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August 24, 2014

Now that we are at the halfway mark of Paul Chryst’s contract to be the head football coach at PITT and entering his third season in that position, it is a good point in time to step back and take a semi-detached look at where the football program was, is now and what the future looks like.

There is no real need to get into the details, weeds, swamp or muck about what has transpired at PITT after the 2009 season.  We PITT fans know the history like the back of our hand.  But, for clarity it is important to understand the situation PITT was in, why we were in it and what Chryst stepped into as his first job as a head coach.

The upshot is that when PITT offered Chryst the head job we had just run through four different ‘real’ HCs in the 13 month period after Dave Wannstedt was fired (the slowest firing in the history of football by the way).  Four head coaches in a bit over one year might have been a Guinness World Record.  Granted a couple of those HCs were blips on the radar; Mike Haywood didn’t even have time to buy any PITT gear before he was fired and Todd Graham, he of the “High Octane” offense, lasted one season before he pulled chocks and left in the dead of night. Trey Anderson said it best with this quote “I take a nap for 2 hours; wake up to find out my head coach is gone.”

We can debate forever the wisdom of firing Wannstedt after his run as the most successful coach in the last 25 years.  Then again PITT has a track record of jettisoning and/or not fighting to keep successful head coaches.  The decision making in dealing  with Jackie Sherrill right up through Walt Harris and ending with Dave Wannstedt are examples of PITT’s administration acting in ways some fans don’t understand or agree with.  Whether it isn’t offering a truly competitive salary (Sherrill) or firing for cause including issues external to football itself (Harris and Wannstedt), PITT has danced to the beat of its own drum.

Those decisions angered PITT fans royally when they happened but that antagonism has been tamped down now that we are able to look at them with some distance in our rear view mirror, you know – the rear view mirror you have with the nine national championship mini-trophies dangling from it.

After the 2010 season PITT administration considered Chryst for the top job but then went in a different direction, straight into hell actually.  I feel we’d all be a happier bunch had our Athletic Director Steve Pederson and Chancellor Mark Nordenberg hired Chryst back in early 2011 instead of choosing the demon Beelzebub.  It is reasonable to think that this year we’d be starting Chryst’s fourth season and, I’m projecting now, most probably satisfied with the direction of the program.

Which brings us to the meat of this article; ‘What position is PITT football in with our current athletic department, coaching staff and player personnel?’  Onto the fun stuff…

Chryst was hired with strong direction from the university’s administration to change both the football program’s shortcomings in play and the negative perception the public, including some of our own fans, had developed of the program.  There is no doubt the coaching carousel had a harmful impact to our football reputation but also impacted negatively on the recruiting front; two things a winning program needs in order to have continued success.  Big money donors don’t just want a victorious team; they also need to know that their money is indeed going to a good cause.  Our fans want to know that the university is adhering to the tenets of student-athlete traditions while striving to win on the field of play.  Additionally, we all want the local and national sports media to point to PITT’s glorious football past of pre-World War II and the 1976 through the 1983 seasons but also have PITT be part of the current national conversations about college football.

Has this happened yet? I believe it’s getting there.  Every season that passes and we don’t have negative headlines is a good year for us, sad to say.  Setting aside normal occurrences that any major college program has with suspensions and transfers, PITT has been on an even keel since Chryst’s hire.  Some might say that the keel is too even considering Chryst has a perfect 13-13 wins and losses. Others look at the 360 degrees of the program and see tangible advances.

A college head coach who understands and believes that he is truly a key component in his employing university’s life looks at his responsibilities through a wider lens than seeing only the boundaries of a football field.  Paul Chryst is this kind of coach.  You can tell from his recruiting choices and his expanding walk-on program that academic ability is an important part of the staff’s player evaluation process.  He has stated this publically and then has put it into action.

One who thinks this is unnecessary, or not desirable, because they believe the only job a head coach has is to win football games has a limited view of the situation in my opinion.  Having players who are both good students and skilled athletes on the roster impacts the program in many ways. The ability to grasp and execute schemes, the detailed playbook and the program’s student-athlete policies helps to strengthen the leadership of those who are confident in reaching out to help underclassmen or the players who haven’t had a chance to play much yet.  We fans talk a lot about the impact a positive atmosphere in the locker room has on the team’s identity and thus its accomplishments and this is an example of creating that.

With all that said the true test for any head coach is the ability to mold a roster full of those young adults he’s bringing to PITT into a winning team, preferably a championship one.  Whether or not Chryst has done that yet isn’t in question because he hasn’t and it won’t get answered until we get through this 2014 season, hopefully with more wins than losses.  Most PITT fans understand that the situation at PITT Chryst inherited would take some time to stabilize and then turn into a constant winning program.  I think I speak for all of us in saying that 2014  has to be a winning season for us to stay optimistic about Chryst’s actual coaching abilities.

It was evident from the start of Chryst’s time at PITT that he wanted to remold the team into his own, with the roster and his two-deep lineup of players and with the reset of how the team and staff planned to play their opponents.  We have read that PITT has the youngest roster in D1 football this year and that didn’t happen by accident.  Chryst had a longer range vision of the team’s progress than many fans wanted, but he still recruited and played his own players as soon as possible.  We addressed this issue in an earlier Blather piece when we looked at the attrition that has happened under this staff since December of 2012.

To quote from that article:

That is at least 21 players (if my memory serves) and 21 scholarships Chryst had to use for more of his own recruits.  That is also a 25% turnover generated by circumstances aside from the normal end of career attrition.  You can assume that many of those recruited in place of the departed will get decent PT this year, especially when it happened last season as Chryst fielded 19 FR and true SO kids who were his recruits on the two deep listing.  That folks is a young ass team and exactly how Chryst is building for the 2015 season and beyond.”

That is a bold move especially from a guy who is in his first ‘Big Boy” job.  Of course it always begs the question similar to the chicken and the egg; did Chryst want to start playing FR and SOs right away or was he forced into it through lack of talent on hand and the recent departures?

I think the answer lies more on the first side of that equation  because a lot of those player’s departures and transfers were accomplished ‘with a little help from their friends’ much like we see Coles doing now.  In doing that Chryst knew that in his first two years on the job he’d be playing kids not far removed from high school.

This article so far has been about the underpinnings of the football program and what we’ve seen occur in the past two years.  But what plan does Chryst have moving forward and playing the games with his current personnel?  We all know that players play the game and if a coach doesn’t get the right fits there is usually a big problem.

I’ve stated before that IMO PC’s approach to recruiting has followed the Wisconsin model and that is to get the highest talent, most highly rated kids he can for the skill positions on offense.  We have been watching that take place going back to his work keeping Voytik committed after Graham split. That was an interesting action in that Voytik really didn’t fit the mold of almost all the QBs Chryst worked with as the OC at Wisconsin.  Forget about Russell Wilson in that discussion of QB types; Wilson reached out to Chryst and Wisconsin specifically to have Chryst tutor him in the NFL’s pocket passer style of play.

With that successful endeavor behind him Chryst knew that he could teach Voytik to take his natural talent and develop a different style himself.  SoChrystwanted Voytik to stay at PITT as a QB he could start working with him right away and the fruits will pay off this season. The recruitment of QB Adam Bertke might be the steal of the 2014 recruiting class.  Give him this year to redshirt and we’ll see some good play from him.

