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January 3, 2018

In an otherwise predictable loss by Pitt to Louisville, there was the added bonus of Coach Kevin Stallings getting into it with a fan or two near the end of the game.

During the second half, with the game well out of reach, Stallings reacted to a fan near his team’s bench who the Pitt coach said was saying “something bad” about his players. At a certain point, Stallings responded, according to various reports, by saying “At least we didn’t pay our guys $100,000.”

“We’re down, the game’s over with; you don’t need to insult kids that are out there trying to fight hard and do their best,” Stallings said after the game. “I should have chosen some different words, but I’m not going to let people take shots at our players.”

When asked, the second-year Pitt coach declined to elaborate what the fan said about his players.

“That’s enough,” Stallings said.

I know, color me shocked as well that a coach who has a history of outbursts that get caught on a mike did so once more.

Here’s the link to the audio if you want.

The outburst will cycle through talk radio in Pittsburgh for about a day before going back to the Steelers and Pens. Louisville will probably be able to milk it for at least three days.

It is making the rounds on the usual sites: Deadspin, Yahoo’s Dagger, ESPN, etc., etc.

The added, “intrigue” to this is that some people are claiming that it wasn’t Louisville fans giving Stallings the business that caused him to snap. That it was some Pitt fans behind the team’s bench getting on him.

I have no idea.

Should he have done it? No. You have to take the beating and everything that comes with it. Frustrated or not.

Is this the worst? No. It’s going to get a bit of extra treatment because of Stallings’ history of outbursts, the nature of the media cycle these days. But really this is small potatoes.

I can’t work up the outrage at something so stupid and small. Of all the problems with this team and the Pitt program at this time. This is just a blip of unwanted attention.

Some — especially those who really, really want to find another excuse to hate Stallings and/or want him fired no later then this March — will, of course, scream bloody murder at the outrage. At the lack of class, restraint, whatever.

How a man who cannot control himself in such a situation is not fit to be the face of Pitt’s basketball program. Should not be a leader of young men.

I just wish he was a bit more creative with his response. Maybe, “You know, you are going to end up with Tom Crean as your next head coach, right?”

That would hurt ‘Ville fans.





34 comments

I hated the Stallings hire in every way. I don’t think he’s doing himself any favors with the portion of the fan base who want him gone. I’d like to see a little more self restraint. On the other hand, it’s got to be incredibly frustrating to see teams like Louisville & Syracuse (just to name 2) repeatedly violate NCAA rules and the punishment, if any, deters nothing. The cheaters keep winning games & recruiting battles and continue to profit. I’d be pissed if I were KS too. He’s in a no win situation as he knows the playing field will never be level. Personally I probably would’ve said something worse last night. I expect I’m one of the few who thinks there are many other better ways to come to the defense of a player but it doesn’t bother me much. Not excusable but quite understandable.

Comment by imsteviemac 01.03.18 @ 9:02 am

North Carolina,imsteviemac. He’s the leader of the program, I say STAND UP for your players.

Comment by alcofan 01.03.18 @ 12:28 pm

Ive been to a few pitt games in that building and have taken abuse and I’m an old guy who just went to enjoy the game, Louisville is a dirty program.

Comment by WLAT 910 radio and the big beat! 01.03.18 @ 12:43 pm

Stallings made front page of the Louville Courant Journal online edition.

Comment by alcofan 01.03.18 @ 12:57 pm

I have to say…I like the guy even more now.

Comment by Pitt of Glory 01.03.18 @ 4:01 pm

Good for him. I respect what he did.

Comment by Kvah 01.03.18 @ 5:18 pm

He earned his paycheck…for that game anyway.

Comment by Gasman 01.03.18 @ 7:58 pm

The story I heard from those directly behind the bench was a bit different. The U Of L fans were directing insults directly at HCKS and his time at Vandy when he had his outburst. It had nothing to do with his players. He is using that as his justification for the outburst and thus lying to the fans.

