December 30, 2012


I’ve been waiting to write something on PITT football until there was actually something to write about.  There still isn’t anything really but it’s time to get back into the pigskin mode as we’ve less than a week until the bowl game.  PITT vs Ole Miss – a match up made in heaven, maybe.

I’m not a big fan of bowl games like some people are.  I understand that it is a reward for having a non-losing season… which sounds like crap when you think about it.  Let’s be honest, 80% of the bowl mean nothing at all, and those are the ones PITT has found itself in for the last 30 years.  So it really isn’t a reward but a chance to extend the season by one game for TV money and to get the school’s fans and players one more weekend.

Not to begrudge the players any perks they can get.  These kids work extremely hard from April through January and deserve being pampered on what is actually a working vacation.

So usually I don’t get too excited about these bowl games.  My emphasis has always been on the regular season’s quality of play and won/loss record.  That may sound hypocritical because those two things lead directly to a bowl but IMO the meat of the football season are those 13 games, especially the conference ones.

However this season I find myself more nervous than usual going into the week before PITT’s bowl game.  Why?  Because I think for the first time in a long time the results of this game will have a stronger impact on the program than bowls have had in the past.

But specifically it is about recruiting and the impact of how a program is perceived has on recruiting.

Our program has gone 7-5, 6-6 and 6-6 in the last three regular seasons when the games really count. That track record is tough to overcome when you are trying to convince these highly sought after players local high school stars that they will play winning football during their time here.

Chris Dokish listed who he believed were the Top WPIAL recruits PITT needed to land at positions of need.  There were: WR Robert Foster (5*), OL Patrick Kugler (4*), DB Tyler Boyd (4*), OL Dorian Johnson (4*), WR Devin Wilson (3*),  DT Ty Haddock (3*), DB Demetrius Louis (3*), DB Brendan Coniker (3*), DT Tyrique Jarrett (3*).

So far this recruiting year the “big” recruits have chosen elsewhere as their first choice.

OL Pat Kugler to UM; OL Dorian Johnson to PSU, we got him on the rebound; WR Robert Foster to Alabama.   We had a blue chip RB verbal in Corey Clements and lost him.  There is a trend there and it isn’t good for PITT.

That is a pretty decent wish list and out of those nine players listed one was a lock for PITT since last season (Jarrett who went Prep in 2012); one we got after the PSU sanctions were levied (Johnson) and we have long shot at one other in Tyler Boyd. I’m not saying WR Tyler Boyd will absolutely go elsewhere, just that at this point I’m not optimistic that he’ll sign with us.

We can debate this next point but PITT has been trending downhill since the end of the 2009 season.  It has been both on the field of play, off the field of play and with administrative issues. We don’t have to rehash the details of the embarrassing mistakes and coaching changes since then, we know all the details, but it certainly has hurt PITT’s reputation both locally and nationally and in recruiting reputation is the bedrock.

Getting to a bowl in his first year was the only real positive accomplishment Paul Chryst has had and that isn’t unusual for a 1st year head coach to achieve at all.  I don’t consider a close loss as a positive unless your team really sucks.

We have a 50/50 chance of ending up with another losing record at 6-7 and that, combined with our past three year history, lends a bunch of skepticism toward this program.  You have to say that his game day coaching is suspect at this point also.

So there aren’t a whole lot of bargaining points PITT has in hand at this point to draw blue chip recruits into the fold. These star kids have some decent reasons to pick others schools… PITT is in a tough recruiting area with three major programs close by for one. I think it is just too soon for some of these really highly rated recruits to look at Chryst and PITT and think the program is sure to be successful under his guidance.

I believe that the University of Pittsburgh has a ton of positives to offer student/athletes but they are outside the football realm. Then again I’m not in the position of choosing between three or four schools to be a fan of as the recruits are in their position of choosing a school to play football for.

