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February 20, 2014

Okay, I’m trying  to be back. It’s been a rough few weeks in the offline world, and a lot of the crap has been coming to a head this week. That’s why I’ve been largely silent this entire week. Hopefully I’ll get things back in order soon.

I know there’s a lot of stuff to cover. Right now, I’ll just discuss my feelings on the changes in position coaches.

To recap. Brooks Bollinger resigned from his position as QB Coach at Pitt. He is not taking a job elsewhere in D-1, but has decided to pursue a lifestyle that lets him actually spend time with his family.

This one seems to be close to reality, rather than some coachspeak.

First of all, on Brooks Bollinger’s departure, I think this really is a case where “pursuing other opportunities” can be taken at face value. Bollinger never seemed to have a zeal for the recruiting side of being a college coach, particularly the way it tends to totally dominate your life and leave little time for a young family. Bollinger’s 34, married and has three kids. It’s totally understandable that he wants a career that, as Chryst put it, “lets him put down roots in a community.” It sounds like this had been brewing for some time and, after signing day, Bollinger took some time to think about it and decided he wanted to move back home. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pop up as a high school coach within the next few years.

When he was hired by Chryst to be the QB Coach, he was just getting settled back in Minnesota and coached one year of HS football. It seemed a somewhat dubious hire at the time. Based on the results of Tom Savage and even Tino Sunseri last year, though, I was happy to be wrong with my doubts — at least as far as his coaching ability.

Head Coach Paul Chryst has announced he will take over QB Coaching duties as well. I don’t think anyone really has a problem with this since that is part of what Chryst does so well.

That freed up another position coaching spot. Did Chryst bring in another guy with Wisconsin ties? Yes. Is anyone really going to complain about this particular hire? I hope not.

John Settle, a former NFL running back who has 20 years of experience coaching in the college and pro ranks, has been named running backs coach at Pitt by Paul Chryst.

Settle spent the past three years coaching running backs in the NFL, including this past season with the Cleveland Browns. He served in that same capacity with the Carolina Panthers in 2011 and ’12.

“John Settle has a tremendous football background as both a player and coach,” Chryst said. “He knows what it takes to be an outstanding running back. His track record brings immediate credibility from a coaching and recruiting standpoint. We are fortunate and excited to bring his talents to Pitt.”

Prior to Carolina, Settle spent five seasons as running backs coach at the University of Wisconsin (2006-10), where he teamed with Chryst — then the Badgers’ offensive coordinator — to produce one of the country’s most prolific rushing attacks. Settle coached three players who combined for six 1,000-yard rushing seasons: P.J. Hill (three 1,000-yard campaigns), John Clay (two) and James White (one).

In 2010, Wisconsin nearly became the first team in FBS history to have three different players rush for at least 1,000 yards in the same season. White (1,052 yards), Clay (1,012) and Montee Ball (996) spearheaded the attack as Wisconsin set a Big Ten record with 48 rushing touchdowns.

Settle is an excellent running back coach with a clear track record of success. I’m so happy about this hire, I won’t even make Wisconsin East jokes.

Instead I’ll focus on the Appalachian State mafia that is forming. Settle was teammates with Troy Douglas, Pitt’s new DB Coach. Both at least met Linebacker Coach John Palmero when he was coaching at App St.

I also like that both Settle and Douglas have ties that work much better for recruiting in ACC territory.

As for Pitt’s new Wide Receivers’ Coach, Greg Lewis. Yes, he is a Big Ten alum (Illinois), but he’s actually got some experience. He spent the last two years coaching wide receivers on the West Coast.

Lewis, 34, launched his coaching career as an intern with the [Philadelphia] Eagles in 2012 before guiding wide receivers at the University of San Diego that season. He was the San Jose State wide receivers coach last season, including first-team All-Mountain West receiver Chandler Jones.

“Greg really impressed us with his knowledge, energy and desire to teach the game,” Pitt coach Paul Chryst said. “His background as a college and NFL receiver will serve our players and staff well.”

He seems like a promising hire. He has NFL experience to sell recruits. He’s obviously got ambition. Lewis moved to SJSU from USD because his boss at USD (Ron Caragher) was hired at SJSU and thought enough of Lewis to bring him.

