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February 5, 2017

Surprisingly Sims Out

Filed under: Assistants,Coaches,Football,Hire/Fire — Chas @ 11:01 am

It broke on twitter via Richie Walsh for KDKA-TV. And quickly confirmed by other outlets.

Defensive line coach Tom Sims is no longer with the team, according to a source.

Sims, a defensive tackle at Pitt who was a sixth-round draft pick in 1990 after his senior year, played in the NFL until 1996 with the Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts.

Pat Narduzzi hired Sims, 49, back to his alma mater from Youngstown State in 2015 when Narduzzi took over as Pitt’s head coach.

With national signing day now in the rear-view mirror, and four defensive line recruits officially in the fold, Narduzzi will look for a new assistant to coach that position.

Narduzzi also said Friday morning on a conference call that when the NCAA approves a 10th assistant coach for Football Bowl Subdivision programs, which it’s expected to do in April, he will most likely add to the defensive staff.

From a coaching standpoint, this comes as a surprise. I thought Sims had been doing an excellent job considering injuries and lack of depth on the D-line.

His work with Shakir Soto from DE to DT in his senior year was excellent and Tyrique Jarrett was a force inside.

Add in the fact that he was the only member of the staff that was a Pitt alum, and there is a bit of extra pain in seeing him let go.

The bigger question is who does Coach Pat Narduzzi have in mind to take the spot. Immediate speculation turns to Charlie Partridge.

Charlie Partridge was D-line coach under Walt Harris and Dave Wannstedt before leaving to take the same position at Wisconsin under Bret Bielema. Partridge followed Bielema to Arkansas where he rose to co-DC and assistant head coach, before becoming head coach at Florida Atlantic in 2013.

While Partridge is a good position coach, he is an even better recruiter. Especially in Florida. That was part of the reason FAU hired him. He did recruit well considering it was FAU, but the wins did not follow and after three straight 3-9 season was fired after the 2016 season. Lane Kiffin is now the HC at FAU.

The speculation of Partridge being the guy, is partially fueled by the fact that shortly after news of Sims being out Partridge began following several Pitt coaches and members of the Pittsburgh sports media on Twitter.

If it is Partridge, then the move does make grudging sense. Narduzzi has openly said that Florida is an important area for recruiting. This past recruiting class had seven recruits from Florida as compared to four from Pennsylvania.

Recruting in Florida is tough and only about to get harder. In addtion to FSU, Florida, the entire SEC, ACC and lots of the Big Ten and other major schools. You have the second tier programs — FAU, FIU and USF — that have all made a big upgrade at head coach in terms of recruiting. USF now has Charlie Strong. FIU has pulled Butch Davis off the scrap heap and as mentioned, FAU has Kiffykins.





Gilbert was not among the group that were said to leave the team. I’m guessing he’s still considered part of the team.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.06.17 @ 7:37 pm

We all remember the Pitt News, right? The student paper comes out strongly for firing Stallings at end of season:

link to pittnews.com

Comment by Tony77019 02.06.17 @ 7:38 pm

I blame Kithcart. If the Kid was HALF of what Dokish and others projected him to be… he would be playing Point and the rest would be taking care of itself.

Kidding a bit here. But when Stallings Critics keep bringing up the fact that Robinson is the ONLY difference between last year and this… that brings Kithcart into the discussion.

LEAST physically talented and skillful Kid I’ve seen recruited to Pitt with such fanfare in quite awhile.

Comment by PittofDreams 02.06.17 @ 8:46 pm

As for Stallings being ONE & DONE… I might have been OK with it given his “Walk Off” in the Louisville Blowout.

But, after the Recruiting Job he and his Staff have done… can’t IMAGINE him being shown the door.

Think he may have GUARANTEED himself not just one but two years. Only fair to wait long enough to see what he can do with his own Players.

Comment by PittofDreams 02.06.17 @ 9:03 pm

Even so, believe the question as to whether keep or cut Stallings will get addressed behind Closed Doors.

Just THINK he’s going to get the benefit of a doubt.

Besides, Pitt Admin,Sir Gallagher included… have clearly demonstrated they are NOT willing to do what it takes to get a BIG NAME Coach to take the reins.

Comment by PittofDreams 02.06.17 @ 9:09 pm

On Kithcart…I know Lynchburg VA HS basketball having worked in the area 4 years. Only 3 High Schools and no one until Kithcart ever offered D1 scholie. Level of play is just not that good. Dixon made him out to be a lot better than he is.