Our recruiting of the OL and the RBs has had the same emphasis.  Everyone thinks Chryst recruited Conner as a DE but I believe it is more likely that position was only what the recruiting services projected Conner as playing in college.  It could be that Conner was destined at RB as soon as he set foot on campus and the departure of Shell sped that process up. Either way he’s a good one with three more years to play.   Grabbing Chris James was a coup and those dividends will pay sooner rather than later; Qadree Ollison is showing what he can do and making it hard to redshirt him given his eye opening play in camp and the recent commitment from Darrin Hall continues the string of solid and talented backs.

Our WR corps is supremely talented and also very, very young.  Sophomore Tyler Boyd needs no explanation as he’s already hit stardom.  Perhaps the most anticipated true freshman on the roster is Adonis Jennings who, with his raw talent, could easily replicate what we lost in the departure of Street at least as far as number of catches (51) and number of TDs (7).  Jennings will be the 3rd receiver within a few weeks of play.

Personally, even with the striking talent of Conner and Boyd, the unit I’m most looking forward to watching over the next few years is the offensive line and the young recruits we’ve brought in to bolster it.  This year’s version will be advanced over 2013 I think but the real production from the young OL kids will be 2015-2017.

Youngsters Dorian Johnson (5*), Adam Bisnowaty (4*), Alex Bookser (4*), Mike Grimm (4*) and Jaryd-Jones Smith, who has kicked ass in camp, make an excellent nucleus to construct a talented two-deep around.  These kids may just have a chance to replicate some of our OL glory years of the 1980s.

When looking at how the future PITT football teams are being built today one of Chryst’s better decisions was to use scholarships on kickers and then land two kids who were nationally  ranked recruits.  Chris Blewitt and Ryan Winslow are a SO and a rsFR respectively.  Both are good and will be with us for years.

That’s the offense and I feel very satisfied with the personnel we have now but especially with the future starting lineups.  The defense is harder for me to project as my opinion is that defense relies more on proper schemes and game planning than it does on individual player’s skills, so I won’t do it except to say it will be a question mark.

Which now brings us to the biggest question marks of all when discussing the current and future state of the football program, the coaching staff. My feeling is that I’m perfectly OK with how Paul Chryst has run the program off the field up to this point.  Regarding his direct impact on our won-lost record is harder to gauge.  As a first timer in the head coaching ranks I think it is safe to say he was learning on the job over his first two years.  He made some glaring mistakes in clock management and some head scratching wins and losses.

From a loss to YSU and a win against VT in ’12 to losses to Navy and North Carolina and a win over ND last season this team has been maddeningly inconsistent and part of that is due the coaching itself starting with the HC.  Chryst doesn’t have a hard time getting his players both up for the game and giving 100% during it.  We saw just the opposite at time from his two predecessors when the team seemed to mail it in after falling behind in some games.  That hasn’t happened with Chryst and I don’t expect it to.

It’s now year three and there can’t be anymore ‘new to the job’ reasons for not winning a football game.  Chryst has his players in place, albeit their young ages. He has tweaked his coaching staff and it appears to be pretty well set as far as the OC and position coaches go.  We lost a very good WR coach in Bobby Engram but picked up three good ones in Lewis (WRs), Settle (RBs) Palermo (DEs) and Douglas (Secondary).  From what I gather this is a staff that Chryst wants to keep together as long as he can and after two years of tweaking it he has the personnel he feels comfortable with.

Of course the elephant in the room for this season and then for 2015 is how well our Defensive Coordinator, Matt House, does after his initial season in the position last year.  I truly don’t know what to say about this except we need to watch and see how this season’s defense turns out before we can pass any real judgment on his abilities as a DC.

To summarize all of this I think we’ve a pretty bright future ahead of us both as an overall football program and with the teams we’ll field in competition.  I’m the type of fan who cares as much about what happens off the field as on it and I think we’ve got a good handle on that now.  I look at the roster and see not just youth but talented and smart young players who have their best years in front of them.  Along with them we have some experienced upperclassmen showing the younger kids how to do things the right way and how to conduct themselves as student-athletes.

Finally I see a head coach who appears to really enjoy not only being the leader of the football program and a mentor to 100+ impressionable players but who also truly enjoys being associated with the University of Pittsburgh and the city itself.  That is no small matter of importance.  We have struggled by over the last three years and yet still maintained a decent won- loss record considering what could have been the start of a real downward slide.  I’m an optimist at heart but even setting that aside I feel good about the program because I think some hard decisions had to be made and were and some good decisions in different areas of the program followed.  I like what I see and am looking forward to this season unfolding and watching how the following years shape up.

 

 

 





Nice work as usual Reed. I share all of your opinions with the exception of the importance of stars on the defense. Pittsburgh teams have been known for their tough, gritty defensive players with plenty of stars. Chryst and House really need to pick up the pace of D recruiting. They are very lucky to have two redshirt senior linebackers but need some 4 and 5 star guys that can make plays.

He needs to find the new Green, Jackson, Revis, Doleman, Donald etc. Guys that are dominant, if we are to ever get back in the top ten. We just need two or three every year, like he is doing with the offense.

Chryst is a class guy, very steady, I hope he gets it done and is here for 10 more years, but he won’t if he can’t get off the field on third down.

Comment by gc 08.24.14 @ 7:48 pm

On the athlon best 41 players in the ACC 17 are defensive players, 5 of 11 of FSU are defensive all 3 of Clemsons are defensive. If you picked our 10 best guys, how many would be on the defense?

Comment by gc 08.24.14 @ 7:57 pm

Got it gc – but lets remember Revis was a 3* and Huge Green was an afterthought, not sought after by big schools, who Sherrill found while looking at another recruit. Sheard – 3*, Romeus – 2*, etc…

The point is we may well have kids of that caliber on the defensive roster right now.

Comment by Reed 08.24.14 @ 7:57 pm

As a counterpoint – Shane Hale – 4*; Lippert – 4*, Murphy – 4*, Grigsby – 4*, Mosley-Smith – 4*.

Now the jury is still out on the last two but we’ve had our share of 4* busts on defense also.

Comment by Reed 08.24.14 @ 8:02 pm

Inconsistent aka mediocre, our defense is a huge question mark I can’t see better than 7-5 and we have a very manageable schedule. Actually WLAT and Wanny were capable but Jeff and Stevie ran them out of town. This program has been treading water since Sherill left.

Comment by WALT and THE BEAT 08.24.14 @ 8:48 pm

I think the last two classes have some talented players on defense. In time, the DL is going to be excellent with DEs like Shane Roy and recruit Givens, and tackles like Dintino and recruit Hamilton.

True frosh LB Wirginis looks like he was a very underrated player.

We need a couple of kids like Whitehead, but look at what Maddox is doing.

Our defensive recruits don’t seem to be overwhelming when they commit, but they all seem to end up being 3-stars in the final rankings.

Go Pitt.

Comment by MajorMajors 08.24.14 @ 8:50 pm

On the one hand, I agree it is not all about the stars. But FSU, Alabama, Ohio State etc. sure get a bunch of them and do pretty well with them.

I hope you are right about some of our young guys, they will have to grow up fast and under fire. But you have to agree that Chryst has done much better at building depth on the offense.

Comment by gc 08.24.14 @ 8:59 pm

Great piece as always, thanks. Another way to think about Chryst that jives with this piece is that had he taken the normal path to being a head coach, he’d have been HC at Kent State or Toledo or some MAC school for the last two years and he’d be in his first year at Pitt. With this year’s schedule, I think we can accurately grade his progress as a head coach based on whether Pitt goes 8-4. Delaware, BC, FIU, Akron, UVA, and Syracuse should be wins for us. He needs to go 1-1 against teams of equal talent GT and Duke (both at home) and 1-3 against Iowa, VT, UNC, and Miami in order to meet that threshold. Going 2-4 against the best 6 teams on the schedule and beating the teams you’re objectively better than seems good baseline for me.

