February 2, 2017

This Year’s OC is…

Filed under: Assistants,Coaches,Football,Hire/Fire — Chas @ 8:27 pm

…hello, Shawn Watson.

Shawn Watson, a 35-year coaching veteran who owns an extensive and accomplished record overseeing offenses on the collegiate level, has been named offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Pitt by Pat Narduzzi.

Watson previously served as offensive coordinator at Texas (2014-15), Louisville (2012-13), Nebraska (2007-10) and Colorado (2000-05). He also has head coaching experience on his résumé, serving in that capacity at his alma mater, Southern Illinois, from 1994-96.

Watson joins the Panthers from Indiana, where he spent the 2016 season as an offensive quality control assistant before being named the Hoosiers’ quarterback coach. His Pitt appointment serves as a reunion with Narduzzi. The pair previously worked together on the late Randy Walker’s staff at Miami (Ohio) from 1990-92.

“Shawn Watson was one of my first mentors in this business,” Narduzzi said. “He sat me down as a young coach and taught me how to work with wide receivers in my first full-time job at Miami in the early 1990s. Ever since that time, we have always talked about being able to reunite on the same staff again. I’m really thrilled that the time has finally arrived and he’ll be joining us at Pitt as our new offensive coordinator.

“Shawn is, first and foremost, a wonderful person and father,” Narduzzi added. “As a football coach, he is extremely knowledgeable, an excellent recruiter and will be a tremendous strength in the quarterback room and offensive staff room. I’m really looking forward to having Shawn and his wife Anita join us in Pittsburgh.”

I think most Pitt fans will concede that their first reaction to the name, was hardly, “Oh, hell yes!”

But it shouldn’t have been, “Oh, shit!” Either.

The latter would have been reasonable only if the name had been Scott Loeffler.

As expected, Head Coach Pat Narduzzi went with both an experienced OC and a guy that can coach QBs. That has been consistent.

Watson brings a solid if mixed resume to Pitt.

The obvious highlight is his time at Louisville with Teddy Bridgewater. Watson is a solid hand at handling and developing quarterbacks. He likes running the ball and is a proponent of (geez, it really is a sign I’m old; why I remember when this was the new-fangled thing…) a more traditional West Coast style offense using the short pass and running backs in the receiving game.

The obvious lowlight was the time in Texas. DO NOT ask Shawn Watson to implement a spread offense.

He isn’t a young, hot name in the offensive ranks, but Narduzzi was never going that direction.

Obviously Texas fans dislike him. Louisville fans have mixed feelings, as did Nebraska fans.

If you are basing your reactions on how the fans of former teams are reacting, you might be slightly panicked. It is also fair to point out that Illinois fans scoffed at Tim Salem being hired — after he was scapegoated as a bad recruiter. And NC State fans hardly shed a tear when Matt Canada was fired.

The toughest thing for Watson will be the inevitable comparisons to this past season’s offense. It’s not completely fair when you look at the returning experience at every position but  WR that Canada inherited, but…

At the same time he is harldy walking into an empty shell. A (likely) graduate transfer, former 5-star recruit at QB. More experience, size and depth at WR. Talent (albeit, kind of raw) but lots of depth at RB. A still rather stout O-line. If not ready made for success, there is a feeling that this is more sous vide cooking rather than requiring precise baking.

No one on this board was satisfied with what Dixon was giving us. Oh his TCU team this year may be a 11-12 seed. Everyone wants a final 4 appearance. You have to blame Dixon for the fiasco of this year. No center, no point guard and players who do not want to play defense. His recruits. Also a pg who cannot shoot and a big man who hustles but does not have ACC talent. All his recruits.

Now it does look like Stallings is bringing in a nice recruiting class much better than what Jamie did in his last few years. 2 4 stars and the other 3 star players and behold a 4 star pg and two centers. Most of you think he should be dumped after this year. I vote he stays and let’s see what he can do with his players.

Comment by JP 02.03.17 @ 1:45 pm

Pitt just landed a 6′ 10″ center from nigeria, by way of Montverde Fla academy.

Comment by alcofan 02.03.17 @ 2:20 pm

Tossing, AMEN! Yes, I want to continue to see an attacking offense. Yes I like seeing a strong running game, but without big plays it doesn’t put enough point on the board in today’s college game. The part that was special about the Pitt offense this past season, was it’s ability to make big plays. With teams trying to stop Pitt’s power running game, he gouged them with Henderson’s big gainers on jet sweeps. He managed to spread the field even before the Pitt passing developed.

