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July 15, 2014

Slow Build

Filed under: Chryst,Coaches,Football — Chas @ 6:49 am

In Year 3 of Chryst, I don’t think there is yet a settled answer on Coach Paul Chryst. Some may have made up their mind about him one way or another, but I am definitely not one of them. There’s plenty I do like about him: the way he runs the program, the actual coaching, the message, the way he is building the team from the lines out. And there’s plenty that — to be kind — that I question. His hiring practices and recruiting being the biggest.

I think that unless Chryst had stayed at Wisconsin and taken over directly from Brett Bielema, he was going to be doing a full rebuild no matter what program he took over. He would have been determined to make the program the way he wanted. Even if it meant tearing some aspects down. That just seems to be the kind of coach he is. Given the state of Pitt when he arrived, that was fine.

The piece in the P-G today was a very positive one on the way he has been building the team and relations back for Pitt football. We all know the story by now. The coaching chaos. The lost recruiting classes. The mass transfers.

Chryst has done a solid job of rebuilding relations with WPIAL coaches who were still butthurt over Dave Wannstedt being fired.

Like most local coaches, Shady Side Academy’s Dave Havern was a fan of former Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt and was put off by the smooth-talking Graham in his one-year tenure.

It didn’t take long, though, for Chryst to win him over.

“I’m probably not real ready to welcome the new guy with open arms,” Havern, who played at Pitt in the late 1960s and early 1970s, said. “So you take that into consideration, not that I’m anything special, but he had to impress the hell out of me because of what the other guys had done. That speaks more for Paul that he came in and, at least in my case, I just felt eminently comfortable with him and his staff.”

For Woodland Hills coach George Novak, one telling moment came a few weeks back when he invited Chryst to speak at a football camp for young adults with Down syndrome. Not only did Chryst come, but he also stuck around for hours playing catch with the campers.

“I think he’s doing things the right way,” Novak said. “I think what he’s done with the high schools is good.”

The repairing of relationships has helped land good talent locally. At the same time, there were some notable misses. The aftermath back from January led to this Kevin Gorman column that pointed out that good relationships with the local coaches does not necessarily translate into getting their players.

After watching Aliquippa cornerback Dravon Henry pick West Virginia last week, the past two days have done nothing to alleviate that fear.

On Thursday, Pitt lost Gateway safety Montae Nicholson to Michigan State. On Friday, the Panthers lost Washington tailback Shai McKenzie to Virginia Tech.

“I think, perceptually, it’s not good,” Rivals.com national recruiting director Mike Farrell said. “It’s not like the kids are doing it on national television, but it sends a message that they can’t keep the kids home. I think they’ve done a pretty good job keeping kids home for the most part, but those definitely sting. People have the right to freak out.”

“The two best guys in Western Pennsylvania,” Farrell said, “are Dravon Henry and (Thomas Jefferson linebacker) Chase Winovich.”

Both are from pipeline programs. Neither picked Pitt.

That’s not just bad for perception but also reality. Pitt must own its backyard every year.

Many of Pitt’s best players of the past decade, from Tyler Palko and Darrelle Revis to Scott McKillop and Dorin Dickerson to Jon Baldwin and Aaron Donald, are Western Pennsylvania products.

In the cases of Dravon Henry and Shai McKenzie, losing them was annoying. But the real anger came from comments directed at Pitt by them or family members.

The article fairly pointed out the very good local signings. It was simply overshadowed by big misses late in the recruiting cycle. After the season, when the only football discussion centers around recruiting.

Most sports writers start out covering high school sports. In Pittsburgh, most of the media has local ties so they are especially biased to the local players and love seeing the local players do well. They have longer, better relationships with them. It makes getting the story easier; and whether they admit it or not, they are biased towards them because of it.

As a result, there is a bit of overstating the local player importance. We all know the demographics of the region at this point. Pitt can be a good team if they focus only locally. But they need to be wider in their recruiting if they expect to compete at a higher level.

As I stated at the beginning. There really should be no true judgment on Chryst — yet. That is changing. He’s got a lot more of his players in place. The coaching staff has shifted, and he has made all the calls. The team may be young, but it is definitely his at this point.

Fair or not, though, year 3 is when the opinions will start to harden.





95 comments

Much of this is reinforement of what we have been talking about on this site over th epast several months, whether it’s (1) PC putting his own brand on what type of recruits he is looking for or (2) not doing well with recruits from pipeline schools.

But being the shape the program was in, and allowing for growing pains and the learning curve of a first time coach, patience is indeed necessary.

Atthis point in time, I see more psoitive than negative … especially on just the current roster is stocked with underclassmen with potential. However, as Chas indicated, weare still not sure if it will work in the long run. These next 2 seasons will be very telling.

Comment by wbb 07.15.14 @ 7:40 am

Chryst is steady like the tortoise vs. the hare. He has been bringing in the best O-linemen in the region. Last year he finished the class with Chris James and Adonis Jennings. If he can finish this class with a couple of stud linebackers and d- linemen it will be pretty good.

We have never got all the WPA kids and never will. PSU, Ohio State and WVU will always pick off a few, plus other top schools will get one here and there.

Chryst is building a program, he will succeed. Our depth is getting better. While playing 12 freshmen is good for the future, it also means that the cupboard was pretty bare, and depth was non-existent. He is reloading the cupboard and we have decent back-ups in many more positions this year.

I think you will see a noticeable different level of play this year, starting with the O-line.

