May 3, 2013

The rumors of Barry Rohrssen’s return have been swirling for a couple of weeks. To be honest, it has been hard to separate fact from wishful thinking that has been put out there. But it seems that Jamie Dixon is indeed bringing back Slice.

Sources confirmed Thursday night that Barry “Slice” Rohrssen will rejoin Dixon’s staff as an assistant coach, replacing Pat Sandle, an original member of Dixon’s staff who spent the past decade with the program.

That detail is surprising. Sandle first started with Pitt in 1999 under Ben Howland. The LA native left for a couple years to be an assistant at UCLA under Lavin. Of course, Lavin was fired by UCLA who hired Howland and Sandle was not retained. And when Dixon became the Pitt head coach, he hired Sandle.

Most people — including myself — figured that if Dixon made a change on staff, it would be with Bill Barton. His recruiting has been lackluster, and no one exactly raves about his abilities as an X’s-and-O’s guy.

Sandle didn’t do much (any?) recruiting. At least not going out on the road. Generally not a big deal since only two assistants can be out at a time. Plenty of coaches employ one coach who is more of a strategy, scouting and X-and-O guy. Billy Donovan, Jim Calhoun and Jim Boeheim immediately spring to my mind as the most prominent head coaches who did that.

Sandle emphasized the defense, and coached the frontcourt. You look at the development of players like Wanamaker, Fields, Woodall, Patterson among others and you have to give credit to Sandle. Presumably the frontcourt responsibilities will fall more to Brandin Knight.

So letting go of Sandle is a big change. Potentially bigger than bringing back Rohrssen.

Rohrssen was a member of Pitt’s staff from 2001-06, serving under Dixon and Ben Howland. He was Dixon’s associate head coach from 2004-06 before accepting the head coaching job at Manhattan.

Rohrssen did not fare well as a head coach. He recruited well enough, but did not win. He spent last year as an assistant with the Portland Trailblazers’ D-League team. He connected well with the players and staff.

The hiring of Rohrssen hopefully suggests that there was more money for paying assistants in the recent extension of Dixon’s contract. It is no secret that Pitt — historically — does not do a very good job of paying assistants. Head coaches usually have to fight the administration for more money to pay assistants. (Oh, and for the love of god, please don’t turn this into a “It’s all Steve Pederson’s fault” thread. This was an issue when Jeff Long was in charge. It was an issue before Pederson. It is an administrative issue at Pitt that goes beyond the AD.)

Obviously there are a ton of open scholarships to fill. This move, now, suggests that the focus is really shifting to the 2014 and even 2015 classes at this point. Not that Dixon and the staff have given up on finding more help for the coming season. It is just that the available players that can provide immediate help has gotten small.

My comments were specifically about Nordy and athletics. He has demonstrated in other areas (academics and UPMC if you like robber-baron health care organizations) bold initiative. Nordy knows what to do with athletics. He just hasn’t allocated the resources to do it. Pitt can be first class in both academics and athletics and avoid the slime that has engulfed USC, NC, Penn State, and OSU. It’s possible.

Comment by TonyinHouston 05.06.13 @ 2:26 pm

Uchebo signing with Pitt today.

Comment by Randy 05.06.13 @ 2:58 pm

Very hard to find fault with our chancellor from an academic perspective. If anything I would guess he would grade out very high in his peer group. The love affair with the AD is perplexing. As a kid who grew up spitting distance from Pitt Stadium I was distraught when it came down. In retrospect should we have built (or at least considered) a more massive complex that could’ve held both football & basketball (especially considering the size of the green space sitting next to the hoop court), yes. While I completely admire the panther hollow initiative and will consider participating, I cant help to wonder how realistic it is to move the Frick Arts Center, provide any additional parking, work around dedicated park space & figure out how to navigate what is the side of a hill all while preserving the integrity of the center of our unique campus that is littered with historic landmarks (cathedral, heinz chapel, museums & libraries, student union & another major university). Yet, the useful life of Heinz Field argument is valid & if we wait much longer we will be caught with our pants down while the Steelers negotiate with local authorities by threatening a move to Washington PA… I do love the idea of sight lines to the cathedral, but wouldnt it be more prudent to look at Trees Hall, the Field House & beyond? Wouldnt it be easier to buy the additional land we need up there? Couldnt we accommodate all the athletic departments needs there? Couldnt we argue that it would be a shot in the arm for the Hill District too? Certainly Trees & the Field House are well beyond their useful lives! While it is important to look at what other universities are doing, CSU & GA TECH are different animals. The topographical challenges of our city is a self limiting factor. As we all know, in this town you are either going up a hill or down one, we have no beltways & more bridges than anywhere in the world! I just dont know if our real need for an OCS would be best served by dropping a stadium essentially right on Forbes Ave. How many other inner city D1 FB programs from a major city east of the mississippi (say top 30 markets) have a on campus stadium (that sits over 40k)? OSU, GA TECH, UC (i dont think it sits 40k) its a short list right? As much as I want an OCS, I think we should be very careful (heck, we shouldnt have ever leveled Forbes Field!)