On Stallings, whether he stays or goes will be a very difficult decision for the new AD. I abhorred how Barnes brought him here but was very willing to give him a chance. He has 5 decent recruits coming in and 17 more years on his ridiculous contract. I utterly hate his temperament and open disdain for his players. Getting tossed in a 55 point loss and losing to an awful Duquesne team are big red marks.

Pitt would have to eat a ton of $$$. Hire Tressell. Can his ass!
Hire a young up and comer who teaches fundamentals ! Maybe we get lucky.

Comment by Dan 72 02.06.17 @ 9:41 pm

FYI Dan 72, D1 coaches don’t go by high school games as much as they go by the AAU games these kids play. Although I don’t see it, I just guess that Dixon saw something in Kithcart’s AAU games.

Comment by DionJag 02.06.17 @ 10:26 pm

KIthcart is actual from Durham NC (Duke territory) but played for VA Episcopal in HS .. just another Catholic/academy that recruits (I assume.) They also had a kid who signed with Kansas last year.

It’s likely that its local competition was pretty weak .. however, I would have to think it played its share of games vs other academy schools. I also believe it went deep into the state tourney and probably played vs good competition. Nonetheless, I would guess they were the the big favorites in most of the games last year.

Comment by wbb 02.07.17 @ 7:19 am

correction: Kitchcart’s teammate signed with Kentucky (the other UK)

link to 247sports.com

Comment by wbb 02.07.17 @ 7:23 am

Tony, thanks for posting the article. I take it as a confirmatory sign Stallings has lost the Zoo. Actually, whether or not one agrees with the article, it contains perspective one would expect from a mainstream media publication. Just another indictment of the inferior sports reporting from the PG and Trib.

Dan72, I agree with you totally. Setting aside the debate on KS coaching acumen, the character flaws apparent in his behavior on court and otherwise (i.e., player/team diatribes and blame shifting) show a disappointing void in leadership traits/skills and IMO explain simply why the man has never experienced a high level of success.

Pitt should cut their losses and look to the future.

Comment by Wally 02.07.17 @ 9:29 am

I won’t defend Stallings either … but that contract.

Kithcart is raw being only a 3 star recruit. He needs some development and ideally would have redshirted. I doubt he’s ever a starter but in years 3 and 4 he could be a serviceable backup PG. He was a typical Dixon recruit that would take 2-3 years to develop.

It’s way too early to trash the kid. I agree he’s not ready to play though.

I live in Northern VA. If Kithcart played AAU ball at all, it’s some of the best in the country … in fact, from his bio …

“A proven winner with a state championship and a pair of AAU national championships on his resume”

This is exactly the type Dixon recruited. Winning was always very high on Dixon’s list of traits he looked for in kids.

Charlottesville, Richmond, Roanoke, Blacksburg, DC, VA beach and NOVA are all within 2 hours of where he played HS ball. He played against some of the best competition in the country.

Plus, Kithcart played at a private school which means he wasn’t playing just middle of bumbleF Va schools. He was playing on the catholic school circuit against all of Virginia, WV and some PA schools.

If Kithcart was a public school kid, yes, competition could be questioned. That’s not the case though.

Here is Episcopal’s schedule this year. Challenging to say the least.

link to maxpreps.com

This was not a 4/5 star kid like James Robinson that had potential to lead the team from the get-go. Krauser didn’t start as a freshman, Levance fields didn’t start as a freshman, Ashton Gibbs didn’t … Kithcart just isn’t ready for ACC play and doesn’t have the mentor that Krauser, Levance and Gibbs had.

it’s way too early to write him off and expectations should be eased. I hate seeing kids getting smashed, especially when you take into account the train wreck Pitt basketball is right now.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.07.17 @ 10:35 am

On Kithcart…you also need to take in to account he didn’t the guidance he would of received if Dixon had stayed…I’m sure he would of improved with an off season of training with an existing coach….Stallings would of had no time to develop guys last off season…he would of been working on getting to know starters strengths weaknesses etc. (Same for Nix, if Dixon would of stayed I think we would of seen a lot more Nox earlier in the season)…not a knock on Stallings or hyping Dixon just what can fall thru the cracks during a coaching change.

That and we are also hearing reports that the seniors are not helping out the younger guys that was very much a trademark for years in Dixon’s program.

