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August 31, 2012

The Big East decided to screw Pitt in the SEC/Big East Match-up this year. The ACC, however, is being a lot cooler about things for their own marquee non-con conference cross-over.

Syracuse and Pitt are expected to be a part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge in 2013 when they are members of the ACC. There was initial talk of not including them because they were new — but that was never going to fly. The ACC hasn’t officially decided how it will decide the 12 teams that will go against the 12 from the Big Ten. But one proposal that will be discussed is to pair the top 12 RPI teams from the previous season in the ACC with the 12 Big Ten teams. If that’s the case, the bottom teams will get frozen out.

Doesn’t that simply make more sense when one side has more teams than the other? To take your best teams? These are match-ups for conference pride and bragging rights. If you can avoid sending the DePauls, Providences and Wake Forests you do it.

August 30, 2012

Changing the Thought Process

Filed under: Chryst,Coaches,Football — Chas @ 10:22 am

Coach Paul Chryst has avoided any public pronouncements on goals or expectations. They exist, but he’s not saying much on them. That has been a consistent approach of his since taking the head coaching spot at Pitt.

“We have a lot of goals. To sum it up, you’ve got to work to improve and guys have got to get better. You’re a better team if each individual player gets better,” Chryst told the Panthers’ official website as summer practice got under way.

“I’ve never been able to tell what a guy’s ceiling is or how good he can be, but I think that it is enough if you keep working to be the best you can be.”

But try and get him to state what the actual goals are for the team. And you get nothing.

I asked him if he’d broached with his players the topic of a Big East title.

“No,” he said, politely.

Does he ever mention overriding goals such as winning a conference or national championship?

“No,” he said, politely.

This year, definitely a good thing. The last two years have seen high fan expectations dashed, followed by brash, bold talk that crashed and fled. Going forward, though, Chryst will not be able to avoid at least talking about team goals a little more specifically. It is also something he has to do.

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The Return of the Biquarterion

Filed under: Uncategorized — Panther Rants Collective @ 1:46 am

The Biquarterion is a group of once powerful Big East mascots. They meet in Mike Tranghese’s old clubhouse. They control absolutely nothing and don’t plan on it in the future.

Viewer Discretion is Advised……

 

WE’RE IN THE MONEY….WE’RE IN THE MONEY!!!
  YAY! In about 12 months those assholes will be gone!

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August 29, 2012

Everybody Has to Parse Sunseri

Filed under: Football,Players — Chas @ 11:32 am

At some point, Tino Sunseri will just decide not to speak about anything, ever. It just is not worth it for him.

Ever since Fraud Graham fled, Sunseri has avoided taking even the smallest pot shots at the guy. This, despite, being the public whipping boy for Graham (and most Pitt fans) all of last year. He showed incredible restraint, and just seemed happy to put the whole season behind him.

Finally, though, he said something.

Asked to compare coach Paul Chryst’s offense to what Graham installed last year, Sunseri said, “It compares from a high school offense to a pro-style college offense.”

He also contrasted the various complexities that players must learn this season.

“Last year, there weren’t a lot of plays, there weren’t lot of different formations, there weren’t a lot of different motions,” he said. “This offense, it’s coming from making sure you understand shifts and motions and making sure you understand different routes and converting versus different coverages. Guys had to make sure they got in their playbooks, which they did.”

Reminded of the absence of much fanfare this season, Sunseri said Chryst’s approach is different.

“I feel like Coach Chryst has done a great job of just going to work,” he said. “You know what I mean? He’s not here to do shows. He’s not here (to hang) signs. He’s not here to make people laugh or giggle. He’s here to win football games.”

I have some mixed feelings here.

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Midnight Madness Returns

Filed under: Athletic Department,Basketball — Chas @ 8:48 am

After a few years of skipping Midnight Madness activities in favor of more family friendly fare, Pitt is bringing it back and with some flair.

