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May 22, 2016

I was trying to decide what I wanted to put up on a rainy Sunday afternoon (at least rainy here in MD) and saw a great Sports Illustrated article written in Oct 1962 by a previous Pitt Chancellor, Dr. Edward Litchfield, about the national debate if Grant-In Aids (athletic scholarships) were a good thing to have on college campuses.

This intro below is a personal bit about why this article strikes my fancy.  The article itself is the other audio bar.

Here is the body of the article – excuse the small mistakes if you will, I’m not a professional at this.  I especially like the contrasts between Litchfield’s descriptions of Pitt athletics then and today’s state of college football.  There are some great points made here – especially some timeless ones that hold true today.

Hope you enjoy it!

“Camel Driver” – try putting that on a kid today!  I also love that we stole almost a whole opposing team –

Far back in 1903, for example, out-university felt mortified to have been defeated two straight years by the football team of little Geneva College. Football in those days seldom made much money at the box office but many colleges recruited passionately, simply because they found defeat unbearable. In the wake of our losses to Geneva, corrective action was deemed imperative and there seemed only one surefire way of seeing to it that we beat Geneva the next year. We took it.

We lured to our campus most of the Geneva players and the following season, 1904, defeated Geneva 30-0. During the balance of the decade Pitt football teams lost only 13 of 71 games. Now what sort of boys were they, do you suppose, that could be proselyted so frivolously? Because many of them have passed on, we were able to trace only 17. Of that number, four were physicians, five dentists, two attorneys and one a Ph.D.

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May 21, 2016

Here is the Peak’s PantherLair podcast on the Trib’s website – he talks about the uniform roll-out and other things.  But specifically about what a ringing success the whole day was for Pitt athletics – from social media to returning players to the event itself in the evening.  He also talks about how the Pirates don’t give a crap about Pitt at all… as we read in Chas’ piece earlier.

He also addresses the current facilities improvements and what was done by previous FB HCs.  I like the fact that this administration is dedicated to long range upgrades and it’s starting to come to fruition.

(By the way – remember what Peak says here about Narduzzi’s using comparisons to other football programs when asking fans and boosters for $$$ to renovate the facility’s meeting rooms, weight rooms, etc… Pitt football does not exist in a vacuum and we have to play catch up to keep up with programs that have forged ahead of where we are now when you read the last part of this article.)

Chris Logue of Pitt Nation Sports always has interesting articles and is a damn good wordsmith. Here he writes about the QBs, or not, of the future for Pitt.

“Despite the success from a Pittsburgh standout and the myriad of congratulations the star (Phil Jurkovec) received after his commitment, it seemed like a dumpster-fire moment on Twitter from “Pitt-faithful.” Oddly enough, mostly aimed at Pat Narduzzi’s immediate “inability to recruit” after an incredible wrap to his 2016 class and the praises that sealed that envelope. Phil Jurkovec

The story that remains in the middle of the announcement, for myself at least, is everyone seems to have forgotten about Thomas MacVittie, a prized steal for Narduzzi last season.

To state that MacVittie did not produce the same attention through his senior season as Jurkovec had through just his sophomore season is excruciatingly obvious. But, the two may be more similar on the field than you may think.

Its a good read and should bring some of us back from the brink.

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May 13, 2016

Recruiting Talk

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Recruiting — Reed @ 7:52 am

There was a good article from my friend Chris Logue over at Pitt Nation Sports that centered on Narduzzi’s recruiting philosophies,  where our recruiting efforts have been targeted and where we will (should?) be getting the bulk of our recruits from.  It is titled “Narduzzi active in forging recruiting identity outside of the Pitt norm

It is a good read and thought provoking but I wonder if Chris took a detailed look at what our geographical recruiting ‘gets’ have been over the last five years.  After reading his article I started to wonder if indeed it was more important to spread out Pitt’s recruiting targets or to concentrate on landing more of the higher quality local (meaning Tri-State area) high school players.

Here is our “Out Of Area” (OOA) recruiting over the last six years.  I used the years 2011 until 2016 to survey because that was when we had Steve Pederson as our athletic director for most of the years and had lower limits on our recruiting budget.

