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August 2, 2014

That’s the nice way of putting it. It started leaking a couple hours earlier than the typical “bad news on a Friday” release (those are resereved for roughly around 5pm). Titus Howard got the season long suspension.

Pitt lost another key member of its defense Friday when coach Paul Chryst suspended sophomore cornerback Titus Howard for the season. Howard was listed No. 1 on a depth chart Chryst issued last month.

Chryst did not comment on the reason for Howard’s suspension.

Howard, who played on Clairton’s four PIAA and WPIAL Class A championship teams, was an important reserve last season. He played in 11 games and started against Old Dominion on Oct. 19 and Bowling Green in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl on Dec. 26. Overall, he recorded 21 tackles and two pass breakups.

Don’t even care to speculate. He’s a kid who screwed up. He’s not off the team for good. Howard will be fully reinstated to the team for next year, assuming he does what he should. He will train and practice with the team. He just will not be allowed to play.

There is no pretending that this isn’t a rough loss for the team this year. Especially when facing teams that like to run spread formations.  Howard had pulled ahead of Coles in spring practices. The cornerback position has some talent, but is paper thin and very inexperienced. Pitt may be forced to play true freshmen once again this season — Avonte Maddox and Phillipie Motley. The other possibility is seeing who can be pulled from the rather deep wide receiving corps.

Ugh. Word out of spring practice was that he was looking great. This kind of forces us to rely on Lafayette Pitts. I don’t want to rely on Lafayette Pitts.

Comment by AJMayo 08.02.14 @ 7:42 am

My prediction for the season is now down to 7-5

Comment by Atlanta Panther 08.02.14 @ 8:22 am

Does this mean that his loses a year of eligibility ?

If so that is a hard pill for all involved to swallow. Got to give it to PC for sticking to his guns and instilling discipline. Got to do it.

How many players has he suspended or release in his 2 years?

Comment by Pitt Fan in Atlanta 08.02.14 @ 8:30 am

4 CB’s on roster, 3 have never started, and 2 have never played a collegiate game. Easy schedule or no easy schedule, I’d temper a lot of those 9-3 or 10-2 expectations that I’ve seen from a lot of people. To add, no team goes through a season without at least some injury, serious or minor (1-2 games), to pretty much every position on their roster. We were already razor thin at CB and DE and now we’ve lost Howard and Price to make matters worse.

Comment by srb 08.02.14 @ 8:31 am

Pitt Fan,
Howard will be redshirted during his suspension, so he won’t lose any years of eligibility.

Comment by srb 08.02.14 @ 8:33 am

srb – see article I just posted. Could you please reference where it has been stated that he’ll be granted a redshirt year?


Comment by Reed 08.02.14 @ 9:01 am

Just saw this from CBS Pittsburgh:

“Since Howard played his freshman year, the team will likely use a redshirt on him this year, making him a redshirt sophomore next year.”

That’s written as speculation but I hope its the case.

If you look at Mosley-Smith and Ronald Jones’ status they are both listed as rsJR and rsSO respectively so that means theirs was a PITT suspension and not a NCAA suspension.

Honestly, and this is my POV, I can’t think of any other year long suspension at PITT that have been for things other than drugs… at least to my knowledge.

Comment by Reed 08.02.14 @ 10:49 am

Rivals states pretty clearly that Howard will use a redshirt season which means the NCAA wasn’t involved at all.

link to

Comment by Reed 08.02.14 @ 10:51 am

I’m talking to myself in this thread… sign of early dementia for sure.

Comment by Reed 08.02.14 @ 11:24 am

Yep, that’s a tough break. However, that is where the team concept comes in and where recruiting comes in.

Someone else has got to get in there and step up.

The coaches know this info now, so this should be no surprise come training camp, and certainly no surprise come August 30th at noon.

Am I just slouching this off as “no big deal”?
Certainly not.

But, it is a done deal. He’s gone, he’s not playing, someone else has to play. Someone’s got to step up, switch positions, maybe someone doesn’t take that freshman redshirt, whatever, plenty of time to not get caught stranded out there.

p.s. As you all know, just about every one of the 126 Division 1 teams will go through this too. Most teams will not have one or two, hell, some maybe even 3 or 4 players during, and at the end of the season, that they thought they would have, or started out to have.

Tough break, get coaching, get moving.

Comment by Dan 08.02.14 @ 12:10 pm

Whether it be from suspensions or injuries above.

Hell, it happens in the pros to all the teams too.

Look at the Steelers last year. Pouncey, first game, bang, done.

He may be done again for a few games this year depending on what comes out of Miami.

Comment by Dan 08.02.14 @ 12:12 pm

This bad news probably sounds like opportunity knocking for Reggie Mitchell. Mitchell has been riding the bench for a year waiting for his eligibility to be reinstated since his transfer.

Hopefully he used last year as a building block season to acquaint himself with the defensive schemes being installed last year by House. Mitchell will be on the two deep roster now, prepared or not.

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.02.14 @ 12:21 pm

Las Vegas has Pitt at over/under 7 1/2 for wins.

Must have been reading us Blatherites all summer, sounds about right.

Comment by Dan 08.02.14 @ 12:24 pm

Not too long ago I was thinking the DB depth was a team strength. Pitts, Coles, Howard, Pardner and the incoming freshmen with speed. Now, ouch!

Mitchell received nice reviews last year so let’s hope he’s ready to rock and roll. What’s the word with Ryan Lewis? I remember him as a promising talent but haven’t heard much lately. Anyone know??

Comment by JAM05Pitt 08.02.14 @ 12:36 pm

I’m still holding out hope for 9 wins.