Comment by gc 07.15.14 @ 7:41 am

I agree that it’s more annoying to have lose Henry and McKenzie than disappointing. Pitt can’t totally own the backyard, there will always be those who leave. So as long as we get a good share, I’m fine. Where I think Chryst needs to improve is linebacker and secondary (oops yeah Henry) but otherwise, I’m pretty cautiously optimistic about how he’s going about the job.

Comment by ajb240 07.15.14 @ 8:46 am

Great article and positive PR for Pitt. While I really like the way HCPC is going about his business, there simply is only one way to rate him as coach….wins/losses on the field!
This cannot be a 6/6 year! so we’ll see….

Comment by Dan 72 07.15.14 @ 9:08 am

Despite all the coaching changes, decision blunders, lost recruits, etc., etc.

We never hit the depths of a 3-10 or 2-11 season.

In fact we still have a bowl streak intact, what is it now…….6 bowls in a row.

Is that an indicator of the players leftover that DW & his staff recruited ?

Comment by Emel 07.15.14 @ 9:16 am

McKenzie and Henry/family are talented recruits who are uninformed immature kids who felt the need to belittle Pitt on the way out the door. Losing recruits is one thing. Local players who have ability to play Div 1 football owe Pitt nothing. Nor does Pitt under HCPC owe any local recruits anything but an opportunity to stay local.Good luck with your college choices.

Comment by chethejet 07.15.14 @ 9:18 am

Working with BLESTO back in the 70′s and 80′s, I was extremely close to the Pitt staff at that time and still call Jimmy Johnson a friend. I will tell you that in Pitt’s glory days they lost only one recruit from WPA that they wanted, and that was Bruce Clark from New Castle. While Pitt is in no position to “get them all” anymore, I will tell you from first hand experience there was a time when they in fact did get them all….with one very talented exception.

Comment by Tallahassee Panther 07.15.14 @ 9:23 am

You mean we didn’t want Joe Montana. Find that hard to believe……

Comment by Emel 07.15.14 @ 9:26 am

The top 5 2014 WPa recruits: Henry, Nicholsen, Winovich, Hooker & MacKenzie.

Pitt didn’t get one .. usually we get a couple.

I guess this will happen occasionally but my guess is that this wwoke PC up and spurred him to hire better assistants. I expect recruiting to pikc up a bit in the near future unless the team really tanks this year.

Comment by wbb 07.15.14 @ 9:39 am

chethejet, conversely, I think one who claims a recruit is immature because he didn’t go to the place the one didn’t want him to go speaks more about the maturity level that person … not of the recruit.

Kind of reminds me of Cavs’ owner Gilbert who wrote that public letter when LeBron went to Miami … he came off like a junior high kid who was jilted by his 1st girlfriend.

Comment by wbb 07.15.14 @ 9:45 am

The Henry family are the ones who acted like jilted lovers publicly.

Comment by Nick 07.15.14 @ 10:16 am

Nick, that makes no sense. Henry was the one that Pitt and WVU (and others) wanted … and he made the decision. In response to a PG reporter, his mom said that she was less impressed with the Pitt recruiter (House) and he was unable to answer a few questions … but of course, Pitt fans took exception to this (“why would he go with Hoopies?” “he belongs with Shell!” ,etc)

Comment by wbb 07.15.14 @ 10:46 am

as Dokish pointed out, Henry was largely ignored by Pitt throughout much of the recruiting season

Comment by wbb 07.15.14 @ 10:49 am

It was the approach of these two recruits that I spoke to. Yes they were heavily recruiting by Pitt for years and given many visits official and unofficial and BB games ect. How much more “love” did VT show him than Pitt? Henry and his family were holding Pitt to some BS standard that was a joke. Yet he commits to a team whose defense was a joke. Get the picture? These recruits and by extension their supporters enabled that behavior of dissing Pitt so F em and good riddance. I don’t recall many others who went out of their way to take shots at the very staff and University that they had no problem hanging around for years.

Comment by chethejet 07.15.14 @ 10:51 am

By the way, Henry’s mom didn’t ask questions about the defense, she wanted assurances her precious baby would start his freshman year. Gibson, that scumbag from the hoopies had no problem assuring that for her.

Comment by chethejet 07.15.14 @ 10:55 am

Dokish, get real. If not for Joe Butler the guy wouldn’t know what end was up. Pitt didn’t drop anything with Henry.

Comment by chethejet 07.15.14 @ 10:59 am

PC knows who he wants and who he liked but did not get. Recruiting is a mess and many coaches use scum tactics. If kids fall for them to bad. Some want to come back to their next choice but it is a lesson learned the had way.

Comment by Frank MD 07.15.14 @ 11:11 am

according to Mike White, before the final 2 visits, it was Henry’s mon who wanted him to choose Pitt while he was set on WVU … and the 2 back-to-back meetings swayed her to WVU. You can make up all of the scenarios you wish why he chose WVU, but there is no reason call him immature … especially when you know sure as hell, if he would have chosen Pitt and his mom made a comment about WVU, you would have christened her ‘mom-of-the-year’

That’s how many of you Pitt fans operate .. if they choose elsewhere, they’re nobodies.

Kind of reminds me that everytime a guy chooses Pitt over PSU, a Nit fan would say “oh, we stopped recruiting him anyway”

Comment by wbb 07.15.14 @ 11:13 am

@chethejet you are right in saying that Tony Gibson is the reason Henry went to WVU. He promises the world to every highly regarded recruit and then lets the chips fall where they may. IMO Shai McKenzie’s stock fell considerably after his knee injury. He didn’t commit early so Pitt took other running backs and he saw the hand writing on the wall and went elsewhere. I wish them both the best.

This is a great piece in the PG about HCPC. Tremendous PR for Pitt football and the university. Time will tell that he was a great hire. This season we will improve considerably but look out for 2015 Pitt Football.

