February 27, 2014

Just Spring Practices. No Game.

Filed under: Fans,Football,Marketing — Chas @ 6:08 pm

Just a bit bland.

Did not expect this when the schedule for spring practice would be announced.

Pitt has canceled its annual spring football game.

Coach Paul Chryst said Thursday that he believes finishing spring drills with a regular practice will be better for his team.

“The thinking behind that is to get one more good work day out of (the players),” he said. “Most if not every spring game you end up really sacrificing a lot.

“These days are really valuable for us. I’m not in a hurry to get through spring ball, and I want to maximize every day with it.”

Spring practice will include the NCAA-limit of 15 practice sessions, beginning March 16. The final session is scheduled for April 13. All practices will be held at UPMC Sports Performance Complex on the South Side on the outdoor fields or at the indoor facility.

Is there a large element of truth to this? Absolutely. Coach Chryst has, at best, shown antipathy for the Blue-Gold Scrimmage. It has been clear that as a coach he sees it as a waste of valuable practice time. Decrying at the end of the scrimmage how they need more practice and wishes for more time.

The attendance at the scrimmages have not been fantastic — to be kind. There’s been the mostly lousy weather. Putting the event on a Friday evening in a suburban high school — making it much harder from anyone not in that area to attend. The overall mediocrity of the team and everything else hurting enthusiasm.

I’ve made no secret of being less than thrilled about the scrimmages being on a Friday (in no small part, because selfishly there was no way I could make it out for the event). To say nothing of the crappy weather that inevitably makes its appearance.

That said, I am not a fan of giving up the public scrimmage. I have serious trouble believing that giving up that one sanctioned practice for a public display is truly going to be a big negative for the program and the season that begins in September.

I realize coaches are control freaks, and if they had their way nearly all of them would be thrilled to sacrifice the scrimmage for another closed-door practice. To not have to make any extra media appearances. Feeling they have to only run mostly vanilla basic stuff because god forbid they reveal some play or tendency that an opponent in October watching the film of that scrimmage will see and be able to exploit.

But they recognize the value (figuratively and literally) of tossing the fans a bone. The publicity, attention, chance for the fans to see their team for the first time in months — and the last time until August.

Pitt is a city school with a lower student population than a lot of schools. Comparing Pitt to bigger schools not located in cities doesn’t make much sense.

If you aren’t winning big in Pittsburgh, then you aren’t going to draw people. When the Steelers are blah Heinz field is never filled. PNC Park was empty until Pirates were a playoff team. The Pens almost moved before they got the best hockey player on the planet.

I’m not sure if I can handle watching another ND game. The last couple times I saw ND at the Pete were some of my worst experiences ever at the Pete.

Comment by Wardapalooza 02.28.14 @ 11:14 am

Regarding the Spring game, seems to be pretty obvious that it was the right decision for a lot of reasons, but as a fan, I’ll miss not seeing it.

Regarding Mike Young, I feel bad for him, he’s too young to be having to deal with that. Reminds me of the McGary situation at UM. I wonder what his prospects are for the near & long term? Wishing Mike well.

Comment by 1618mt 02.28.14 @ 11:19 am

This does not bother me at all. The reason, the time has come, my friends, the time has come.

Only care about wins and losses in the fall.

Coach Chryst, still got your back, still cheering for you, however………………..

this is gonna be year 3 for ya my friend, yes year 3 already.

Year 3 and 4 have got to show marked improvement.

I always say, every coach gets a few years to at least show what he can do, before I judge too harshly.

Hard to believe, where does time go, but this season, will be a “few” years already.

I know he’ll be starting with a “new” quarterback once again. Who is that on????

That’s completely on the coach. He made the decisions, now this is what he has.

Personally I like Voytik. I won’t be going out of my way to be critical this year, but, I better start seeing the emergence that Pitt is about to turn the corner.

Certainly, year 4, with Voytik in his 2nd year at starting qb, Paul Chryst and Co. are going to have to start to produce.

Time….it’s a funny thing.

Comment by Dan 02.28.14 @ 11:21 am

Devon Cook, Weatherspoon, Gabe Roberts and Zach Poker, with limited participation in the spring.

What was Robert’s injury?

