December 15, 2016

I know the premise might piss some off as too flippant, but I can’t disagree that Pitt coaching searches are a bit of a pip. A groundhog day thing full of crazy rumors, angst and a bit of self-loathing.

So, yeah. Matt Canada took the OC position at LSU. More money and a higher profile job. Calling it a “lateral move” is either ignorant or an attempt to cheap shot Pitt. I favor ignorance in this case.

To expand on some of what I said the other day. If Canada had stayed at Pitt and had similar success for just one more season he would be in the mix for head coaching jobs in the MAC, C-USA and Sun Belt. Have success at LSU for a year or two as OC. Especially in light of all their underachieving in the past 7 or 8 years and he is in being interviewed for AAC, low Power 5 conference jobs and OC spots in the NFL.

Pitt made LSU pay for this. A three-year deal at well over a $1 million (some are saying closer to $1.5 million) a year. Pitt stepped up more than expected. They offered about $2 million for 2-years. But there is a limit to what Pitt can do. It isn’t about being cheap or not being willing. It’s about having a limit on revenues.

LSU football is one of the highest revenue programs nationally. Bigger stadium. Bigger donors. Bigger pool of donors. Bigger TV deal. Bigger.

But Canada did make LSU sweat as well on this.

But he had made a promise to Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi — “One of my great friends,” Canada said Wednesday — that he wouldn’t make a move until he spoke to him, face to face.

“He wanted to go back and talk to his coach (Tuesday) night and do it like a man,” Orgeron said, apparently impressed by this act of loyalty from his newest employee.

So, before he signed an LSU contract, Canada flew from Baton Rouge, La., to Pittsburgh to meet with Narduzzi, who desperately wanted to keep him on his staff.

Loyal to the end, Canada didn’t offer many details of that private conversation when he spoke to the Tribune-Review on Wednesday, but he did say it was “a lengthy discussion.”

“He made it hard. It’s hard to leave your friends,” he said. “We just talked boss-to-employee, talked as friends. It’s a hard decision to make when you leave great people and a great place.”

Asked how seriously Narduzzi and Pitt’s administrators worked to keep him, Canada said, “It went above and beyond any expectations I would have. I’m more than humbled.”

Not sure the word loyalty is quite how I would apply it, but that’s semantics. I still don’t begrudge Canada for this move or consider it any sort of betrayal. It is a move that makes a lot of sense for Matt Canada.

I don’t know who Pat Narduzzi will hire next as the OC. Safe to assume he will not be an air raid style coach. And likely an OC who can work with the QB — as opposed to say an OC that was a O-line or running backs coach.

The other story that came out is that Athletic Director Scott Barnes is leaving for the same position at Oregon State — maybe. Not surprisingly, there was a short and carefully worded denial issued by Barnes via the Pitt Athletic Department.

“I am aware of a report stating that I have accepted a position at Oregon State. That report is not true.”

Not that he won’t accept. Or that he has been offered. Just that it is not true that he as already accepted. Probably because the job has not yet been formally offered.

Steve Clark, OSU’s vice president of university relations and marketing, told The Oregonian/OregonLive that “we are aware that there are national reports that this position has been offered. We can neither confirm or deny those.

“To my knowledge, the position has not been offered at this time.”

The Oregonian/OregonLive reported on Dec. 8 that Oregon State was conducting preliminary interviews for the position last week in Las Vegas and learned that the search has since narrowed its pool of candidates. Barnes is believed to be among the candidates.

Barnes’ name surfaced as a possible option at OSU shortly after Stansbury’s departure.

This has been a long-rumored possibility despite Barnes being AD at Pitt for less than a year. Oregon State lost their athletic director after just over a year to Georgia Tech, and Barnes’ name was one of the first to surface.

Oregon State’s football coach is Gary Andersen who before he bolted Wisconsin for Oregon State — opening the door for Paul Chryst to leave Pitt and return to Wisconsin. Which led to Pitt both hiring Pat Narduzzi as football head coach and firing Steve Pederson as AD. Before that, Andersen had been the head coach at Utah State and had been hired by Barnes there when he was AD.