As to defense, I don’t share your opinion that scheme matters more than talent. If Chryst is not successful as HC and leaves after year 4, it will be because he didn’t make up for his personal lack of defensive coaching experience by hiring experienced defensive coaches and his, unequivocally, subpar defensive recruiting caught up with him. His defensive recruiting has not only been subpar on a national recruiting basis, but even compared to his offensive recruiting. In his 2 classes there have been seven 4 and 5 star recruits, and ZERO have been on defense. Not one. And if you dig deeper, only Luke Mclean was within in one ratings point of being a 4 star. The defensive recruiting has been very lackluster. That has to change. Im not at all sold on House, but he gets this year to prove me wrong and I hope he does.

Comment by PittHW 08.24.14 @ 9:01 pm

Good analysis Reed! I agree with you completely on the current state of Pitt football. As it stands now, unless Pitt totally implodes this year, I do not see how Chryst’s contract will not be extended by the end of the year if not sooner. No major college allows their head coach to be a lame duck going into his fourth year in a program. The only reason it has not happened yet may be due to the change at Chancellor.

Comment by John In South Carolina 08.24.14 @ 9:47 pm

Reed, well stated. As a contrarian, I will add that the off the field issues to me are not as important as on the field. On the field is most important and off the field just needs to be managed appropriately. This is where our current AD fails. He does not have a good rapport with the media. When your AD has a good rapport, mostly positive stories hit the rags and Pitt gets to manage the message instead of the opposite.

ND managed the most recent stories really well. They spun the story that ND has higher standards and they have institutional control over their program. WHAT?? The real issue is that they don’t have institutional control. If they did, this type of thing would have been uncovered when Golston got busted. Again, their AD manages the message. Ours does not. Ours used the news to oust our head coach. Other big time programs turn lemons into lemonade (see psu, texas, fsu, michigan, ohio state, ND, North Carolina, Miami). All of these teams faced criminal or student conduct issues. All escaped and turned them into positives. Those with heads buried in the sand actually thinks the programs are fixed. They are not.

I have been after our AD to extend Chryst before the season. If we don’t and he goes 9-3 and Michigan goes 5-7, say goodbye! We might get a break if the harbaugh kid takes the michigan job, but my point is that we will be too slow to the dance. If you don’t think this can happen, one need only look to PSU where an 8-4 coach at vandy, with a rape coverup to his credit and no victories over a top 25 program to his credit in the SEC, just hit pay dirt. Chryst has done a terrific job turning this program around. My fear is that upheaval is 9 wins away, maybe 8. Pitt came from a more troubling past than vandy and he will be seen as a program changer with a little luck this year.

Chancellor better wake up and extend him or can the AD…or both.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 08.24.14 @ 10:15 pm

There is zero chance we lose Chryst to another program barring a Coastal Division title and a 10 win season. And trust me, I love Chryst, but Michigan will never be interested in him, he’s not the type of coach who will land an elite program gig. Which is a good thing for Pitt. We should extend him if he shows promise this year with an 8 win season, if not, he has 5 years under contract so we can make that decision after year 4 in 2015.

Comment by PittHW 08.24.14 @ 10:34 pm

Reed, right on the mark on all points! Thank you for articulating so well a perspective many of us have been trying to over the last two years with the negative nancys.

Correct as well on the whole * thing as well. The rating services are total BS… it’s easy to put 4 and 5 stars on the obvious dominant players in high school.

Then they lump everyone else… the mass of kids, into 2 and 3 *s when they drink beer on Friday night and play darts… total BS.

I BET no one has every really tracked the success of these players in terms of the 4/5* busts and all the 2 and 3s who are great college players.

Chryst is clearly recruiting the players he wants.. specific targets…. not getting them all but never will.

I think you allude to an important point as well that is overlooked.. heart and character are HUGE criteria for him. He should have a team now that plays hard and does not quite. hard nosed kids who love football and want to play at Pitt… not kids who fold when things turn bad.

Comment by Pittscript 08.24.14 @ 10:42 pm

Reed, I think you are really a sharp guy. Good hearted and bleed Pitt blue and gold with the best of us.

This whole youth of the team thing has been played a number of times before by other coaches.
Usually the coach means don’t expect too much this year. The year after will be the true measure of my efforts. It tries to buy the coach another year without everybody on his back.

I sure hope Chryst turns out to be more successful tha I feel he will be. I have no faith the administration could come up with a better coach. It’s almost like they’re always a step behind, unsophisticated as to what you need to do to be a winning program. Maybe they just don’t care.

I’m not that high on Nordenberg’s last few years at Pitt, after destroying the football program. Obviously, he wanted Wannstedt out and stuck us with an extended contract with Pederson for doing the dirty work.

Comment by Old Pitt Grad 08.24.14 @ 11:35 pm

So you don’t think star ratings matter. Read this especially the defensive part.

link to sbnation.com

I am a big Chryst fan, but recognizing shortcomings is important. A winning formula requires quality and depth on both sides of the ball. You will not compete at the highest level without the horses.

I am very patient and understand that building a team is a process that takes time. However, defensive recruiting must improve.

Comment by gc 08.25.14 @ 6:05 am

gc

Good link, Thanks.

I believe the article hit the nail on the head in the takeaways section. Only a dozen or so schools in the country are capable of recruiting that well.
That being said, I still agree that PC has to pick up the level of recruiting on the D side. It won’t reach FSU levels but there has to be some higher ranked players here and there.
I also believe an increase in wins this year will help in that area.

Comment by notrocketscience 08.25.14 @ 6:30 am

Yes, a great read, Reed.

Meanwhile Franklin’s walking on Happy Lake:
link to triblive.com

Comment by steve1 08.25.14 @ 6:31 am

And…

link to panthersprey.blogspot.com

There is a correlation between stars and winning.

It won’t happen overnight and probably won’t rise to level of the Marino- Green years, ever again. But don’t tell me blue chip defenders don’t matter. While on the field coaching is important you need big, strong, fast kids to stop big strong fast kids.

Comment by gc 08.25.14 @ 6:35 am

Really good job, Reed

My 2 cents:

- the defensive recuiting HAS to improve both in quality and quantity

- the OL has to show solid signs of improvement this year. This is PC’s baby .. and has been the focus of his recruitment since he’s been here

Yes, there is certainly hope for the future with the amount of underclassmen on the roster …. but it won’t mean a thing if they don’t produce.

Comment by wbb 08.25.14 @ 6:50 am

Nice commentary.

There is something uncommon and “refreshing” about a link to the “old school” values and and principles that this Head Coach brings.

Comment by The TRUTH 08.25.14 @ 6:54 am

a couple of comments of the comment above

- recruit ratings so matter. Yes, it is unpredictable to determine how 16 and 17 year olds will perform when they are 19 and 20, but you are only fooling yourself if you think they do not matter

- off-the-field comportment should be and is important. But it is my experience folowing this program, and judging from some of the comments above, that if we are mired in on-field mediocrity, it doesn’t matter if there are no arrests for 3 straight years … the policy of the administration (perhaps with help from the boosters) will once again change its priorities. Remmeber, in the late 60s, this program produced a lot of professionals (but not in the NFL) …. and under Hackett, the focus was on study and discipline — this resulted in the worst periods of FB this program has experienced.