It’s no secret that I do not like HCKS the person, but even I see this as not a big deal just another dumb, selfish, in the moment blunder from HCKS. There will be more before the season is over.

Comment by Tony In Harrisburg 01.04.18 @ 12:18 am

Miami loses to GT by 10 last night. I saw a team (GT) play focused D which lead to offensive points.

Pitt has yet to show any kind of organized D in the first 2 ACC games this season. No player seems to know where they are supposed to be on the floor and boxing out for rebounds does not exist.

To me, it looks Lyke practice is all about shooting the basketball.

The difference between GT and Pitt is coaching.

Comment by Erie Express 01.04.18 @ 4:56 am

For all the griping over the years of Dixon being a control freak, slogball, yadda, yadda, yadda, the fact is, if you play fair (like Pitt does), AND are in the second tier (at best) of schools in terms of attractiveness to HS players (I think Pitt is in the 3rd tier), well, the only way to end up in the Top 25 is to have a SYSTEM. Dixon had one.

And this is not a post meant to wax on about how great Dixon was…I don’t care who it is…the point is simply that Pitt needs that kind of coach. A coach that takes mediocre kids and makes a team of them in a system that is stronger than the sum of its parts. Stallings is not that, has no system….and to Erie’s point, most certainly not on defense most of all.

Comment by DD 01.04.18 @ 7:51 am

Craig Meyer said it best on Twitter. It’s like a Rorschach test. Fans who are okay with Stallings will love it. Fans who hate Stallings will hate it.

I fall in the hypocrite category … I loved it … but if it can be used to move on from Stallings, he shouldn’t have said it

🙂

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 01.04.18 @ 9:43 am

DD- you are absolutely correct about Pitt’s status in the eco system of college athletics. But I don’t agree with you when you say Stallings does “not have a system.” He has been known- and this is what has carried him through D1- for having a pretty lethal offensive system when running on all cylinders. That’s his M.O. Always has been. I would even argue his system might play much better in the ACC than Dixon’s system. If this was the old Big East, I wouldn’t say that. But that’s not the case. And how can we even judge what he’s trying to put in place half way through what is essentially year one of a rebuild? The 3rd youngest team in D1. Come on guys. If he just adds 1-2 players a year that are on the same level as Carr and Wilson-Frame (as he did last year), he will indeed develop a competitive program. I don’t doubt that.

Comment by Pitt of Glory 01.04.18 @ 10:13 am

@EE I’m not sure Wilson-Frame is even practicing shooting. He’s currently at 37% from the field and 30% from the arc for the season. 17-62 from the field and 9-38 from the arc in his last five games. He leads the team in attempts by quite a margin for the season.

PoG, I suggest that you may want to swap Davis or Stevenson in for WF as the types of players Stallings will hopefully recruit.

Comment by Barvo 01.04.18 @ 11:53 am

FWIW, I did not like Stallings’ hiring at all …. but since he was Pitt coach, I was willing to give him a chance. Then when he start throwing his players under a bus last January, I became totally disenchanted.

Now, although it may not have been classy, I found his outburst to be refreshing and agree with Mike Wilbon (ESPN PTI) that more college coaches should step up like this.

Comment by wbb 01.04.18 @ 1:37 pm

I have no way of knowing for sure, but Tony’s comment above about the comment being toward him and not his players strikes me as True.

But onto coaching: Like many, I was no fan of the Stallings’ hire, in fact I was stunned at what appeared to be stupidity at the time by Barnes, etc. (in hindsight, maybe it was corruption), but worse case, I thought with Stallings’ long history at Vandy, that we got an experienced guy who might produce mediocre (slightly sub 500) teams, however in hindsight I fully agree with DD’s summary above, I just don’t see any semblance of coaching going on. It truly looks like team that hasn’t been coached on fundamentals at all. I know they’re young, but I’m beginning to think Stallings may be a very poor coach, not a mediocre one.