Comment by Panther Fan in Hoopieland 07.15.14 @ 11:16 am

Listen, this is a Pitt site and I expect pro-Pitt comments and anti-WVU and anti-PSU comments as well as snide remarks about recruits who decide aginst Pitt. It’s when you start believing them that I have trouble with.

Comment by wbb 07.15.14 @ 11:22 am

If Douglas was here then we may have had Henry and a better chance at Nicholson. Everyone will go apoplectic when we don’t get Whitehead, but he has options. Ohio State plays in front of 100,000 plus every week, they go to the Rose Bowl and are in the hunt for a NC. When the big dogs come hunting a Terrelle Pryor, they usually get what they want.

The 70′s and 80′s were a different ball game, pretty much irrelevant at this point for many reasons. Not the least of which we have had 30 years of mediocre football at Pitt.

I know we like to reference the two good years that Wanny had, but for the most part Chryst needs to overcome the last thirty years as well as the more recent disaster that occurred.

Comment by gc 07.15.14 @ 11:23 am

Good point, gc. For all of you others .. do you not think that Henry’ decision to go elsewhere had a profound effect on PC going outside of his comfort zone and hiring Douglas?

Like it or not .. Henry’s mom may have been the catalyst here.

Comment by wbb 07.15.14 @ 11:54 am

I agree that we need to “own our backyard” and get the most from the “pipeline programs”; however, losing guys to Michigan State and Va Tech isn’t that embarrassing to me. As much of a fan as I am, truthfully, I don’t see Pitt matching up with these 2 (and many other) programs. I think we will in the future, but not yet. Let’s start winning consistently and we won’t need to have these conversations.

Comment by Tomas 07.15.14 @ 12:07 pm

Two things:

We’ll never truly know the true character of the WPIAL recruits we “missed out” on.

Of the “best players” listed by the article, only three of them were 4* or better.

Palko – 4
Revis – 3
McKillop – 2 or 3
Dickerson – 4
Baldwin – 5
Aaron Donald – 3

Comment by Atlanta Panther 07.15.14 @ 12:13 pm

You can’t beat a dead horse to death.

We all know Chryst is not very good at recruiting. The results have and will continue to show on the field. You need to recruit to win.

Penn State, WV, and any other school recruiting Western Pa. are happier than shit. Pitt has not been able to take advantage of the problems PSU had at all. That’s a shame. Any word on how Shell is doing?

Posvar gave us 1976 and the national championship. He also was the guy who fired Gottfried and contiuned Pitt on the downward slide. Nordy did the same thing Wannstadt.

No more negative remarks on Chryst. He is doing the best he can. Maybe he will get some luck and things will work out.

I really can’t think of anything to add positive about the football program. Wish the new Administration will spend more money on football

Changing the subject, my two grandsons are going all over the place playing lacrosse this summer. Schedule for this coming week: A tournament in Uniontown, NY for one. The other guy is off to Towson State for a three day tourney. Then a local camp in Wyckoff, NJ for the younger one, while the 16 year old is off to Syracuse University for a 3 day tournament.

Dr. Tom, I envy you. Had a golf villa in Sarasota for 20 years. Played all winter. Always WALKED the course when I played. Lost my complete left rotator cuff. Not repairable. It has been a year since I played. Walking the golf course was a geat way to stay in shape.

Comment by Old Pitt Grad 07.15.14 @ 12:23 pm

we’re all on the same page here. The difference here (as always) is that we all aren’t kool-aid drinkers who think that everything Pitt does is great. For example, I really like PC and am pullin for them … but thought he was pretty naive with his hiring decisions last year, and was relieved that he seemed to step it up this year.

Yes, he is a real good judge of talent … but it doesn’t hurt to have a handful of blue chips to mix in with projects.

Comment by wbb 07.15.14 @ 1:03 pm

Get tired of the BS some put on Pitt and HCPC. Henry knew the situation and they bought Gibsons BS. The to come out and bit** about Pitt dropping the ball and WVU did an outstanding job with their son was pure BS. McKenzie had the opportunity to commit to Pitt even after the knee and still played hard to get. Pitt moved on and IMHO upgraded the RB position anyway. I don’t wish any thing ill on those young men, but the facts are they went elsewhere and so be it. The message is for the players who have a sense of entitlement, like shell, you are better served elsewhere.

Comment by chethejet 07.15.14 @ 1:05 pm

here are the results from last night’s Pro-Am so all of you kool-aiders can continue to dream how Pitt will average 90 points and 53 rebounds per game this coming year

link to pittsburgh.scout.com

and again, I’m not being negative … I really like what is going down here; I just realize that these stats are definitely be taken with a grain of salt

Comment by wbb 07.15.14 @ 1:11 pm

Old Pitt Grad

Too bad your grandsons can’t go to Pitt on a lacrosse scholarship. Pitt needs to step up and make lacrosse a fully funded scholarship sport, not just a club sport. The ACC is THE best lacrosse conference in the nation by far.

As far as football, Chryst leaves for Wisconsin for the 2016 season after a great 2015. Joe Rudolph takes over as head coach of the Panthers :-)

Comment by notrocketscience 07.15.14 @ 1:26 pm

thanks wbb, who knows what will translate, but it looks like Uchebo is not the total stiff, he looked like last year and hopefully Chris Jones hand surgery will make a difference. Can’t help but be encouraged by these things.

I saw a few flashes from Jones last year, interested to see how much improved health makes a difference.

