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June 28, 2012

Losing OT Dorian Johnson to Penn Sate sucks.

There are no two ways around that.  Here was a four star recruit at a position of need for PITT, ranked either 13th or 23rd nationally at his position and after visiting PITT numerous times makes a spur of the moment decision to attend that school while riding in the car on his way back from a PSU visit.  It was a big swing and a miss for Paul Chryst.

PITT will have another good or bad day on Sunday, July 1st, when QB Tra’von Chapman, another four star, ranked 11th at a position of (big time!) need, makes his college choice.  Supposedly he’s been a strong PITT lean but the same could have been said for Johnson.  We await with bated breath, as do we for everyone’s superstar recruit #4 ranked WR Robert Foster who is probably good enough to start next season as a true FR.

Clairton’s four star WR Tyler Boyd is another prime prospect and right in our back yard.  IMO if we can land two of these four that will be a darn good start for Paul Chryst’s time at PITT but we are fighting heavyweight programs nationwide for these player’s services so it’s an uphill battle.

Now, I’m not one for blindly adhering to the ‘star’ ranking system and I’m on record about that,  but these four kids are Blue Chip players as defined by the offers they have received.  Look at the links provided above and you’ll see that these players are being recruited nationwide.

The bottom line is that there isn’t a laundry list of great four and five star recruits in the WPIAL each year any longer.  Jerry DiPaloa of the Tribune-Review has a good article on that this morning explaining how PITT has fared with recruiting these players in the past.  Not too bad actually.  Each of these highly ranked kids from our immediate area is an important recruit for PITT as it shows that we can compete with the big boys in the recruiting arena.

Chris Dokish of The Panther’s Prey wrote a long and detailed article on how he feels where the state of PITT’s recruiting is today.

As for my opinion Chryst’s recruiting so far? As much as I want Chryst to land all the big fish in the WPIAL/WPA area I think that might not happen and I truly can’t fault any kid and their parents who look at the PITT football program with a jaundiced eye right now.

The instability over the last 20 months is very hurtful for PITT when it pertains to a player and his parents looking at what the next four or five years will bring. It isn’t enough to say PITT will be stable and fruitful for the recruit because we just don’t have that track record to point to.

Right now PITT is poised on the tip of the balance scales in that we can go either direction as a program. The trend as we speak is downward – as much as we may have faith that Chryst will be a successful HC the bald truth is that since the end of the 2009 season we’ve been tracking down in both the play on the field and in the off the field aspects of the program.

Think about it – in 2010 we had those four nationally recognized violent discipline incidents launching us to a stay near the top of the Fulmer Cup standings and then there was the SI article and whatever we fans believe the media latched onto that in a big way, both locally and nationally.  To top it off we matched that with a mediocre 7-5 regular season. Out goes Dave Wannstedt.


Then we entered into the Travelling Circus with Todd Graham,  Keystone Kopped our way to a 6-6 regular season and then watched Graham tap dance his way to Arizona without even formally telling anybody. Actually he was lying through his teeth as he shuffled off to Tempe.

Blah and retch.

I think we PITT fans forget that these are the types of issues recruits and their families take a long hard look at when making this important commitment decision and, sad to say, these facts are the baggage that Chryst was presented with when he signed on. That is a figurative 50 pound tumor between the shoulder blades of his back.

I’ll pass along a second hand anecdote I heard about this subject.  In a discussion a few months ago about recruiting one of those big time targets asked an interviewer “Is Paul Chryst going to be fired if he wins 10 games?“.   Regardless of how one feels about the personnel move to fire Dave Wannstedt, this is the type of valid questions these recruits have.  There is a lot of trepidation out there when it comes to PITT football right now.

We fans tend to look at only the pure, on-field, football playing aspect when discussing recruiting but we aren’t the ones making that tough decision. The recruits and especially their parents are also concerned about the 360 degrees of how well their son is going to be taken care of during his college time and with what support system, most importantly the person with the responsibility and authority  as the Head Coach, will be in place for that overall success they want for their son.

This is a real “show me” instance vice a “we promise” one.