Comment by wbb 08.25.14 @ 7:21 am

What Reed’s article does is explain very well the systematic development of a program. That Chryst has a vision and plan. That is the biggest reason to be optimistic because 1. there is a plan, 2. its a good plan. 3. it has been unfolding well.

Bottom line is if in next two years this program tracks to expectations… ie. starts winning.. and looking like a hardnosed, fun team to watch and play for, then…

1. the stadium starts to fill up.
2. more “elite” recruits will come to the program.

not realistic to expect otherwise yet.

That is why this year is so important… not just for respectable W-L, but more importantly that they play well… even when they lose.

everyone is tired of losing to teams we should not, and endlessly having hopes crushed…

Comment by Pittscript 08.25.14 @ 7:32 am

I didn’t interpret what Reed said as “ratings don’t matter” when it comes to the players on defense. I read it more as — skilled players or no, you are not going to have success on defense without a good scheme. I happen to agree. This is true for the offense too, but much more so for defense.

Comment by JCE 08.25.14 @ 8:14 am

I’m not getting my point across star rankings. It isn’t that I think they don’t matter. I just feel that there are too many other variables involved in the development of good high school players into success in college to depend on star ratings as a major predictor of success at this level.

I would love to have a team chock full of 4* and 5* kids… as long as they have qualities in other areas also. I mean you can look at a kid like Shell who was considered a lock for superstardom by all the recruiting services but none of those evaluations take into account a player’s ability to handle adversity or their general attitude.

How many highly rated kids don’t pan out because of academics alone. We’ve had some real promising kids fade away for just that reason, Mo Williams is a good example and there are many more. I’d love to do an in-depth look at what percentage of high rated kids actually live up to that glowing star rating. Honestly I think it is just as likely a 3* kid becomes a real producer on the field as does a 4*.

The recruit evaluators for the web sites pretty much just look at HS tapes in almost every case with some exceptions of the evaluators attending the summer camps and getting eyes on a kid. I think a lot of it is smoke and mirrors anyway. You can’t tell me that once a kid commits to a Big School such as ND, OSU, USC, etc. the raters don’t take that into consideration when they re-rack the star rankings as they do periodically. That kid isn’t suddenly that much more talented, he’s just being given a pure gift based on the school he’s attending. That same kid commits to PITT and he stays at the star rating he had earlier. We see that happen with PSU recruits regularly.

We have to remember that even though the websites say that the stars given are based on what the evaluators feel they will do in college the reality is they are awarded based on the player’s HS stats in almost every case. We all know what stats are and how they can be manipulated. They take no account in whether or not the players can handle life itself in college – which I’m becoming more convinced is almost as big a definer as talent is.

Her is how Rivals.com describes a 3* player: “5.7-5.5 All-Region Selection; considered among the region’s top prospects and among the top 750 or so prospects in the country; high-to-mid-major prospect; deemed to have pro potential and ability to make an impact on college team”

That doesn’t sound crappy to me. We fans look down our noses at 3* players but the reality is that the recruiting services think they are pretty good. Even though all recruiting services go on a 0* – 5* spread 3* is not the norm or the average – it is skewed toward the top more than the middle.

I like highly rated players. I want more of them if possible, 11 Aaron Donalds on defense would be OK. But I just think to look at the stars only, in a vacuum, is about as accurate as throwing darts, which in my case sucks. Many 3* kids do exceptionally well in college so I’m not upset if that is what out defense is mostly made of.

I’m way more concerned about Matt House being able to coordinate the defense successfully then I am the player’s star ratings.

Comment by Reed 08.25.14 @ 8:26 am

Reed admittedly says his interest and focus have been on the offense. My opinion is that when Chryst picked House he hurt the potential for recruiting defensive players. I hope that House becomes an outstanding coach, but recruiting takes time, experience and an established pipeline. A new guy does not have established relationships. Hopefully he is working on this as well as schemes, which I agree is important. But you can have great schemes and if your player can not get off the block or run from point A to point B fast enough and then make the tackle, the best of schemes will fail.

Chryst has done an adequate job of recruiting offensive players, he needs to match that on the other side of the ball.

Comment by gc 08.25.14 @ 8:26 am

Reed, you the Man. Best commentary about Pitt Football out there, from any source, is coming from you right now.

This season will bring into focus a few essential aspects of HCPC’s tenure, and how these pan out, will go a long way to determining the near future success of this current regime.

First, the question of Chryst’s ability to recruit has already been established. In general, Paul Chryst recruiting is meh. His honest, straight forward approach gets trounced when put up against the car salesman hype of guys like Franklin, who sell the sizzle and not the steak. Chryst sells the steak. Unfortunately, up to this point in his tenure, that steak is no better than Salsbury. Is Sirloin on the horizon? It better be, because without substance in the win-lose column real soon, the lack of star power in our recruiting ranks will continue and that will ultimately hold Pitt back from ever acquiring “next level” football program status.

Recruiting must improve, and that will only happen, employing Chryst’s style, when the Program PROVES it is for real in the “win” column. Then watch the the 4 and 5 stars that all of a sudden see Pitt as being it!

Second, the guys that Chryst has gotten into his program are the ones that fit his profile for recruiting. This profile uses as criteria for acceptance, smart, team players, psychologically stable types who ACTUALLY want to be here at Pitt. How is this? Because as previously mentioned, there is little hype surrounding the program for these kids when recruited, so there isn’t a pile of BS that they have to wade through, once they have matriculated, to discover the real Pitt experience, once here. They are getting what they expect in most instances and they realize that pretty soon when they arrive.

This goes a long way to producing the needed team synergy and assists in acquiring the highest potential out of every player on the team, while resulting in an overall favorable team chemistry at the same time too.

That team “spirit” is the best I’ve seen in many years, right now, and if this young team gets some confidence under it’s belt, with early season success, look out, it could result in a special season for us.

Third, Coach Chryst is NOT looking for his next head coaching job at this point in his career. IMO, just the opposite. Coach Chryst is a coach first. As long as the administration gives him what he is asking for in regards to those items that he sees as essential to making his coaching effectiveness ideal, then I think that he will be satisfied with his current position here at Pitt in the future. In fact, Chryst looks at this Pitt Football program with a eye focused on the game itself and the historical perspective of where this University has been in it’s 125 years of playing that game. In that light, I think Chryst considers this stop as a “destination” head coaching spot. And I feel that he is dedicated to putting in the time necessary to prove that he can produce a winning program during the 5 year contract that he was hired for. Does it go further forward from there, that I don’t know, but us Pitt fans don’t have to be afraid of losing Coach Chryst, after this season, if he surprises everybody with a stellar record of 9-3 or better. IMO, that will only wet his appetite for even greater goals to be met in 2015.

Fourth, Chryst fully understands the “youth” factor surrounding this team. He knows that few of his players have “arrived” at this point, but in no way do I see him using this fact as an excuse for performance or results in the W-L record this season. If you’ve been listening, the vibe around the locker room is that now is the time to be great. Prove it NOW, not next year or the year after that. Be the best that you can be right now!

That is a huge transformation from Coach Chryst’s first season here when he was asked after his hiring in preseason about winning Big East Championships and he replied by almost laughing in the face of the reporter that asked the question. He knew what he was getting into and he knew it was a $hit storm just waiting to explode at that point. The half dozen last minute 1st game suspensions prior to the YSU defeat confirmed that and served as Chryst’s memo to the team that “the times they are a changin, get on board or get out”. NOW however is different, NOW is the time to PROVE IT. This season’s schedule couldn’t be better put together to allow that to happen.

