January 5, 2013

Hopefully there won’t be much overlap between the end of Pitt-Rutgers basketball on ESPN2 and the BBBVA Compass Bowl game of Pitt-Ole Miss on ESPN at 1pm. And if there is overlap, it would be nice if it was the end of a Pitt blowout of the Scarlet Knights.

Good news! Pitt will play with 11 players on offense despite Arthur Doakes suspension. Coach Chryst says so.

Pitt coach Paul Chryst refused Thursday to name a replacement at right guard for redshirt sophomore Arthur Doakes, who has been suspended for violating a team rule and won‘t play in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Saturday against Ole Miss.

“We have a plan,” he said. “We are going to line up with 11 (players). I promise that.”

The plan involves shifting the line a little.

Chryst will deal with the loss of right guard Arthur Doakes by juggling the offensive line. Matt Rotheram, who has played right tackle all season, will move to guard, his natural position when he was recruited in 2010 from North Olmstead (Ohio) High School. Zenel Demhasaj will get the first start of his Pitt career at right tackle. Demhasaj, a redshirt junior who is not returning next season, has been at Pitt for the past two years after transferring from Nassau (N.Y.) Community College.

So, plugging in someone new and shifting one of the linemen from where he played all year. What could go wrong? Not saying there’s much of a choice. Just saying, that I’m not optimistic about what to expect from the line.

So, it’s just before his final game. A bowl game. A semi-big game. Let’s talk Tino Sunseri’s legacy:

As for how he will be remembered at Pitt, those assessing Sunseri’s legacy will have to juxtapose Pitt’s 20-18 record with Sunseri’s strong senior year numbers and elevated place in the school’s record books.

“I don’t know what [my legacy] is,” Sunseri said. “It’s whatever people make it. I have no control over that.”

Fair enough. But, there is some control. Play well and get the win in this final game, and the odds are he will have a better departing image than with a loss. The bowl games may have very little real meaning, but they really effect how players are perceived. Especially when they bomb. Think Bill Stull in the Sun Bowl. Or Rutger’s Gary Nova after the Russel Athletic Bowl.

The team feels better prepared than last year. Of course it helps to actually have a coaching staff to help prepare you.

@Ward – it’s not just after the losses in football. Have you looked at our women’s basketball, our baseball, our basketball, our football, our volleyball, our swimming, our track, our lacrosse, our crew, our wrestling, etc.? Steve Pederson is not responsible for academics, but athletics.

Show me where he is successfully supporting the overall mission! How is our brand? Athletic success leads to academic awareness, creates a buzz amongst academicians! If academics were the end all, we should have applied to the ivy schools and given sports the back seat. This is where leadership has failed in my opinion. Explain to the donors what our brand is. Do we want to be known as an academic institution, an athletic institution or be emminent in both?

I dare ask the folks of the blather to respond. The leadership needs to provide clarity so we know and can set, the proper expectations.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 01.06.13 @ 6:25 pm

oops, sorry…

my point is ….please show me where we have improved because of him in any sport, not in spite of him! Is anyone proud to talk to others about pitt sports?

Comment by dhuffdaddy 01.06.13 @ 6:30 pm

I am ALWAYS proud to talk about Pitt – academics, athletics, quality of life, quality of people. I do college recruiting events for Pitt and I’m not even an alum, just a Pitt parent. Would I like to win FBall and BBall championships? Sure. But I’d rather Pitt be Pitt than give up its core values just to win.

Comment by Pitt Dad 01.06.13 @ 6:48 pm

I can care less about Pitt Academics….. I do we’ll because I work hard not because of my Pitt degree. I don’t talk to friends about our academic programs on Monday morning. We talk football and basketball, etc. who gives a rats ass honestly. We’re a good school for a public school. We are no Harvard and no WVU were in the middle. I care about sports and our AD is a disaster.

Comment by Upittbaseball 01.06.13 @ 7:41 pm

Well, wherever I go and whoever I talk to people recognize that Pitt is a world class instutition – renowned in Medicine, Philosophy, Business among other departments – as well as a having historical success in athletics. They know, as I do, that Pitt will come back again in sports. It’s nice when I tell people my sons went to Pitt that the response is, “wow, great school.”