Comment by gc 07.15.14 @ 1:26 pm

Old Pitt Grad, did you miss that we had 12 freshmen play last year, including Tyler Boyd, and James Conner. Who recruited them? Wanny the so-called great recruiter didn’t do much on the field with them for a few years.

Comment by gc 07.15.14 @ 1:30 pm

Wanny was 5-6,6-6,5-7 with no bowl games.

Chryst is 6-7 and 7-6 with two bowl games and a bowl victory.

Wanny followed Walt Harris who had resurrected the program.

Chryst followed you know who and what.

Give the guy a freakin chance.

Comment by gc 07.15.14 @ 1:38 pm

notrocketscience, you see the method in my madness.

Pitt is in the ACC now. Lacrosse is big time in the ACC. Also it seems all the better schools have varsity lacrosse. We need a varsity lacrosse team! Pitt is a better school.

Not sure it will happen. We will also need to add lacrosse for the girls or some other sport. It all comes down to money. Pitt and Florida State dropped men’s varsity gymnastics because of title 9.

By the way, my 16 year old grandson, last week, played and beat a team from Pittsburgh. Good to see a youth program out in western Pa.

Rudolph? Football, we need to think RECRUITER.

Comment by Old Pitt Grad 07.15.14 @ 1:46 pm

gc, In Walt’s last year, Pitt won a 4-team tiebreaker in a 7 team league, Pitt finished ranked 24th. In 2006, Pitt was 6 and 6 where 3 BE teams finished in Top 12 and a 4th finished 22nd. No bowl games then for 6-6 teams, while PC had 2 6-6 teams that went to bowls (despite lsoing to YSU) Perspective.

Also remember that Donald, Street, Hendricks, Gonzalez, Rotheram, Thomas, Clemmings, Rowell and Mosley Smith (probably missed a few) all were Wanny recruits and had gone thru tough times.

Comment by wbb 07.15.14 @ 2:02 pm

@wbb,

Thanks for the link to the pro-am results from Monday.

Chris Jones shot 12 of 15 from the field. Maybe he’ll provide some offense this year, now his thumb is better.

Slim (Cameron Johnson) *only* shot 3 of 9 from 3 point land. Maybe he missed Sheldon Jeter not being there to feed him when he was open.

Comment by Howard 07.15.14 @ 2:14 pm

Whoops — I meant *Lance* Jeter wasn’t there to feed Slim when Slim was open. Lance was leading the pro-am with assists.

Comment by Howard 07.15.14 @ 2:15 pm

Hillbilly receiver arrested for impeding a murder investigation in Wilmington Del. he had 225 yds and 1 td last year.
What else is new?

Comment by Dan 72 07.15.14 @ 2:16 pm

gc:

I watched Uchebo and Jones, last night (one half each).
Jones was lights-out, including a powerful two hand dunk.
Uchebo moving much better, back peddling and changing directions. But, I know how he gets 20 reb/gm…. He is not finishing his layups. DejaVu?

7/14/14 “They are running and lifting more than they have in their entire lives”, Coach Jamie Dixon said to my son last night, in reference to how much weight has been lost by the entire team.

Is there a real change of philosophy in BB with being in the ACC?

Comment by xfmrman 07.15.14 @ 2:32 pm

xmfmrman, if we don’t see a more uptempo team this year, we may never see it under JD.

It seems that the only beef is Randall. Young lost 20 lbs but don’t know about Haughton, but he didn’t seem bulky from the video I saw.

Comment by wbb 07.15.14 @ 2:40 pm

actually, our beefiest player (aside from Randall) may be our PG

Comment by wbb 07.15.14 @ 2:41 pm

ESPN.com’s prediction

link to espn.go.com

Pittsburgh

Projected record: 8-4
Strength of schedule: 62
Chance of undefeated season: 0.01%
Odds of ACC title: 1.9%
Conference rank: 6

Comment by Pitt Dad 07.15.14 @ 2:47 pm

According to this index we are right up there with Virginia Tech.

Virginia Tech

Projected record: 8-4
Strength of schedule: 61
Chance of undefeated season: 0.01%
Odds of ACC title: 3.3%
Conference rank: 4

Comment by Atlanta Panther 07.15.14 @ 2:58 pm

Va Tech can have McKenzie. I’d rather have Chris James anyway. I’m still happy with how that all played out.

Comment by Mailman 07.15.14 @ 3:09 pm

wbb, the point I was trying to make is that Wanny who was considered a great recruiter took over from Harris who had gone to 6 straight bowl games. Even with the better recruits it took Wanny 4 years to get back to a bowl game. Many say it took him time to convert to his system.

All I’m saying is that Chryst’s won-loss record is no worse than Dave’s and actually marginally better.

Comment by gc 07.15.14 @ 3:21 pm

wbb,

Even Randall has trimmed down, but looks good. And he showed a much better stroke at the foul line.
Last I saw on Haughton, he said he is up to 220#. Uchebo will be the only true center. Although moving better, he still needs to get “game speed”.

Comment by xfmrman 07.15.14 @ 3:21 pm

Great to hear about Jones, especially if it takes a while for DJ to recover.

Comment by gc 07.15.14 @ 3:23 pm

Atlanta (Patterson), right now, in LV.
NBA Channel.

Comment by xfmrman 07.15.14 @ 3:37 pm

Could not be more pleased with HCPC and the student athletes he has recruited to represent the football program at my alma mater! Don’t happen to be sipping anything at the moment but if that makes me a kool-aide drinker so be it! I could give a rat’s a$$! Will see how Henry and Shell’s world turns at Cheat Lake CC after they are pummeled all season beginning with Saban who will have his team at a fever pitch this year! Hail to PITT! UPone

Comment by UPone 07.15.14 @ 4:04 pm

Anyway you cut it, Pitt needs to upgrade it’s recruiting to climb to the next level and compete with the ACC elite. Chryst is putting the finishing touches on his groundwork. I’m in agreement that the foundation is in place but what kind of house are we going build on this foundation remains to be seen.