Yes, there was a ton of attrition from the old rosters of Wanny and Fraud, but the ones who stuck it out, fit the mould that Chryst wants in this program anyhow. So good for our senior class that are going to be seeing the fruits of their labors on the field of play this season. If you watch the attached video link below, you’ll also be impressed with the achievements that these young men have accomplished in the classroom as well. We have a well spoken, mature, accomplished senior class leading this young team forward for us this year. True student athletes that make me proud to be a University of Pittsburgh alumni.

link to youtube.com

Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.25.14 @ 8:35 am

Winning games , winning bowl games against other Big 5 schools, being teams you are NOT supposed to beat, beating
teams you are SUPPOSED to beat, sustained competitiveness
in the conference all needed to out run the malaise that
has been Pitt Football. Anything short of 8 wins in the regular
season will be considered same old Pitt.

Comment by JR 08.25.14 @ 8:39 am

GAME WEEK!! Can’t wait till Saturday and once again experience GAME DAY at Heinz Field with my Panthers and my son who is just as or even more excited than I am if that is possible.

Reed, I share your thoughts on the state of the football program.

Pittscript you are right on. Start winning and the stadium will fill up and elite recruits will take notice and want to be a part of it all.

My only concern is that since we have the youngest roster in D1, historically you don’t win big with inexperienced players, HOWEVER, if the OL gels and plays well we have enough experience on offence (Boyd, Conner, Gardner Holtz) that can make plays and give us a chance to win. Our D has to rise to the occasion and over-achieve.

Hail to Pitt! 5 days till kickoff!!

Comment by Panther Fan in Hoopieland 08.25.14 @ 8:50 am

I think Douglas was more than just a coaching hire. He has that Ingram kind of style which plays well in recruiting. I think we haven’t seen the true fruits of his labor. Some guys that used to play at Iowa State that didn’t play under him said he is a great and engaging human being overall and I think that could be something considering Tom Bradley is now in Mountaineer country.

Comment by tedsptman 08.25.14 @ 8:51 am

The only reason Chryst was passed over in 2011 was not due to any of his shortcomings. Pitt administration wanted to hire a new coach at Wanny’s salary (one heck of a hometown discount) which is why Haywood was tapped. After that fiasco, the administration was embarrassed enough to open up the purse to hire Graham.

Comment by 2$Chuck 08.25.14 @ 8:59 am

My belief is that Chryst has the job as PITT’s HC as long as he wants with two exceptions. 1) There are no major scandals or really negative issues off the field and 2) He doesn’t have a string of poor seasons along the lines of 5-7, 4-8 or worse. One losing year isn’t going to be grounds for dismissal by PITT at all even if he tanks in 2014.

I’m sure PITT wants championships like every school does but I also think PITT places more emphasis on a positively balanced football program than some other schools do. I’ll venture to say that even if he goes 7-6 or 6-7 this year he’ll get an extension on his contract. The PITT admin truly loves Chryst and what he’s doing as the HC. But let’s also not get fooled into thinking that Chryst is going to turn his back on trying to win as many games as he can for any reason.

An example is that his first action as HC after being hired was to lobby hard to have PITT’s locker room cut down by 1/3 and the weight room expanded and upgraded into that space. He didn’t do that only so the kids will get stronger – they could do that just as well in the old weight room. He did it specifically so that the weight room becomes a meeting place for as many PITT players as it can hold at one time so that the kids are working out, they are helping and supporting other players working out AND they are socializing at the same time – across unit boundaries.

That’s how camaraderie and leadership is built – by giving the players a venue to do that while they are having fun also. Kill two birds with one stone as it were.

I’d like to see a contract extension and have Chryst here for a nice long time. I think we’ll be a good team and program and wouldn’t be surprised if we were a perennial 8-10 win team with him as HC.

Comment by Reed 08.25.14 @ 9:11 am

Great well thought out take on the state of Pitt Football Reed. Thank you!

I like the fact that Coach Chyst is a teacher first and has hired good teachers as assistants. He seems like a very nice sincere guy.

Having said that, it still comes down to wins vs. losses! If we lose to Delaware, a very good D 1a team (see Youngstown State), look poor and disorganized on the field, fail to play well against superior talent or generally crap the bed in games, then all bets are off and HCPC becomes another nice guy who failed as a D 1 coach.

Has anyone seen a current spread on the Delaware game?

Comment by Dan 72 08.25.14 @ 9:12 am

First of all Reed and JCE, if you look at my post, I said I was addressing the commenters when I indicated that ratings do indeed matter.

There is certainly something to getting lower rated recruits with potential who fit your scheme and coaching them up … but at a point in time, make sure that rationalization doesn’t consume your approach to recruiting.

Our defensive recruiting needs to improve

Comment by wbb 08.25.14 @ 9:12 am

The days of a long tenured head coach may not be realistic with the money out there. But I like the approach and the priority of establishing the OL, RB skill positions and QB. I have some reservations of the defensive side, but this year Pitt isn’t facing a FSU. I do think this is the year where we need to see actual tangible evidence that Pitt is developing said talent.

Comment by chethejet 08.25.14 @ 9:14 am

@$2Chuck (like the handle), you may recall that after the Haywood fisaco, Stevie lobbied Nordy to go over his budget and hire Fraud. SP’s requirements for a HC was clearly stated … he wanted an offensive spread-style coach with HC experience (that is documented) … and he ended up hiring Fraud at slightly > $2M (nearly double what he paid Wanny)

Unfortunately the Graham failure may have set back this program more than anything, in that the admin appeared to go back to its conservative (spending) nature

Comment by wbb 08.25.14 @ 9:19 am

No indication Chryst is taking us to the “next level” but he is leading us back to where we were momentarily (9-4 in 2002; 10-3 in 2009).

Maybe we’ll all be happy with an appearance in the Top 25. No one can dispute PSU’s Franklin is out-recruiting Pitt like crazy.

Comment by TonyinHouston 08.25.14 @ 9:44 am

Has anyone seen or heard the new chancellor? Not in Pittsburgh but have checked online papers. Can’t expect Gallagher to be a big Pitt sports supporter is he is in absentia in general.

Comment by TonyinHouston 08.25.14 @ 9:51 am

@ Dan 72, I can’t find the game spread this morning (unlisted) I heard, second hand that it was Pitt -27 over the weekend.

If so, I’m not sure that Pitt can cover a four touchdown spread in their first outing, even against an opponent like Delaware. Give me simply a solid win with no major gaffs by the the Panthers and I’ll be satisfied. Something like 28-14 would keep me happy if Pitt has the 28 by the final gun.

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.25.14 @ 9:52 am

@ TonyinHouston, check out my video link in my above post to get a little cameo appearance of our new Chancellor.

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.25.14 @ 9:54 am

Tony, there were a couple of recent pictures where the new chancellor and AD were shown talking to PC at a practice … but I haven’t seen anything else

Comment by wbb 08.25.14 @ 9:55 am

Great post Reed.

I had no idea that giving schollies to a kicker and a punter is not always done. I am glad that our coach “wasted” two on our boys Chris and Ryan. I think that they will be hugely valuable members of our team this year and thereafter.

H2P

Comment by pmdH2P 08.25.14 @ 9:57 am

Following the Power 5 moves as I’m sure you are. It’s a good time to give a big shout-out to Jamie Dixon who is the coach most responsible for getting us into the ACC. Dixon has managed to take care of his program despite the chaotic leadership of Pitt athletics. The chancellor and the AD have done a good job of suppressing athletic success for football.