It’s all connected, man.

It has become something of a recent trend with ADs bolting like they are Todd Graham. Syracuse lost their AD after less than a year to Minnesota. In all cases, the reason tends to do with ties to the school or location. GT was the alma mater of Stansbury. Syracuse’s AD was from Minnesota. Barnes is from Spokane, Washington.

Never a dull December for Pitt football.

Now if only Narduzzi can show he can coach Defense.

Comment by PittofDreams 12.15.16 @ 10:17 am

Canada and Barnes Photo Op…

link to

Comment by PittofDreams 12.15.16 @ 10:19 am

Be prepared for chants of Wanny as AD … In all seriousness, hopefully, Pitt goes after someone with experience managing urban campuses. Someone that understands making Pitt a brand name school requires more than just reaching out to alumni. Pitt has to be like The U. The University of Miami is as much a city institution as it is a school you went to. Pitt has to be a part of the city of Pittsburgh. Kids have to grow up rooting for Pitt. Wanting to go there. Build the culture from a community standpoint rather than just on-campus perspective. Right now, Pitt, despite sharing a name with the city, is really just a neighborhood school in Oakland. It has to be much more than that. Expand to all areas in Pittsburgh. Make your presence known. Pitt has to become part of the fabric of the city to really become a destination. Embrace the city. Pitt is not a large state school. We will never have the volume of alumni these Big 10 and SEC schools have. The way you make that up is to become part of the community.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 12.15.16 @ 10:48 am

I put this on the other blog as well.

I presented a scenario earlier of how the City and Pitt should use the upcoming Federal infrastructure program to get developers to build light rail and a stadium (I prefer multiuse dome) near or on campus. The city and state and Pitt need to step up.

Comment by Frank MD 12.15.16 @ 11:01 am

~ TT…that sounds similar to Cornhole’s ‘Pittsburgh’
buffoonery at the expense of Pitt.

I have a more simple solution, hire a God D_mn Pitt Man.

Surely there are some out there, who have graduated in the last 40 years from PITT who can run a Department of Sports Teams, most of whom not many even care about or watch. Other than parent(s).

A PITT man won’t be jumping at the first opportunity to bolt Pittsburgh for lovely confines of some screwball college campus town, run by the local snowflakes.

And No it doesn’t have to be Wanny.

Comment by Emel 12.15.16 @ 11:15 am

~ Frank. Don’t worry Pitt will hem and haw and let Temple eat up what ever available State money there is.

The only thing they were EVER fast about was tearing down their On Campus Football Stadium.

Comment by Emel 12.15.16 @ 11:19 am

Or I should ….Our On Campus Football Stadium…..for a referendum of current Pitt students at the time and alumni should have been conducted.

Then you perhaps wouldn’t have much of the animosity that exists since that stupendously stupid decision was made.

Comment by Emel 12.15.16 @ 11:22 am

And we’d more than likely still have a newer/much improved Pitt Stadium.

Instead of bus trips to the North Shore in a rented stadium with a High School drawn logo at mid field(and it even took 10 years to get that) and 1950’s vertical stripes in the endzones.

Comment by Emel 12.15.16 @ 11:27 am

Perfectly fine with Barnes letting the barn door hit him on the ass on the way out.

If he’s waiting to see if the fans are going to ask the university to spend $$ to retain him he’s once again misread the fan base.

Other than K Stallings No one cares if he leaves. He forced Jamie Dixon out and had no real plan in place to replace him.

They need to give the AD job to EJ Borghetti and be done with it. He’s a Pitt guy, He understands the fans and the area, (Because he talks with them) He’s not pompous (like Herman & Stevie) and he has been training for the gig for some time now. Pat Gallagher can certainly be called in to advise when necessary and maybe they can bring in vice-chancellor Dr. Randy Juhl who was named interim Athletic Director after Steve was shown the door to also act as an adviser for a few months. After that he’s on his own or on his own as much as any of these guys are anyway.