Pitt plans on making a statement in its final season in the Big East by resuming its traditional role under Jamie Dixon as a title contender after last season’s NCAA miss. To tipoff the campaign, the Panthers are doing something out of the box for the more maligned Panthers by hosting a Midnight Madness event — outside. The unique event will be a part of the school’s 225-year anniversary celebration. The men’s and women’s teams will play on a wooden outdoor floor, near the Pitt Union. Lights, bleachers and a video board will be brought in for the free event that should begin after a fireworks display at 9:15 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 12. If the weather doesn’t cooperate then the teams will go inside at the Petersen Events Center.

It also, just happens to be Homecoming weekend.

Yes, the whole playing outdoors is a bit of a gimmick — whether on an aircraft carrier or on a New Years Day hockey game. Still, this seems like a great idea. Not to mention being set right in the middle of campus.

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Expansiopoclypse Strikes Pitt Blather

Filed under: Admin — Chas @ 5:49 am

Yes, even this site is not immune to the changing forces that have swirled around college athletics.

Okay, so it’s really just some new contributors on the site. Still, with the loss of Pitt Script Blog to the SBN borg outpost, Cardiac Hill. It could be viewed — with enough to drink — as the Pitt Blog Expansion Wars of 2012. Or something else.

Chris Gates is a Pittsburgh native, loves Pitt athletics, and has spent the past year working at 93.7 The Fan. Among the things he did there was blogging. He’s just moved across the country to work at Oregon State as the Web/Interactive Media Coordinator for RecSports, but he still wants to write and talk Pitt. Happily he took me up on an offer to continue doing so here. You can also follow Chris on Twitter. Oh, and he just loves to here Kent State jokes. Can’t get enough of them.

Once upon a time, there was a blogspot blog that focused on Pitt recruiting. Then it got deleted by the person who had it. So others, slightly less serious, brought the place back and opted to have some fun. For a while all was well. But then the incident. A trauma that changed things.

They were never quite the same after the horrible incident known as the 2008 Sun Bowl. Even after the rehab from the mental trauma, the strain proved too much for them. They could never quite recover and generate content with any consistency. Which was a shame since they had some good stuff. A few of them want to try again, but without the pressure of needing to do it on a regular basis. So, now they will try to bring the funny here when so motivated. You can find at least one of them skulking about on twitter as well.

Finally, the mystery* known only as Dan. He’s the new guy. He’s a student at Pitt. Lifelong fan. He’s been in contact with me over the summer and wants to give the blogging thing a go.

*”Mystery” being a relative term. I’ve vetted him to my satisfaction that this won’t be a Sarah Phillips thing. As I’m not sure how much of his actual background he wants to share, however, there’s not much more to tell you about him.

Just one more reason to make sure to glance at the byline under the post title before you angrily complain about (or even compliment) the person who wrote something.

August 28, 2012

Clearing Links: Football Only, 8/28

Filed under: Football,Players — Chas @ 1:39 pm

The only frustrating thing about that final week before the start of the season — aside from just waiting for Saturday — is just getting everything in place and finished before it. Add in the fact that this is the start of sending the kids back to school, and all that crap.  Well, it makes it hard to get to the posting.

Teaser: site announcement tomorrow morning. I’m very happy about it, and it does not involve me (further) selling out or putting up more ads.

Last week, congratulations were offered to the four Pitt players who made it from walk-on to scholarship players. Here are the stories on how they felt, and heavily implied — how relieved their parents were to not have to spring for tuition this year. This is a good one focusing on the Wuestner father-son bond.

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August 27, 2012

Two-Deep for YSU Announced

Filed under: Football,Players — Chas @ 10:47 am

This will take some getting used to with Coach Paul Chryst. He’s not one for giving out a lot of information on injuries and apparently setting the 2-deep. Unlike the NFL, there is no hard rules regarding transparency with injuries or even how quickly 2-deeps are put out by the programs.

So, while last week beat writers mentioned seeing Jarred Holley in a walking boot because of some sort of foot injury, the extent or type of injury was not known. This was the case for several players who were known to have injuries, but the type and severity were vague to unknown.

At some point, though, a 2-deep had to be published. Like today with the game notes for the YSU (PDF) game.

So let’s take a look at it.

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Handcuff Sunseri?