Imagine how pathetic it would be to be Cincy, UConn, or UH, which is debuting its brand new on campus stadium Friday night.

We’re with the big boys; they’re not.

Comment by TonyinHouston 08.25.14 @ 9:57 am

Thanks, Dr. Tom and wbb.

Comment by TonyinHouston 08.25.14 @ 9:59 am

Duffdaddy – I agree with the other guy. Chryst is not in demand at all and going .500 at Pitt has done nothing to make him more attractive. He would never get a bigtime gig. Michigan????? You sure you weren’t in the car with Blount and Bell??????? He isn’t going anywhere unless he is caught with cocaine and a midget hermaphrodite… Wins and Losses are not the main focus of the program. Chryst is safe partly because he is king of the mountain at Pitt and no one is dying to have him. Hell it took us being desperate.

Comment by Upittbaseball 08.25.14 @ 10:09 am

The chancellor goes to practices pretty regularly – he was at both the sessions I attended. seems like a nice guy.

I’ll agree that Chryst isn’t in demand anywhere at this time because as far as football alone goes he’s really done nothing in his two years at PITT except go .500. That isn’t super desirable by any big programs.

I think the most disingenuous phase bandied about by the PITT administration is “The Next Level”. It meant nothing when Harris was fired, nothing when Wannstedt was fired and nothing when Graham left. It is a sop to the PITT fans who hunger for wins. If we were really serious about that we’d crack open the vault and pay the big money for a superstar HC and staff and Nordenberg wasn’t about to do that… and I agree with it.

What PITT really wants is a team that constantly is above .500 and isn’t creating problems for the university and I think that’s what they have got in Paul Chryst.

Now, if what I think is going to happen with the team in the next couple of years actually happens – the OL becomes dominant and out RBs wreak havoc and roll up yardage and TDs we are going to start winning 9-10 games and then may be in danger of losing Chryst. Big schools would like nothing better than a squeaky clean head coach with values and standards… and who wins ballgames.

I also think that fans misunderstand what the truly big ‘whale’ donors consider important when looking at endowing the university at large with extra large sums. It isn’t wins and losses alone, as a matter of fact that is probably a small part of it unless the money is given directly to the athletic department. What is very important is that anything which has their name attached to it isn’t bringing discredit to them or their trusts in any way. Chryst and his approach fits that bill to a “T”.

I’ve had interesting conversations with PITT fans who really hated the idea that we expelled Chapman, kicked Shell out, suspended Mosley-Smith for a full year for just being in the same house as a drug dealer, suspended other players for a full season for academics, etc. The fans can’t understand how we could hurt the football team by not keeping those guys – and they may be correct. Those tough leadership decisions hurt the team but they really help the football program itself. Different priorities, but the football team and football program aren’t one in the same.

Comment by Reed 08.25.14 @ 10:34 am

HC presser right now on The Fan

Comment by wbb 08.25.14 @ 11:04 am

Wirginis, Maddox and James WILL play (may have missed someone)

Bertke, Ollison, Bookser and Jennings are wait-see — meaning that they will probably redshirt unless the situation demands it (injury of poor performance by the starters)

Comment by wbb 08.25.14 @ 11:07 am

Conner will primarily play offense but “as season unfolds” this may change — he cited the depth at RB, but no set plan

Comment by wbb 08.25.14 @ 11:14 am

Still no line on the PITT/Delaware game.

BETONLINE.ag N/A N/A N/A
5Dimes.eu N/A N/A N/A
SportsBetting.agN/A N/A N/A
BOVADA N/A N/A N/A
Fantasy911.com N/A

We might not see anything till mid-week or even later.

Comment by Emel 08.25.14 @ 11:17 am

It’s OFF even on Scamdicappers which has access to every sportsbook in America.

Comment by Emel 08.25.14 @ 11:20 am

Sports Illustrated’s Roundup of the ACC:

Considers PITT a dark house favorite for the Coastal Division. Citing new starting untested QB’s at Miami, VT, Duke losing so may key players to injuries and transfer.

And PITT having James Connor; “runs harder than anyone else in the ACC.”

PITT also got the featured pics in the article, which in itself is extremely encouraging on many different levels.

link to fansided.com

Chomping at the bit !

Comment by Emel 08.25.14 @ 11:28 am

^dark horse^ (naturally)

Comment by Emel 08.25.14 @ 11:29 am

edit to my post @ 11:07 during HC presser:

Amara also WILL play

also per Sam Werner PG tweet:

Chryst forgot to mention him at the beginning, but freshman DE Rori Blair will also play this year for #Pitt

Comment by wbb 08.25.14 @ 11:39 am

link to pittsburgh.rivals.com

more data about 2-deep

Comment by wbb 08.25.14 @ 11:45 am

Pitt vs Delaware: Mellons vs DuPonts: Steel vs Kevlar.

Comment by alcofan 08.25.14 @ 11:53 am

@ Reed

Very good comprehensive, sort of; state of the state (football program), article on where PITT has been most recently, where we are presently and where we all hope we are going. Very much appreciate the efforts.

Winning sports programs or winning organizations of any type require very good to great leaders at the top.

If they’re just so-so it reflects in the overall organization.

As of right now, PC regardless of how much we like him as a person, has been so-so. There are some encouraging signs however.

I do like the fact that he seems to be recruiting kids that are not only athletes but are scholars or near scholars or who if nothing else are serious about their education and appreciate the fact that PITT is a world class university in a very special city. And is giving them an opportunity to earn a degree that will last far after they hang up the cleats.

If we can make PITT a destination place for kids like this, much as Stanford has done recently on the west coast, that would give us all something to be very proud about.

A top level tier team with real student athletes. as opposed to a football factory, with basically thugs in disguise.

PITT & PC are trying to do something that will hopefully not only produce wins on the field, but also create outstanding PITT alumni and leaders in that most important game…..the Game of Life.

Comment by Emel 08.25.14 @ 12:12 pm

Jay Paterno new book about JoePa is available now on Amazon and will be in book stores on 9/1 .. but unfortunately, if you want a signed copy, you will have to wait longer

Comment by wbb 08.25.14 @ 12:26 pm

Pitt’s approach in football reminds me very much of the philosophy of another team in town – the Pirates. Both Pitt football and the Buccos have gone through extended lean years after a good run of success in the 70′s. Both seem to finally have a solid, long-term plan to build the program/team into one with consistent, above-average results. Both follow a more conservative approach to coaching and personnel decisions. Both fan bases have a lot of pent up frustration and are hungry for even moderate success. The Bucs finally soothed some of the fan frustration last year.

And if you could squeeze the truth out of the leaders of both Pitt and the Pirates, I believe they would tell you that they would be perfectly thrilled to be kind-of, sort-of in contention for a division title most years, but have no designs on ever taking their respective teams to the proverbial next level. Both have a ceiling that is considered acceptable to those in charge.

Right now, most of us would take 9-4 for Pitt football every year until death do us part. But after 4-5 years of that, we’d want more. Once fans taste success, the bar is raised and they want more success. Pitt’s administration always seems to find a way to lower the bar just when us fans think its time to raise it.

I like HCPC, and I think he is going to do well here by the standards of the last 30 years. And I’m thrilled that Pitt is in the ACC and not the AAC. But I have no delusions that Pitt will ever be consistently more than a competitive team in the ACC Coastal Division.