Comment by Pitt Dad 01.06.13 @ 7:51 pm

Wardapalooza – Your post drew my eye and my ire.
Here’s what I want Steve Pederson to do. His f’n job!

My company was just purchased and we are putting out a new brand. While I am not CEO COO or CFO, I am on the Sales Management side of the business.
Starting at about 6:05AM tomorrow morning, it is my job to make every waking minute of my life about my company’s brand, making it a success, asking my clients about what they would like to see (there’s that “active listening” thing which I will get back to), and putting my enthusiasm, energy and life’s energy forth in trying to make my new company a success.

What in the hell does Pederson do all day. Someone else posted earlier about the state of Pitt Sports…all sports, tennis, badmitton, Women’s BBall, wrestling (the only sport that gets above a C). They are all a mess…Pitt’s Brand is a mess…different Uni colors, awful fundraising, a negative connotation every time any Pitt Sport is mentioned. Hell, two of our players did not even have names on their jersies Saturday!! On national tv…in a bowl game. Who the hell is responsible??

And I will not even get into Saturdays’ disiasters.

Did any one of you…any…have one moment of joy Saturday??? other than “what’s his name leaving at QB”? Someone wrote a post earlier talking about how hard it is to watch Pitt sports…well it sure F’n is!!

So Ward….what does Pederson do all day? Have any of you seen or heard from hi? When is the last time anyone from Pitt called you to ask an opinion, fill out a survey of what you like to see at Pitt?? And then…follow through. The next time will be my first!

And don’t get on me about the Pitt callers who beg for money. I give more money (as do all of you) to Pitt than to my church, charity’s and eartly pleasures (including scotch which I need to tolerate Pitt Sports) combined. As do all of you.

Hell, even Bob Smizek rippped into Pederson on his blog and I haven’t agreed with Bob on anything since they brought back Danny Murtaugh the second time.

We need change. We need a new AD, a national recruiter who will help “ALL” the sports coaches Make Pitt a professional looking operation.

Did any of you see anything “professional” in Saturday’s games? Our football team looked like a bad HS Team they way they handled themselves on the field. Our BBall team was as lost as Pederson.

Branding covers the whole gamut…it sets a tone for the university and permeates the sports atmosphere, win or lose, with a look of professionalism.

There, did I even mention the stadium or the colors or the script. I am furious with Steve Pederson who for all I know sits in his office doing crosswards all day. Bob Smizek hasn’t seen or heard from him, neither has my friend Jerry Mico. Have you???

Comment by Dan 72 01.06.13 @ 8:25 pm

Well Dan, I’m sure Pitt appreciates your BIG BUCKS!! Your church probably would as well!! Just joking!! Hail to Pitt!! Hail to your church!! Rev. George from Columbus

Comment by Rev. George Mehaffey 01.06.13 @ 8:42 pm

Brands? Let’s talk brands.
A few years ago I took care of the owner for the company that makes Nittany Lion Franks.
‘Hey,’ I asked, ‘how much does PSU make from that?’
‘Six figures,’ I was told.
So I asked, “Anyway you would be willing to do a similar deal with Pitt?’
‘Why not?’ the guy told me. ‘Dogs is dogs and I am in business to sell as many as I can.’
So I called the athletic department that very same day. Gave them the guys name, number, and the whole story. They promised to get back to me and of course never did.
This was an easy score for Pitt. They had to do nothing but extend a licensing agreement, and Smiling Steve couldn’t even do that.
So, with that in mind, how on earth can any of us expect him to go out of his way to expand on the Pitt brand?
Bottom line: A new basketball arena is no reason to keep someone who is incompetent,

Comment by Gas 01.06.13 @ 8:51 pm

Good stuff guys… I agree completely. I’d clean house. The whole group has no idea how to run a foot locker let alone a AD Dept.