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 12.15.16 @ 11:27 am

Emel – nope, Pitt is Pitt not Pittsburgh. Two mutually exclusive entities. That doesn’t mean Pitt can’t be embraced by the city. SP tried to re-brand Pitt and make it synonymous with the city. Pitt needs community outreach to integrate into the culture of the city not just associate with it like SP’s vision was. There’s a big difference between sharing a name and culture. SP never got that.

Right now Pitt’s just another neighborhood school in Oakland much like Georgetown and GW are neighborhood schools down here in DC. The Miami’s and USC’s have found a way to be city schools and integrate with the culture of the city.

When Heinz was built, Pitt locked itself into a 30 year lease. Pitt will be at Heinz until that place closes. Pitt still has 15 years to go on that lease. I would agree that over the next 5 years, Pitt should at least investigate opportunities and begin fundraising efforts if it’s viable.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 12.15.16 @ 11:28 am

Yea all the Top Recruits that play in great looking High School fields/stadiums these days, see our highlites and want to play on that fooked up looking field.

People will surely say, that doesn’t matter.

It all matters in the over perception of a program.
And PERCEPTION IS EVERYTHING. Especially to trendy high school kids. How they look, what they wear and yes where they go to school.

Comment by Emel 12.15.16 @ 11:32 am

^ It all matters in the overall perception of the program ^

Comment by Emel 12.15.16 @ 11:33 am

Have no problem with EJ getting the job at all.

He was ready the last go-round imo.

He’s been around and seen how it all operates and has seen it done 3 different ways under Cornhole, Jeff Long and Herman.

He should know what works and doesn’t work by now. And surely has some ideas of his own.

And like Tony mentioned….HE KNOWS THE MARKET !

Comment by Emel 12.15.16 @ 11:41 am

That Barnes is one SLICK Dog.

This was on full display by the way he handled the Dixon departure and the Stallings hire.

Comment by PittofDreams 12.15.16 @ 11:44 am

Still believe Pitt may have gotten lucky with Stallings.

Time will tell.

Comment by PittofDreams 12.15.16 @ 11:45 am

PAT signal!

Comment by Pittastic 12.15.16 @ 11:46 am

I would take EJ over Barnes any day of the week. Guarantee he would do what he thinks is best for Pitt every-time and that would be the ONLY consideration when making a decision.

Also EJ wouldn’t leave because he loves the area and the people that live here. That can’t be said for any AD that I can remember.

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 12.15.16 @ 11:48 am

Good timing Nard Dog.

We NEED a PAT Signal…about now.

Somebody WANTS to come to Pitt !!!

Comment by Emel 12.15.16 @ 11:50 am

Concur Tony.

I think those should be VERY IMPORTANT considerations BEFORE hiring another mercenary who has no ties to Pitt or Pittsburgh.

Comment by Emel 12.15.16 @ 11:53 am

And let’s face it… the Death Knell for Pitt as a National College Football Program was the sound of WRECKING BALLS bringing down Old Pitt Stadium.

Heinz Field logistics just don’t work EXCEPT for the BIGGEST Games.

Not for the Students. Not for anyone but the most DIEHARD Pitt Fans… many of them Steeler Fans blinded into believing Heinz Field is a TOP NOTCH Facility that High School Recruits are just dying to play in.


Comment by PittofDreams 12.15.16 @ 11:54 am

Btw, Nard Dog’s Twitter has the cool looking Royal Blue and Yellow Uni’s featured at the top.

Does this suggest we’ll be wearing those in the Pinstripe Bowl ?

link to

Comment by Emel 12.15.16 @ 11:55 am

Still among the believers that a NEW Pitt Stadium is only a matter of time.

Probably a LONG time… but oh well.

Comment by PittofDreams 12.15.16 @ 11:58 am

Everyone that isn’t….needs to ‘Follow’ Nard Dog.

Yes even this matters to these Trendy High School kids these days.

We need to get his Followers up over 100K at least.

It’s only at 46k now.

So whoever hasn’t get on there and ‘Follow’

Comment by Emel 12.15.16 @ 11:59 am

Don’t get too excited with the Signal.

It’s the USC Quarterback.

Comment by PittofDreams 12.15.16 @ 12:01 pm

Franklinstein is at 150K.