Comment by gc 02.28.14 @ 12:36 pm

To me, spring games in general are an antiquated idea from another era. I suppose it is an opportunity to rally the fan base, but of course at Pitt it doesn’t even do that. It’s been a non-event.

So not only am I fine with not having it, I give Pitt credit for being wise enough to scrap it, although I would agree that they need to do some sort of fan event in its place.

Comment by Iron Duke 02.28.14 @ 12:51 pm

Nothing beats winning to build a program and fill stadiums however back in the 70s/80s I rmember promotion days that helped fill the house even in that heyday.H.S. Team day,Band day, Westinghouse day etc..It was great to fill the stands with screaming kids on every play and a lot better than selling out to season ticket holders that leave empty seats most of the season.If you believe Pderson Pitt sold at least 45000 tickets last year. Why then 35000 empty seats at a lot of games and tickets galore on e-bay? Win and fill the house any way you can. That’s all that counts.

Comment by Pitt 60 02.28.14 @ 1:07 pm

Fox Sports – Aaron Donald listed as #1 player who garnered the most attention at combine. Continued great work ethic from this kid. Another Pitt Panther in the 1st round!


Comment by Pitt it IS 02.28.14 @ 1:22 pm

Spring game has finally caught up with Pitt Stadium.

Comment by TonyinHouston 02.28.14 @ 1:58 pm

From the NY Daily News:

The big winner from the combine. The 6-1, 285-pound lineman clocked a ridiculous 4.68-second 40-yard dash, did 35 bench-press reps of 225 pounds, and, just as importantly, looked smooth and quick in defensive lineman drills. He has the look of an athletic defensive tackle, and he may have cemented his place in the first round.”

Other commentators say he has moved into the top 15 of the first round.

Comment by Pitt Dad 02.28.14 @ 2:03 pm

@Pitt60, absolutely, winning cures all.

Might still only sell out PSU, ND, and WVU, but you’ll get nice 45-55k crowds (that is warm asses in the seats, not what they announce) if you win a lot of games.

Not only do you have to win games, against the Youngstown States and New Hampshires, casual fans want to see 55-10 and 63-14.

That may be somehow unsportsmanly or something, I’m just telling ya, what people want to see.

Winning your fair share of games, winning some big games, and taking cupcakes to the woodshed.

Right or wrong, whatever, that’s what people want to start becoming a Pitt fan again.

Someone said above, you don’t have to sell the
20K die hards. The people that post and look at the Blather. The people you need are the casual Pitt fans that have faded away, and sports fans of Pittsburgh and the Tri-State area, that say, “hell, I’m not going there, they can’t even beat Youngstown.”

Only one way to get those people, win often, and win big against perceived or real, lesser quality teams.

Comment by Dan 02.28.14 @ 2:03 pm

Couldn’t agree more with you Pitt 60, just “win baby, WIN”!

Also, Aaron Donald is going to prove to the world and all of the NFL scouts for that matter before hand, that he deserved every trophy and award that he received this pass season. I predict he will be an NFL force to be reckoned with in his rookie season in the Big Leagues. Make room for another retired jersey # banner at Heinz Field.

Comment by Dr. Tom 02.28.14 @ 2:04 pm

Hats off to you ‘burgh Blatherites…another heavy snowstorm coming your way…a winter to endure no doubt…

Comment by TonyinHouston 02.28.14 @ 2:06 pm

PSU graduates between 12,000 and 15,000 students every year. We graduate 3,000. Every 5 years PSU generates 75,000 potential new fans. We generate 15,000.

And considering 50% of our students have no interest in athletics whatsoever that’s about 7,500 fans every 5 years.

75,000 vs 7,500…

The math is not very complicated.

Comment by CNorwoodAZ 02.28.14 @ 2:17 pm

Chryst said not exact words but you will get the point and it is close to what he said.
When the 2014 class comes in we will have all most the depth we need it will be the most we have had there will be real compition.
Which means when the 2015 class comes in he will be right were he wants to be.
This means to me we will see real improvement this
comeing season at least 8 wins
and in 2015 and 2016 we should be kicking ass and takeing names and if not he needs to go becuse 2016 will be his 5th year and there should be no more give him one more year bull shit bye then.
becuse he will have all his own players bye 2015.