Comment by Upittbaseball 01.06.13 @ 9:25 pm

Rev George – I give more that bucks to my church. I am a choir director and give my time with the same passion I give my money…and that’s what we are talking about…passion! Pederson exhibits none…anywhere. He is a pompous arrogant aloof figure whom almost no one in the press community cares for let alone the alumni.

By the way…my music (which included the Heinz Chapel Choir and Men’s Glee Club at Pitt)has me singing at Carnegie Hall in NYC Jan 20th with the New York Philharmonic. God has been very generous! Now, if we could only get him on our side at Pitt!!

Comment by Dan 72 01.06.13 @ 9:33 pm

The “Pete” isn’t new anymore. It is now in its 11th basketball season. it is not “new”.
Listen, anyone who is any good in college athletcis has one thing in common….they get swamped with offers for other jobs.
What school in their right mind would hire this Bozo?
Pitt’s athletic department is filled with losers…sorry, but apart from EJ and the lady who really runs the show on football game days, the rest could not get a job at Mc Donald’s…
I don’t want to disparage McDonald’s employees, but the company hires alot.
Did anyone get the flyer from the athletic Department a few weeks back asking for increased pledges? I did.
Know what was missing? A plan. A statement that this is what we are going to use it for. When someone askes me to “give” them money, if they want it they need to tell me what they are going to use it for.
Not Pitt….they just stick out there hands and if any falls in, so be it.
they couldn’t run a cheerleader car wash!

Comment by sfpitt 01.06.13 @ 9:37 pm

Gas 01 – I could fill a book with the stories like yours. My fave was callling for Pitt football tickets (called Pitt tick office) for a game, getting put on hold, and listening to the Duquesne Fight song on the Muzaak trak.

Second fav, is calling Wannstead’s crew to help recruit an elite kicker out of Lynchburg. Sent them his tape and everything. After, no follow up or response of any kind and about 12 calls on my part, I was told we already had a kicker lined up for 2011-12. You Blatherites can watch Darryl Simms kicking for UVA for the next 3 years. I guarentee he will beat us at least once. He was making them off the grass from 55 in HS. He actually wanted to go to Pitt..imagine that. We could not even write him a cover letter saying thanks but no thanks.

And I could go on…and on…and on…all under Stevie P.

Comment by Dan 72 01.06.13 @ 9:39 pm

@Pitt Dad – If Pitt only wanted to be good at Engineering, our leadership would have stopped there.They didn’t. They wanted to be great at law. They could have stopped there, but they also wanted to be great at Medicine. When the right leadership leads an endeavor, the program can be successful.

The point is that we have the wrong leadership in athletics. There is no plan. There is not a sport that has been really successful under Pederson’s rule. Pick one we can celebrate and let’s have Chas or Reed open a thread so we can do it! I never said we should compromise academics for athletics and we don’t have too. Stanford does not. Duke does not. Notre Dame does not.

Why do we allow our athletic leadership a pass. I wouldn’t allow this to go on if he reported to me, especially given all of our academic successes. The opportunity is to have an emminent institution. A complete university of excellence progressing towards emminence. Why do we settle for less when we have an opportunity to be the best? That is all I want answered and to date, have not heard an acceptable answer to me. Others may think this is fine and Pitt Dad, you may be one of those.

I want to be associated with the best in all things, not some things. We can get there if we have strong leaders in all areas, not some.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 01.06.13 @ 9:56 pm

@dhuffdaddy – I’m not giving anyone a pass nor was I suggesting that Pederson has been a success. I was merely pointing out that among those I know, Pitt is highly regarded for both academics and athletics and that I wouldn’t sacrifice one for the other.

Comment by Pitt Dad 01.06.13 @ 10:16 pm

The only way to send the message to our Chancellor, et al is to completely withold contributions to the athletic department…the message should be if you want our money remove Pederson.

Comment by isnore 01.06.13 @ 10:18 pm

Pitt Atlanta- agree with you 100% on Nordy. Not sure why the ire directed at him by some here. Direct it to Pederson – where it belongs.

Comment by Pitt it Is 01.06.13 @ 10:29 pm

Follow the food chain and payroll. Peterson reports to Nordy. Peterson’s a joke of a AD. Therefore it is Nordy’s responsibility to fire him or people will start looking t him.