We are hearing that each of these higher ranked recruits who have chosen to play elsewhere say that they love PITT and they love the new coaching staff – yet they commit elsewhere. There is a reason for that; the nagging feeling that the turmoil may not be over yet for our program. PITT just doesn’t have a strong recent winning tradition to fall back on when stuff like this happens to us like OSU and PSU do. Their reputation is such that they can weather storms and continue to draw top shelf recruits, PITT doesn’t have that luxury.

All this said, I look at the current commit list Chryst has and feel pretty good about it.  I think he is taking a realistic look at what players he needs to get his football team on the field and is recruiting toward that.  But a roster full of these type of recruits means that every other aspect of team play has to be right for success – I don’t see any LeSean McCoy types who can carry a team on their shoulders.

The answer is that one decent and solid winning season, with no extraneous negative news, under Chryst’s belt is going to make all the difference in the world for our 2014 recruiting class. It will show stability of the program and a break in the slide of actual football PITT has been playing.  But right now… we can’t point to something that hasn’t happened yet.



Well stated Reed – patience is needed.

Comment by markp 06.28.12 @ 9:22 am

PSU is going all out to try to regain football prominance. But I would be surprised if they win the B10 again. I see their empty seats.

The drive from Pittsburgh to State College is no picnic. GO PITT.

Comment by Frank 06.28.12 @ 9:24 am

Absolutely. Every one of us wants Chryst to hit the floor running with all aspects of the program in high gear – as if nothing happened in the last year or so. Sure there are 4 stars available this year that Pitt won’t get. But there will be 4 stars available next year and the year after that. Rome wasn’t built in a day and football programs aren’t built in one year. I think PC has a very high plateau, unlike other recent coaches, but time will tell.

Comment by 66Goat 06.28.12 @ 9:32 am

You mention Pitt’s recent turmoil in its coaching carosel, fair point.

But all that PALES in comparison to what’s gone on (and is still going on to some extent) up in Creepy Valley and Ohio State. And Bill O’Brien has the same record as Paul Chryst as a head coach: 0-0.

And PSU is royally kicking our axes in recruiting so far.

So clearly, something else is going on. I think Chris Dokish is much closer to the truth: somebody better light a fire under Chryst when it comes to recruiting. We’re competing against MAC teams for MAC-level players, and in some cases losing out to THEM. Let alone PSU and “Ohio.”

If Chryst doesn’t land some better players, he won’t need to worry about getting fired after 10 wins, especially if he truly plans to start IncompetenTino Sunseri at QB: he won’t win 6 games in the Big East, let alone 10 in the ACC.

Comment by Imma Man! Im 40! 06.28.12 @ 9:36 am

If everyone pretty much agrees that Chryst and the rest of the staff are good guys and are earning respect with the local coaches, a decent season or two will attract some of the better local players. This class is going to be what it is, but still has the potential to be pretty good if Foster and Boyd sign on. Time to put the past behind us and move forward. I feel very confident about the future of this program. Hail!

Comment by longsufferingpittfan 06.28.12 @ 9:43 am

Looks like Tyrique Jarrett is still in the fold. Rivals story has him coming to Pitt after a semester of prep school. Hopefully he makes the grade and doesn’t change his mind.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 06.28.12 @ 9:47 am

well said long suffering pitt fan !

Comment by Snala The Panther 06.28.12 @ 9:55 am

Imma Man – you pretty much make the same point I made – that even though PSU and OSU have real problems surrounding their programs they still have the weight to pull in great recruiting classes.

Chryst probably does have to change his recruiting style but I’m not sure what that exactly is. First off I’d take the recruiting coordinator out to the woodshed as we have had three recruits unaware that they had offers for a scholarship at PITT so far. As Dokish points out in his article that is clearly a problem.

I don’t doubt that Chryst is undergoing some growing pains as a rookie HC either, there have been some missteps so far. But I think to wail and gnash our teeth at this point is unnecessary as the we still have seven months of recruiting left and that the proof of the pudding is how the players recruited respond to his and his staff’s coaching.

That we won’t know until at least the end of the 2012 season.