I guess what keeps me interested is blind faith that there still might be that one magical year where the schedule, talent, and football gods align to give us a run at something more. As Andy Dufresne said in the Shawshank Redemption, “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies”. Here’s to hope. H2P

Comment by Iron Duke 08.25.14 @ 12:35 pm

Iron Duke, I guess we are the Pirates, and Bama and FSU are the Yankees and Red Sox

Comment by wbb 08.25.14 @ 12:57 pm

Since game attendance is always a favorite topic here. Here’s a quite interesting article that more than suggests, student attendance is more than just a problem at PITT.

Seems the facebook/twitter generation isn’t particularly enamored with just the game of college football itself. Unless of course texting while game is in progress.

The decline of the Gladiator games, especially among the young, is not a good indicator of a thriving Republic.

link to usatoday.com

P.S. Word of caution, Cornhole is quoted.

Comment by Emel 08.25.14 @ 1:08 pm

Oh and really interesting, students that leave early from the game.

PITT students must have been, way ahead of the curve on that one.

Comment by Emel 08.25.14 @ 1:10 pm

Off topic but need the help of the Pitt faithful. I bought a sweet early 90′s game worn mustard and blue Pitt jersey off of Ebay. It is number 97, Katsock. Anyone know who this guy was/when he played? I’m guessing it’s during the Johnny Majors II era. I can’t find anything about it so far.

Comment by AJ 08.25.14 @ 1:17 pm

Thx for the article Reed, no reason to defend your position. Pitt needed stability, stability will produce wins, wins will produce higher ranked players. HCPC is still establishing stability hopefully it turns into a few more wins this year, I believe it will. 5* recruits weren’t coming to a program in disarray. PC has done a great job so far now he needs the wins and he’ll be able to bring in the top talent!!!!

Comment by Steve h 08.25.14 @ 1:29 pm

@wbb and ironduke

The Pitt administration is similar to Pirate management/ownership only in that they are content with profitable mediocrity.

But don’t think for a second Pitt doesn’t have the resources to compete at a higher level. Pitt is much closer to the Yankees and Red Sox in that regard… Lest we forget the (annual approximation) $20M from the ACC, in addition to the million$ generated in ticket sales, sponsorship, donations, sale of 3rd tier broadcasts, ect.

The Pitt fan base might also be similar to the Pirate fan base in that they’ve been brainwashed into believing that Pitt cannot compete at a higher level due to a lack of resources… The money is there… Maybe not Texas of Alabama money… But it’s there. This is not Middle Tennessee State or FIU or some MAC program.

Pitt is a HAVE.. not a HAVE NOT.

If they ever want to start acting like one… that’s a completely different question.

Comment by BostonsCommon 08.25.14 @ 2:06 pm

This thread takes me back to the Wanny days. I highly supported him until the 2010 campaign. We lost to Utah (1st game) on national TV because we played not to lose instead playing to win. We got totally embarrassed the 3rd game of the season on national TV at home 31-3 by Miami. Again we were playing not to lose and got killed. At that point I was writing the AD that Wanny had to go! Now, looking back at it I can see why Wanny was doing what he was doing – protecting his young incapable QB (you know who). I now believe Wanny shielding his QB’s deficiencies by taking all the heat for ‘you know who’ cost him his job. If he throws Tino under the bus he probably doesn’t lose his job in 2010. He had to play not to lose because he didn’t have the QB to win with. As far as the program today, PC has brought stability and trust back into the program and I hope this translates into “W”s this season. Nine would be Nice!

Comment by pittman4ever 08.25.14 @ 2:07 pm

pittman4ever – you pose an interesting issue regarding the 2010 QB situation. As much as I thought DW completely screwed the pooch with his non-existent QB competition I also thought that Sunseri should have been named the starter for opening day.

That’s from a big Pat Bostick fan too. However, my thought on Bostick was that if he was given a real shot with a commitment from the staff to his playing multiple games in a row he could have been a good QB for us. Not great but a good solid guy as leader of the offense. He certainly wouldn’t have made the dead brained mistakes Sunseri did in critical situations.

I’m hoping Voytik is capable of the cerebral side of the game and keeping cool under pressure. He did well in the bowl game – mainly because it was thrust on him so quickly – but if he hadn’t been getting QB2 snaps and executing in practices he wouldn’t have been ready to step in for the win.

Here’s hoping there is no QB controversy this season as we really need a guy who is both a positive producer and also a respected teammate under center. If we get that this season out of Voytik then I think we could have a very nice 2015.

Comment by Reed 08.25.14 @ 2:30 pm

BostonCommons, while Pitt is making more money from FB than ever and is on solid financial ground, and I also agree that more money can be budgeted for the for FB … it doesn’t even approach the money that the top echelon makes … not even close.

WE may well be considered as a HAVE now when looking at all 130 (or whatever) teams in D1, but we are a HAVE NOT when looking at the teams in the BIG 5. There are about 15 to 20 of the 65 who not only make exorbitant revenues, they will be the chief decision makers.

Is it possible we can have a year like Cincy did in 09 … yes, certainly. Is it probable .. not so sure.

Comment by wbb 08.25.14 @ 2:43 pm

Really surprised that Jennings is on the list for a possible redshirt. I guess our receiving corps is stronger than I thought, Jennings is not as good as advertised, or the groin pull is an issue.

Comment by gc 08.25.14 @ 2:49 pm

BC – good point. It’s not easy to find data on Pitt’s finances as they are not considered a public school. I’d think Pitt would be somewhere in the lower half for power 5 teams, given where the ACC is for TV revenue and their attendance.

The Pirates aren’t as bad off as you’d think.
20th in revenue in 2013. Safe to say, neither Pitt nor the Pirates are the Yankees of their sport when it comes to cash. But I still find myself wishing they’d do more.

Comment by Iron Duke 08.25.14 @ 2:50 pm

Pittman4ever, in 2009, Wanny was booed for playing Stull instead of Sunseri … a game Pitt won 38 to 3. Tino did play a few snaps.

In 2012, YSU outgained Pitt on the ground by 75 yards, and had 5 drives over 60 yards, a couple over 80 .. Pitt’s defense had no answer.

Whether Wanny was fired for 2010 off-the-field issues or on-the-field issues, it was extremely ill conceived.

Comment by wbb 08.25.14 @ 2:52 pm

Pitt won 38-3 vs YSU in 09

Comment by wbb 08.25.14 @ 2:55 pm

There are 2 points I am making with the last posts:

- the cynicism towards Wanny whe he was coach was astounding

- don’t underestimate the value of defense (I hope it isn’t an issue this year)

Comment by wbb 08.25.14 @ 3:01 pm

I’m not suggesting that Pitt spend at the highest echelon with the land grant state institutions… But similar to the Pirates, they should be spending to the same level as their peers. The Pirates get blown out of the water by Cleveland, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, ect.

I would wager that only Wake has a smaller budget in the ACC… No reason they shouldn’t be at least middle of the pack on the same level as a Miami.

Comment by BostonsCommon 08.25.14 @ 3:05 pm

BC, you certainly have a point if indeed Pitt has a smaller budget than anyone but WF … wonder how it affects recruiting … if so?

Comment by wbb 08.25.14 @ 3:12 pm

Reading that VT having attendance problems including students leaving the games early. Sound familiar.
And VT is in the boonies.

Comment by Frank MD 08.25.14 @ 3:58 pm

Time to get Fired Up!

link to pittsburghpanthers.com

Comment by gc 08.25.14 @ 4:00 pm

A note or two;

You can win in FBS without a parade of 4 and 5 star recruits. And you can win big.

Duke last year is an obvious example, Boise State is another, Northwestern is another, Texas Tech is another.