Now is the time to step it up in the recruiting dept. 8-4 shows we’re on the right track and will aid in enticing future blue chip that “Pitt is it” in the future for them. This season is a turning point for HCPC’s program. Anything less that that is trouble going forward. Anything above an 8-4 season is gravy and is a momentum producer for the future.

As Chryst likes to say, “prove it”!

Comment by Dr. Tom 07.15.14 @ 5:29 pm

agree UPone

Comment by Punxy Panther 07.15.14 @ 5:52 pm

wbb, no doubt Wanny left Chryst a few good ones, but Harris left him, Revis, Blades, Sessions, Lay, Gunn, McKillop, Thatcher, McGlynn, Conor Lee, Greg Lee, Darrell Strong, Charles Spencer, and I love these effinguys, Tyler Palko. Chryst lost to YSU, and Wanny lost to Ohio U and Bowling Green.

Chryst also had to follow the devastation that was Fraud Graham.

I am not saying that Chryst does not need to recruit higher profile players, but those that say he can’t recruit will be proven wrong.

Comment by gc 07.15.14 @ 6:02 pm

gc, what I’m saying is that Wanny had a harder schedule than PC his 1st 3 years. WVU, Rutgers and Louisville all had the best runs in the history of their schools, and Cincy was getting started under Dantonio to have theirs. ND made the BCS in 05, and even USF had their best years in that period albeit short history.

I have said this before … I would Pitt’s 06 team up against the 04 team and any of the past 3 years

Comment by wbb 07.15.14 @ 6:23 pm

Plus the 07 was forced to use a natural freshman at QB and could have easily won 3 more …. cheated by refs at Rutgers, Shady fumbled at goal line in final minute at Lousiville, and they lost by only 4 at MSU in Kevan Smith’s 1st start.

Comment by wbb 07.15.14 @ 6:27 pm

What would be real hcpc progress from today until January?

1. Win the games you should win.
2. Significantly improve during the game coaching.

Those two things happen and it will be a very good year and we will view hcpc very favorably.

Comment by DD 07.15.14 @ 6:40 pm

he has already grown as a coach. Again, his hirings this past year showed a significant improvement. His game-time decisions has also improved the past 2 seasons. We will soon see how good he and staff is at evaluating and developing talent

Comment by wbb 07.15.14 @ 6:49 pm

FWIW—Pitt’s new 2014-15 hoops roster on the official site lists Uchebo and Haughton exclusively as Centers; Randall and Young as solely as forwards. Perhaps that is implying something about Dixon’s plans for the season–i.e., maybe we shouldn’t expect to see Young at the 5 very much after all? Maybe the 5 will be almost exclusively Haughton and Uchebo.

Comment by pitt1972 07.15.14 @ 8:29 pm

I stated on the 14th at end of that football thread most thoughts here so won’t repeat.

One additional observation that is a very good sign is adapt and change.

Fact is the criticism about the secondary strategy and the recruiting organization were valid end of year… so what did PC do?

He made changes, and now those weaknesses seem to be strengths.

He also took a potential terrible development… losing engram the WR coach, and neutralized it with a nice hire.

And people bitch about the strength coach… except the players who love him and note all the commentary from the media this spring was about how everyone looked ‘trimmer’ and in shape.

So PC is methodically building what this program needs now. The players love it… they are now his player who don’t want to talk, they want to win…

… and if the high school coaches are buying in then that too is a huge indicator of where we will be as long as the Wins come at the appropriate time. (oh, and let’s add all the quotes from the parents and kids of those new recruits and even from some who chose not to go to Pitt but still said strongly positive things about the coaches).

Meanwhile let Ped state have its blush of optimism with Franklinstein…. he better win big and fast… and nothing more better come out of the Vandy rape situation… otherwise the honeymoon ends fast…

Penn State will always be Penn State so need to be realistic… but I wonder how many HS coaches see Franklinstein and are reminded of Graham???

2 years from now we will see who is considered to be the “great” recruiter and the long-term coach for their school…

Comment by Pittscript 07.15.14 @ 10:02 pm

On recruits the PG article hit the nail on the head… PC/Pitt wants people who want to be at Pitt, not the kids that want the star treatment and… “hostesses” to escort them around campus (aka, Vandy..).

McKensie has character issues that make him not a Pitt player of this regime… we are done with that type of player.

Henry teared up at his press conference he was so torn over the decision… and then his mother spoke the whole time… at his conference… so good luck to him but I really wonder what he is thinking now that he sees what Pitt is doing now… while also realizing now how his frequent flyer miles are about to make him a platinum club member of WVU’s airline.

Comment by Pittscript 07.15.14 @ 10:10 pm

Emel,

Montana’s last high school season was 1973. I would submit to you that Pitt football’s glory days did not include 1973. As such, Pitt…IN their glory days, got everyone but Clark. Joe Montana does not factor into this as he left Ringgold before Pitt achieved greatness.

Comment by Tallahassee Panther 07.15.14 @ 10:16 pm

Joe Moore recruited the snot out of kids in WPA. He was solid.

If Whitehead picks OSU, it would show that he didn’t study the roster. They have an incoming freshman that is already being talked about like Deon Sanders. He will start from day one at one corner. The position will be taken for three years, barring injury. At the earliest, he gets lengthy playing time during his redshirt junior year.