Comment by Justinian 02.03.17 @ 2:33 pm

Alcofan, Yeah He seems to be recruiting pretty well.

Comment by Justinian 02.03.17 @ 2:35 pm

Dixon has taken a team that was horrible last year and made them a tourney contender (every brackets has TCU in right now) …Stallings has taken a tourney team to the basement of the ACC (and the basement of Pittsburgh college basketball when you figure Robert Morris beat the Dukies).

And yet people still want to give Dixon grief and say him leaving was a good thing.

The problem with Pitt sports isn’t the AD or Chancellor it’s the fans.

Comment by milobloom 02.03.17 @ 2:55 pm

Alco… You’ll find highlights from one of the Nigerian Center’s Games posted a few posts up.

Comment by PittofDreams 02.03.17 @ 2:58 pm

Reportedly, Stallings was told by an advisor to “Give Peace a chance!”

Comment by PittofDreams 02.03.17 @ 3:01 pm

We could still make the tourney.

Comment by Frank MD 02.03.17 @ 3:33 pm

KS has been quietly putting together a really good class. I’ve said this a few times now. All the kids have been shooting up the ranking and improved their rating since accepting Pitt offers. The rumors are he, and the staff, have much better ties to the 2018 class due to the recruiting cycle they were in at Vandy. The future looks bright as far as skill being added to the roster.

CBB is divided among those that can recruit and those that can coach. Very few can do both. KS has yet to show his coaching chops beyond some creative set plays. He has a rep for being an offensive savant, which may be true, but he’s had chemistry issues with this team. With kids that have been together so long, chemistry should not be an issue.

This team lost one kid from a team that went to the tourney last year. Had Dixon been here, Kithcart and Damon Wilson would have been playing the point and playing a lot more. It’s very hard to say what Dixon’s team would have looked like because KS went with Artis at the point. No chance Dixon does that.

Before the schedule came out, it looked like a borderline tourney bound team. When the schedule came out, it looked like a long shot tourney bound team. The losses have been worse than expected but the end result really hasn’t been.

The point is that this team is very hard to judge KS on. At the same time, I don’t think Dixon left this year’s team in as bad as shape as some of you do.

Next year is another story. Next year was always going to be the rebuild year. The first one in almost 20 years. Whether Dixon was here or not. That’s why I say if they don’t fire KS after the season (which is highly unlikely) then you have to give him a few years to get a roster together.

Justinian – that quote made my day and alleviated many of my concerns about a conservative offense being installed. That’s a relic of a era of CFB that has passed. You need an aggressive offense in this day and age.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.03.17 @ 3:37 pm

Josh Newkirk scored 27 pts in a win over PSU last night….and Pitt needs a point guard…why isn’t he still playing for Pitt?…I see similarities with Damon Wilson’s current situation

Comment by Jerry S. 02.03.17 @ 4:04 pm

Jerry – he had microfracture surgery which is very hit and miss for basketball players, especially someone who relies on speed. He’s had some good games but he’s been very inconsistent this year. Upgrade over what we have? Sure. Long term answer? No.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.03.17 @ 4:39 pm

Perhaps Newkirk knew he would not play much last year since James Robinson had point locked up and hardly ever missed a game…he wanted to play 2 more seasons at point to show his skills to the scouts?

Who knows and who cares…water under the bridge. Wilson should have been ready to take over…but KS decided to go with Artis, and the rest is history.

Comment by Tommymac 02.03.17 @ 4:51 pm

Milobloom- there’s only one problem with Pitt fans….there’s not enough of them!

Comment by Dan 72 02.03.17 @ 6:15 pm

In the article in below Shawn Watson says,

“I’m a football junkie. One of the teams I had already started looking at was Pitt,” Watson said. “I think it makes it really attractive because Pat and I have shared a lot of football over the years and I know that he wants an offense that scores and that’s explosive. He’s really been instrumental in Jim’s success and Matt’s success. … With how Matt developed that offense, you don’t make that kind of departure or spin it in that direction without the support of head man. It’s really attractive.”


Comment by Justinian 02.03.17 @ 6:53 pm

TCU is no lock for the tournament they are 15/7 with 10 games left looking like a 19/13 team but their SOS is very high.

@TT I think you are right on a total rebuild is coming but it is due to Dixon’s horrendous recruiting and I think Dixon got out in time.

Comment by WLAT 910 radio and the big beat! 02.03.17 @ 6:56 pm

TT, are you saying that it is highly unlikely that they “don’t” fire KS after this season?