Year In Class OOA  / % Where From Key OOA Recruits
2011 21 13 / 62% FL (3), TX (3), MD, DC, TN, OK, NY, AL Mosley-Smith, Jones, Steve Williams
2012 15 6  / 40% WI, NY, MD, WA (2), TN Roberts, Lewis, Voytik
2013 27 9  / 33% NY (2), WI (2), HI, MI, NJ, MD Ibrahim, Blewitt, Officer, Taleni, Weah
2014 23 10 / 43% MI (2), NY (2), FL, IL, DE, CT, VA, NJ Ollison, Folston, O’Neill, Maddox, Hayes
2015 15 5  / 33% CA, TX, NJ, DE, FL Brightwell, Edwards, M. Henderson, Q. Henderson
2016 24 12 / 50% FL (4), NJ (2), NY (2), VA,(2), IL, NC, Watts, Pine, Ffrench, Campbell, Miller, Camp

However, getting distant players isn’t the end all be all to success at Pitt as we have seen the results of those recruits actually play out on the field, but sometimes it does help.  If you look at the 2011 recruiting class of Todd Graham’s and then look at where they are now there are few still with the team.  Out of the 13 players from far away 10 of those didn’t last at least four years in the program.

There were a few reasons for this and on was that because Graham was stuck with a decimated class after Wannstedt was fired he went after marginal players who he was recruiting during his latter years at Tulsa. Regardless – a 77% attrition rate is horrendous.  Granted many of them were purged when Graham left, then  Chryst was hired with the mandate from the administration to get rid of those dead weight and marginal players.

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May 11, 2016

Not to make a shabby pun but the issue of concussions in football has reared its ugly head again.

There was an initial and prompt backlash toward Pat Narduzzi for what seemed to be a cavalier attitude towards the enormous problem of the effects of concussions on football players.

However, there was also the correct rollback by the media once the actual quotes, and Narduzzi’s intent, became clear.  There are a lot of media pieces about this but I think Craig Meyer (Werner’s sub) in his P-G Red Shirt Diaries lays it out the best.  Maybe that is because he was the reporter who asked Narduzzi the actual questions about the meeting’s discussions about the subject:

From Meyer: “I followed up by asking what the concussion discussion centered around and what kind of things they talked about. Were they talking about how to handle concussed players? Or how to possibly spot and diagnose whether a player has one?

Narduzzi’s response at that question was at first worrisome – mostly because readers and the pundits didn’t take the time to really cipher what he actual said.  Here is the quote:

“Hopefully coaches aren’t doing that. We’ve got a major problem in college football if coaches are diagnosing. There was a neurosurgeon who came in and explained some of the data and how they need to get more data so they can make decisions. I think when you look at all the results and all the talk, I think it’s media hyped. They’re talking about how they need to get more data and feedback on really what it is that’s causing these injuries.”

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May 10, 2016

ACC meetings started yesterday and the big topic that the media (and fans) wanted addressed: ACC Network. Still as clear as ever, which is not even a little.

But to the surprise of no one tracking this saga, ACC commissioner John Swofford plans no public enlightenment during this week’s league gathering at Amelia Island, Fla.

Swofford told the ACC Digital Network’s Jeff Fischel that he remains “very focused” on a sustainable television path for the conference. This he did without mentioning over-the-top (OTT) outlets such as Netflix and Hulu, and partner ESPN’s bleeding of traditional cable subscribers and subsequent personnel cuts.

“We think we’re in a really good position for the long-term,” Swofford told Fischel. “We’ve just got to make the right decisions and time things appropriately.”

“I don’t know that there will be public clarity,” Swofford said of this week. “I think we will move further down the trail of where we’re headed, without question. … We’re really just not going to have a whole lot more to say until we reach a point of saying something definitive. It takes some patience with that, but we’ll get to a good place, I’m confident.”

That was some well phrased nothing.

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May 6, 2016

Sorry to have to do this on a Friday morning when you are looking forward to the weekend but it never ends with these guys, does it?

Like the non-believers in the OJ Simpson case and Holocaust deniers,  the only people who believe in Paterno’s innocence is a constricting circle whose members may be less in number every year but become more crazy at every issuance of more damning evidence. Sadly today that might not be the most troubling news out of Happy Valley.

The Penn Live newspaper’s website has a ‘bombshell’ (!!) story on the fact that newly released court papers show that Joe Paterno was told, by a young boy in a face to face conversation, that the boy had been abused by Jerry Sandusky…  back in 1976.  This came to light of day because of an ongoing court battle between the insurance company that covered PSU’s liability issues (We ain’t paying you jack shit!”) and PSU.

“The civil case is, initially filed in November 2013, is still grinding toward trial in Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas.

And in preliminary work on that case, Judge Gary Glazer this week filed a ruling that attempted to clear the decks of some of the issues that could be resolved based on the pleadings to date.

What was unexpected Thursday, was Glazer’s reference to four cases between 1976 and 1988 in which PMA Insurance attorneys have presented allegations that “PSU agents allegedly learned of Sandusky’s abusive acts.”

One of the PMA allegations was that “in 1976, a child allegedly reported to PSU’s Head Football Coach Joseph Paterno that he (the child) was sexually molested by Sandusky.”