No one at this point should expect Chryst to look to make a splashy hire. They are going to be understated and almost strangely timed — Pitt formally announced Settle’s hiring and Bollinger resigning mid-afternoon on a Friday. Prime time for releasing some bad or embarrassing news. Not coaching moves.





Welcome back Chas. We were worried about you.

Comment by PittofDreams 02.20.14 @ 4:41 pm

Only problem with App. Sate is they are called the Mountaineers….was going to say ….well forgetabouit.

I think we all shot our loads on the new coaches already.

Comment by Emel 02.20.14 @ 5:07 pm

Nice post Chas. It’s good to have you back in saddle. Hope all is well.

I like the three hires and I think the NFL playing and coaching experience will pay dividends when talking with recruits.

Comment by Justinian 02.20.14 @ 5:12 pm

I see Duke visits UNC tonight. what a shame they both can’t lose.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.20.14 @ 5:26 pm

I like that all three coaches bring some attitude with them.

Comment by HbgFrank 02.20.14 @ 5:52 pm

Here’ some recruiting news on a big Defensive Tackle who also plays Offensive Tackle, Pitt is interested in.

link to bleacherreport.com

Comment by Emel 02.20.14 @ 6:02 pm

The Mike Heywood fiasco.

The gift that keeps on giving.

link to triblive.com

Comment by Emel 02.20.14 @ 6:05 pm

@chas, thanks, good info. and hope all is OK in the ‘real world’.

@ Dr. Tom, thanks. The 4 star RB James is a YouTube hit given his workout and everyone raves about how physical he is… if he lives up to billing you would think he is the ‘feature back’.
Qadree Ollison was billed as the big hammer type back who is tough.

Given others as well who can back up, or Connor getting some carriers…. I can see why they may shift him.

As Dr. Tom said it is a good “problem” to have and it is the inbound recruits creating it (so good sign because means recruiting is going well!).

@bruce F… right about the Ped state situation. Obrien is a WPA kinda guy and it was just hard to not respect him and wish he was our coach…

Franklinstein is a jag off as @justinian put it… right on the mark.

He is the kind of mouth that just annoys WPA people within 5 minutes…. hate him in a half hour.

This guy is going to blow a gasket quicker than Holgerson and I am going to freak’n love watching every minute of it…

I love how Chryst handled the questions about this idiot too… basically said its easy to shoot your mouth off because what is real is what actually happens…

After Franklinstein’s speech…

we get 3 PA commitments …

… and hire 3 “above the line” position coaches!

Comment by Pittscript 02.20.14 @ 6:21 pm

@Emel , Which leads to the question … How in the heck did Smilin Steve survive that stupidity. He had to have pictures of the chancellor with farm animals. Oh crap we’re back to that.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.20.14 @ 6:26 pm

well, we’ve got Stevie for the long haul so we might as well ‘smile’ and bear it

Must admit that I am feeling much better about the FB program than I have for about 5 years, and think (maybe hope) it will get even better.

Comment by wbb 02.20.14 @ 6:31 pm

something like that sos22.

I think they play bingo together as well.

Comment by Emel 02.20.14 @ 6:35 pm

Wbb, I couldn’t agree more, and we have come a long way since the turmoil of spring ball last year. The bowl game seemed like we turned a corner and I am the most excited about the coming season as I have been since we were ranked and lost our opener in Utah.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.20.14 @ 6:36 pm

Emel, perhaps wiffle ball

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.20.14 @ 6:37 pm

I’ll hold off until halftime of the Blue Hen game.

:-)

Comment by Emel 02.20.14 @ 6:40 pm

Emel, Can you believe that our Athletic Director survived after the Heywood and Graham hires? Yes strange but true. It set the university back three years. The only good thing is that Pitt is now in the ACC.

Comment by Justinian 02.20.14 @ 7:04 pm

I’m thinking we’ll be under the radar this year but at least according to one preseason poll, we’re honorable mention

link to nationalfootballpost.com

Comment by wbb 02.20.14 @ 7:18 pm

that’s right Justinian….and we ALL know it was Cornhole’s tireless efforts that landed us in the ACC. :-) (sarc)

Comment by Emel 02.20.14 @ 7:25 pm

don’t like how they have us listed next to Pedo State wbb.