9-3, great season
8-4, good season
7-5, ehh, again!
6 wins, I won’t be happy

Not counting a bowl game, those are usually a crapshoot.

2015 must be a breakout season. And by breakout, I mean things like a 9 or 10 win season, being in contention for the Coastal Division championship, if not winning it, coming down to say the last game against Miami to get in or something like that, the next tier up bowl game, being in the top 25 during the season.

I’m jumping ahead, we’ll come to that bridge down the road. I am pumped up for Aug. 30th against Delaware.

Please don’t start off my season with some 17-14, or 24-20 nail biter either.

If we’re progressing, moving forward, becoming a solid program, it’s gonna have to get done on the field………..

and that means beating a team like Delaware soundly and convincingly.

It’s time to start taking steps, to show the program is moving in the right direction.

The Pitt cynic in me, cringes at the thought of having to have a battle royale with Delaware. A real tug of war, coming down to the last drive.

Time to take a step up.

Comment by Dan 08.02.14 @ 12:39 pm

I think a 10 win season next year will be hard to do and I hope HCPC has more time than 3 or 4 years to show what he can do. The team was a mess and should be considered on life support the first 2 years he was here. If he beats PSU in 2016 he can stay.
Love to hate on Penn State
Keep playing PSU forever.

Comment by Tackle made by Hugh 08.02.14 @ 12:59 pm

@Tackle, good point. Especially about Ped State!!!

I’d love to rip off 4 in a row against them, just for bragging, have a lot of PSU nephews, nieces etc.etc. Even 3-1, if the last game is a Pitt win.

As for next year, you are correct there.

It’s really hard to judge as an exact science wins and losses.

I mean, you could be 10-2, with no wins over a top 25 team, and a loss to a Div 2 team, and

you could be 9-3, with a one point loss to Miami and a 4 point loss to FSU, just as an example. I mean, just from that easy scenario, I would think the 9-3 team is better, and most would see it that way.

So, very difficult to just use a record, lots of dynamics at play, I understand that.

I think most of us Blatherites, and Pitt fans everywhere, can tell whether things are improving.

Just using the simple eye test.

With no blue and gold glasses on, I think HCPC has established his way, his program and how he is going to do things.

And, I think he has done an excellent job. I think we are on an upward trajectory. He has got to refine his gameday coaching a bit, that will come with time.

Gotta get the recruiting moving a bit forward too.

That will become better and better, if the program gets better, maybe starts sending some OL to the NFL etc. etc.

I like where we are at, from where we came from.

I think he will definitely get 5 or 6 years at least. He has cleaned up the program nicely, seems to not hesitate to sit people out if they don’t go by the rules.

Eventually though, gonna have to put some W’s up on the board.

I’m no rocket scientist, but after watching football, especially college football for 40 years, I, as all of you are I’m sure, will be able to tell if we’re getting better each season, regardless of W/L’s.

Eventually though, they gotta come.

Comment by Dan 08.02.14 @ 4:59 pm

I think the team can certainly overcome losing Titus. I mean the kid only started 2 games, so it’s not like we’re losing Todd Thomas or dare I say, Ray Vinopal.

WE have Pitts on one side, and we can plug one of the other Clairton kids, Trenton Coles who was competing with Howard for that spot opposite Pitts.

Mitchell can apparently play DB as well as S. And if James and/or Ollison show they can play immediately you can always move Ibrahim over to the defensive end.

Still think 8-4 is quite doable and a bowl win gets us to 9.

Comment by Emel 08.02.14 @ 5:56 pm

I thought Coles hit harder and tackled better than Howard. Howard might find playing time hard to come by when he does come back, let this be a lesson for all the young players on the team. Are people saying that a guy that wasn’t highly recruited and started against Old D and BG, two games that we gave up a lot of passing yards in, is going to make a difference in Pitts win/loss record? Really!!!!!!

Comment by Steve h 08.02.14 @ 6:55 pm

Tomorrow the process begins anew. Inventory gets taken, summer conditioning gets assessed and competition begins for the two deep.

No fan ever wants to see his team dinged by self inflicted wounds but just look at how quiet the off season has been this year. No DUIs, drug arrests, assaults, or any of the array of nonsense that the misguided so often find themselves involved.

Now we have one suspension and some Pitt fans are already forming a new conference so we can compete with the rest of the college world. RELAX.

I prefer it this way. This team has gotten the memo loud and clear. Pitt is going to run a tight ship and those that can’t comply with the standards put in place will have to deal with the repercussions of that. Imagine that? It’s almost like real life.

The benefit that I think we’ll start reaping from this soon, probably this season, is that this group will start performing like a well oiled machine. Chryst is building a team philosophy and he has set standards. He has recruited the ones who want to be here and now his job is to get this bunch to play as a complete team. When that gets accomplished, we win the games we’re supposed to, we pull out the close ones at the end and we prove that we can beat our fair share of the teams that are actually better than us on paper.

That team chemistry when it is right, is that powerful. That is going to be the ace up our sleeve for this season. Howard is gone for this season. A good team understands that the next guy needs to be prepared and step it up to fill the void. That will happen in camp. And as the season progresses that will need to occur many times over as guys get hurt or under perform.

A good team can overcome those hurdles, they have to, Pitt is turning into a good team and therefore they will.

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.03.14 @ 7:13 am

While it’s always disappointing to see a young kid falter, I like the approach being taken by HCPC. It strikes me as a compassionate, but firm way to give a kid a second chance, but making him earn it as well.

As he will quickly learn by watching it everyday at UPMC, life will move on. Let’s hope he moves through the process successfully and is ready to play next year.

Comment by Joe Lawrence 08.03.14 @ 2:40 pm

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