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April 22, 2016

Chad  Voytikex-Panther and our 2104 starting QB Chad Voytik is Eastern Kentucky bound. The Football Championship Series (FCS) “Colonels” play in the Ohio Valley Conference  and, if you care to, you can follow Mr. Voytik’s progress on the internet via their “Live Audio” links at this website.

He’s not going to have an easy time of it there if he wants to grab that starting position right off the bat but it appears to be a better situation for him to get playing time than had he stayed at Pitt.

I wrote two weeks ago about the Colonels (Colonel = Eagle; get it?) and their returning starting QB Bennie Coney who has played well there.  However, it wasn’t such great play that he can’t be sat down (we heard that before on here) , but also isn’t a situation where Voytik is going to waltz in and automatically get the starting job handed to him as if there was no incumbent in that position at all.

Coney had decent stats at E. Kentucky with 225 completions in 367 attempts (61.3%) for 2471 yards.  He also had a very good 23 TDs to 8 INTs ratio that showed he didn’t turn the ball over a lot.  That’s about a 10:1 Completion to TD ratio and is very good.  His overall QB rating was 134 and that’s OK too.

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April 20, 2016

One thing not talked about much from Saturday’s game was that the Gold offense ran a Todd Graham-like hurry-up offense run a bit.  Please tell me that we aren’t going to a speeded up offense this season.  Yes, we saw a great run by Henderson on a quick snap, but let’s get a decent offense in place first before we start the trickeration.  Just wanted to get that out of the way.

To follow on a continual theme on here and elsewhere, Jerry DiPaola’s 24:19 minute podcast (below) starts out with the comment “If Nate Peterman gets hurt the season is over…

That’s an exaggeration hopefully but it is now a very public concern.  We saw how Bertke and DiNucci played Saturday and I didn’t see one bit of progression in Bertke from when I watched him on a more regular basis in past practices and scrimmages.  DiNucci, in my opinion, just doesn’t have D1 talent.  So for all intents and purposes it will be up to Manny Stocker to step up if Peterman goes down with and injury or if his playing goes into the crapper.

There is one very important thing to remember about the difference between spring and fall camps.  Tryouts are basically over when fall camp comes around.  Narduzzi and Canada will go with Peterman and Stocker as QB1 and QB2 respectively from Day One and Stocker will get all the snaps not given to Peterman.  He’ll get more one-on-one coaching and be the secondary guy in film sessions and unit meetings.  That will mean he’ll be sharper and more in command of the offense by the time the opener rolls around.

Now, if we can get him to grow three inches before then….

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April 18, 2016

If anyone can actually tell me what Conner is saying I’ll buy them a beer.  I got “great weather“, “opportunity” and “LA” …I think this is what wbb commented on yesterday.  That will be a great venue for Mr Conner to get his message across though.

“He will travel to Burbank, Calif., on Tuesday to tape a segment of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” that will air at 4 p.m. Thursday on WTAE-4. His message to cancer victims: “Keep fighting.”

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April 17, 2016

Well, you know the players had fun out there.  I think the fans did too – as long as you kept the realization that is was a glorified scrimmage foremost in your mind.

As we talked about on here earlier, the way the Captains conducted the draft we fans were never going to see a full 1st team out there so neither the Blue team nor the Gold team was anything like what we’ll see going into or coming out of fall camp.

But it was a beautiful day for Pitt football and I have to say to anyone who professes to be a big fan and then decides that there are “better things to do than watch a glorified scrimmage” then too bad for you as you missed out on a great Saturday afternoon of football and having a blast with other Pitt fans.

Watch this and then we’ll address some points that I took away from the scrimmage…

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April 15, 2016

As we have been stating on here for sometime it looks like it is shaping up for Manny Stocker to be the QB2 going into fall camp… no, actually that’s a done deal now.

Still, one of Narduzzi’s goals this off-season is to find a backup quarterback to replace Chad Voytik, who is transferring.

Voytik, a starter in 2014, would have been a nice safety net to in case of an injury to starting quarterback Nate Peterman. Instead, senior walk-on Manny Stocker has taken the early lead over sophomore Adam Bertke and redshirt freshman Ben DiNucci.

“Right now, I’d say he’s the guy,” Narduzzi said of Stocker, “but we’ve still got a lot of football to play. We still have all summer for those guys to go out and throw together.”

Here’s some not so good news for the listening audience… Billy Osborne back in the radio booth:

Bill Osborn, who served as the color analyst for Pitt football radio broadcasts from 1995-2003, is returning to the booth this season.

He will replace Pat Bostick, whose duties as director of development in the Panther Club are expanding. Bostick, a former Pitt quarterback, has been the analyst since 2011.