Some might be apt to confuse the two. As I’ve heard on the radio previously.

Nice obscure link, keep surfing dude !

Comment by Emel 02.20.14 @ 7:29 pm

@wbb nice get again on the story… fact we are mentioned is interesting.

WVU is no longer in the picture… program really sliding off. Reestablishing ourselves as a premium program over them is a really nice first step…

… then next few years work to rebalance the power relationship with Ped state…. which predict will happen between Chryst’s steady execution of a solid plan, combined with ego explosion in soon-not-to-be-so-happy-valley…

Comment by Pittscript 02.20.14 @ 7:37 pm

Script, don’t write off the Hoopies just yet. It’s early but they are already working on a top 20 recruiting class for 2015. They continue to do well in South Fla. I would never want Holgie as a head coach but he can recruit.

Comment by Iron Duke 02.20.14 @ 7:59 pm

I believe that Chryst is maturing as a head coach and settling in. Let’s hit the recruiting trail hard and sell the kids on where the program is heading with their help. And maybe, just maybe, it leads to this one day.

link to ubbullrun.com

Comment by TX Panther 02.20.14 @ 8:10 pm

There is a new dynamic setting up between Pitt and Penn St. With the 2016 game scheduled fans on both sides of the fence are starting to look at what those teams will look like. Last years freshman class will be seniors when they meet so some of the games participants are all ready playing. The coaching staffs are taking shape as well. Over the next couple of years the teams will be building and recruiting towards that eventual contest. The future of both programs will be judged to a great degree by how they do in that game.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.20.14 @ 8:12 pm

TX Panther, Yes, Paul Chryst does seem to have a better handle on things and he moved quickly the coaching additions. As well as getting out early on next year’s recruiting class. I like what I’ve seen this year and I am very up-beat about the football program going forward.

Comment by Justinian 02.20.14 @ 8:28 pm

I bet we don’t have any hot dogs saying they don’t want to show up for spring ball this year.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.20.14 @ 8:33 pm

Seems pretty universal that we all like the additions to the coaching staff. Lewis’s and Settle’s NFL experience a definite plus.

Things seem like they may be falling in place. I had said before, I think this time next year we will know where this program is and where it can go.

With next year’s schedule 8 wins is realistic. Then you can really start selling recruits that you are a program on the rise.

Getting ready to renew my season tickets and getting excited for spring ball. Does anyone know where they are playing the Blue-Gold game this year?

Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Pap76 02.20.14 @ 8:44 pm

@Iron Duke

darn… I mean what does WVU have to sell??

its morgantown
its academics are OK only
its 1000 miles every week to play in dust bowls

I just don’t see where the long term value is in that program for players… but they did get Henry.

if they lose Holgy is gone… the AD seems to be making noise of going elsewhere… hopefully that does them in.

As for Ped state I predict in 2016 that Chryst is the HC going against yet a different coach than Franklinstein…

Comment by Pittscript 02.20.14 @ 8:59 pm

Hey, Morgantown the home of WVU made it to the top ten again!

Ten U.S. Cities Where Violent Crime Is Soaring

6. Morgantown, W. Va.
> 5-year increase in violent crime rate: 50.8%
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2007): 191.0
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2012): 288.1
> Murders per 100,000: 2.3

Cases of aggravated assault, which more-than doubled over the past five years, have largely driven the rise in the Morgantown area’s violent crime rate. Aside from aggravated assaults, other violent crime rates actually declined between 2007 and 2012, as did property crime rates. Morgantown’s 5.3% unemployment rate in 2012 was one of the lower ones in the nation. Job growth in the area has been positive in recent years, and the unemployment rate has returned to pre-recession levels. The city of Morgantown itself is quite small with only about 30,000 residents, while the area is also home to West Virginia University, which itself had more than 29,000 students last fall.

Comment by JD 02.20.14 @ 9:13 pm

Pittscript, WVU Athletic Director, Oliver Luck was lobbying for the Texas AD position when it a few months ago.

Comment by Justinian 02.20.14 @ 9:15 pm

No mention of the couch burning conviction rate. That’s gotta be pretty high too.