Personally, I feel that Chryst will turn things around and have a good run at PITT.  He could get a jump start with a win in Birmingham to end the season on a winning note and with a winning record.  After all, we have a 50/50 chance of doing that also.  That is tangible evidence that things are being turned around within the program.

Then if we get off to a strong start in the ACC and win 8-10 games I could see 2014 being an uptick in recruiting for us.  There are some great WPIAL 2014 recruits and we need to get our share.  But this recruiting season… not so much.

On another Note: There has been tons of talk about our QB situation next season, specifically Tom Savage winning the starting role. I’ve read numerous poster/commenter references to how well Russell Wilson did at Wisconsin in that single 2011 season with Chryst as his OC and then comparing the two player’s situations as Savage will have only one year at PITT also.

IMO these are completely different situations.  Wilson already had a great career at QB at NC State, way better than what Savage did at RU in his two seasons there. Wilson had 8545 yards (42 less than Dan Marino total) with 77 TDs /26 INTs in his three years at NCST.  That is a great career in itself and a fantastic basis for success at Wisconsin.

Savage didn’t have that type of quality play in his two years.  He didn’t stink out the joint but IMO it is not comparable at all to Wilson’s situation going over to Wisky. Savage is a career 52% completion rate passer and that is disturbing.  He’s been out of football for two years and had a poor last season of play as a sophomore.  So let’s not get ahead of ourselves before we see how he does in the camps.

BTW – Savage’s 2009 ypc rate was 14.8 which is astronomical and was tops in the NCAA that year.

Final note: Sunseri needs 192 passing yards in the bowl game to pass Dan Marino and become the 2nd best passing QB, behind Van Pelt, in PITT’s history.  Hell, let’s just say that Sunseri’s the second best all around QB, behind Van Pelt, ever.

(That will get tongues wagging.)

SFPitt, I agree we should be competitive in the ACC.
But we never won the Big East outright, so I’ll take a wait and see attitude.

I am with you Justinian, one step at a time.

Let’s start tomorrow with a win against Cincy. A win against Ole Miss. would really start the year off right.

Comment by gc 12.30.12 @ 9:30 pm

Correct me but how good are the OL players in the ACC. I know BC had good OL’s and they did well at first but have fallen off. Maybe if Pitt can develop some good OLs then they will do well in the ACC.

Comment by frank MD 12.30.12 @ 9:41 pm

Comment by panther94 12.30.12 @ 9:50 pm

@panther94, interesting. I hope he’s just talking when he says many have proposed North-South divisions.

I hope that doesn’t catch on. I’m not interested in Big East 2.0.

I’d rather keep Ga. Tech in our division, and have the crossover game be Syracuse.

We’ll have to catch Louisville and BC every once in awhile, but, that’s enough.

I like it the way it is now. New teams, new blood, new uniforms, new colors.

I have no desire to play Syracuse, BC, Louisville every year. We have no rivalries with any of them in football.

Comment by Dan 12.30.12 @ 10:57 pm

Considering what this program has been through in the last few years, I think we are OK on recruiting. Right now, Rivals has us 6th in what will be next years 14 team ACC field. Scout has us 5th. We can be very competitive with the talent we have. Some promising things happened this season. A very efficient offense (3,000+ yard passer, 1,000+ yard rusher, and at least one 1,000+ yard receiver, possibly two after the bowl game). A defense that improved as year went on. We have a lot of players coming back. Ironically, the biggest question mark will be at the QB position. Concerning the QB, in Chryst I trust! He truly raised Tino’s play to a very respectable level. This team, this program, just needs to have the confidence in themselves to know that they can and will win more close games than they lose. We are stepping up in competition in the ACC, just like we stepped up in competition when we went into South Bend and gave them everything they could handle. The point is, the better competition does not have to be a negative, it can also be motivation to play your best.

Comment by HbgFrank 12.30.12 @ 11:00 pm

Was visiting relatives this weekend, and with running around, didn’t catch much news, including sports news.

Just saw, WVU really crapped the bed in NYC!!!

LOL Where are those WVU trolls???