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Players — Reed @ 7:06 am

Folks – I put this bit of information below in a comment back on the “2012 Predictions” post but was interested enough in it to bring it forward for your conversation.

Back in April we posted an article about Paul Chryst’s run:pass ratio in his playcalling as the Offensive Coordinator at Wisconsin.  In it we showed that there were some years where he called almost 70% running plays.  That was in 2010 when he had three 1000> yard rushers in his offense.  In his other seasons he was consistently run heavy.

Fast forward to Pittsburgh in 2012 where we see Tino Sunseri play well enough in summer training camp to keep his starting job but not setting the world on fire, nor lessening PITT fan’s expectations of his mediocrity.  Because of that and his last year’s play there are thoughts, echo’d on other blogs and message boards, that Sunseri would be handcuffed by Chryst to lessen the chances of Sunseri making a bonehead play to blow our opportunities of winning games.  Some fans were saying they thought that Sunseri would throw as few as 15 passes per game.

With that background, here is another comparision between the past UW and PITT offenses that I worked up yesterday.

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August 26, 2012

We are now under the one week count down until the 2012 season opener and Paul Chryst’s debut as the PITT Panther Head Coach.  The Youngstown State Penguins come into Heinz Field Saturday at 6:00 pm for an out of conference and out of division game.  Please try to make it to the stadium, Paul needs you to be there.

Here is the .pdf of the 2012 media guide for YSU.  They are in the Missouri Valley Conference of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivison (FCS), as opposed to our being in the famed Big East of the BCS division.

YSU has an interesting coaching staff with some familiar names on it.  The Head Coach is Eric Wolford who has “has moved the Penguins back into postseason contention and is showing the nation that the program is on the cusp of returning to national prominance.” Those are YSU’s words, not mine. I would have spelled ‘prominence’ correctly.  He is married to Melinda Wolford and has two children.

Their Ass’t HC and DL coach is PITT alumni Tom Sims; their WR coach is Andre’ Coleman the former NFL receiver; their OLB coach is one of the famous Stoops boys, Ron Stoops, jr and their Cornerbacks coach is Glenn Davis who has been dead for seven years.

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August 25, 2012

Thank You, Please Show Up

Filed under: Fans,Football,Money — Chas @ 12:21 pm

Over the years, Pitt fans have taken a fair share of (mostly deserved) abuse for the number of empty seats at the football games. Especially from Penn State fans who love to stress that they support their team no matter what. Well, after all that has happened, it seems that there might be a bit more of a struggle to sell tickets this year. Starting with that season opener to honor “the legends who stayed.”

To the point where for the first time ever/decades/years — no one is exactly sure — Penn State is offering discount tickets to Penn State employees. But of course, it isn’t because the tickets aren’t selling. No, no, nooooo. It’s to recognize and thank the employees in these recent times of turmoil.

Penn State spokeswoman Jill Shockey said there are about 10,000 seats still available for the game. Of those, about 3,500 have been set aside for employees.

“If more tickets need to be made available for the employee appreciation offer, Athletics has said they will address that,” Shockey said in an email.

Penn State’s Office of Human Resources and department of athletics are offering the ticket deal. The university’s retirement plan partner, TIAA-CREF, is supporting concession vouchers and giving the first 1,000 employees with IDs at the upper concourse behind the NA or NL sections a special gift.

The deal is 2 tickets for $79 plus $20 in concession vouchers.

A friend of mine forwarded the e-mail (he’s married to a PSU employee).

If you want to read the actual e-mail, it is below the fold.

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One More From Wisconsin

Filed under: Football,Recruiting,Transfer — Chas @ 9:58 am

As most of you have already heard, Pitt is taking a WR transfer from Wisconsin.

[Manasseh] Garner, a 6-foot-2, 212-pound junior, was one of the top players in Pennsylvania in 2009 and considered Pitt before committing to Wisconsin. He has played sparingly at Wisconsin, recording his only two receptions for 45 yards last season. He also played defensive end and special teams.