Comment by dinosaur 71 02.20.14 @ 9:27 pm

I wouldn’t have minded them burning the couch my sons took off to college. It was the very first couch we had, “circa 1976″ that we later delegated to basement. Then off to two different schools. We made it known that the couch wasn’t welcome back at home.

Comment by Justinian 02.20.14 @ 9:41 pm

@justinian, ok, right… so if Luck didn’t get Texas he must not be 100% where he is at…wonder how WVU feels about him as well now?

Up through Rich Rod they had built a really good program and had passed us by (strange to behold for those of us who watched Pitt football before … was it Nehlen got them going?)

Hopefully this is the dead cat bounce now…

With them knocked down then it us and Ped state in typical fashion and not sure how impactful OSU really is except for the danger of taking a top, top guy… that right now we can’t realistically compete for unless there is a pre-existing affinity.

It would be nice to think in a 3 years we could honestly take a run at the real blue chippers and be able to look those programs level in the eyes…

Comment by Pittscript 02.20.14 @ 9:46 pm

EMel thanks for the recruiting up date.
Wbb i to think we have turned the corner i can see chryst has a blue print all maped out.
I think football is on the up swing love the hires i can see 8 or 9 wins next season i cant wait to see how recruiting picks up as the new coachs get there feet wet and start calling on players if we had this DB coach last year we would have got the two big fish that got away.

Comment by Frankcan 02.20.14 @ 10:00 pm

Hoopies open against Alabama in Atlanta and play Oklahoma ( who just beat Bama in the bowl game), play Towson State then play Maryland who blanked the Hoopies 37-0 last year. Projected starting QB transferred out. They have no proven QB. Will start 1-3 and go downhill from there. Fans dislike Holgie big time. Tailspin city in Morganhole.

Comment by Panther Fan in Hoopieland 02.20.14 @ 10:17 pm

Pittscript, Yes, Don Nehlen turned the West Virginia program around. His best season he had Major Harris at quarterback. Harris separated his shoulder before the National Championship game against Notre Dame and couldn’t throw.

Comment by Justinian 02.20.14 @ 10:27 pm

Agree Script, it is a bit of a mystery how they are pulling these kids in. Of course, doesn’t mean they will pan out. I suppose I could see wanting to play in that offense, but if I were a defensive player (looking at you D. Henry) I would not want to be associated with that sieve they call a defense.

Pitt does feel like the more stable, if less ‘flashy’ program. It seems possible that both Luck and Holgerson gone soon.

Comment by Iron Duke 02.20.14 @ 10:41 pm

As most of you know as it stands at this time we will have a very small class of recruits in 2015 maybe as small as 15 players.
But even in this small class i bet we have at least four OL men you got to know chryst loves the big hogs.
I would bet with a class this small there will be just one RB and one WR and a two QB and the rest defense players.

Comment by Frankcan 02.20.14 @ 10:41 pm

When did the WVU QB transfer out i missed that one.

Comment by Frankcan 02.20.14 @ 10:57 pm

Tarheels fans rushed the court after beating #5 Duke. Really?!? Carolina? Not very classy.

Comment by Pitt Dad 02.20.14 @ 11:18 pm

WVU got the interest from the 4 stars during their freshman and sophomore years in high school when geno, the other wr and Austin (all from florida) were running and passing all over the field. A really good year on the field draws interest which pays off a couple of years later. Also, WVU has a few of their explayers to coach high school in florida which creates pipelines. If wvu goes 6-6 or worse this year, holgorsen will be gone.

One quick holgy story. About four months after his run in at the wv casino, I happened to be staying in the same hotel as he was. After a few drinks, the mrs. and I return to our room. I get out a blank sheet of paper on it and write 13-9….Let’s go pitt!!! I slide it under his door! and knock……and run! It was about 3am.

Coach hires were really nice in my opinion Chas! Welcome back. Hope all is well.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 02.21.14 @ 12:20 am

Can we take the legal fees and expenses out of Smileys pay?
The reason many people don’t contribute to Pitt athletics is because that clown keeps costing us money.

Comment by Sfpitt 02.21.14 @ 6:19 am

Well his contract runs to 2018. I’m hoping our new Chancellor finds the funds to buy him out. Pitt needs new leadership in the athletic department. We cannot afford to get weaker as our rivals grow stronger. Send that Husker back to the corn fields.