Comment by Upittbaseball 01.06.13 @ 11:22 pm

I get the academic successes and agree wholeheartedly. I don’t get the athletic success except for the recent mens basketball records for the past couple of years.

I look at the totality of the sports programs, not just mens football and mens basketball. I wouldn’t trade academic reputation for athletic reputation.

I am a firm believer that you can have both. I am hoping to be educated by someone who says we have both, but I just don’t see it. Maybe I am missing it and will gladly apologize if I missed something.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 01.06.13 @ 11:41 pm

I am reading and appreciating the comments. I asked a question further up the thread and would appreciate insight from those that have it.

The ADs before Pederson were weak (I believe)… Long was between his SP’s two tenors and was weak as well. So when have we had a good AD?

My question gets to my concern that institutionally Pitt is incapable of getting good leadership in its sports programs… so we get rid of SP and get what? another lacky with no vision or balls??

… is it because this vice Chancellor ?Cochran? screws everything up? other? The good coaches we have gotten were really strokes of good luck.

Comment by PittScript 01.07.13 @ 12:37 am

On another note, Pitt is now ranked Top 60-70 internationally as a University and when as a Pitt grad. I apply for a job… my resume is my Pitt degree not how good my school did on the football field… so academics absolutely Top #1 and Nordenberg has done a very good job here advancing Pitt’s academic strenght and reputation. We just need to give that to him.

…. that said I have been persuaded by the statements here tonight on the importance of good athletics to improve the recognition and view of institution — Pitt’s Athletic side has not caught up to its academic progress.

… just for the record the ACC picked Pitt because of academic reputation as much or more than athletics… if we were weak academically we would be screwed in the big east.

Comment by PittScript 01.07.13 @ 12:42 am

I hope the bloggers on here who just love, love, love Nordy and his bromance with Stevie buy lots of football tickets next year. Where were you last spring when Pitt set a record for the lowest attendance ever at a CBI basketball game? Strong athletics sell a university’s academic programs. Under Nordy and Stevie, with ESPN cameras almost always in view, Pitt athletics have become a source of embarrassment for many alums. You want to talk about a school that values its academics to the point of snobbery? Look at Rice U. right here in Houston. Even the Owls won their bowl game. Pitt athletics, and attendance at major sporting events, is regressing. The buck stops with Nordy and Pederson.

The best year for Pitt sports in recent memory was 2009, almost four years ago. Your terrific Nordy and smiling Stevie are moving backwards.

Comment by TonyinHouston 01.07.13 @ 12:47 am

You really aren’t using CBI attendance as evidence of anything are you? That’s a little disingenuous.

I have had numerous interactions with the Pitt Athletic Dept on a number of professional and personal levels. There are good people in that office that work hard, are responsive and proactive, and are positive contributors to the Dept and the university as a whole.

Steve Pederson is a very polarizing figure in that he is an outsider to an exceedingly xenophobic community, stripped the old guard fan of the Script and the Stadium which were the only tangible connection to the most successful stretch in the modern era, and has presided over some significantly head-scratching personnel decisions. But he also corrected a number of long time failings that the previous regimes perpetuated and exacerbated over several decades of mismanagement. Let’s not forget that when Pederson became AD the bell weather programs were playing horrific brands of their respective sports in dilapidated facilities in uniforms that were not…uniform. All of that put Pitt at a disadvantage in comparison to its peers.

Give credit to Pederson for having the vision, arrogance and will to break a few eggs in creating a culture change which resulted in a rebirth in the football product, the creation of a perennial nationally relevant basketball program and the addition of one of the most significant capital investments in campus history (The Pete and adjoining sports complex that just so happened to make Pitt a viable candidate for more prestigious leagues). Yes, the casting off of “Pitt” as a brand in favor of the marketing gimmick “Pittsburgh” was a very poor mis-step and the uniqueness of mustard yellow was a calling card (questionable as it may be)…but the other hard decisions and directions were necessary to make Pitt competitive in major D1 athletics.