Comment by Frankcan 02.28.14 @ 2:23 pm

don’t know how this will come out but Todd Thomas has on his Twitter page a picture of a poster that shows all the current WPIAL players at Pitt. Someone should put together a poster of the all-timers at Pitt, sure it would be quite a display .. and good recruiting tool

link to

Comment by wbb 02.28.14 @ 2:47 pm

I checked on that winter storm it is called titan and depending were you live in pa you could get 12 inchs of snow and and a inch of ice but it may change track but if it doesent look out it could be the worst storm to date.
looks like i go to the store before sunday dont want to run out of cat food or milk or cookies or JD

Comment by Frankcan 02.28.14 @ 3:16 pm

Followed Pitt football closely for forty years , had season football tickets for about 10 years , attended a game or two or more about 30 years. I have never been to the Blue /gold game.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.28.14 @ 3:17 pm

Wbb that is a great idea i mean it really is.
and they should list all the players who have goin on to the NFL also.

Comment by Frankcan 02.28.14 @ 3:19 pm

Second list seems to include everyone from Adamchik to Zombek

Comment by Pitt Dad 02.28.14 @ 3:28 pm

Pitt WPIAL/City Poster shoo-ins:

Dorsett, Marino, Covert, Revis, Fralic, Martin, Ditka, Schmidt, Sweeney, Donald, Gilbert

Major considerations:

Flynn, Rutherford, Palko, Collins, Dawkins, Bray, Brzoza, Holloway, Spencer, Polite,

I’m sure I’m leaving a lot out

Comment by wbb 02.28.14 @ 3:33 pm

Schottenheimer, Cox, Buckowski,

Comment by wbb 02.28.14 @ 3:38 pm


Comment by spiritofsection22 02.28.14 @ 4:22 pm

Sam got ready for his 10 year NFL career by starring on our hoop team.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.28.14 @ 4:26 pm

Sam was the man the best BB player in my eyes that pitt ever had in my eyes the coach tryed to get him come out for football but he would not. to bad he did not he would have been great.

Comment by Frankcan 02.28.14 @ 4:34 pm

I fell in love with Pitt when I was young old and my dad took me to Pitt Stadium for the Spring game to see my heros Bob Longo and Fred Mazurik.
I remember about 9000 fans and you could sit anywhere. The band came out in uniform at halftime.

Went every year until I matriculated into Pitt.

The game has become so watered down and I think SP did it so it could be fazed out.

Anything that HCPC says will help the team is OK by me.

Comment by Dan 72 02.28.14 @ 4:57 pm

Since most if not all spring games are free, those schools who have large attendance are fueled by non season ticket holders getting a taste of college game day atmosphere, including tailgating.

I’ve been to only one South Carolina SG. Only went because Hootie & the Blowfish performed after the game.

Comment by PITT-cocks fan 02.28.14 @ 7:46 pm

UPMC drawing protesters this coming week
link to

Comment by TonyinHouston 02.28.14 @ 9:34 pm

Agreed. When Pitt had an on campus stadium, it was free to make the game a pep rally. I remember the crowds at the stadium were small, but loud, Pitt band, cheerleaders, and lots of media. Johnny Majors I never missed an opportunity to promote the program.

I wonder if Pitt has to pay the Steelers extra to have the game at Heinz…then, of course, there’s the expense of busing students, etc.

Comment by TonyinHouston 02.28.14 @ 9:37 pm

Nothing like a little baseless speculation to raise expectations to an unreasonable level. But I admit I get a kick out of seeing Pitt and playoffs in the same sentence.

link to

Comment by Iron Duke 02.28.14 @ 11:11 pm

Out of those 7500, only about 50% have any interest in PITT athletics, and of those, 50% are only interested in basketball. Half of the remaining ~1800 fans are fair weather. Out of the remaining 900, at least half of them will die prematurely from binge drinking and/or depression.

That pretty much leaves just us….

Comment by thestumper 03.01.14 @ 12:10 am

Iron Duke, interesting article and I agree that Pitt is an unlikely playoff contender. However, barring key injuries, it may not be out of the question that Pitt can win anywhere from 8 to 10 games next year.

