March 28, 2016

This Really Happened

Filed under: Basketball,Coaches,Hire/Fire,Stallings — Chas @ 10:44 am

Very grateful that my father and brother-in-law keep stocked bars with some truly excellent bourbons and scotch. Though, I’m pretty sure I’d be drinking any rotgut when Saturday night went to hell.

I don’t know what to say. I was keeping my expectations low, simply because looking at the landscape of college basketball and the coaches out there. I just didn’t see any homerun hires. Solid ones? Sure. Medium risk, high reward? Even that. But this? Never saw it coming.

As usual Pitt kept a tight lid on things until the very end. And oh, what an end.

Kevin Stallings will have a short leash. Let’s set that out now. Fans will give him a chance because the alternative is wishing failure for your own school and team. And while there are a few people that are that vindictive, spiteful and wanting to be right more than anything else; I don’t think most fans are that way.

And he even has a chance to have a good first year. It’s still a solid nucleus of talent. Damon Wilson had his development stalled by injury and NCAA eligibility questions over the summer, but he is still in line to be a starter at PG. It’s the question of what comes next.

At the same time, he vastly underachieved with this team. A team that many pegged as a darkhorse Final Four team, barely squeaked into the tournament and quickly bowed out. A team that has talent, but never looked that good for any consistent stretch.

AD Steve Barnes. The honeymoon is officially over. I can’t say his fate his fully tied to Stallings, but it is intertwined. With this move, trust and blind faith is not going to be present. If Stallings doesn’t even match later years Dixon, it will get ugly fast.

Even worse than simply the hiring of Stallings may be the perception of how this was a full-on crony move.

The search firm Pitt hired to assist in the search was Collegiate Sports Associates (CSA). The founder and president of CSA is Todd Turner. Turner was also the former AD at Vanderbilt (1996-2003)ย  and hired Kevin Stallings at Vandy. Turner then went to Washington (2004-2008). While AD at Washington, he hired Scott Barnes as Deputy AD.

There has always been a very crony-buddy situation with search firms and administrators. Often some sort of relationship is there between the particular search firm and the AD who hires them. Sometimes it is because the search firm that helped place the present AD at that school. College basketball writers Jeff Goodman (ESPN) and Gary Parrish (CBS Sports) have written about these situations for years. Nothing gets changed because the system is inherently self-serving up to and including the university presidents.

But this was so blatant. And the move raised so many eyebrows. A move that could be considered dripping contemptuousness towards the fanbase. Where the dots were so visibly obvious and connected immediately.

To hire a coach who by all accounts was on the verge of being fired at the former school. Who had exhausted not only fan/alumni patience, but administrative patience. To fall ass-backwards to Pitt and a six-year contract? When you hired the search firm that essentially hired you in a big spot?

To say that the move was met with skepticism, is not merely an understatement. It’s not even true. This move was met with such hostility and anger. Not even because there was an overinflated belief in the desirability of the job. It’s that the move makes no sense.

This tweet sums it up:

Kevin Stallings is a good coach. #Vanderbilt has a nice program. #PittBasketball made a bad choice.

If the feeling that Jamie Dixon was on the downward slide, then a coach that has made the NCAA Tournament once in the last 4 years (last four in) is what?

You can make the claim that he ticked off a lot of boxes for Barnes:

  • Experienced coach
  • Power conference head coach
  • Schedules a tougher non-con
  • Tempo was faster than Jamie Dixon’s team
  • We’ll give him an edge on recruiting

Yet, it was still a bad move. The upside is not at all obvious or believable. Even the biggest haters of Dixon cannot honestly say that this was a move that speaks of improvement.

Unsurprisingly, Pitt’s present recruiting class is in question. Justice Kithcart has reopened his recruitment. As has Corey Manigault.

Kithcart may still recommit. Vandy also recruited him and they were in his top-five, so there is a chance. BUT Kithcart had a great senior year. His stock rose significantly and he is now the best PG recruit on the market. He’s going to have a lot of big offers late.

I look forward to the introductory press conference because there are so, so many questions. I’m not sure any answer will be satisfying for the fans from Barnes or Stallings.

Right on point as usual Chas.

Comment by gc 03.28.16 @ 10:50 am

Oh great, the Goat 2 has de-commited as well.

The news just keep getting better everyday with Pitt basketball.

Maybe we can get some more eligibility for Alonzo Ododo and bring Tyrone Haughton back.