With that said, I am of the belief that Athletic Administrators (ADs, GMs, Coaches, etc) have about a 10-12 year effective life span in any one position, with few notable exceptions. After that, the arrogance required becomes paralyzing and the message is no longer received. My guess is that Nordy has kept Pederson in place to maintain continuity as Pitt makes the move to the ACC and that once that transition has been completed, at change in the AD will be made.

Comment by ECH 01.07.13 @ 7:35 am

During the second half of last year’s BBVA Compass Bowl against SMU, my brother and I downed an entire bottle of George Dickel Whiskey to numb the pain.

During the fourth quarter of this year’s game, I simply took a nap. This isn’t worth getting upset about anymore because we are what we are.

Comment by AJ 01.07.13 @ 7:37 am

The profile of Pitt has grown under Nordy, the selectivity has improved and Pitt has a major research university. His leadership has done a lot for the school. No, it’s not Stanford, Princeton or Yale, but the university’s stature has improved a great deal during his tenure. That’s good for everyone here.

What I would like to see, is a return to relevence with the football program. I do believe we have a good guy in place, as head coach, and I realize that there will be growing pains. I just hope that he is given the time and resources to be successful.

Comment by Justinian 01.07.13 @ 8:15 am

It’s a good thing Pitt tore down Pitt Stadium to make room for a big-time basketball arena.

Otherwise, how could the basketball program have ever become the powerhouse it is today?

Comment by PittofDreams 01.07.13 @ 8:53 am


That is a brilliantly myopic perspective of the University’s billion-dollar universe.

Comment by ECH 01.07.13 @ 9:23 am

I did not address the content of the character of the people in the athletic department as that is not my complaint with them. My complaint is with performance, including the critical role of development.
But moving Pitt from 1980 to 2000 was fine, but it is now 2013 and we are stuck at year 2000.
The personnel decisions are much more than “head scratchers”. They damn near proved to be fatal.
Simply put, Nordenberg has been a superb leader, but all leaders have their flaws and his flaw is that he has placed his relationship with pederson ahead of the interests of the university as a whole.
A university where, I will add, Pederson is among the highest paid employees.
Time for him to go.

Comment by sfpitt 01.07.13 @ 10:28 am

I agree with the critique of latter years of SP although the changes he made coming in with facilities etc were very important.

… but my question above goes unanswered….

Pitt has demonstrated no ability to hire a good AD… When was the last good one?? Long was not, nor before SP?

so we get rid of SP and get who? a lacky most likely.

my concern is structural problems deep in the university (or people) who need to go as well… such as the Vice chancellor.

we need visionary, strong person… not a “pitt” person (which translates into won’t rock the boat or contradict anyone who has been around forever).

we do need outsiders who come in with fresh perspectives… but…

definitely yes/agree on the comments above about someone with strong marketing in terms of understanding that you have to engage and dialog with your constituents to understand them.

Comment by PittScript 01.07.13 @ 2:25 pm


Sorry, I didn’t intend to infer that you were painting the entire Athletic Department with any particular brush…I was just giving my own perspective formed by my own interactions.

From what I gather from individuals much closer to the administration than I, it’s fairly well understood that Nordy will be retiring from his current position in the not too distant future. My guess is that he feels that the new Chancellor should have the privilege of hiring his own top administrators and is probably hesitant to make a significant change in the AD.

Also, as it relates to Pederson, I believe the same tragic flaw has aided in his poor personnel decisions, marketing mistakes, and general acrimony with many boosters. (And it has nothing to do with the frugality of the University’s senior administration.) He, and many who have been fed by his teat in the AD, believe they are always the smartest people in the room. That kind of mindset lends itself to a lot of blind spots and makes it easy to step in dung at many a turn. Pederson has plenty of dung on his shoes.

If Pederson is worth his salt, he is actively looking for somewhere to land in relative short order…though based on his personnel prowess, he will probably be caught flat footed.

Comment by ECH 01.07.13 @ 2:41 pm

@ech interesting insights. Thank you

Comment by PittScript 01.07.13 @ 7:38 pm

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