I’m willing to give Kithcart some slack.

THe Pitt news article was wrong..I’m not a Stallings fan, but he ain’t going anywhere for at least two more years no matter what and if Pitt does get rid of him, good luck finding any coach who would come here……let’s see a guy who was in tourney for over a decade cut loose…and then new guy given one year with none of his players cut loose….in a town where college basketball ranks 6th maybe 5th in pecking order of sports team….dream job in my book.

Comment by milobloom 02.07.17 @ 12:53 pm

If anyone has tickets for the UNC game they would like to sell please let me know. My kid is part of the Honors Ceremony for the second time and the wife and I are considering staying over and catching the game the next day.

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 02.07.17 @ 12:54 pm

link to youtube.com

Pitt LiveWire: Pitt Football Winter Workouts 2017

Comment by NickC 02.07.17 @ 1:08 pm

Milo, your position has merit and, whIle I am more inclined to move on, I think you are probably more reflective of what is more likely to take place.

Having said that, in terms of the position taken by the Pitt News, many may disagree but it is, by charter, the voice of the students. With a daily circulation of 13,000. Again, some may think it is misguided but it is nevertheless striking that the student newspaper of record would take such an extreme position.

To the extent that it does indeed represent the pulse of the student body, that is not an enviable position for a coach to be in. The administration can, of course, disregard their point of view but the Pete ain’t much to look at absent the Zoo.

Comment by Wally 02.07.17 @ 1:20 pm

To compete in the ACC you need elite players and elite coaching. Right now we don’t have enough of either. Last place with the leagues two leading scorers.

I’d say we are stuck with Stallings for at least two more years. Hope he proves everyone wrong, but it is not bloody likely.

Comment by gc 02.07.17 @ 3:10 pm

Quit bashing freshman players. They need years to develop. Ridiculous to say the kid won’t be good.

Comment by notrocketscience 02.07.17 @ 3:45 pm

This is what I’ve always said, even if Stallings loses the rest of his games, he will not be fired after one year.

For the record, I do not think he’s a very good coach or a bad coach, simply basing that on his very long history with Vanderbilt. But I hope I’m wrong about his mediocrity, and I will be rooting for him.

All that said, the idea that nobody would want to work here if we ran Stallings off after one year, is ludicrous. Yes, quality candidates would still want to work here for one reason alone: money (not to mention great conference and venue). Any young, up and coming coach would be nuts to shy away from an opportunity like that, unless they lacked self confidence and were a bit soft.

Comment by 1618mt 02.07.17 @ 4:23 pm

1618mt, but will Pitt be willing to pay what it takes to get an elite coach? The price keeps going up. $3 mil and we have an average coach with an average record. Is the middle of the pack what we aspire to?

Comment by gc 02.07.17 @ 5:58 pm

You have to be able to recruit.

link to 247sports.com

Is this going to get it done in the ACC?

Comment by gc 02.07.17 @ 6:02 pm

Especially when the cupboard is bare.

Comment by gc 02.07.17 @ 6:04 pm

Ranking 39th with 6 kids coming in is sad….

Somehow we’re out recruiting the hoopies though. Go figure…..

Comment by Jackagain 02.07.17 @ 6:38 pm

The FB team rankings rate Pitt recruiting in the mid 30s’. Stallings 1st class at 39th. I guess that is not good enough for a 1st year coach. I don’t know if he will end up being good or not but you have to give him an opportunity. He may surprise us.

Comment by JP 02.07.17 @ 6:39 pm

JP, he is not a first time head coach. He is supposed to be a great recruiter. He can offer early playin time in a great league.

The coaches he is competing against bring in elite players every year.

He will get his chance, just don’t think he is the guy that will succeed.

Comment by gc 02.07.17 @ 7:09 pm

By the way, I am not thrilled by Narduzzi’s class this year and have said so all year. But with football, you have time to coach them up. Bball needs guys that can play right now.

Comment by gc 02.07.17 @ 7:12 pm

KS is not the future. The sooner you realize that, the sooner Pitt can be on track for excellence. He is a horrible hire by a horrible AD that was given horrible license by Gallagher and a horrible BOT to make the hire backed by a horrible search firm’s recommendation. Pitt is an abortion right now.

Comment by TX Panther 02.07.17 @ 8:33 pm

@Tx Panther Agree +1

Comment by Tommymac 02.07.17 @ 9:06 pm

KS is not a first year coach and he shold NOT be given a pass recruiting. 39th is awful – no way to compete in the ACC. SEC yes – ACC no.