I said this 1 1/2 years ago. Pitt Admin needs to extend Chryst now or risk losing him if he has a blockbuster year of 8-4 with a bowl win or 9-3 with a bowl loss. If michigan tanks this year, that could be his resting place.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 07.15.14 @ 10:42 pm

I think that Chryst is happy here in Pittsburgh for the time being. No meed to rush contract extensions, IMO.

Chryst has to earn his contract THIS year & 8-4 irrespective of bowl results gets him his extension.

Criticism about his game day coaching will be a constant complaint because all head coaches get flack about their real time game decisions when it doesn’t work out and a loss results. But one thing I see with him that I find refreshing is he plays to win, rather than “not to lose”. As his team chemistry develops this trait will become instilled in the tram’s mindset too. With guys like Boyd and Conner taking over the leadership role in the future, guys who already play to win personally, that’s how the team as a whole develops the attitude of learning how to win and games won’t get away from us in the future like the Navy game did last year.

That’s an essential ingredient to these 10 win seasons we aspire to see happen.

Comment by Dr. Tom 07.16.14 @ 6:14 am

Dr Tom, I agree with what you said above about real game time decisions .. there is always too much focus on them if you lose when it often depends more on execution than strategy. Nonetheless, PC made some real headscractching decisions in his first year — and coincidentally, they were all in the last minute of the 1st Half (Cincy, Louisville, ND and UConn.)

This past year, any controversy was more with execution.

Comment by wbb 07.16.14 @ 8:13 am

PC has the right to build the program his way. Reflecting on the “average” at best record from Walt thru Fraud is a
waste of time. Also, this is not the 70s or 80s. The local
time is not sufficient to build an entire roster. Some local
kids just want to go away for school who can fault them?
PC deserves a minimum of 4 years in order to be properly
evaluated. Eight regular season wins is probable with a chance to reach nine wins via a bowl victory.

Comment by JR 07.16.14 @ 8:53 am

Paul is building a solid, steady program. I maintain his process could have and could be speeded along at a much faster pace if not hamstrung by our AD.

I know it is July but I love the tone of the positive and supportive posts, so I hesitate to open up a whole diatribe of posts about the AD, but my comment is meant more about PC having to face internal hurdles as well as our outside competition, and is exhibiting a lot more patience than I would by being told who I could and could not hire, what uniforms I have to wear, etc.

But, we know all those things so let’s just focus on our players and staff and get ready for some 2014 football!!

Comment by PittMan 07.16.14 @ 9:34 am

Everything considered, Pitt is positioned to take a BIG step forward this year as a Program.

First and foremost, there are the new Assistants… all of them Coaches with experience. That has to make a difference.

This is also the year that we should see DRAMATIC improvement in the play of an Offensive Line that finally has more than the minimal number of STARTER-CAPABLE Players to choose from. The new Strength Coach that has received rave reviews will undoubtedly be a factor in whatever success we see.

And then there is there is that thing some like to call “Panther Beast Mode.” The only variable that could possibly stop James Conner from picking up where he left off is the “I” word. Can’t even get myself to write it.

However, even with all the positive… there is one BIG question that will go unanswered until well into the season. And the answer will have more to do with how the season is going to go than any other single factor. It surrounds the Head Coach.

Simply put… is Chryst going to be able to “grow” as a Head Coach to a point where he is able to avoid giving away the two or three games that make all the difference in a season?

Believe he can.

But, honestly, need to see it happen to know for sure.

Comment by PittofDreams 07.16.14 @ 9:40 am

This is Pitt so we were due for some bad news ..

Ejuan Price scheduled for season ending surgery … it’s a shame and, sadly, not a real surprise.

As you know, this depletes a thin position and raises the probability of Conner playing more defense

Comment by wbb 07.16.14 @ 10:16 am

Yes we need to make some hay this season with this schedule this year.

The much tougher games are backloaded on the schedule so that should give Voytik and the offense time to get their game in gear, as well as the defense.

The division crossover game is Boston College who might be the weakest team in the Atlantic. No Florida State, no Clemson. Key game imo, this is a Friday nite game and game #2 on the schedule. We haven’t done real well on TV’d night games, so this will be a real key game.

We got Iowa at Heinz which is doable. As well as GT, Duke, Syracuse and Va Tech. All at Heinz.

For almost 2 months, Sept. 20th to Nov. 15th, we have 5 of 6 games at home. Only a trip to lowly UVA interrupts that.

Got to make some hay….indeed.

Comment by Emel 07.16.14 @ 10:36 am

I’ll wait on the facts but I will be interested in knowing what they had Ejuan doing that could have produced a severe injury? Off season? Could be a freak thing or it could be from overwork? Coaches aren’t there so I assume it was unsupervised on the field or S&C staff in the weight room?

I have heard that some of our past performances have been due to grueling fall camps and heavy hitting far into the fall. Particular information about some over the top practices preceding PC opening game vs. Youngstown. We were tired, listless and unconfident. Building mental and physical toughness is one thing but there aren’t too many teams in our league like they faced at Wisconsin that line up and knock slobber with you. The norm is face paced quick snap, multiple formation teams like UNC, Clemson -fortunately we don’t play them, but point being you better work on covering and tackling in space, lining up right, and rotating at the right time for fresh legs.

Hopefully we schedule fall camp to do as much as possible to protect players from further injury. Of real concern is the QB position.

Comment by PittMan 07.16.14 @ 11:12 am

While I thought PC made some poor “in game” decisions during last season, I was highly encouraged by his decisions in the bowl game. It appeared obvious to me that he took the time to review the season and made sound “in game” coaching changes (strategy wise) for the Bowling Green game. I believe this will carry over into this season.