Comment by ptbreezeb 05.06.13 @ 3:02 pm

Matt Steinbrink is also reporting the Uchebo is signing with Pitt, and is trying to get in touch with him directly to confirm. Very, very welcome news!

Comment by Pantherman13 05.06.13 @ 3:04 pm

When Football is the Money Maker in College sports, one does not tear down your on campus football stadium to replace it with a basketball arena that sits 12,500. That is/was absurd.

I wasn’t in Pittsburgh when that happened, how in the heck did he get away with such a foolish thing?

While Pitt Stadium was indeed old, old can be cherished, just as Bobby Dodd Stadium is at GT, Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, The Big House in Ann Arbor, The Cow Palace at Creepy Valley, The Rose Bowl for UCLA and indeed most college football stadiums are old. And old can be updated as far as seats, restrooms (for those that care where they piss when they’re drunk), refreshment stands, etc. Parking problems can be resolved with just a tad of thought, as in busing ppl from parking garages, etc.

Nope SP wanted something basically with his name on it. And Pitt stadium stood in the way of that.
Because remember he was remaking Pitt athletics in his image, teams were to be referred to as “PITTSURGH” by the media and TV announcers, so there was no room for something called Pitt Stadium. His vision was to start calling the University by a different name than it had been known as for over 80 years. lol

That takes a lot of gall and utter arrogance.

You take the four events; of him remaking Pitt athletics in his image(PITSBURGH & the GroundHog Head), the tearing down of an on campus stadium with NO PLANS to replace it ON CAMPUS, the NO PLAN to replace a coach who had won the most football games at Pitt in 30 years and someone who had built great relationships with all the HS coaches in PA, NJ & most of Ohio and the hires he made after that with Baby Daddy & High Octane & Penny.

And anybody standing a few feet away from this walking disaster would assume this person came to wreck all that is Pitt and Pitt football since Pop Warner and his protege Jock Sutherland with his Rose Bowl teams, graced the sidelines of Pitt Stadium.

Since we’re a State University is there anyway we can get the Governor or someone/anyone to fire this moron.

We should be entering a new era of Pitt athletics in the ACC with this clown in charge. imo

Hail to Pitt
Veritas et Virtus

Comment by EMel 05.06.13 @ 3:17 pm

Just got a confirmation of that Randy & Pantherman

Great News, exactly what we needed !!!

Jeff Borzello
One of the best JUCO bigs left on board. RT @RyanJamesMN: Joseph Uchebo just told me he signed with Pitt.

Comment by EMel 05.06.13 @ 3:33 pm


That was one of the spots we considered early on (there were about 6 places). Trees and The Fitz doesn’t have the “footprint”, so we started working down Wadsworth and Aliquippa Streets. The traffic and projected acquisition/road reconstruction on that steep of a hillside became a non-starter. We also looked at lower Oakland where Frazer Playground/Marino Field is located, but again a traffic nightmare and an awful long hike for students (trying to get away from busing).

The rail line gave us a boost in Panther Hollow as it solves several issues (2nd Ave. Parking), CMU Robo Needs and eventually north and south extensions. Take a look at the photos of PH under the bridge, it is not the “green space” they talk about. That space is from PH Lake going west up along Schenley Park (about 1/4 mi. south of the proposed area.

The Frick wasn’t designed for students. It was a classic library, classroom and art display setting. It has only been more recently that the art and architectural art departments have been using the basement as art studios. There is no natural lighting and not enough space to grow the program. Building a new enlarged basement along Forbes with skylights and such and then moving Frick over on top of it is NOT an engineering feat. It is done all the time by contractors all over the country.

Walking across Forbes and being in the business center (eateries and such) of Oakland is what we thought helped enhance the choice of that location. It didn’t hurt that Forbes Field used to be there.

Enough of me already……

Comment by CompLit 05.06.13 @ 3:46 pm

meant PH Lake going “east”

Comment by CompLit 05.06.13 @ 3:53 pm

one more … @ptbreezeb and others. Your comments, ideas and thoughts are what we are looking for. My above comment wasn’t a “smack”, it was just to say that we didn’t blindly pick the location to put in our effort. “Although I’ve always been enamoured with The Cathedral and I was married at Heinz Chapel. (only one has sexual overtones!)