The sooner KS is gone the sooner the bleeding stops. Every year he is here means big bucks lost in revenue – empty seats at Pete, apparel sales etc. – and more and more fans lost that will take a lot of work to get back in a glutted pro sports city.

The cost of a HCKS buyout vs the cost of lost revenue and advertising bucks spent to get fans back due to the collapse of the program must be taken into account in the equation by any competent administration.

Comment by Tommymac 02.07.17 @ 9:10 pm

The Pitt News article was savage but really not very far off base. The hire was a slap in the face to the fans. The fan base saw bullshit and called bullshit. Once you lose the fans it’s all over. It’s probably unfair to KS because he never had a chance but he was such an uninspired hire it’s hard to move past it. We get a do-over with the AD. Now is the time to take advantage of it and fix the basketball mistake. Let’s do it without trashing freshmen though.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.07.17 @ 9:37 pm

My point was he has 6 guys coming in and that the high number of recruits is supposed to jump you up in the ranking. A team getting 4 guys rated a little higher individually will bring in the lower team raking.

Comment by Jackagain 02.07.17 @ 10:35 pm

Just playing Devil’s advocate here: didn’t KS just recruit the first real center we’ve had in a long while? And point guard for that matter (in lieu of JR)?

Comment by panther94 02.07.17 @ 11:06 pm

A 3* Project Center who can’t shoot. 3* PG. No help for immediate future. No better than Dixon for the most part … and recruiting was supposed to be one of HCKS strengths.

No – time to right the ship. Nothing Stallings can do will gain back the respect of the fans and now it seems the student body… the longer Pitt waits to start rebuilding it’s reputation with it’s BB fan base the worse the situation will get.

Comment by Tommymac 02.08.17 @ 5:29 am

I’m not a Stallings fan, he has a lot to prove, but to assess his recruiting at this juncture is pointless. Next year will be a lot more telling. Regardless, the 2 guards he brought in are an upgrade over past years at the position(s), Wilson-Frame was rated by some publications as the #1 juco player in the country. And both Stevenson & Peace fill in very specific, desperate needs in areas we’ve lacked for several years. And Centers take a while to develop, McGhee was a mess until about his junior year- I’ll take a guy that can rebound, block shots & dunk (ala Eric Mobley) any day. If Peace doesn’t pan out, no regrets, take another guy with his attributes next year, this is exactly the type of player we need.

Comment by 1618mt 02.08.17 @ 8:39 am

I agree … I believe if the current team had a defensive center who can defend the paint, they would much better.

It’s been a while since we really had an athletic center; if Taft wouldn’t have left prematurely (or Adams of course) they could have made a big impact

Comment by wbb 02.08.17 @ 9:56 am

I am with previous blogger who said dump the NFL. I already went from college fb first then NFL second to screw the NFL When players started interjecting politics into the game ala Kapernik. Now they allow sponsors to get political with a Belgan brewing company(INBEV OWNS Anheiser Busch) and a snot nosed couple of left wing millionaires from the likes of Uber etc. Screw them all when I want politics I watch cable news and go to the internet NOT DURING MY FOOTBALL!

Comment by Pitt60 02.08.17 @ 11:03 am

I’ve seen the 3* PG, Aaron Thompson … he should be a 4*. The kid is legit and I’ve seen a lot of great players in Northern Virginia and Maryland. I watched James Robinson play at Dematha too and Aaron Thompson has a much higher ceiling. I’m much more excited for Thompson than I ever was about Robinson. Robinson was fundamentally sound but Aaron Thompson has that “it” factor. Aaron Thompson will surprise a lot of you. Perfect ACC PG for Pitt. Not saying he should be starting in year one. It’s always better for development to sit for a year but the kid is for real.

The center is 6’10 that won’t see significant time until he’s a red shirt junior.

KS has a good solid base coming in. Disregard the rankings. Pitt isn’t a Duke or Kentucky where you reload in one class. This is a class that sets the tone for KS moving forward. The building blocks. If he gets two superstars in the 2018 class, this class will look much much better. It’s a very solid base for the program though.