What all these teams have in common is, they had explosive high scoring offenses. And coaches who generally outschemed the opposing coach.

Which is what we were expecting from PC. And at times last year we did, but then did not adjust very quickly to other teams adjustments.

So I will be very interested to see how this plays out this year.

We need to start consistently putting up some large scores. And follow the blueprint of the others listed above. And indeed PC’s offense at Wisconsin.

Comment by Emel 08.25.14 @ 4:04 pm

I don’t know what Tyler Boyd’s rating was but it is a 5+ now.

I didn’t mean to make it all about ratings, just trying to point out that offensive recruiting is several steps ahead of the defensive side in quality and quantity. Although it seems pretty obvious that there is a correlation between blue chip players and winning football teams. There is always someone that will beat the odds, but in my experience it is rare and certainly not sustainable. Let’s see how Duke does this year.

I do agree with Chryst’s philosophy of only wanting guys that want to be here and seem to fit the culture. It is a team sport and the team has to be more important than the individual.

I also agree that when and if we win more games better players will follow. A perfect example of that was the upset of WVU’s best team ever.

Good players want to play for good teams.

Schemes are certainly important and good ones put players in the position to make plays. However, the player still has to be good enough to make the play. For the last several years we have not had enough players making those plays when the game was on the line. I think we are heading in the right direction, just not as fast as a lot of us would like.

And I’m from Pittsburgh, Defense, Defense, Defense!

Comment by gc 08.25.14 @ 4:30 pm

I’ve seen several lists of FBS athletic department budgets and Pitt is consistently in the middle of the pack as far back as I can find data. The following link was compiled in 2013 but appears to use data from 2011 – there is always a big lag. The NCAA compiles data on budgets even for private schools, but it is less clear how much, aka what %, of that budget each sport is allocated.

BIG CAVEATS here. 1. This is based on Big East revenue not our new ACC revenue – so add about $17M per year. 2. Pitt saves substantial operating costs by renting Heinz Field. We don not make as much on parking and concessions at Heinz as other programs do with their university owned stadium and parking, but it is critical that you remember – Pitt is saving millions of dollars in costs by playing at Heinz. When you have lower O&M expenses you can spend less money and be in the same place from a financial perspective.

So, keeping that in mind: #58 University of Pittsburgh – $56,338,449

link to gotroytrojans.com

Comment by PittHW 08.25.14 @ 4:45 pm

FWIW, that article is mislabeled — those are revenues, and not budgets

Comment by wbb 08.25.14 @ 5:47 pm

Only one of the top 61 is outside the power 5 conferences. Pitt coming in at 58, is not impressive against their piers. How many schools are in the power 5 and what does that ranking look like? That said, there are “reported” athletic revenue/budgets and actual. Would it surprise anyone to know that the actual revenues/budgets are much different? Most large schools set up affiliated entities to protect “sunshine law requests” by the public to figure out what the actual revenue really is in an athletic department. It’s the financial shell game. I have not looked at Pitt to determine “Affiliated Entity” organizations.

My point about Chryst and an extension is this. If the Administration believes he is the right guy and is doing the right things, than extend him. There will be jobs available with universities with bigger budgets as indicated above. Chryst may want to stay here, but he may also be getting tired of his relationship with the AD. Trust works two ways. By a show of hands, who trusts Pederson to do the right thing for someone other than Pederson?

Comment by dhuffdaddy 08.25.14 @ 6:25 pm

@ gc, sorry buddy I’d like to agree with you but Tyler’s current star rating is up for debate. Don’t get me wrong, I’m one of his biggest fans but what have you done for me lately?

This season reveals whether Boyd is as special as we think he is. The cat is now out if the bag, so he won’t be sneaking up on anyone this year with his stellar play. Now we see how Boyd responds to defensive schemes drawn up to stop him exclusively! My spin, Tyler Boyd competes for the Bilenitkoff Award and ends up asking the question, “what’s a sophomore slump”?

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.25.14 @ 6:35 pm

Dr. Tom, you’re not wrong, but if Boyd struggles it won’t be because of him, it’ll be Voytik.

Comment by PittHW 08.25.14 @ 6:43 pm

I would love to know where Pitt ranks in football revenue in the ACC, and then how that compares to football budget. Where do we THINK Pitt ranks? Surely we are ahead of Wake, Duke, BC. On par with Syracuse? That may be it.

Comment by Iron Duke 08.25.14 @ 6:50 pm

I’d say we’re ahead of SU too – they rarely get out of the high 30′s in ticket sales as I recall. I think we’re right in the middle. I would also add that I think we’re ahead of GTech and UVA. It is my understanding that UVA actually has lost money as a department that last couple years and got a special allotment from the state legislature to break even.

The Pete surely helps – though it can by no means make up for lost football sales.

Comment by PittHW 08.25.14 @ 7:28 pm

I think it’s inaccurate to say that Pitt lost Jackie Sherrill because they refused to give him a “competitive salary”. He wanted to go back south, and then A&M offered him a ridiculous deal ($1.7 million for six years) which was a record at the time and I think made him the highest paid coach in the country by a substantial amount. It’s kind of ludicrous to expect Pitt to have matched that.

Besides, Jackie may have won a lot of games, but NCAA sanctions followed him where ever he went after Pitt, so perhaps we were better off. Maybe the Pitt administration saw problems coming…

Comment by SteveS 08.25.14 @ 9:47 pm

pittman4ever, Your comment about Wanny playing not to lose rung a bell for me. I was at that Utah opener with some non Pitt friends because I believed that Wanny had finally come around with his coaching and had stopped playing not to lose as it seemed was his trademark in his first couple years. I thought he would make lightening strike for a second time in Utah.

wbb, totally agree about the value of defense … note how well the hoopies are doing with basketball score games

The first was after BYU embarrassed us in Oakland I was one of the roughly 50 Pitt fans in Provo when we crushed them with Ironhead in the second half after using him as a play fake decoy for the brilliantly conceived air raid first half.

You are correct Wanny played not to lose on the road that night.

Comment by 9-2,8-4,11-1,11-1,11-1 08.25.14 @ 10:33 pm

aww crap badly out of order

Comment by 9-2,8-4,11-1,11-1,11-1 08.25.14 @ 10:45 pm

I caught a bit of College Game Day on Saturday and the guys made their predictions. Kirk Herbstreit picked Pitt to win the Coastal. I was totally stunned.

Comment by Caw Miller 08.26.14 @ 7:43 am

When I saw this quote from the article, it certainly made me look at the rest with a very jaundiced eye:

“Big money donors don’t just want a victorious team; they also need to know that their money is indeed going to a good cause.”

This is demonstrably false and the main reason why the NCAA is drowning in rules. The boosters don’t care about anything but winning for the most part. I know you are trying to position the article, but that’s just BS.

As for Chryst, a good coach surrounds himself with the best staff he can. I think the jury is out on that…and it’s probably coming back with a bad decision. I’ve been a fan of Pitt and Pittsburgh sports too long to take the glass half full view.

Comment by Ian 08.26.14 @ 2:13 pm

I really find it strange that everyone is optimistic about the O-line. Yes there are a lot of stars associated with these recruits…but to date they have done nothing. I’m hopeful this talent improves greatly and I think it will. Yet I refuse to trumpet it…until it shows us something. Conversely, House’s defense really improved as the season went on and as noted lacks high end talent…so why is everyone questioning his coaching ability and not Huebers?

Comment by Pittisnumerouno 08.27.14 @ 3:05 pm

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