Comment by CompLit 05.06.13 @ 4:01 pm

You’re right CompLit.

The Cathedral is a grand Gothic building and should be considered in any OCS. As it is the tallest OCB in the United States and is Pitt’s unique identifier.

I remember all the great ‘blimp views’ of Oakland when ABC sports televised Pitt games from Pitt Stadium. Loved the Big Panther on the side of the House overlooking Pitt Stadium, so he would need to be part of any new stadium, imo.

Comment by EMel 05.06.13 @ 4:44 pm

@Emel That’s what the dorms are for! We’ll have PPG etch the Panther in a wall of glass on that side of the dorms.

Crap – I love that idea, it’s going into the pot and get swirled around…

Comment by CompLit 05.06.13 @ 4:57 pm

I would go easy on Nordenberg. I struggle as to why he keeps Pederson around. But what he has done for the school has been outstanding. Top 100 in the world university rankings is pretty good.

The problem with Pitt Stadium was its location. Put the stadium down in the campus area, off of that hill, and without doing anything, you draw 10,000 more per game. Add some parking, and who knows. They should have rebuilt Pitt Stadium on the land the Forbes Field used to occupy, frankly. Put the law school on Cardiac Hill.

But it will never happen with Pederson as the AD. As noted by Emel, he is a “big picture” guy that likes to make bold moves, and needs something for his “legacy.” Moving out of Heinz would be an admission of failure. Not that failure is something new to him. Admitting probably is, however.

Comment by PO'd Panther 05.06.13 @ 6:54 pm

Some of you guys are laughable. Sorry I’m late to the party, so I will try to deconstruct the worst of them:

First of all, CSU (I live there) is a TERRIBLE comparison for an OCS for Pitt. Why? Because there is enough open land on campus to build a stadium. Not true for Pitt unless you raze 100s of homes.

Second, no land is only part of Pitt’s problem. There’s also no parking, and no decent access off the Parkway West for cars (same problem that doomed Ebbets Field, among others). So in addition to having to declare eminent domain and take & bulldoze 100s of homes & small businesses, you’d need to build a 4-lane road off I-376 (3 lanes inbound before games, 3 lanes outbound after), or else a light-rail spur.

In short, building new Yankee Stadium is a LOT closer model to new Pitt Stadium than CSU’s. In my educated opinion, the cost to build new Pitt Stadium would easily exceed $1 billion, and for a stadium that’s smaller than Heinz Field.

There’s no way you can justify spending that much money for a venue that’s used 6-8 times per year. Laughable….

Comment by Imma Man! Im 40! 05.06.13 @ 7:30 pm

One more important factor: Colorado is a right to work state. Meaning CSU’s new stadium, if built (no sure thing…) will likely be with non-union labor.

Think New Pitt Stadium would be open-shop? Ha! Since the answer is not just no but hell no, add another 30%, easily, to the cost (versus CSU’s).

Comment by Imma Man! Im 40! 05.06.13 @ 7:34 pm

Return on investment: Ignoring the cost of money, assuming a $1B pricetag (all-in) and using it an average of 7 times per year over 30 year life (too long, but humor me) means the University must collect tix revenues and/or divert TV money at the tune of almost $5 million per GAME just to reimburse the pricetag (let alone service bonds or pay off debt, cover O&M, etc).

Assume 10,000 seats (of 50,000 capacity) go to students who pay almost nothing, and 10,000 no-shows (could be more). That means every other of the 30,000 fans will pay the freight: avg of $150 per SEAT per GAME! And that’s before they pay for a coach, or any program costs, or whatever.

And with a more realistic scenario to include debt service, more like $300 per seat per game.

Like I said before: laughable.

Comment by Imma Man! Im 40! 05.06.13 @ 7:48 pm

Finally, Pitt would also need to build new dorms (no idea where…) to house the 100s of students which would be displaced by the razing of most of the South Oakland neighborhood.

Or, we can keep using an excellent stadium with easy access to the highway & light rail, with its comfortable seats, good sight lines, and modern scoreboard. And use the $1B elsewhere.

I do agree with what somebody said: yes they should improve the mid-field logo. But we can buy a LOT of field paint for $1B.


Comment by Imma Man! Im 40! 05.06.13 @ 7:54 pm

Imma, I am not laughing.

What you say is based on opinion and not facts. Let the study speak for itself.

The CSU study is meant to show how a real AD conducts business and how an OCS benefits not only the student body but the neighborhood at large. And yes it will cost more than CSU.

We will continue using Heinz until the Rooneys move to Washington County and then what. I for one don’t want to be caught with our pants down.

The concept wouldn’t raze hundreds of homes, and students wouldn’t be displaced. In fact they would get new dorms.