Comment by Emel 03.28.16 @ 10:54 am

What do you expect. Look at this guy and then look at his record and then look at his prickish moves. He is a bum and will be fired by a New AD in 24 months. The joke that is Pitt Athletics. God I wish I could watch this Press Conf. Embarrassing on a national level.

Comment by Upittbaseball 03.28.16 @ 11:06 am

No one in that room will have the balls to ask any tough questions. It will be the usual crap from the usual stiffs.

Comment by Nick 03.28.16 @ 11:21 am

just listened to XM College Sports Ch 84 and you think we are hard on Stallings?? Not only did they blast the Stallings hiring, they had choicer words for Todd Turner.

Since 2010, we have had 5 major hirings at Pitt and the best of the lot by far was not by the AD but by the Pitt Admin. Go figure!

Comment by wbb 03.28.16 @ 11:27 am

Nick is right. 100%. Zeise and EJ and Puppets. Puppies rainbows and used vacuums.

Comment by Upittbaseball 03.28.16 @ 11:37 am

The lipstick on a pig press conference at 2:30.

This is kind of like the seven fumble first half, a new Pitt record in futility, the Beat Goes On.

Comment by gc 03.28.16 @ 11:37 am

link to

They got HCPN to put out a damage control statement trying to prop up Stallings…

Comment by NickC 03.28.16 @ 11:37 am

Id take Kirk Bruce or Old Man Williard over this guy.

Comment by Upittbaseball 03.28.16 @ 11:39 am

The first blemish on the Gallagher administration is a doozy.

Comment by gc 03.28.16 @ 11:39 am

NickC, circling the wagons. Poor Narduzzi.

Comment by gc 03.28.16 @ 11:41 am

I look at that picture of Stallings on the airport tarmac with Gallagher and Barnes – I almost feel sorry for the guy. He is just a dude looking for a job. He’ll be walking into a shit storm.

I have no such sympathy for Barnes. He looked right into the Pitt faithful and blew us all the middle finger. Complete BS on everything he said out loud. Where is the famous “list’ he had in his back pocket? He might have a freaking grocery list for his dinner that night – but that’s about it.

This is not going to end well. Recruits are leaving, honeymoon is over, and you have some real pissed off Pitt clientele. I’m guessing Stallings has one year – this up coming year – to make it to the Sweet 16. I’m sure we will all sit around and watch out of pure curiosity to see what happens. After that – Barnes will turn into Pederson 2.0 in the eyes of the fans.

Good luck Stallings, you’re going to need it.

Comment by opitt 03.28.16 @ 11:41 am

I can see this place is going to be near unreadable for a while. I was disappointed with the hire too, but some of the comments in the recent postings are truly embarrassing. I am willing to give Stallings a shot. While not a home run hire, there is some possible upside. Emotions are running high right now, but I wish people could be a little more level headed.

Comment by JCE 03.28.16 @ 11:42 am

Blame this all on the Millers! LOL

Comment by notrocketscience 03.28.16 @ 11:43 am

No wonder those 2 de-committed. You have Pitt fans on twitter (probably people from THIS site) pleading with them to leave the program.

Congrats. Losers.

Comment by JohnRamella 03.28.16 @ 11:43 am

Great Job EJ writing that for Narduzzi to sound actually like he gives 2 shits. They are scrambling to sell this. It is embarrassing to be honest. What is next??? Roc the Panther sending emails? It is becoming a bigger joke with every release.

Comment by Upittbaseball 03.28.16 @ 11:44 am

Would they hire a professor that threatened to kill one of his students, a doctor who threatened a patient?

Comment by gc 03.28.16 @ 11:44 am

Who do you people think Pitt was going to get?

I am thinking the Miller’s aren’t the only coaches that turned down invites.

I’d rather have Stallings than taking a shot at lower level gambles like Howland and Willard were.

Comment by notrocketscience 03.28.16 @ 11:48 am

Roc for AD!

Comment by tacocat 03.28.16 @ 11:48 am

He looks like a poorman’s Frank Beamer.

Comment by Upittbaseball 03.28.16 @ 11:49 am

Two sweet sixteens in seventeen years and he is going to get us to the Final Four? Take us to the next level?

Sure John, blame the fans for the incompetence at the top. This is like the Browns picking Johnny Football, a 5 % chance of success.

Comment by gc 03.28.16 @ 11:51 am

…and stop with the recruits are leaving, waaaaaaaaaaaa! That is an idiotic statement.