Let’s Go Pitt ! Follow the Nard Dog !

link to

Comment by Emel 12.15.16 @ 12:02 pm

Unless he can play Defense?

Comment by PittofDreams 12.15.16 @ 12:02 pm

~ PoD…well that would be YUGE…especially after losing Canada.

Comment by Emel 12.15.16 @ 12:03 pm

Ole Miss announcing adding new OC and DC the OC is Phil Longo who was a receiver coach at YSU before running the offense at SHSU – hopefully PN can find a creative OC.

Comment by markp 12.15.16 @ 12:34 pm

We may be losing 2 great ones on the OL, but the last 2 classes of offensive linemen are looking very special.

Great pick up today. Early enrollee and he’s coming here for engineering.

Comment by Bowling Green Panther 12.15.16 @ 12:43 pm

PoD – it was a 4 star OL – that’s something to get excited about.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 12.15.16 @ 12:47 pm

@Markp – you can bet he’s already hip deepn in his selection process. Heck; he’s probably already got the name of Herman’s search company on speed dial (sarcasm, y’all)!

Comment by Savannah Panther 12.15.16 @ 12:49 pm

Tossing, Excellent comments. When I was in high school the University would give the city coaches end zone tickets to some of the games at Pitt Stadium. The Pitt Dental School students would mold and fit our mouthpieces for us. The attitude in those days was that Pitt was our team.

Comment by Justinian 12.15.16 @ 12:57 pm

That is much more exciting.

Doubt there are too many REALLY good OCs available running the “Smoke ‘n Mirrors” Offense to the extent that Canada likes to run it.

Hopefully, we get a Guy who likes to make use of BIG Offensive Linemen and a Fullback… at least when it counts.

Comment by PittofDreams 12.15.16 @ 1:08 pm

Justinian – exactly. That’s what Pitt needs. These state schools are so big because they claim the state as their own. It’s not just alumni. The schools are ingrained in the culture. Pitt is in a major city and doesn’t take advantage of that homegrown fan base.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 12.15.16 @ 1:12 pm

Newest Commit guys. Good news !

Stud O-line from South Florida who had offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida State and several other bigtime programs.

YUGE kid at 6’7″ 320 lbs

link to

Comment by Emel 12.15.16 @ 1:19 pm

Ranked the 5th best Guard in Florida, but he plays Tackle as well.

link to

ESPN has Jerry as a 4 star

link to

This kid could be all-American in 2-3 years.

Comment by Emel 12.15.16 @ 1:25 pm

I am not a football coach, only a humble high school ref. Someone brought this up earlier….we have the Canada playbook now. Do you mean to tell me we can’t figure out how to teach the plays to new players, utilize plays in in proper situations, and replicate the same damn thing we’ve now done for an entire calendar year? I find that amazing and disturbing. Hire a MAC guy, give him the Canada playbook, have him watch film to learn tendencies of ACC defenses, and do the same things. It sucks Canada is gone, but when Rich Rod invented the spread and left WVU, they still ran it and were ok under Bill Stewart. This shouldn’t be the end of the world, but then again I never thought I would be pining for the days of the Paul Rhodes read and react defense too.

Comment by AJ 12.15.16 @ 2:25 pm

Speaking of Paul Rhodes, he currently is defensive backs coach at Arkansas. I’d be happy if Pitt brought him back as DC in replace of Conklin. Only problem is Arkansas probably pays their defensive backs coach more money than we pay our defensive coordinator.

Comment by jrnpitt 12.15.16 @ 2:57 pm

He accepted the position at LSU before he left town. But it sounds better that he met his great friend Narduzzi face to face before he made a decision.

Comment by Upittbaseball 12.15.16 @ 3:13 pm

AJ, I feel the same way. The players have been running this offense since last spring. I absolutely love it. I loved how they ran different plays that started and looked like earlier plays. It the mis-direction creates confusion and make use of the entire field. I would want an offensive coordinator who could incorporate much of what the Panthers have been excuting so well. I NEVER want see someone like Todd Graham bringing in a offense not suited for the talents of the players we have. There is no reason to re-invent the wheel.