Comment by 1618mt 01.04.18 @ 1:41 pm

We’re now 180 in the ken pom rankings, behind wright state and Harvard, Duquesne gonna pass us soon.

Comment by alcofan 01.04.18 @ 2:59 pm

It’s fascinating. Folks don’t like the hire from the start. Therefore the guy gets no real chance with those folks. Judgement day came and went…without a full trial. Look, I hated the hiring process. It reeked. I wouldn’t have had Stallings in my top candidates, no doubt. However, that is completely separate from my perception of the coach himself, as well as my desire to see the program improve. I can’t possibly pass judgement because he hasn’t even been given enough time to commit a crime! He hasn’t been given time to build anything yet. So…lets just go ahead and get rid of the guy and start from scratch again, setting us back further. Nevermind the fact that would make the job even LESS desirable than it already is. No thanks. Between his brass balls and the portion of the fan base that refuses to give they guy any kind of shot…well all of that makes me root for the him even more.

Comment by Pitt of Glory 01.04.18 @ 3:40 pm

Pitt of Glory – you speak the truth but the reality is that is exactly why this relationship has to end … Pitt and Stallings will never work for the reasons you stated and that is why the sooner they part the better.

I agree it sets Pitt back. That’s why it should have happened this past offseason when Pitt was rebuilding anyways. Luckily, Pitt really can’t be set back further than they already are.

When Stallings was hired, Pitt fans felt duped. The hiring process was tainted with nepotism and backroom deals. Because of this, Stallings is seen as an illegitimate coach. He will never be accepted. Pitt could turn around this season and end up in the Sweet 16 … and people still wouldn’t accept him … because a large portion of the Pitt fan base refuses to accept him as coach of the Panthers.

As ridiculous as that sounds, it’s the reality of the situation.

When hired, Stallings didn’t really do anything wrong to deserve the backlash. All he did was accept a job that happened to save him from being fired at Vandy. Rational move. He was a victim of circumstance and walked into something he probably didn’t see coming.

The problem is that after he was brought on … and after that first disaster of a press conference … Stallings did a really poor job of reading the room. He had the nepotism charges against Barnes, the Sheldon Jeter transfer mess, and the whole replacing the most successful coach in Pitt history challenge … yet he did nothing to endear himself to Pitt fans.

PR 101 would tell you that you probably should try to start winning over fans and find a way to connect with the students and alumni … nope … didn’t happen.

Instead we got a hot headed coach in over his head at a sinking program who was doing nothing to make himself likable and, instead, only made himself look like more of a jackass as season went on … and into carried over into the offseason.

You can root for him all you want … but Pitt is doomed while he is in charge. It just won’t ever work. Pitt fans decided a long time ago they didn’t like him. Not even winning will help.

Like I said, you speak the truth and I agree it’s fascinating … I just don’t see how it could ever work. I can’t think one situation, in any sport, where a coach as universally disliked as Stallings is ever turned around a fan base and got them in their corner … There is no precedent that I can think of this where this could even remotely work out.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 01.04.18 @ 8:36 pm

Look to be clear, and apologies in advance for using this example to you Stiller fans: But I hope more than anything else in the world that Stallings is Bill Belichick. I grew up in New England and let me tell you when he was hired it was EXACTLY the same reaction as the Stallings hire. Exactly. How is that going for Pats fans?

But for every Belichick, there are dozens of examples where moving to a new team results in the same result as before. I am not not giving Stallings any kind of shot. I just think his offensive prowess is totally overblown, his in-game coaching so far seems poor, his treatment of the players seems inherently negative, and I watched him take essentially the same team JD took the Tourney and failed miserably with them.

I am biased….I love Pitt. I would hate for Pitt to settle for a good coach. I want Pitt to have a GREAT coach. Anything less is not good enough. So far I don’t see it.

But if Stallings becomes Belichick 2.0, hey, I’d be thrilled.