Comment by Pittman4ever 07.16.14 @ 11:19 am

Shame about Price, the kid has such potential but can’t stay healthy. wbb, I agree this would seem to increase the likelihood of Conner seeing action on that side of the ball.

Comment by Iron Duke 07.16.14 @ 11:25 am

From ESPN.com’s ACC blog:

ACC’s best backups: No. 3
By David M. Hale | ESPN.com

Last season, Florida State won a national championship, while its leader in takeaways (Nate Andrews), yards per carry (Karlos Williams) and yards per touch (Kermit Whitfield) combined to start just one game. In the current landscape of college football, talent at the top is crucial, but depth is often what separates the best teams. With that in mind, we’re counting down the ACC’s best backups — players who weren’t starters last year and aren’t currently penciled in atop the depth chart, but who could make a major impact in 2014.

Running back James Conner could lend more of a hand for the Pitt defense in 2014.No. 3: James Conner (Pitt, So./RB)

Career numbers: As a freshman in 2013, Conner appeared in 12 games without a start, but he managed to lead Pitt in rushing (799 yards), yards per carry (5.5) and rushing TDs (eight). Conner racked up a whopping 229 yards and a TD in Pitt’s Little Caesar’s Bowl win over Bowling Green, earning MVP honors in the process. He also chipped in on defense as a pass-rushing specialist.

Projected role in 2014: Senior Isaac Bennett, who started all 13 games in 2013 at tailback, returns this season, and he, too, tallied nearly 800 yards on the ground. That likely means Conner will still be the nominal backup at tailback, but Pitt figures to feature a relatively even split, meaning both runners will get their share of carries.

Why he’ll make an impact: Conner is in an interesting position this fall. He’s obviously a talented runner, with four games topping 100 yards last season, highlighted by his bowl performance. But in the eight other games he played, Conner finished with fewer than 35 yards, including particularly ugly performances against Virginia and Georgia Tech. Whether he can find more consistency in 2014 will likely determine how much he’ll push Bennett for the starting tailback job.

But pushing his way into the offensive backfield might actually work even better for Conner as a defensive end. At 6-foot-2, 250, he has the size to play on defense, and Pitt’s coaches have obviously seen enough ability to be intrigued by the option of using him more often as a pass rusher. That has led to continued rumblings that a position switch is in store for Conner at some point.

The most likely scenario, however, is a little work on both sides of the ball, which should make Conner among the most valuable contributors on the Pitt roster, even if he’s not listed as a full-time starter.

Comment by Pitt Dad 07.16.14 @ 11:26 am

93.7 The Fan had Darryl Render on in drive time yesterday afternoon, and had Voytik on this morning.

Nice to have some discussion and focus on our city’s only D-I football program. Both young men did a great job, even taking in good humor some of the inane, non-football related questions thrown out by the hosts.

Comment by Iron Duke 07.16.14 @ 11:37 am

Amazing how afraid the local media is of Nordenberg/Pederson. (You’ve got to think of them as one entity.)

Pitt football has been a mediocre mess because of leadership. Graham was certainly a disaster but…hmmm…who hired him? And then there’s the 2010 season whne Cornhole was derelict of duty and didn’t do or say anything (if you don’t believe this refer to Wannstedt’s amazing press conference when he obviously looked blind-sided) to make Wannstedt’s situation better or lay it out so Wannstedt could resign the head coaches position on his own terms. Pitt owed him that much.

I like Paul Chryst. I think he’s doing as good a job as we can expect. We are headed for are top 30 programs in basketball and football. Many schools would envy that.

Pitt has not shown a willingness to do what it takes to field top five teams consistently in either sport, although Dixon came close early in his career and in 2008-2011.

But I’ll take clean, winning programs over the scum that Auburn and North Carolina produce, despite the Cornhole at the center of it all.

Comment by TonyinHouston 07.16.14 @ 12:07 pm

ESPN says we lose DL Price for year.

Comment by Frank MD 07.16.14 @ 12:29 pm

For those jonsing, don’t worry, won’t be long.

I picked out a few of the better ones on tv the opening weekend. Yes, some will end up beings dogs, and there are many more to choose from, but here are a few.

WED 8/27

Abilene Christian v Geo.St.—7:00 ESPNU

Not exciting, but I put it on, since it’s first.

THURS 8/28

TA&M v South Carolina—6:00 ESPN
Boise St. v Ole Miss—-9:00 ESPN
Rutgers vs Wash. St.—-10:30 FOX 1

FRI 8/29

Brigham Young v UCONN 7:00 ESPN
Villanova at Syracuse 7:30 ESPN3 (computer)
Colorado St v Colorado 9:00 FOX 1
UNLV v Arizona———10:30 ESPN

SAT 8/30

Delaware v Pitt—-12:00 ESPN3 (computer)
PSU v Central Fla–8:30 ESPN
UCLA v Virginia—-12:00 ESPN
Ohio St. v Navy—-12:00 CBS
WVU v Alabama——3:30 ABC
Rice v Notre Dame–3:30 NBC
Arkansas v Auburn–4:00 ESPN2
Clemson v Georgia–5:30 ESPN
Fresno St. v USC—7:30 FOX1
Fla St. v Okl St.–8:00 ABC
Wisconsin v LSU—-9:00 ESPN
Washington v Hawaii-10:30 CBS Sports

SUN 8/31

Utah St. v Tennessee—-7:00 ESPN
SMU v Baylor————7:30 FOX1

MON 9/1 LABOR DAY

Miami v Louisville——8:00 ESPN

Some pretty good and interesting match ups.
Some will be duds, but this only for the purposes of whetting the college football junkies appetite!!