All coaching changes especially in basketball cause recruits to rethink their commitment.

Comment by notrocketscience 03.28.16 @ 11:51 am

Who, in the name of all that is good an holy, picked this team as a darkhorse final four team?!?!?!?!

What is wrong with Pitt basketball fans?! good lord, guys.

Comment by PantherP 03.28.16 @ 11:54 am

I get posting once or twice that you don’t like the hire but when you repeat the same garbage over and over again you have a mental issues. LOL

Let me hear who Pitt should have hired. Don’t bitch like a little school girl about a problem without giving a solution.

…and be realistic. I heard on here for years how the Millers are the greatest and Pitt should hire them. Well, that f-ing worked out didn’t it?

No one on here knows who turned Pitt down. We will never know. So don’t make comments like you have inside scoop.

Comment by notrocketscience 03.28.16 @ 11:58 am

Picking a guy that has been mediocre all of his life, and expecting him to succeed in the ACC is ludicrous. Corporate America kicks guys like him to the curb every day. Sure a young up and comer is a higher risk, but potentially a higher reward. This guy has bottom third of the ACC written all over him.

Comment by gc 03.28.16 @ 11:58 am

When the best thing said about him is we should give him a chance, that is a pretty low bar.

Comment by gc 03.28.16 @ 12:02 pm

Monmouth’s Coach.
UALR’s Coach.
Wojo, Hurley,
Any Assistants espcially the one that left Dixon and is doing well. Not Barry but the orher one.

Comment by Upittbaseball 03.28.16 @ 12:06 pm

Also, sucks to see exaggerated response from Pitt fans. I’ve wondered for years, ever since the Dixon bashing started, who the hell Pitt fans think they are? Do we really think we are or were ever a blueblood program that can attract anyone we want? Should have never bashed Dixon as badly as we did, and form that we should’ve learned that we shouldn’t bash this guy as bad as we are. Get a grip.

Some of these fans are like Trump supporters “We need to make America/Pitt great again!! Despite that the country/program is still (even with some issues) in pretty much better shape than it has ever been in its entire history!”.

Comment by PantherP 03.28.16 @ 12:09 pm

AD Barnes will distract folks at the presser by showing the new script Pitt graphic for the 50 yard line at Heinz.

Comment by Yeti 03.28.16 @ 12:09 pm

Were in a premier basketball conference. Pitt didn’t want to pay the going rate. This is how we end up with a guy who has a losing conference record.

Pitt is out in force trying to spin this.

Comment by bj 03.28.16 @ 12:14 pm

GC…I don’t see a name in your post.

Upitt…I knew you would list names, LOL.

I would have been more pissed if they hired an assistant.

I don’t like the hire but honestly, I don’t see Pitt doing much better after they got publicly turned down by two hometown guys.

I also didn’t see the USC guy or Drew wanting to come here. Pitt isn’t at the same level it was when it was winning BE championships.

Comment by notrocketscience 03.28.16 @ 12:14 pm

Guess the tie?? I say blue and gold stipes at an angle.

Will Barnes acknowledge 99.5 % of anyone fans or media hate this hire?

Will he say 4 people told us no?

This was all about unloading Dixon’s salary and paying this guy 2m. Gallagher loves this 5-8M savings. Pitt Basketball
To use Herman’s analogy is off the house and 75 yards in the woods by the Sulphar Creek.

Comment by Upittbaseball 03.28.16 @ 12:15 pm

THIS IS THE GREATEST HIRE IN THE HISTORY OF PITT SPORTS!!! Get on board with John and Rocket all you fellow Blaterites.
With all due respect John and Rocket you remind me of today’s college students who cry foul at any opinion that is not their own – it traumatizes and scares them. Pitt fans have a right to complain, it is guaranteed by the First Amendment which gives all a right to express their own opinions. I have posted repeatedly that the Miller family would spurn Pitt but that doesn’t mean I have to be satisfied with the pick or the back door maneuverings via Mr. Todd Turner et al. I respectfully suggest you go to your “safe zone” if that’s what you young ones call it and curl into a fetal position. Point fingers at those you disagree with if that makes you happy, I can take it. That is Free Speech.
I hope KS does well but it’s my right to bitch. Hail to Pitt.

ps Your conclusion that those on Twitter calling for the team to leave is a huge leap in logic, especially as I have seen concern here but no such calls. Get a grip my fellow Pitt friends.
LET’S GO PITT. Good luck KS and Pitt BB, even though the facts surrounding this hire are questionable.