Comment by DD 01.04.18 @ 8:42 pm

Oh actually I have an even better example: Jamie Dixon. When he was hired, I and a ton of other people thought, WTF? We hired the assistant coach because…because some of the players went to the admin and said they really liked him? WTF!!!!

Trust me I was THRILLED to eat crow on my initial opinion of JD.

Then again, you could tell within half a season it was totally the right choice. After 1.5 seasons with Stallings, I definitely cannot make the same claim.

Comment by DD 01.04.18 @ 8:54 pm

DD – Dixon and Belichick are different. Neither may have been popular but neither was seen as illegitimate. Dixon was just an unknown but Pitt at least had swung big (and missed) going after Skip Prosser. And Dixon endeared himself to Pitt fans very quickly.

Belichick was just seen as your typical retread NFL coach. An unimaginative hire but not an all out revolt by the fanbase. Fans didn’t abandon them.

Stallings is very similar to the Edsall hiring at Maryland. Pure rage at the announcement of the hire.

Unpopular hires turning into success stories happen all the time, or at least often enough. Stallings is pure hatred. We might as well have hired the devil himself with how the fan base reacted in unison.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 01.04.18 @ 9:13 pm

VT is Pitt’s next B.B. opponent tomorrow. Both teams lost their 1st two ACC games by similar scores. VT lost to cuse and uva. Pitt lost to miami and ville.

Yet, according to the ESPN predictions, Pitt has less than a 5% chance of winning. It comes down to coaching IMO – VT has a good coach and Pitt has a mediocre, if not bad coach.

I guess a 5% chance of winning means someone believes Pitt has a chance of winning.

Comment by Erie Express 01.05.18 @ 5:45 am

Pitt of Glory & Tossing – That’s a rather shallow take in my opinion. I didn’t like the hire as I said, but it’s not just about a ‘dead man walking situation’. If you’ve actually watched any games this year (& I’m sure you have), it seems clear that there are many things fundamentally not to like about KS’ team regardless of their inexperience. His players are rarely in rebounding position when shots are taken, the offense appears to be free-lancing/playground ball, he never calls timeouts when needed, and his players grossly over-commit on defense. Everybody was expecting a down year, the expectations weren’t great by anyone, but to ignore all these blatantly fundamental problems and placing the blame on personal dislike is just plain wrong. Further, I wouldn’t assume that if KS turns things around, that people won’t do an about-face and support him, I for one will be happy to do that. And all of this discounts KS’ childish behavior, which isn’t helping his cause, and is representing the university poorly.

Comment by 1618mt 01.05.18 @ 10:19 am

EE, Jamie couldn’t beat Buzz either, its not coaching its talent.

Comment by alcofan 01.05.18 @ 10:55 am

I couldn’t agree more with Tossing assessment. HCKS has done nothing to win over anyone including the student body. My kid is a senior this year goes to the games and has never met the guy. JD would bring doughnuts for the kids, take selfies,(my kid has 3) tweet, and email the Zoo constantly. KS not has not reached out at all.

and just so you know “my source” was directly behind our bench at the Louisville game and when I say directly I mean he was in huddle (has photos) and he is a Pitt fan. (obliviously as he was at this game) Kevin was NOT defending his players he was defending HIMSELF and his time at Vandy. There was only one comment that set him off and it had to do with his Vandy teams getting stomped by Kentucky.

Take that for what you will.

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 01.05.18 @ 11:07 am

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 01.05.18 @ 11:24 am

1618mt – My only point was that he never had a chance and it was independent of how well he did is his actual job … good or bad.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 01.05.18 @ 12:25 pm

“Stallings is pure hatred. We might as well have hired the devil himself…” This is beyond silly. I can’t even.

Comment by Pitt of Glory 01.05.18 @ 12:32 pm

Here they go, Kazon Pugh, Kam Carter,Henery Miller and Malik Henderson to transfer.