All these concerns are valid at this point but the situation isn’t such that anyone can point a finger at Chryst and say he’s failing at recruiting. We have nine kids committed and he may have as much as 23 scholarships to give out; we aren’t even a third of the way through yet.

Comment by Reed 06.28.12 @ 9:58 am

Imma Man!….as much as Creepy Valley has this huge scandal going on right now there is likely little effect GOING FORWARD at State Penn. Don’t get me wrong I am a bit surprised to see how well they are doing, but as Reed alluded to above they have a certain amount of cache with recruits due to the history there.

The people involved in that debocle have been scraped from the program and they are looking to start fresh. Like Reed said, these kids are making decisions that will effect them not only next year, but over the next 4 or 5 years. They look at Pitt and think “Hey I really like this coach but the way that Pitt goes through coaches I might end up with some other JO by next week, and then I could stand to lose playing time, eligibility, etc…” State Penn’s scandal will taint the previous regime forever, but the fact of the matter is it will likely have limited impact on the incoming student athletes.

Comment by BCPITT 06.28.12 @ 10:07 am

Great article Reed.

A lot of Pitt fans won’t admit this and it pains me to say it but Penn State, even in the midst of the Sandusky scandal, is still viewed as the more stable program right now. Recruits are more confident that Bill O’Brien will be there for at least the next couple of years. With Pitt, they are asking those questions such as you mentioned. I’m sure OSU, PSU, WVU and anyone else going after a local kid reminds them of how many head coaches Pitt had the last 2 seasons. Confidence in the direction and stability of the program can change if Pitt has a good season on the field and then has the same staff throughout the off season. If they do that, I beleive they will have a very strong finish to the recruiting year. You may even see a couple of kids that committed elsewhere switch to Pitt, provided the staff continues to recruit these guys up until signing day.

Chryst’s recruiting style seems to be based on long term relationships and trust, not only with the recruit but also his family. That style is certainly best served when Cryst can go into a recruits home and say with definity that he will in fact be that kids head coach. Right now, the notion that Cryst might not be there next year, though not realistic to us (Pitt can’t possibly have to overhaul the coaching staff for a third consecutive year, right?), is far to easy for these families to evision given the events of the past 2 years. I believe that notion can and will change with a strong season and a stable next off season.

Comment by Brad P 06.28.12 @ 10:20 am

Atlanta Panther – I believe he has to attend Milford for the full year, not just one semester but I could be mistaken.

The real important news here is if he reiterated his commitment to Chryst for the 2013 season. His 2012 LOI passed on after he failed to qualify. I think that’s how this works as he’s never enrolled at PITT or taken any classes. If so he should be added to the commitment list on the websites…if not Chryst needs to get on him now.

I hope this is the case because I think he’s going to be a good player for us and we definitely need DLs for the future.

Comment by Reed 06.28.12 @ 10:27 am

The fact that PSU hasn’t missed a step in recruiting even with a new, non-tested head coach and the ugly scandal should only prove just how big of an impact that large crowds and national exposure has on these recruits.

Yes, we can promise more playing time to a 3 star but the top 4 and 5 stars expect to play anywhere (especially when recuited by the likes of OSU, Bama, UF, etc.)

The one thing that Wanny had going for him was that a lot of his players made it to the NFL which is probably why he had such a great recruting class pending at the time of his firing.

Hopefully Chryst can do the same (only with a few more wins.) His staff is primarily made up of teachers not recruiters so I believe he can succeed in the long run …. as Reed states, we need to be patient.

Comment by wbb 06.28.12 @ 10:33 am

The point is How did Coach Chryst handle Last years class and Hold onto the key players … Hail To Pitt

EDIT: Exactly, something that didn’t happen with Wannstedt’s 2011 class after he was fired – there was a mass exodus. And folks – spare me the Voytik or Shell held that class together. That is the biggest urban myth there is. If a recruit and his family don’t want to play for the incoming coach they won’t and no phone calls from buddies is going to change that important decision.