Comment by rkb 03.28.16 @ 12:15 pm

I’ve been out most of the morning; came back and opened the web hoping that the last 24 hours were just a bad dream. Stallings is still the Pitt coach. Unbelievably stupid hire. Proven record of no success. Can’t wait to get my first phone call from Julio asking for money.

Comment by PetePitt73 03.28.16 @ 12:15 pm

Notrocket – Am I that predictable? Haha. On a plane and bored.

Talk to you guys later. Let us know who wins the AD Catch phrases bet. I’m .19 seconds.

This will
Be said. When the opportunity presentated itself to get a coach on Kevin Stallings level we moved quick. This really is a win-win! Then talk of his NBA talent that aberages leas than 1.3 points a game.

Comment by Upittbaseball 03.28.16 @ 12:18 pm

Maybe Mrs. Jeter will throw a pie at him!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Comment by Upittbaseball 03.28.16 @ 12:18 pm

PantherP, I think the press conference is going to be more like a Trump presser.

When we are a laughingstock in the National and local media, something is dramatically wrong. When have you ever seen this before?

This is not a select few that are always hyperbolic, this is Zeise and Tossing Thabeets who are almost always supportive and level headed.

Sure there is over the top reaction, and venom, but taking this lying down just means you have given up and don’t care.

Comment by gc 03.28.16 @ 12:19 pm

Who the hell is Julio? A fundraising guru? Barnes is lucky to have a job by 2018.

Comment by Upittbaseball 03.28.16 @ 12:21 pm


Comment by Pittastic 03.28.16 @ 12:21 pm

Pitt didn’t want to pay the going rate? Hu?

Dixon was paid very well.

Comment by notrocketscience 03.28.16 @ 12:22 pm

Smug would of hired Brandan Knight. Way better than Cesar.

Comment by Upittbaseball 03.28.16 @ 12:23 pm

Seeves Upitt right. Now I want Dixon and Pederson back!!! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜‰

Comment by Upittbaseball 03.28.16 @ 12:23 pm

PantherP… Thanks for sharing your political slant with us.
Really a good time to bring that up… Not!

Comment by Dan 72 03.28.16 @ 12:26 pm

I have more important things to do than watch the Press Conference, like re-arranging my sock drawer.
They are tying to BULLSHIT us that his is great hire. Sorry I’m not buying.

Comment by Justinian 03.28.16 @ 12:29 pm

rkb – not calling foul and in fact I like people voicing an opinion but for God’s sake, offer a solution.

I hear people bitch all day at work but when asked on how improve what they don’t like they are clueless and have zero ideas.

People bitch to hear themselves.

Comment by notrocketscience 03.28.16 @ 12:30 pm

NotRocket, I am not an expert on who might be a great coach, never heard of Ben Howland or Tony Bennett before they were hired. I expected Barnes to be the expert, to find the diamond in the rough. Not to get a guy that has been slightly above mediocre and has more than a few negatives in his baggage.

I agree that no coaching hire would have been perfect and without criticism. But the vast majority find little redeeming value in this hire. This was the low risk low reward hire. The play it safe hire, that has backfired into a PR nightmare.

I am absolutely certain that Barnes and Gallagher wish they could have a redo. They have to be shocked by the reaction and regret the decision. This is not how anyone would want to introduce their next coach. The face of the program, and a top representative of the University.

So don’t say that we are overreacting to this dramatically bad situation. They are in a PR damage control situation of their own making.

Comment by gc 03.28.16 @ 12:33 pm

It isn’t a bad hire. It is a hire that didn’t meet the expectations of the fans. Expectations that Barnes himself set very high.

So Barnes F-ed himself there.

Pitt basically hired Jamie Dixon’s coaching twin. Obviously, not his identical twin.

Comment by notrocketscience 03.28.16 @ 12:42 pm

Notrocket, there is no solution to offer at this point, you can only bitch about what happened or resign yourself to live with it. I still feel like bitching. I will get around to living with it eventually because that is all that is left.

Comment by gc 03.28.16 @ 12:44 pm

Disagree on Pitt sports writers being schlubs. Zeise is the real deal. Bet he asks a zinger or two.

Comment by Dan 72 03.28.16 @ 12:49 pm

Everyone watch the news conference! It is a new exciting era.

Pitt is going to run and gun. The running rebel’s of the ACC.
Stallings (aka Dollar Bill) will be the ACC coach of the year.
Pitt makes the Elite 8
Young and Artis are NBA picks
Barnes is the grand marshal of the St. Patty Day parade.