Comment by HbgFrank 02.03.17 @ 7:29 pm

The Big 12 stinks TCU would be awful if they played in the ACC.

Comment by Steve h 02.03.17 @ 8:10 pm

Watson’ s QB at Nebraska set a bunch of records. At Colorado they won the Big 12. I think he could be a really good hire

Comment by Steve h 02.03.17 @ 8:12 pm

Jerry S – Josh Newkirk scored 27 pts in a win over PSU last night.

No he didn’t, he scored 21 against a shitty pedo st team and did it in triple overtime. Newkirk is a serviceable point guard at best.

As for the OC hire Watson, I trust the Nard dog period!

Comment by PTG 02.03.17 @ 8:39 pm

Hbg – unfortunately, yes. I doubt it. I, personally, would like a redo but the 6 year contract buyout will probably be too much.

In other news, I live down the road from Paul VI HS in Fairfax, VA and took the kids to see Pitt recruit, Aaron Thompson, and wow. Just wow. He has potential to be a really really good one.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.03.17 @ 10:15 pm

OK folks. Jd’s record was unmatched at PITT in the last 50 years. It has also been well established that he is a defensive minded coach. However, you do not have to go back to the Villanova game in 2009 to know that opposing teams could drive on PITT. The most recent game against NC saw Young beat at least twice on the inside. Rather than force him to the middle where Young may have had help. Dixon had these kids for 3 years. That is fundamental junior high basketball. Are they really uncoachable?

Comment by Joe Bro 02.03.17 @ 11:16 pm

The problem with Pitt sports isn’t the AD or Chancellor it’s the fans.

Comment by milobloom 02.03.17 @ 2:55 pm


Comment by EMel 02.03.17 @ 11:34 pm

Ok milo…so let me get this straight.

The fans are to blame for the 33 years of middling and inept Pitt football teams. And the laughing stock of the country during the:

Heyward>2weeks>Graham>48weeks>Chryst fiasco.

Not to mention the Fazio>Gottfried>Hackett>Majors2 Clusterf*ck.

Do you work for Pitt or some company that has a Pitt contract milo ?

Comment by EMel 02.03.17 @ 11:38 pm

You have just lost whatever credibility you had on here son.

Comment by EMel 02.03.17 @ 11:39 pm

Dixon sucked when it counted.

In the NCAA’s he had a losing record.

nothng else counts

Comment by EMel 02.03.17 @ 11:41 pm

And the Pitt Board of Clusterf*cks suck too.

And those that support them and their ineptitude.

Comment by EMel 02.03.17 @ 11:42 pm

I did tired of hearing how great dixon was.

We got to ONE freaking Elite 8 game.

in the 13 years Dixon was HC

and in that ONE Elite 8 game…. Dixon coached into a loss with 2 NBA players on the team.

For the $200 Million investment Pitt made in the Bball program.


Comment by EMel 02.03.17 @ 11:47 pm

^I get tired ^

Comment by EMel 02.03.17 @ 11:49 pm

And the guy was more than willing to ‘bail’ on his own program…when he realized his zenith was reached.

Epic …cut and run.

Comment by EMel 02.03.17 @ 11:50 pm

So enough with this eulogizing of a guy and bailed on his own program.

Comment by EMel 02.03.17 @ 11:51 pm

Yeah. Blame it all on the Fans. We suck.

We average 48K per game attendance at an off campus football stadium in a Pro Football/Pro Baseball/Pro hockey town and this is after having 5 head coaches in 6 years…one of the top average attendance figures in the land.

Even after 4 or 5 pretty mediocre mens basketball seasons 10,000 of us still pay upwards of a $1000 per seat to watch more crappy basketball…

And we still post incessantly on blogs because we care.

It is all the fans fault.



Comment by Tommymac 02.04.17 @ 1:51 am

My 2 cents … the core problem is the constant change in direction that the Pitt admin has for the football program. The secondary problem is fan support …. mostly due to being in an NFL city and Pitt having much less alums than the big boys

Comment by wbb 02.04.17 @ 7:37 am

My old friend, Sleepy, in trouble

link to


Comment by steve1 02.04.17 @ 7:48 am

link to

Maybe Stallings can recruit. Raw but athletic.

Comment by gc 02.04.17 @ 9:08 am

gc, I’m hopeful as well. But first I’d like to see evidence that he can dribble (wink)

Comment by steve1 02.04.17 @ 9:47 am

While I’m on a roll, among all the measures available on hoops I’m not aware of one for a given player’s raw speed, like the 100 yard dash for fb.