Comment by Justinian 12.15.16 @ 3:24 pm

For the ofense it 4 coordinators in 4 yrs. Not good.

Comment by alcofan 12.15.16 @ 4:16 pm

I get it alcofan but it’s a common things these days. It happens to a lot of big P5 schools.

BTW, 2 recruits today.
Drake and now Browne.
Good day for coach.

Comment by JJ 12.15.16 @ 4:17 pm

Max Browne Baby!

Comment by TX Panther 12.15.16 @ 4:45 pm

2 good pickups today! Especially love the Drake. Sounds like Browne’s problem could be decision-making, but that was Peterman’s supposed problem, and he did great in our system, so hopefully we can have similar success with Browne.

I just hope, we can get a young QB some valuable experience next year and work him in slowly to prepare him (presumably MacVittie) for the following year.

Comment by 1618mt 12.15.16 @ 4:51 pm

I hope they hire (or at least interview) a Pitt man (or woman) for the AD job. It helps to have a love for the University, that you can’t really have coming from the outside (at least not initially).

I would be looking for a former Pitt student athlete who has had a VERY successful 20 year career in business and is in a position to take the pay cut to come back and lead the University to national prominence in athletics. The leadership skills needed to be a good AD are very similar to those needed by a good business, GM, COO, President, etc. You need to be able to communicate, set a vision for the department, manage people, hire/fire, SELL, raise money and manage one or two big capital projects. The right person could give Pitt a good 15 – 20 year run. He (or she) would be loyal to the university and wouldn’t be looking for greener pastures.

Just one man’s opinion.

Comment by Boubacar Aw 12.15.16 @ 4:54 pm

3* South Carolina CB de-commits and is high in Pitt:

link to

LSU had to hurry as they were losing QB commits.

link to

Comment by Jackagain 12.15.16 @ 5:04 pm

Let Barnes go. Hire Borghetti. Start a capital project plan. Buy up South Oakland real estate, from the Boulevard of the Allies overpass over Forbes Avenue all the way to Bates Street. Raise money for a new near-campus football stadium, parking, a replacement for Fitzgerald Field House and an ice rink to elevate the club hockey program to varsity.

Make it a long term thing. When the Steelers are tired of heinz field, then Pitt will have a stadium ready for the Panthers…and the Steelers can play there for two years while Heinz is torn down and they get their new digs.

Comment by Penguins Fan 12.15.16 @ 6:16 pm


I don’t ever see eye to eye with you on basketball, but you were 100% correct on Canada and you are right about the ways Pitt has to build a fan base within the community. I live in a suburb of Dallas & Fort Worth (actually about 1 mile from everybody’s favorite UPitt) and I am a grad school alumnus of TCU.

While TCU is private and Pitt is a state funded institution, there are similarities when it comes to challenges filling a stadium in an urban environment. Winning helps the atmosphere, but even TCU struggles to fill a 50,000 seat stadium unless it is a big game.

I have attended TCU events with Chris Del Conte (AD), and one thing Chris always talks about is reaching young suburban families with children; whether or not they are graduates of the school. It costs about $1,000 for a family of 4 to attend a Cowboys game, so for many people, a TCU game is a viable option if you want to see quality football at an affordable price. Over the years, TCU athletics has reached out to suburban schools and youth sports organizations across the Metroplex. At every home football game, kids 13 and under can go on the field, get a Bleacher Creature jersey, and run out with the players. It seems small, but my 8-year old loves TCU football because he can go on the field and experience the Horned Frogs run out of the tunnel. This stuff works. Not to mention the plethora of bounce houses and kid activities that are offered as part of the gameday experience. I don’t get up to Pittsburgh very much, but I didn’t see anything geared toward kids when I went to the Marshall game this year (entered on Casino side).

Bottom line, TCU is growing its fan base through the community because they know alumni alone won’t be enough. They have a donor base with deep pockets, but the board of trustees understand the importance of strong athletic programs across the board. The baseball team made it to Omaha the last 3 years, and the hiring of Jamie Dixon showed their desire to elevate their hoops program. TCU football coach Gary Patterson was extended through 2022 and he makes over $4.5 MM per year. Why didn’t anybody poach Patterson when he was still a hot coaching commodity and not that well compensated? Interests in oil and gas leases. You have to get creative with compensation or it will always be a revolving door for places like Pitt where playing in front of 30,000 yellow seats is the norm.