It’s all good!

Comment by notrocketscience 03.28.16 @ 12:51 pm

Dan72 – He isnt going to be there per his tweet to those guys to ask tough questions.

Comment by Upittbaseball 03.28.16 @ 12:53 pm

Save that Pot for us to share Notrocket!! Haha

Comment by Upittbaseball 03.28.16 @ 12:54 pm

UPitt… This just gets better by the second! Zeise too smart to stomach the volume of BS to be spewed !!

Comment by Dan 72 03.28.16 @ 12:57 pm

Welcome back Chas.

These are telling words from a Trib-Review article:

“Stallings was rumored to be on the hot seat and a candidate to be fired by the Vanderbilt administration as recently as a few days ago.

Fans and even national media reacted harshly on Twitter when Stallings’ name surfaced late Saturday as a possible candidate.

Sporting News columnist Mike DeCourcy called the move โ€œludicrous.โ€”

What was Barney thinking when he went down this road?

Comment by Erie Express 03.28.16 @ 1:05 pm

UPitt … Zeise is there. They are holding it at the Pete and sitting about half court so they can control questions. Pitt BBall players are there. HCPN is there. Wonder if Mike Haywood is there???

It’s live on the FAN 93.7 Pittsburgh

Comment by Dan 72 03.28.16 @ 1:10 pm

The hire makes perfect sense if you look at it from the perspective of Barnes wanting his own men’s BB coach who is totally dependent on him and under his thumb, and that old SOP tenet, being cheap. Stallings has nothing if he doesn’t have Barnes covering for him. Dixon was established and had much more power/independence. Stallings is going to get paid much less than Dixon. From that perspective it’s a great hire. The only problem is it’s the same garbage SOP mentality Smiley’s athletic department had. Thank God Gallagher and the “inner circle” hired Narduzzi and made the decisions about increased money for football before Barnes got here or we’d have another uninspired coaching hire and a rent-a-staff there too.

Comment by Deepelemblues 03.28.16 @ 1:28 pm

AD Barnes and Sir Patrick G are in hot water with this hire – that being said, we will probably see them loosen the purse strings for the assistant coaches and recruiting.

They have to do something to help this guy win right away…

Comment by Erie Express 03.28.16 @ 1:42 pm

Most hostile press conference questions I’ve ever heard at Pitt!
#4? To Stallings ” you said you want to get to a final 4… Last
Time I looked, you could have gotten there at Vandy.. What’s the deal??”

Coach S now stuttering and bumbling. Seems totally shocked by the tone and questions.

Comment by Dan 72 03.28.16 @ 2:04 pm

~ John Ramella – a true c@(#k sucker, at the very least a pedophillic enabler.

~ notrocketscience – the attempted spin from the douche bag barne’s camp probably weirdo son Nate

Both of you get the F’ out of here, this is a complete disaster

Comment by ptgptg 03.28.16 @ 4:51 pm

Jamie Dixon probably benefited more from the poor football program than from his own success. Pay raise and extend contracts for good league and non con schedule but poor outcome when facing the best. We have become a basketball school. It’s ok being a basketball school in a mid major or The Big East but not in a power 5 league. I think the administration is merely prioritizing the limited resources. Remember during The Peterson era we leveled the football stadium to build the Peterson Event Center. We continuously increased the
Basketball coach’s contract while stumbling through quick fix but questionable character football coaches. I’m not thrilled with Coach Stallings but his character is unquestionable. As a longtime Pitt fan I’m going to hold my judgement for what he does from now on. Keeping the recruits as well as Coach Knight would go a long way.

Comment by T Bear 03.28.16 @ 5:43 pm

Archie Miller was the only hire that would make the fan base happy IMO. No established coach would take this job so Barnes hires his buddy’s buddy, saves a mil a year, and has control over this coaches every move, and made his buddy $100,000. Makes sense only to the 3 guy’s in charge.
For now I’m Pissed. H2P

The Fans, Knight, and Players get screwed.

Hopefully, MY guess is in 2 years they run this guy out of town and bring in a real coach as they
enter the market each season.

Comment by Tackle made by Hugh 03.28.16 @ 6:56 pm

WHo the hell cares

Comment by spiritofsection22 03.30.16 @ 4:39 pm

I love to eat dozens of tacos

Comment by spiritofsection22 03.30.16 @ 4:41 pm

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