Big 12 over ACC??? Ha Ha, got pounded by ACC Syracuse???

Oh, you crazy trolls!!!! LOL

Comment by Dan 12.30.12 @ 11:02 pm

@Dan, either way…our division is not bad. I like our chances.

Comment by panther94 12.30.12 @ 11:24 pm

Panther94′ I didn’t say we will stink…maybe you can’t read or you are just a wanna be message board tough guy. I said we won’t win the ACC or a NCAA. Did we ever win the Big Least?

Comment by Upittbaseball 12.31.12 @ 12:33 am

wbb, Brendan Coniker is a DB from North Allegheny. Selected PA-All-State. Recovered a fumble and returned it 80 yds for a TD during the state championship game. Don’t know about the other 2 guys you asked about.

Comment by Annie 12.31.12 @ 12:38 am

What stores carry lightening in a bottle. I’ve got to go out and get me some. Would make a good present for Chryst next year. I just hope lightening strikes Pitt once and I live to see it.

Comment by TX Panther 12.31.12 @ 7:25 am

“Savage didn’t have that type of quality play in his two years. He didn’t stink out the joint but IMO it is not comparable at all to Wilson’s situation going over to Wisky. Savage is a career 52% completion rate passer and that is disturbing. He’s been out of football for two years and had a poor last season of play as a sophomore. So let’s not get ahead of ourselves before we see how he does in the camps.”

Thanks Chas, this was the point I was trying to scream to any who would listen during the season.
And why when it was obvious we were NOT going to win the BE or go to anything other than a 4rth rate Bowl game, why Anderson needed to play.
And/or Voytik.

For if Savage is not up to the challenge and it is quite a challenge, we DO NOT HAVE ANYONE WITH ANY GAME EXPERIENCE. Seems to me, the logical thing to do would have had someone, anyone get some game experience.

Of course I keep forgetting this is Sir Tino we’re talking about.

Comment by Emel 12.31.12 @ 8:12 am

Sorry a trip to the Compass Bowl and Sir Tino landing at #2 in the record books does not merit going into our first ACC year with a ……


Comment by Emel 12.31.12 @ 8:16 am


The morganhole trolls have strangely been absent from the board. What a pitiful performance against a lightweight like Syracuse. Wvcc is going to sink into the abyss in the Big 12, for if they stank this year with a Heisman candidate and best QB at Wvcc since Hoffstetter and 1rst round NFL Wr pick in Bailey, just how on earth on are they going to matchup without them. Them & Kansas will be the two cellar dwellers.

I hear the holers are not happy with Holgy in Hooterville and he might be in over his mullet head. Hoops looks pretty depressing to for the hillbillies. That’s really too bad ! lol

Comment by Emel 12.31.12 @ 8:24 am

Concerning the ACC divisions.

I could live without playing L-Ville yearly.

That’s a lose/lose game for PITT.

Keep Syracuse in the other division and that’s our crossover rival. BC was OK but better Cuse in the other division. Just plug in L-Ville for Maryland in the other division. No sense changing everything when ACC folks are just getting use to their Atlantic & Coastal divisions.

Comment by Emel 12.31.12 @ 8:32 am

Anybody who thinks that a National Championship can only be acquired by the current elite teams in the FBS (football factories?) is badly misinformed. togato etc. said it well, if Kansas St. can come out of nowhere and get involved in the NC discussion, then why not almost ANYONE?

If you are a true Pitt football fan and aspire to anything less that that ultimate goal, then why in the world would you short change yourself in such a manner? Never, ever discount what the University of Pittsburgh is capable of accomplishing on the football field. Pitt will win another National Championship, it is only a matter of time
Comment by Dr. Tom 12.30.12 @ 8:27 pm

I’m with you Dr. Tom. The naysayers said we would never win another won in the 1970’s. THEY WERE PROVED WRONG !!!