Comment by 63Team 06.28.12 @ 10:44 am

Reed i am not buying in penn state is in turmoil as well both coachs and staffs new
both have ex pros on staff.
Imight bye in except when some of our recruits dont know if they have a offer or not when you are
hireing coachs who have no recruting back ground
in the place they must recruit becuse they used to go to the school you coached at like breckterfield.
when schools like duke and wake forest can recruit 7 OL men between them and we have one when
outher OL men whoars out there dont even have offers from us and they are second ter and the first ter are going to outher schools all ready.

when kid get a offer 90 days after everyone else has all ready offered them.

And when dockish says what he said and when chas said this what chryst is doeing has not translated into recruiting at this point.

then i think it is safe to say he needs help with the recruiting maybe some new staff next year
some one with a background in pa and ohio and nj.

do i think he is a good coach yes do i think he will win yes but you need good players and recruiting is not his strong suit.

as dockish pointed out 2 times now recruiting has organization kids dont know if they have offers outher kids get offers late i would say recruting is a cluster fuck.

Comment by FRANKCAN 06.28.12 @ 10:55 am

i ment recruiting has no organization

Comment by FRANKCAN 06.28.12 @ 10:58 am

If someone is worried about Chryst’s recruiting at this point in his tenure then you are an idiot. He’s addressed some needs and has landed some good recruits and he hasn’t even played a game yet. Let us also not forget that Pitt has had it’s fair share of debacles on and off the field over the last 3 years so let’s not kid ourselves that pitt is going to be at the top of the list for every recruit within 100 miles of Pittsburgh – that’s just not reality and never has been. So one kid chooses penn state, oh well. By the way, he also turned down Alabama, USC, and Notre Dame. Like it or not the state penn program did not die the night the sandusky verdict was read and top recruits will still land there.

As far as recruiting rankings and stars, let’s all remember that the stache was a pretty darn good recruiter and at the end of the day where did that get us??? exactly

Unlike the last coach(es), I believe Chryst and his staff can coach kids up and implement a system where they can thrive.

Comment by Coach Ditka 06.28.12 @ 10:59 am

Losing any recruit to State Penn hurts. 100k fans dressed as Klansmen in Creepy Valley must appeal to some recruits. Say hello to Pedo Bear for me Dorian.

Comment by TX Panther 06.28.12 @ 11:27 am

Chapman commits
link to

Please step away from the ledge!!!!

Comment by giveitarest 06.28.12 @ 11:48 am

This blog loses a lot of respect for having Reed write for it. He’s the biggest homer I’ve ever seen. Not once has he criticized anything Pitt ever does.

Comment by Mike 06.28.12 @ 11:54 am

Reed – Outstanding post. A balanced perspective laced with a huge dose of reality.

Comment by JLawrence 06.28.12 @ 12:01 pm

Reed, great post!

You are right on that the odious PSU scandal is different in the eyes of recruits when deciding upon either Pitt or the other clowns. We’re on our sixth coach in two years and Fraud really hurt us by promising he’d be here for the long term right up until he slithered out of town during the darkness of the night. Stability is most important and Pitt failed miserably at this these two years. How do you want to blame, the AD, Fraud or whoever, that’s the reality on top of a poor record for too many years since the glory days.

Yes, we seem to have a very good coach in place now and I have a great deal of faith in him. It’s too early to complain about his recruiting tactics for it seems he’s already outpacing those before him. It’s still very early and I believe most of the higher quality players wait until just before signing day to commit. Getting all these recruits early is wonderful but we also have to keep them.

It may appear the recruiting seems unorganized but that could be growing pains this new staff may very well be resolving right now, recognize changes need to be made or there may be reasons why they don’t follow up as much with specific recruits. We don’t know and we simply need to let the staff do their jobs.

With regards to everyone pointing to what Dookish has to say, he seems to be very opinionated from what I’ve read, especially calling a player’s commitment a sure thing. Have we not lost players at the last minute in the past only to have them return at the end? OK, sometimes that happens.

Whoa! Chapman commits!

We’re growing!

Comment by JD 06.28.12 @ 12:06 pm

Look at what Chryst is doing on the offensive side of recruiting… Scott Orndoff, Cory Clement and now Tra’von Chapman. Two 4* and one 3* but all with excellent big-time offers from other schools. Throw in Jamar Parrish who is ranked as the #4 FB and you can see where his emphasis is and that he’s getting players who both he and other schools want.