Pitt is due for a year, like Duke this year and Cincy a few years back, when all of the planets align …. and if so, the program will get more exposure and with the expected stability of the coaching staff in the near term, it may lead to better recruits.

Yes, it is certainly a glass half full approach but not entirely out of the question.

Comment by wbb 03.01.14 @ 8:16 am

wbb, I agree, but there are so many unknowns with this team, and though there may not be one great team in the Coastal, it is deep and balanced.

Duke returns many starters, UNC will be better, Miami could be better, and VT is always competitive. I expect GT may take a step back and UVa is still building. At BC on a Friday night early in the season will not be easy, and we have played one point games vs. Syracuse the last two years.

Lets out it this way: if Pitt finishes over .500 in conference I will be satisfied that we are moving in the right direction. Maybe we can go 5-3, finish in a 4-way tie for 1st, and win the tie breaker. You know, old school, the way we used to win the Big East!

Comment by Iron Duke 03.01.14 @ 9:16 am

Above should read: Let’s **put** it this way

Comment by Iron Duke 03.01.14 @ 9:19 am

Wow, that is probably the most ridiculous thing I have ever read. Not even if AD had another year of eligibility left. Not even if there was no such thing as turnovers.

We have a rookie QB, a young offensive line, and no pass rush. All of our opponents have similar player talent to us. There is no discernible advantage in our coaching staff.

How does someone get paid to write garbage like this?

I think the best we can hope for is that our young O-line comes of age early, keeps our rookie QB healthy, and creates running lanes open for our backs. Then our unknown defense is kept off the field as much as possible and creates some turnovers and third down stops, like Iron Duke says we might win more than we lose in the ACC.

And like wbb says there is always that injury thing.

Where is our old friend Reed? I miss him him weighing in on stuff like this.

Comment by gc 03.01.14 @ 10:47 am

gc, I understand your concerns but ..

– we have a very accomplished WR and a 4-star freshman coming in.
-we have an accomplished RB and a 4 star freshman coming in.
-we have 3 accomplished TEs returning, each with a unique skill set
-we have 3 returning OL (not even counting Bisnowaty), a few more with experience (like 4-star Johnson and Biz) and 2 4-stars coming in
– we have 7 defensive starters returning plus a handful of others that saw ample time
– and we have the 2nd easiest schedule of all playoff contenders … not my analysis but from an ESPN writer

Barring a key injury (like Voytik), 8 or 9 wins may be manageable

Comment by wbb 03.01.14 @ 1:38 pm

If anyone is still reading this, he’s what I meant:

Let’s remember he’s a first time head coach who waited decades for his first big chance, and only got it when his boss called everybody but Santa Claus until he finally got the ear of that super-booster Sam whats-his-face to champion his cause.

Then when he gets here, he does almost everything differently than every other big time program. Which I could resepct — even embrace — if the results were evident on the field, but they aren’t. He’s 13-13 after two seasons.

He recruits strangely: that “just offer” stuff is weird unless you’re Alabama or Texas or Oregon, then it works. Case in point, whiffing on almost every 4-star WPIAL kid in a good recruiting year.

He hires only cronies, and his promotion of House to DC STILL needs to be justified in my mind. But he’s nowhere to be found to explain his actions.

He makes bad coaching decisions. His losses this year to NC and Navy, last year to Cuse and UConn and Cincy … and Y-State.

And now he cancels the Spring Game for ONE (??) more practice. Like everything else this guy does, it speaks more little league or bush league than big league.

I’ll be honest, I’ve already concluded this guy is keeping the seat warm for the next guy, and I’m talking 2 years or less, not decades.

And the sooner we move on, the better.

Comment by Imma Man! Im 40! 03.01.14 @ 5:01 pm

wbb, definitely all positives, and I will be extremely please with 8 or 9 wins.

But most of the teams ACC teams we will play can list their positives as well. I just think setting the bar at anything less than 8 wins is an utter failure is setting yourself up for failure. And a BCS bowl game is pretty much crazy talk.

As always, I am hoping for a good year, but as a Pitt fan, well…you know…

Comment by gc 03.01.14 @ 8:50 pm

lots of typos, the game took a lot out of me

Comment by gc 03.01.14 @ 8:51 pm

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