And had we been given a chance in 1979 & 1980, we would have won a couple more National Championships. For those two teams had maybe the best college defenses EVER (even no less than Bobby Bowden agreed about the 1980 squad). And Danny Marino to boot.


Comment by Emel 12.31.12 @ 8:39 am

Emel, I consider the teams of the Jackie Sherrill era the most talented Pitt teams all time. The entire defensive line went on to play in the pros. In those days,there was not a BCS and 1 loss teams very rarely got the opportunity to play for the National Championship. Look at Alabama, they just won a National Championship with a loss and will have the opportunity, as a one loss team, to win another this year. The Pitt teams of the early 80s were considerably more talented than the 1976 National Championship team. An upset loss,in a monsoon in Talahassee, FL, cost the Panthers a chance to play for the National Championship.

Comment by Justinian 12.31.12 @ 8:57 am

Annie, Thx, I did look up Conicker as well as the other two. The issue is that all 3 of the players were not only not high on Pitt’s lists, they didn’t even receive offers from Pitt … and had no business on Dokish’s list.

Conicker along with Gregg Garrity were very productive high school players and big reasons they won the back-to-back titles, but apparently neither are D1 prospects which is just fine … hope the do great in college. However, none of the 3 players I listed shuld be considered as a failure for Chryst

Comment by wbb 12.31.12 @ 9:16 am

Emel – I wrote the article and get what you are saying about PT for Anderson. I wouldn’t have busted Voytik’s redshirt though unless it was absolutely necessary. From my conversations with others it was my impression that Voytik wasn’t going to play unless there were major injuries to both Sunseri and Anderson.

As to the future QB for 2103 I think the hype machine is starting up for Savage in a big way. That’s fine if a fan wants to go down that road however we have been subject to big hype little play for a lot of PITT players so I’ll reserve my opinions until the camps.

National Championship? Sure, it could happen at PITT but let’s be honest and call it like it is – a real long shot, just like it is for Kansas State or any other ‘medium’ sized football program.

Can it happen? Yes. Will it happen? I’m not getting my hopes up too high for that – I’ll stick with rooting for conference championships then let the chips fall where they may after that.

Comment by Reed 12.31.12 @ 9:27 am

If THIS team can go toe to toe with the Irish, ending up losing only because of a critical homer phantom pass interference call on an Irish fourth down play, IMO, and even with that, take it to triple OT in the losing effort, then anything is possible for this program.

When we actually have a team complete with the quality of players that know how to win, expect to win and believe that they can accomplish the impossible, that my friend is when the impossible becomes reality.

What does it take to assemble that kind of team? First, and foremost it takes leadership with the vision, which currently Pitt lacks, at least at the administrative level, unfortunately, IMO.

Second, it takes a coaching staff that can communicate that vision and mold those individuals into a synergistic team that compounds the talent of each individual by the complementing talents of their team mates. And then you just need to be damn lucky and have everything that could go wrong fall into place in your favor. ND was on the receiving end of that “luck of the Irish” against Pitt this season, for sure!

So gc and Upittbaseball, understand me when I encourage you to aspire to greatness in your hopes for Pitt football. It may not be practical, or realistic, maybe at this moment, but that alone is the primary, essential ingredient that begins the process. First, the mind must think it, before it can will the body to accomplish it. No champion, in any sport has ever reached the pinnacle of their sport without first envisioning that success.

It takes a resilient psychological mindset to do so, since failure will occur much more often than success when reaching for the top. But without such a mindset as the starting point, failure is destined to become the norm because mediocrity becomes your vision.

When this team wins 13 games while winning the ACC, then they WILL be playing for their next National Championship. When that happens, I hope that I’m still around to bask in the moment. It was a magical time to experience first hand 37 years ago.

I for one think that its time for another run at that prize. I ALWAYS beleive its time, without that beleif you can’t even take the first step towards accomplishing that vision.

BTW, what I’m smoking is a bong full of Panther Pride with a chaser of Wild Turkey and ginger ale. Hail to Pitt and Happy New Year to all of my fellow Pitt brethern. And as always HAIL TO PITT!