BTW – I love Chryst offering and getting a punter on scholarship. I truly believe that that is one of the most important positions on the team and we got a good one – 6’5″ and 215 with a 40 ypp average last year in HS. Tall guys make excellent punters.

Comment by Reed 06.28.12 @ 12:54 pm

Chryst needs to be given some slack on recruiting. From recruits’ point of view, Chryst is just another coach in a long and recent string that have come through Pitt. Many players’ future careers have been ruined by it and it has done nothing for an already tarnished football brand. He has actually been able to piece together some (potentially) good players and I am sure that more will follow – including some massive linemen. For there to be such an open uproar over this staff’s abilities thus far is irresponsible.

If you look at what he has done to date, I give the guy an A. I also agree on the Punter Reed. Look how we have fared at the specialist position lately. We havent had a good punter since Andy Lee (49ers) and god knows when we have had an automatic kicker with a good range.

Let’s see how Chryst and the staff field a product this season. If they fair well, a good recruiting season should follow – then judge the guy and his staffs ability.


Comment by Pitt it IS 06.28.12 @ 2:01 pm

Just pulled in an OL named Carson Baker – basically unranked at this point ( has him at two stars) and with MAC offers. He’s 6’5″ & 315 going into his SR though.

I believe he visit PITT at a camp if I’m not mistaken.

Comment by Reed 06.28.12 @ 3:34 pm

Paul Chryst will win. From day one I have said that he will win. He is winning with recruits already. Reed reiterated various recruits statements about whether they thought Caoch Chryst will be around when they graduate as reasons for going elsewhere. That is ALL on Steve Pederson. If Pederson was smart, he would extend Paul Chryst. Why? Stability.

What is so wrong with letting the recruits and their families know Coach Chryst will be around for 6 years. Why wait? He was hired with a 5 year deal. That takes kids that would redshirt in the 2012 incoming class to graduation. What it doesn’t do, is take the new kids he is recruiting for 2013 through their red shirt senior years. The AD is crippling his ability to recruit. Don’t believe me, bold the sentences about what the recruits are saying in the piece by Reed. Pederson is terrible and much of the problems with the program, I place on him. Sorry gents, that is the reality.

There is no down side and will stop the negative recruiting against Pitt and actually turn it into a positive. Look, he is already evaluating and offering 2014 players, but he can’t show them on paper that he will be here when they graduate. Pederson is dropping the ball on this but will blame the coach when kids don’t commit. And for those that say he hasn’t proven himself yet, poppeycock on each of you. If his resume’ didn’t prove he was capable than you shouldn’t have offered. Fact is, the right people intervened and got the right coach to lead the university back to prominence. Now the AD is tying his hands. Be gone Pederson, be gone. Urban Meyer, 6 years. Dana Holgorsen, 6 years. Brady Hoke, 6 years. Frank Beamer 5 years plus an additional 8 as a special assistant if he chooses. Those are our closest competitors and their respective AD’s know that you just don’t recruit for the current years crop. Bill OB, only got 5 years, but expect an extension if he can hold his class together. Pederson just has to go.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 06.28.12 @ 6:36 pm

Yeah our recruiting is going great if you want to dominate the MAC. Seems like every other kid was going to go to Toledo until PC came along. I’m sure these unrated no star kids will totally dominate in the ACC.

Comment by LUV PITTBULLS 06.28.12 @ 9:36 pm

LUV PITTBULLS, they dominated in the Big Ten.

Comment by Digdug 06.29.12 @ 1:09 pm

Digdug hope you are right and I am wrong all day long. I want nothing more than to see this program rise to a level that it hasn’t been at in 3 decades. My fear is that you can’t teach speed, you either have it or you don’t. ACC has a lot speed, its not Big 10 grinders in 30 degree fall weather. If a kid is slow, well nothing you can do about that. Again hope I’m wrong. We will see.

Comment by LUV PITTBULLS 06.30.12 @ 8:20 am

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