H2P!!

Comment by Dan 07.16.14 @ 12:30 pm

Oh, PSU v Central Florida is not a misprint.

8:30 am, playing in Dublin, Ireland.

Hopefully can see them get beat over some eggs and coffee!!

Would be nice to start out their year!!

Comment by Dan 07.16.14 @ 12:32 pm

WVU looks to get beat bad. PSU could lose in the heat at UCF.

Comment by Frank MD 07.16.14 @ 12:35 pm

My mistake. PSU plays in Dublin but maybe …

Comment by Frank MD 07.16.14 @ 12:38 pm

We played over there one year didn’t we??

Rutgers or Temple in the mist??

Comment by Dan 07.16.14 @ 12:47 pm

UCF lost its star QB .. but still has O’Leary at coach. Good coach, bad resume.

FSU v Ok St pretty good opening game. Wisc v LSU also good as is Clemson v UGA.

Boise v Ole Miss on Thurs may be interesting

Comment by wbb 07.16.14 @ 1:57 pm

Comment by Pitt Dad 07.16.14 @ 2:01 pm

link is to the story on Ejuan Price

Comment by Pitt Dad 07.16.14 @ 2:01 pm

we better play good ball control

Comment by wbb 07.16.14 @ 2:23 pm

Actually looking forward to this football season. Feel like they could surprise a few people.

As for hoops, just going into the season with 2 guys who have bodies somewhat built to play center is a big improvement. Even if neither is expected to do much, they can eat up space and fouls, hopefully get some rebounds, and let the more talented offensive players do their thing.

And, hopefully, as the season progresses, at least one might be able to make some truly meaningful contributions. Given how things have played out, I’d be happy with that result.

Comment by Carmen 07.16.14 @ 3:05 pm

Best of luck to Ejuan. Had hoped for big things for and from him. This might be the final straw. Hope he gets one more chance.

One more reason they better recruit some D-ends and linebackers. Lack of any pass rush (other than Donald) was a huge deficiency and it looks like that may continue. Hope that Chris James is the second coming of Dion Lewis so that Conner can help at end. (apologies to Reed) Soto and Durham are not nearly enough. Really makes you wonder why Murphy quit, wonder what kind of shape he is in?

Comment by gc 07.16.14 @ 3:24 pm

wbb, Wanny’s best skill was recruiting D-Ends, maybe they could hire him as a consultant.

Comment by gc 07.16.14 @ 3:26 pm

wanny also moved Pinkston and Malecki from DL to OL (both in NFL) as will probably a 3rd wanny DL recruit — TJ Clemmmings

PC may have to reciprocate by bringing a couple of his OL recruits over to the DL

Comment by wbb 07.16.14 @ 6:15 pm

- looking forward to both FB and BB this year and am expecting good years for both (possibly really good in BB)

- don’t forget that in addition to James and Bennett (decent 3rd down back), they also have Ibrahim, who I think could be a real sleeper

- DeJuan Blair soon to become a Washington Wizard

Comment by wbb 07.16.14 @ 6:19 pm

Fraud and Franklin have something in common.

Comment by gdodson 07.16.14 @ 6:44 pm

Comment by gdodson 07.16.14 @ 6:45 pm

Politicians, salesmen and good recruiters — tell the kids what they want to hear

Comment by wbb 07.17.14 @ 6:35 am

Would appreciate any comments from last night’s ProAm. Anybody see the game? Did Uchebo play?

I don’t have a good feel for this year’s team, but I atleast feel good that Uchebo has improved a lot physically, as evidenced by the ProAm observations to date. This gives us 2 legit Centers this year if Uchebo stays healthy, versus none last year (Zanna did a great job playing out of position, especially offensively), and this may be helpful on the defensive end when we meet up with a team that has a strong Center. All of this presumes Haughton plays, but he’s listed on the official site as someone else pointed out, so that’s good enough for me.

Comment by 1618mt 07.17.14 @ 7:52 am

1618mt,

Got to see Robinson for the 1st time last night. He has lost a lot of weight too.
In general:
Young looks active, quick and much more confident.
Jeter finishes above the rim, has great size for a SF and rebounds well. He plays a great two man game with Lance.
Jones moves well without the ball, can hit shots, looks to rebound and shows good athleticism (hops).
Believe it or not, Wright shows a much better stroke. His form is improved with better ball rotation (unlike the knuckle balls he shot last year).
Newkirk is going to be hard to keep off of the floor. He is showing that he wants to get to the rim.
Uchebo was up against Darius Lewis (6’11″, 255#) for most of his game last night. He played all but a few minutes, did not shy away from contact, and was very active on the boards. He can change directions and jump much more fluidly, but he does not finish well, yet.
Randall (who I think will start a center) was finishing above the rim, showing a nice touch with his right (off) hand and fighting for rebounds. He also stepped out for jumpers, with mixed results. His stroke is much improved and looks like he is having fun.

It seems to me there is depth at every position. And several players have real versatility and can create match-up problems.

Comment by xfmrman 07.17.14 @ 10:22 am

xfmrman – great summary, really appreciate it.

Few thoughts: If Jamie goes small for spurts with Young at Center and Jeter at PF, it really helps that Jeter seems to be a natural rebounder. Also, hopefully finishing improves, but I must say it’s encouraging hearing yet another positive report concerning Uchebo’s mobility & physicality.

Comment by 1618mt 07.17.14 @ 11:01 am

Don’t get me wrong, Uchebo still shows a limp. He looks better in short bursts and quick moves than when running end to end.

Comment by xfmrman 07.17.14 @ 11:08 am

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