“He’s very gifted. He’s very fast,” Bielema said after Garner recorded three tackles on kickoff coverage in a victory against Ohio State in 2010. “He’s got a little bit of understanding of ball awareness, football IQ. He’s played a lot of football at different positions, so I think his general football awareness is really good.

Garner is from the Pittsburgh area. He attended Brashear High School, and part of why he is coming back to the area is because he also has a baby. Part of why he didn’t play too much last year was because of nagging injuries.

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August 24, 2012

Looking A Little Ahead

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 8:48 am

Some things on a few of the players we will see next year.

Pitt’s top recruit, QB Tra’von Chapman talks about how he decided that Pitt was his choice.

So how did the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Chapman tab Pitt while forsaking nearby Kent State where his father, Thad Jemison, and one of his mentors, Darrell Hazell, coach, along with his hometown school of Cincinnati?

“It wasn’t an easy decision,” Chapman said. “My dad played at Ohio State and we, coach Tressel and coach Hazell are all so connected. Growing up, I was a Buckeye through most of high school. But when that stuff went down with Tressel leaving, it changed everything.”

Chapman had his choices down to Pitt, Wisconsin, Kent St. and Cinci. Ultimately Kent State wasn’t enough of a challenge. Then a lot of the decision had to do with geography. Cinci was too close. Wisconsin too far. But Pitt was just right.

“Part of the reason I left Cincinnati [to come live with his father in Kent] is because there’s a lot of negative things happening there,” he said. “I wanted to stay out of trouble and keep focused on school and football. If I would have gone back to Cincinnati for college, those same negative things would have been there.”

In the end, that’s why Chapman believed Pitt offered the best mix of everything he was looking for.

“Pitt gave me the best chance to grow as a man, without being too far away,” he said. “That, and the [Paul Chryst] coaching staff made me feel comfortable. The facilities, the way the uniforms look, going to a situation where I might be able to play right away might be what some kids look for. But for me, I feel comfortable saying I can see myself there for four years. Those coaches, they blew it out of the water to me.”

Part of me died a little inside when he said the uniforms.

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A Very Soft Middle

Filed under: Football,Injury — Chas @ 12:09 am

In case you missed it, the already thin and questionable linebacking corps got a bit thinner with the news of Ejuan Price.

Linebacker Ejuan Price tweeted that he will take a medical redshirt after undergoing pectoral surgery in the spring.

In the long-run, it is probably good for Pitt. The linebackers will be stronger, and Price will have an extra year.

But this year? With Todd Thomas still a big question mark when he is getting all the way back from his ACL surgery? Not so much.

Dan Mason may see more action than anyone really wanted that surgically repaired foot to ever see at this rate. Or maybe Pitt pioneers a 4-2-3-2 defense as a more general defensive look. There is going to be a lot of trial by fire for some of the underclassmen.

One thing I’m feeling sure of: there won’t be a label on Coach Paul Chryst about how he doesn’t play freshmen.

 

August 23, 2012

The End of Camp

Filed under: Football,Players,Practice — Chas @ 1:44 pm

Well, yesterday was the last practice for training camp. It’s FanFest tonight. Then all practices are geared towards getting ready for games.

The big news is that right after reports surfaced that Ray Graham would be “unlikely” for the season opener, it was learned that he actually practiced for a series without the “do not touch” jersey.

He ran one series in the blue jersey, taking four carries. He then put his green, no-contact jersey back on, but said it felt good to take live hits.

“Just really fly around and actually be live, it kind of felt good to see where I was at,” he said. “I put a couple of moves on people. Even getting hit, just to see what was going on, it kind of felt good.”

Graham came to Chryst with the idea of going live, and Chryst was receptive to it. With just over a week to go until Pitt’s opener, Graham remained optimistic that he would be ready to go Sept. 1.

“It’s looking good,” he said. “We’ve got a week and some change before the game, and it’s feeling good. I’ve been taking it one day at a time and, as the days go on, I feel much better and that much more confident.”

Kind of hard to see that as a sign he will play against YSU. It’s another step, but it doesn’t seem like something that should be treated as meaning he is back. It is more like clearing another hurdle.

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