Comment by Dr. Tom 12.31.12 @ 9:29 am

Frank MD has the ticket. We can’t and should not try to out Ohio State, Ohio State, out idiolize Pedophile state or outscum WVUlgar.
Pitt needs to brand itself as THE place for the ssholar athlete. That appeals more to the Pitt faculty and fans than any other brand.
But it takes $$$$.
Did anyne but me receive a mailer from the Pitt athletic department generally asking for more money?
If you want more money, then tell me what you are going to do with it Cyanide Steve. otherwise, unless and until I see a game plan it stays in my pocket.
Give me goals and I will open the pocket book. But just giving YOU money???? Nah.

Comment by sfpitt 12.31.12 @ 9:34 am

Obviously, I am not the “scholar”. But hey, I didn’t lose my bowels either!!!

Comment by sfpitt 12.31.12 @ 9:36 am

Dr. Tom, happy New Years… Is the BB game on national tv?

Comment by Upittbaseball 12.31.12 @ 10:08 am

I’ve said this for years, there is no reason that Pitt FB should not perennially be in the Top 25, putting together 8-10 win seasons, and every so often put together a special season to put us in the BCS Championship discussion. The fact that we have not is well documented from the incompetence in leadership & coaching to overinflated recruit. Chryst is a work in progress. He deserves time to grow into the role– and frankly, we have no choice at how awful our FB brand is in 2013.

Frankly, what we have become in Basketball is still amazing to me and I never would have thought we would be considered one of the elite programs in the country in 2013 and have such a strong BB brand. JD was a work in progress too. Granted, he inherited a better team. But, he has improved and has become a better coach. Watch him vs. the new golden boy Kevin Ollie at UCONN this year. You’ll see the coaching disparity on display. He has gotten better and now just needs some hardware.

Comment by Pauly P 12.31.12 @ 10:22 am

it makes a big difference to be a part of the best BB conference that is highly exposed, not to mention that within the conference geographical boundary is the most fertile recruiting area.

All of the above has not been the case for Pitt FB

Comment by wbb 12.31.12 @ 10:32 am

What does it take to win a championship?

You need great players, who stay healthy, multiple superstars, and sufficient depth.

You need a great coach and staff, who can recruit, teach, and make the right decisions on game day.

You need deep pockets, and a commitment from the University to do whatever it takes.

You need the intangibles, team spirit, big plays when the game is on the line, the difference between winners and losers.

You need luck to win the close ones.

There is a reason the SEC has been dominate and why USC was dominate, why Ohio State dominated the Big 10. It starts with money and coaching and assembling the best talent.

Dr. Tom, I agree you have to believe, but its hard to win a high stakes poker game if you are not well funded to begin with.

Comment by gc 12.31.12 @ 11:39 am

The support from the administration is the biggest thing holding Pitt back. The desire just isn’t there. Stevie has alienated many big boosters. Nordy doesn’t want a repeat of the heavy booster involvement from the eighties. To his credit, Pitt has run a clean program and the academics have gotten better under his watch. I just want some more balance and more emphasis on being a champion and what it takes. It takes money to find the best coaches and a large recruiting budget to help land the elite players. Pitt should also desire to do better in sports outside football and basketball. The Pitt administration just isn’t serious enough to go that extra step. They are complacent and fine being mediocre in a well respected academic conference.

Comment by TX Panther 12.31.12 @ 12:01 pm

Looks like Pitt has 2 more openings for scholarships…

Comment by Jackagain 12.31.12 @ 9:58 pm

It’s Bowl week and there is nothing to talk about? My local media doesn’t cover Pitt, only PSU and ND. Please throw me a lifeline. I’m dying out here.

Comment by barreman 01.03.13 @ 9:25 am

BE teams doing very well in bowls. Maybe they will do well in ACC.

Comment by frank MD 01.03.13 @ 9:37 am

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