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.

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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