan? Fail to plan, plan to fail…If you want more money you have to show people what your plan is. Walt Disney did with his lenders when he planned Epcot.

Comment by SFPitt 02.10.12 @ 11:19 am

BTW: Just for comparison I just looked up Wisconsin’s recruiting over that same time period as above…

one 5* player, an OT.

Comment by Reed 02.10.12 @ 4:45 pm

Imma Man

I think the quote you are attributing to Chryst about recruiting and “opening the door” was in fact his comments about how impressed he was with the turn out for the signing day event. Paraphasing his comments, he said it was not something they were selling people to attend, we just open the doors and they came. So that quote was about the fan support for National Letter of Intent day, not his recruiting plans.

Comment by PantherDann 02.10.12 @ 8:51 pm

Emel, our new DL coach is himself Hawai’ian, that’s what I meant.

I’m ambivalent about the hire and it is rather head shaking but Chryst was an offensive coach at Oregon State when Breckterfield was playing DL there and obviously was impressed.

Breckterfield had a great career there:

link to

Comment by Reed 02.11.12 @ 8:11 am

One last comment about the infamous quote of Paul Chryst’s recruiting. Here is that actual quote from the press conference held before the PITT LOI Day event…

“Our approach isn’t to sell, it’s to offer,” Chryst said at a news conference Wednesday. “We’re offering the opportunity to be a part of our team and a university like Pitt.”

… and on the face of it it sounds pretty lukewarm but I do think those who are critical, or worried about, Chryst’s recruit style are taking that turn of phrase way too literally. He’s talking about PITT itself more than he is about actual recruiting strategies. Supporting that thought he said this about Rushel Shell:

“Everyone knows about Rushel Shell,” Chryst said. “The thing that I love about that is he knew Pitt was the place for him long before we were around.”

In context with his other remarks you can see that he’s inferring that both the football program and the University itself are attractive to prospects. He could have said the same about Voytik, Bisnowaty, and the others who didn’t decommit. The fact that they had no idea who they would be playing for means that they were sold on PITT instead of whoever the HC would be.

A few minutes later we had this quote…

Six WPIAL players signed with the Panthers. In addition to Bisnowaty, Rippy and Shell, J.P. Holtz (Shaler), Mike Caprara (Woodland Hills) and Trenton Coles (Clairton) will be on the Panthers roster next season.

“I think that’s everything,” Chryst said of holding on to local recruits. “That’s got to be the lifeblood. That meant a lot and that’s something that we will continue to put a lot of effort and certainly make that a priority.”

He also talked (on the video) about the hard work that Junko and LaSala did in laying the groundwork for a new coach to benefit from.

I understand that there are concerns about his recruiting but guys, he’s not stupid, he knows what level of effort it takes to have a successful recruiting program. He’s new to PITT and has, at every public opportunity, taken the moment to compliment the existing football program and the University itself. He did this at his LOI Day press conference and, IMO, his exact phrasing has been taken way too literally.

Comment by Reed 02.11.12 @ 8:32 am

PantherDann – I saw what you were referencing but if you have a chance to read that paragraph closely (sorry guys, Scouts pay-board article) you’ll see that it was SP saying that about the LOI Day event in his own press conference…

The only thing in that paragraph regarding Chryst was that he said “That was really fun”

Apparently SP borrowed that phrase from Chryst’s presser a week ago.

Comment by Reed 02.11.12 @ 9:05 am

1. Knew it was JoeD right away. He is the main reason I don’t bother reading Smizik anymore. “PA kids aren’t fast enough. My morals are better than anyone’s, I know everything there is to know about track and speed.” there, that is all you need to know about JoeD.
2. I took Chryst’s I don’t “recruit” comment as a backhand against Graham. “your last coach was all talk. We’ll let our actions speak as least as loud as our words” was the way I read it. you might be able to sell without a product in the short term, but in the long term you have to have something of value to sell.

Comment by StFan 02.12.12 @ 12:00 pm

StFan – I think you are correct with that and he’s done that more than once. I’m not sure he means it personally about Graham but he’s taken an opposition stance on just about every thing Graham did while he was at PITT.

Speaking of the most negative of fans – I looked back over the four or five most negative posters I could think of and everyone of them wanted Christobal rather than Chryst. We see that on the message boards and blogs a lot.

Comment by Reed 02.12.12 @ 6:29 pm

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