Having said that, if you’re going to get rid of KS in 3 years, just do it now and get it over with so we don’t end up in another rebuild.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.08.17 @ 11:04 am

Obviously there are three camps on the blog:

Run Stallings out now;

give him a couple years to win or else when the buyout won’t be so big and the new AD can put his stamp on the BB program;

or, just chill and get over it. He deserves time to develop his program with his recruits then decide.

Pretty much everyone is reconciled that the second or third scenarios are more likely to prevail. But the one thing we haven’s discussed much is where KS head is. Look, if he had a do over he probably would not have come here (unless it was the only option if Vandy canned his ass). But he can’t be enjoying this. Not just the losing but all the negativity on blogs, talk radio, press (including the Pitt News). And the one guy who was his security blanket who he could rely on presumably, Barnes, cut bait and ran home to Momma.

So, his life just has to be miserable right now. He just relocated here after living in the South for the past 17 years so that, in and of itself, makes for a challenging transition. Let’s face it, he’s persona-non-grata in many ways, fair or not. His relationship with the students is obviously not all peaches and cream (Narduzzi, not KS, is sending out emails asking for support for crying out loud).

Anyway, he has a contract and the gig at Pitt is his livelihood so there is no way he just pulls up stakes and says screw it. But, ou just wonder though if he might not fight back too bad if the BOT or new AD offers him a way out.

Maybe all of this is just wishful thinking on my part, lol.

Comment by wally 02.08.17 @ 12:24 pm

How many millions does KS make. I don’t believe his life is miserable. I should be so lucky and miserable.

Comment by Rayhpgh 02.08.17 @ 12:34 pm

Pitt doesn’t release salaries so you have to wait for taxes to be released.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.08.17 @ 12:38 pm

Wbb…Nix?

Comment by HbgFrank 02.08.17 @ 12:39 pm

wally – normally, I’d say there is zero chance that they cut KS loose but with the AD leaving and the fan base so disenfranchised, I think it’s possible. This has been one of he most unpopular hires I’ve ever seen for any sport … the closest I can think of is Mike Haywood but we never had to suffer through that. Of course that was also Pitt. Smh.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.08.17 @ 12:49 pm

Pitt60 – You’re right, politics is having a significant, negative impact on most sports, and sporting networks. Right now, it’s PART of the reason ESPN is losing so many subscribers, and costing Disney big money. The liberal spin on everything is finally causing significant numbers to tune out far more often. It used to be that sporting events/espn was a respite from ‘the real world’, but now it’s infected with the same garbage, more and more. Just last night I had the Pens on, and had to endure rainbow taped hockey sticks to support ‘a cause’ of the Flames’ owner (and hockey isn’t nearly as bad as some other sports). Honestly, I just want to watch sports, when I put sports on…..

Tossing – I think your projection of Peace’s contributions in the future are sensible, however it wouldn’t surprise me if he is an effective role player next year, or on the other end of the spectrum, if he never makes it at all. I do like his odds though.

Comment by 1618mt 02.08.17 @ 12:51 pm

1618mt – I think he has potential but it will just be a few years until it’s realized. A program like Pitt needs that though. I hope that didn’t come across negative. Some of my favorite players have been guys who work at it for years and it finally clicks.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.08.17 @ 12:56 pm

Tossing – I think you came across as realistic. And he “appears to be” exactly the type of guy I miss, a tenacious, passionate defender. Shamiel Stevenson seems to fit that role as well- I miss our old identity, and I’m hoping we will return to it one of these years…

Comment by 1618mt 02.08.17 @ 1:01 pm

KS definitely has me conflicted. I like the class he’s bringing in a lot, especially knowing this group of coaches has better relationships with the 2018 class … yet, I just can’t get over the way he was hired, his past at Vandy and the way he completely lost the team this year.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.08.17 @ 1:01 pm

Tossing, if the center can defend and especially rebound, I think he will see some PT right away. Maybe I’m spoiled from the Dixon teams, but I cringe every game at the number of offensive rebounds Pitt is giving up this year.

Comment by wbb 02.08.17 @ 1:15 pm

wbb – yeah, part of that has to do with the shifting defenses. It’s much easier to rebound out of man to man. The highlights I saw of Peace screamed 3 year project. Hopefully, I’m wrong.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.08.17 @ 1:22 pm

he looked pathetic on offense, I agree. But aside from Luther and Nix, the tallest player is Johnson next year …. there is another 6’9 player coming in (Brown) but he is supposed to be a perimeter player

Comment by wbb 02.08.17 @ 6:10 pm

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