I know everybody pines for an on campus stadium, but I don’t think that will happen at Pitt in my lifetime. In order for that to happen, somebody has to have foresight and be creative to attract investment from multiple stakeholders. When it came time for the Cowboys to build a new practice facility, Jerry Jones brought together corporations, hotels, real estate developers, and local high schools in a public-private partnership to build a 12,000 seat stadium that offers the local high schools the ability to use the facility for games. Jones created the Cowboys Club so he could sell memberships to watch the Cowboys practice and work out at the fitness center. Link below:
link to

In Pittsburgh, you would need to first secure the location. After that, you would need to form a partnership with the Rooney’s which is probably easier said than done. Other than being a pipe dream, the only way you could justify a football stadium for Pitt is if the site generated a significant amount of incremental tax revenue for the city. Some developer needs to come to Frisco, TX and look at the result. How about a development with a 45,000 seat stadium shared with local high schools and a professional soccer club. A practice facility for Pitt and the Steelers with a high rise hotel, fitness center, sports medicine headquarters, retail space, and corporate office space? Bill Dietrich is dead, so I don’t know any other Pittsburgh industrialists that could make this happen. Does anybody have the number for Henry Hillman? He is 97, so maybe he can make one final legacy donation.

Comment by Dallas Mike 12.15.16 @ 6:55 pm

Dallas – forget a partnership with the Rooneys they are the cheapest SOBs in the world and could care less about any school not named Penn State, however, Frank MD, Tt you and others are part way there.

To do an OCS you need a chancellor and AD with this as a goal. This requires a two track approach. The first area is land acquisition which local pols are not interested. Politicians are only interested in two things – votes and money. To get our San Fran wanna be mayor involved he must be convinced that there is a block of voters ie Pitt alums, students, parents and fans prepared to vote in accordance with this. The burg LBGT community has voted in block for him and judges with success (not my cup of tea but to each their own). They have been successful and he knows this. So to get emminent domain and the like he must sell as low cost demand.
There are several areas which folks have talked about. Using one example the Hazelwood Industrial area. On the south side of the Mon over 600 acres was donated to the city – combine this with UPMC and Pitt committing research buildings and you have the land. link to
Next there is this new idea of private financed infrastructure that Frank referred to. I dont quite know how this works yet but would cut down public money. Leases are made to be broken, period.
Problem is that this requires forward thinking leadership which Pitt lacks.

Comment by rkb 12.15.16 @ 8:31 pm

The managers of Pitt athletics have done a bad job of building fan support. If Barnes really believed the season ticket sales weren’t a result of Penn State at Heinz he is not the guy to increase fun-raising. He claims to be good at that.

I understand fundraising is so-so, Hiring Stallings? Jury still out.

Barnes did a good job with the Pitt rebranding and trying to keep Canada. Worlds apart from anything Steve P. would have done,

I have faith in Coach Narduzzi. He’s given us two eight-win seasons in a row. This year’s team should have played before sell-outs at Heinz with the offense we had.

Gallagher is the key piece. Not Barnes.

Comment by Tony77019 12.15.16 @ 9:10 pm

It would be easier to move the campus to the stadium than to build a stadium in Oakland. Hazelwood is not Oakland. There is no support in Pgh because we’ve built more than enough stadiums that sit empty for a vast majority of the year. I drive on pothole laden roads & over structurally deficient bridges every day. Any politician who would even consider pissing our money away on a stadium would be run out of town quicker than Pitt fans leaving after Sweet Caroline.

Comment by Nick 12.15.16 @ 10:12 pm

BTW, Heinz Field was recently rated 3rd best of all NFL stadiums. IS not UPMC the largest employer in the City of Pittsburgh. That circumstance have any political clout? That TCU reach out to people and kids is really something to think about….

Comment by Justin A. 12.16.16 @ 9:09 am

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