Please visit the site and educate yourself before making opinions. Keep the discussion focused on the facts please.

This concept is more than just a stadium but you would already know that if you visited the site. Your negative vibes are what Pitt doesn’t need but I appreciate your opinion.

But again, facts will move the discussion along. After educating yourself, please reach out directly to me and we can discuss. I’m interested in different perspectives but you will find that I will have an answer to most if not all your opinions since I have actually spent the time and performed my own due diligence over the past 4 months and don’t have knee jerk answers and flame.

Comment by TX Panther 05.06.13 @ 8:56 pm

@Imma Man, you know what is reall laugable?? With that 1 Billion in savings, they’ll still have a middle school looking logo at the center of the field.

Maybe they could use some of that savings to cover the 35k empty seats with some black or dark blue covers so they don’t stand out on tv.

The stadium is nice, the venue is one of the worst in college football. Right there with U of Miami and Pro Players stadium or whatever it’s called these days.

Something else laughable??? We actually bus college students to the games on school buses. The yellow and black kind!!!!

School buses that stack up until they are filled, so the kids have to sit there for over an hour until they head back to Oakland. That’s pretty laughable.

Comment by Dan 05.06.13 @ 9:15 pm

@CompLit. No, we never stay on the North Shore. We go in for the game, have a couple hot dogs and get the hell home.

At campus, we used to go down early in the a.m. for breakfast, then to the Pitt shop and the bookstore. Grab a couple beers in one of the bars. Always walked around campus.

Made a day out of it every time.

Comment by Dan 05.06.13 @ 9:17 pm

I wasn’t going to say this, but after some thought, I’ve decided I will.

Imma Man, you know, your comments and choice of words is rude, if not bordering on being a dick.

You certainly are entitled to your opinion. It is my opinion that you, using the word “laughable” in regards to the amount of work these two gentleman have put into the idea is not laughable.

I will assume you looked at the website. If you have, even a 7 year old could tell that they put a lot of work into the site, on top of a lot research into the idea.

You are entitled to your opinion, there may never be an on campus stadium, certainly the cards are stacked against it, but to call fellow Panthers ideas and hard work “laughable” is really low-rent at best.

Comment by Dan 05.06.13 @ 9:28 pm

I appreciate the work done on the plans for an on campus stadium. Getting the attention of the administration, having the clout to force them to listen,remain challenges. Who are the key alums to contact to support the OCS and, for that matter, other changes we want to see? We may not have the big bucks (and I mean no slight to anyone on this board who has the big bucks) but we certainly have enough field soldiers to make ourselves heard.

Nordenberg and his boy Pederson aren’t listening. We have to change that.

Comment by TonyinHouston 05.07.13 @ 8:24 am

In case anybody is still reading: Dan, you misconstrued what I wrote. I didn’t (and still don’t) use the word “laughable” in regards to the amount of work those two gentleman put into their idea.

The economics are what I described as laughable. $300 per seat per game means there will be even more empty seats than we have now.

Maybe unaffordable would be a better choice of words.

Comment by Imma Man! Im 40! 05.07.13 @ 7:00 pm

I apologize Imma Man. I’m no holier than thou, I did misunderstand you, and that’s on me. Sorry.

Comment by Dan 05.07.13 @ 9:39 pm

Check out our site. My revenue projections are there. Not sure where your 300 dollars is coming from. I have math to back up my forecast based on very reasonable and conservative assumptions. Still not laughing.

Comment by TX Panther 05.07.13 @ 9:51 pm

And no need to call me a gentleman. 🙂

Comment by TX Panther 05.07.13 @ 9:53 pm

Allthough, after perusing, I do see you actually started out with “some of you guys are laughable”. LOL

Comment by Dan 05.07.13 @ 9:59 pm

Avg ticket price over a 20 year period is assumed to be around 140 dollars.

This takes into account the price of the ticket and annual donation. Bleacher seats would be roughly 20 dollars per ticket and no required annual donation. Premium and priority seating with chairbacks would run about 50 dollars blended per ticket…flexes by yard line, and an annual donation of 500 dollars. Suites and boxes are paid for by annual license fees. That runs everyone in those suites about 600 per game…but a corporation pays for it.

Other revenues are generated through naming rights, advertising and sponsorships, merchandise sales, concessions, parking, office rentals, dorm room rent, other non gameday income.

Pitt breaks even by year 17. And the facility is built to last well over 50 years.

This project pays for itself. However we would need to raise nearly 300 million through private donations over a ten year period. That is roughly 50 dollars per year over ten for every Pitt fan…600k of them. But support would also come from non fans since its not just a stadium idea.

Comment by TX Panther 05.08.13 @ 6:10 am

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