Why not one for a player’s speed dribbling up and down the court?

Comment by steve1 02.04.17 @ 9:56 am

“I want to be a teacher. I love impacting lives.” Shawn Watson, Pitt OC.

Just what we needed, another instructor.

Comment by PittofDreams 02.04.17 @ 9:57 am

Sadly, Emel, you are right when you said “NCAA’s…..Nothing else counts”. JD’S record in the tournament was, well, bad. That became his rep, and, arguably led to his downfall. I personally think that is the underlying reason his recruiting suffered as the NCAA’s is what the kids all talk about and is what ESPN and others highlight 24/7. Then Pitt goes to the ACC which meant the recruiting footprint changed; what was left of NYC died. Pitt found themselves in no man’s land. And so Jamie left. I personally think it was a shared decision facilitated by the TCU opening. But, whatever. He was a good man and a good coach while he was here and did Pitt proud. But, as you say, those pesky NCAA’s……..

Which brings me to the point I am trying to make:

Bo Schlembechler, of Michigan fame, predicted the current state of collegiate athletics many years ago when he lobbied AGAINST a national football playoff. He strongly believed that conference championships should be the goal. He worried that football would go down the same path basketball was heading with emphasis on ONE national champion versus multiple geographically regional basked conference championships. He feared this would lead to the ultimate disintegration of conference affliations themselves and collegiate athletics would become a moneygrabbing free for all which would favor a select few premier universities. Thus, in turn, would focus on the select group of outstanding athletes at the expense of the larger pool of recruits who were, indeed, at universities playing sports to pay for an education, not viewing the college experience as a prep course for the pros.

How prescient Bo was.

I understand we all have evolved to the point where March Madness is a part of our spring ritual now and, the only people who care about the Sun Bowl are loser alumni from a university somewhere who think heart transplants and a cure for cancer trump beating a reprobate like Rick Pitino in a game that ESPN markets as the next Ali-Fraiser.

But, at the end of the day what this has lead to is the woman’s tennis team in Morgantown, West Virginia getting on a plane to Lubbock, Texas to compete in their sport of choice instead of taking a bus to Oakland.

Jamie could promise you that you would compete year in and year out for the Big East championship. But in today’s times, that wasn’t good enough. And so he’s gone.

A sign of the times for sure. Most probably think it is the price you pay for progress. Old timers like me think the halcyon days of Bo vs Woody and Johnny finally giving Joe what he deserved was as good as it gets.

Comment by wally 02.04.17 @ 9:58 am

However, if he is SMART enough to use a Fullback on “1st and Goal”… I’m all in.

Comment by PittofDreams 02.04.17 @ 10:00 am

Great post Wally, and not because you agreed with me.

Whatever little amateurism, integrity and tradition that existed back then, has been totally tossed out the door in college sports 2 big money making sports.

I find myself watching very little of it anymore, even at a time when it seemingly on non-stop.

They are killing the Golden Goose. At least for me.

Comment by EMel 02.04.17 @ 12:04 pm

It that is indeed very sad and tragic to hear about Dante Taylor selling drugs to teens.

Part of the much larger and tragic story of America’s inner cities and how the Gov’t created them, and nurtured them into the crime ridden gang infested hellholes they have been for a couple decades or more.

I hope the young man is able to straighten out his life.

Comment by EMel 02.04.17 @ 12:08 pm

It that ? wtf

It is indeed very sad….

Comment by EMel 02.04.17 @ 12:10 pm

Grea Post Wally.

Wow struck a nerve when I blamed the fans for Pitt’s failure. I see Emel’s working on his post count again and doing very well.

Not arguing on any of the posts about how the higher ups at Pitt screw things up…mostly because they don’t want to pay the big bucks to keep coaches or hire top assistants.
But why would they pay big bucks when the fans don’t pay.

I don’t donate a lot to Pitt Athletics but do enough to keep 8 club seats for football and seats for hoops. They give you a ranking each year and I am surprised how high I rank….meaning there aren’t many donating…I am sure they have a few really big donors but not enough to compare with all the programs everyone on this board wants Pitt to be. (We needed Mark Cuban to finish at Pitt and he could of donated his millions).

I know it’s a chicken egg thing..those on this board will say put a winner on the field and I’ll pay…but maybe needs to be fans need to show real interest and start paying and then Pitt will do the same for athletics.

Comment by milobloom 02.04.17 @ 3:57 pm

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