Comment by alcofan 01.05.18 @ 12:34 pm

Tossing – I certainly agree, generally, but some of us would give KS a chance if we saw progress, even next year, not everybody is that closed-minded. But my bigger concern right now, is that hidden behind all these excuses, is a poor basketball coach. I’m not really qualified to make that judgment, but that’s my opinion from what I’ve seen- at least it’s a concern- given the lack of fundamentals exhibited by this (albeit young) team. I would be curious to know what others think of the actual basketball on display, instead of just hearing about the emotional aspect of everything. I think some of you would have good insight.

Comment by 1618mt 01.05.18 @ 12:36 pm

I guess ultimately, I no longer care what happened on his hiring day, or any other PR day or…how a post game press conference went, or even what happened 3, 5, 10 years ago. Maybe I don’t like how we got to this point, but we are here. I am going to be as positive as I can because Pitt athletics, more than anything, needs 1. stability and 2. support at this point in time. Barnes is long gone. I don’t even care much what our record looks like this year. I only care what this program looks like, fully developed, 2-3 years from now. Then I will make a judgement about Kevin Stallings. I’ll tell you what though. I am very happy with his first recruiting class considering everything he and the program is/was up against. That was a good first step. I don’t know if I like the guy yet, haven’t made that determination. But I also know I don’t hate the guy. Three years from now? Maybe I will. Just don’t know yet.

Comment by Pitt of Glory 01.05.18 @ 12:49 pm

I am with probably a lot of others in having rose colored glasses on with Stalling’s recruiting class. And I do the same thing with football recruits too…and I might guess that 80-90% of fans do the same for their own schools. The write ups by definition are always positive and always speak of the potential. You never get a write up that say “can’t keep defenders in front of them” or “has terrible mechanics”…it is always hopeful and stresses the good.

But look…Stalling’s class, well, my key canary in a coal mine as is other’s is, who else recruited them. I am at work so won’t take the time to go back and document, but the best of my memory recalls that for every single one of them, we won them over compared to essentially lower-quality mid-level schools.

So am I happy with this recruiting class? Other than the fact there are a LOT of them and the hope would be that a few pan out, I cannot say in any way that this group of kids is any better than Jamie Dixon’s worst recruiting class, give or take.

Again, I want Pitt to be great, not good. By that definition, the Stalling’s recruiting class is a definite Meh.

That said I love these kids’ efforts and there is some raw talent there. These would be a great set of kids to place around a Sam Young/Fields or what have you…two above average leaders. But that said we don’t have any Youngs on this team and I am not sure I see any of them developing into a Young in the next 2-3 years.

Comment by DD 01.05.18 @ 1:48 pm

Glory – you’re missing my point. That is how a large faction of the fan base feels … not necessarily how I feel or you feel or 1618mt feels.

It’s not silly with how much some people hate Stallings. The hate is real. That quote was just to illustrate how real it is … and to highlight the absurdity of how real it is …

You obviously don’t feel that way but I was trying to shed light on why it’s a failed marriage … and why giving him a chance wouldn’t matter. There are too many people against him. He can’t win them over. He just can’t.

1618mt – No doubt some would give Stallings a chance … a lot more wouldn’t, however. His on-court results are for another story. My point is his hiring was doomed from the start so the on-court stuff doesn’t even matter. Winning wasn’t/isn’t going to save him … as I mentioned up above, there are just too many people against him.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 01.05.18 @ 3:07 pm

I have no issues with the kids he brought in. It’s a good foundation class. They need two more top 100 guys to be top half of the league or two top 50 guys to compete for league title. That’s the great thing about college basketball … you can rebound quickly with good recruiting … that’s hard to do, however, when the fan base hates the team (collateral damage for being coached by Stallings). That’s a toxic environment for a highly rated kid to come into. This isn’t like football where attendance is also a concern. The basketball team’s fans abandoned the team, the football fans are just fatigued.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 01.05.18 @ 3:17 pm

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