Comment by TX Panther 02.21.14 @ 7:28 am

does holgy know what 13-9 means? and if so, does he care?

other than the budget, you would think there is nothing that Smiley could screw up in the next couple of years … but he might figure something out

Comment by wbb 02.21.14 @ 7:42 am

Well he will continue alienating boosters and cost Pitt millions in donations. But yes you would hope he doesn’t have to hire any more football or basketball coaches.

Comment by TX Panther 02.21.14 @ 7:53 am

@Frankan. Hoopie QB Ford Childress was suspended and did not enroll for spring semester. Clint Trickett had major shoulder surgery and is out till fall. They have one QB for spring ball and recruited one. That offense is pass happy and dependent on a quality QB. Look for this to be Holgie last season although they are working on a quality 2015 class. Marshall is going to have a monster season and look for Doc Holiday to be their next coach. MU been putting up big numbers on offense. Florida may want him too. He can recruit the state of Florida.

Comment by Panther Fan in Hoopieland 02.21.14 @ 8:19 am

@dhuffdaddy. Love that Holgie story!!! Their buyout for him was too high this year so they’re giving him another year but the Hoopie fan base has already voted him out by no shows at the ticket office.

Comment by Panther Fan in Hoopieland 02.21.14 @ 8:25 am

If you think about it Pitt has a lot to offer prospective recruits. For one Paul Chryst doesn’t run a spread, he runs a pro-style offense. So if you are a highly rated skilled prospect with NFL aspirations that should be a big plus. Two, he has a reputation for developing offensive linemen and for running the ball effectively. If you’re an offensive lineman
or a running back that should be appealing. Pitt is in the ACC which plays its games up and down the east coast, is in the eastern time zone and has a lot of exposure on ESPN. Pitt has a good academic reputation and is in a metropolitan area.

Comment by Justinian 02.21.14 @ 8:41 am

WVU has definitely fallen on hard times, but I don’t see it lasting forever. They have a history of overachieving, considering they have to go out of state to recruit the majority of players.

They have always had more support for athletics from administration and their fans.

WVU will always appeal to those athletes that are looking for an easier ride academically and the party atmosphere doesn’t hurt.

I am one of the minority that misses the backyard brawl. Close rivalries make sports more interesting. I am glad that PSU is back on the schedule.

Although it is good we are in the ACC for the security of our athletic future, I really miss playing Georgetown, UConn, Villanova, and the rest. I guess I am just a Yankee and there is something foreign about playing in crackerville.

I suppose it will feel better if we start beating them. It will take a while for our teams and fans to develop a little of that healthy hatred for our new opponents.

Funny how happy we are about two teams that don’t really matter to us anymore, except in the recruiting wars.

Comment by gc 02.21.14 @ 10:07 am

if you need to have appalachian state on your resume, perhaps bring in Dexter Coakley to coach the linebeckers. (wikipedia says he’s currently coaching HS football in texas)

Comment by Joey T 02.21.14 @ 12:02 pm

I love the coaching hires and honestly think that PC has realized the importance of having experience and recruiting experience on staff. Losing Engram could have been really detrimental, but adding Greg Lewis was a great response and thankfully done very swiftly unlike the painfully drawn out and ultimately mistaken DC decision last year.
Seems like PC has developed a backup list of who he wants to turn to if he loses a coach and being proactive. I’d love for him to declare Douglas as Co-DC but that is probably hoping for too much.
I don’t know but was PC the OC and QB coach when he was at Wisky?
Either way, replacing a QB coach whose heart wasn’t into the job and assigning authority and more importantly responsibility for Special Teams (1/3 of the game) was absolutely CRITICAL.

Comment by Taxing Matters 02.21.14 @ 12:04 pm

Pittscript…did you just come back from Denver? WVU passed Pitt 30 years ago my friend. Check the head to head record and check the overall record. When was the last time Pitt played for a Nat Championship? All you need to know is that Pitt’s signature win in the last 30 years was stopping us for playing for the NC. We had a losing season last year…first in 12 years. Put the pipe down and sober up.

Comment by A-Wild 02.26.14 @ 7:32 pm

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