Osborn was a three-sport athlete at Pitt from 1985-88, including a three-year stint as a starting wide receiver. He also played basketball and baseball, becoming the first Pitt athlete to letter in three sports since Mike Ditka.

Longtime play-by-play veteran Bill Hillgrove will remain in the booth for the 47th consecutive season, 43 of them spent doing play-by-play. Larry Richert will return as the sideline reporter.

I’ll state this publicly now and get it out of the way so that you can say you heard it here first – Pat Bostick, Jr. is being groomed for big things at Pitt and I personally wouldn’t be surprised to see him as a Pitt Athletic Director within 10-15 years.

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April 14, 2016

I love what Bookser says at the 1:27 mark “Worse drill of the day… worse drill of the day…”

April 13, 2016

BLUE-GOLD ROSTERS | PHOTO GALLERY

PITTSBURGH – Rosters for the 2016 Spring Game at Heinz Field were finalized on Wednesday morning at the second annual Blue-Gold Draft.

The seniors were drafted on Tuesday by the coaching staff, and those seniors then drafted the remaining players to form Team Cavanaugh (Gold) vs. Team Dorsett (Blue).

Team captains for Gold were: Chris Blewitt, Mike Caprara, John Guy, Tyrique Jarrett, Dorian Johnson, Scott Orndoff, Jaymar Parrish, Nathan Peterman, Terrish Webb and Chris Wuestner.

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In case you missed it, Donald Trump endorsed necromancy, Lynn Swann is the AD of USC, and Tubby Smith is going to Memphis after Pastner went to GT. All boggle the mind in different ways.

In the realm of sanity, the coaching staff for Kevin Stallings looks pretty damn good with the final hire.

University of Pittsburgh head coach Kevin Stallings announced the addition of Kevin Sutton to his staff Wednesday afternoon. Sutton joins Tom Richardson and Jeremy Ballard as an assistant coach for the Panthers after spending the previous three seasons at Georgetown.

“I got to know Kevin in 2007-08 when we were recruiting one of his players out of Montverde Academy,” said Stallings. “He has a wealth of experience and is an excellent teacher and mentor. Kevin is well connected in the recruiting world particularly at the prep school level and within the ACC footprint. When you ask people in the profession about Kevin the feedback is extremely positive and flattering. I am very excited to have him on our staff.”

Sutton, a coaching veteran with 27 years of experience, joined the Georgetown staff in 2013. He helped the Hoyas to a 55-44 record with a pair of postseason appearances. In his second year with the program, Sutton saw the Hoyas go 22-11 overall and reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Sutton arrived at Georgetown following two seasons as an assistant coach under Mike Lonergan at George Washington. He also had a pair of two-year stints as an assistant coach at both James Madison and Old Dominion.

In addition to his collegiate coaching experience, Sutton coached at five nationally-ranked high school programs – Flint Hill Prep, Harker Prep, St. John’s Prospect Hall, Montrose Christian and Montverde Academy – amassing a 489-102 record and winning two national championships. In 1998, he was the associate head coach on the USA Today Super 25 National Championship team and in 2007, he was the head coach of the Montverde Academy Hoops.com National Championship team. He also coached Montrose Christian and Montverde to second place finishes in national championship tournaments.

Sutton has also been selected as a coach for USA Basketball on three different occasions.

Given where he was an assistant and the prep schools he coached, Sutton will be a strong presence for Pitt in the Baltimore-DC area.

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April 13, 2016

The Trib weighs in with a couple of things – first is this short video of Narduzzi’s post practice interview:

 The second is Jerry D’s article about the next star on offense Donte’ Ford (my opinion not his).  Ford’s contributions far exceed the chalk boundaries of the football field:

There were days early this spring when Sto-Rox baseball and softball players were forced to share gloves to get through a practice  When the sports returned to the school district after a two-year hiatus due to lack of funds, athletic director Ryan Kacsur thought the girls might have to wear mismatched uniforms.

An even sadder reality: Some players may not get enough to eat before and after games.  “It breaks my heart seeing that,” Kacsur said.

Then, one day, Pitt wide receiver/Sto-Rox graduate Dontez Ford and classmates Jim Fanning and Craig Bittner showed up in his office.  They wanted to help.

For a project in their Advertising and Social Media class, the seniors, with free-of-charge production from professional videographers Ben Petchel and Adam Kunes, decided to create a video and promote it with the aim of raising money and awareness for the baseball and softball teams.

Their initial goal was $4,000 to be split equally between the teams. Some thought they set their sights too high.  “Even our professor was kind of wary,” Fanning said.

But less than week after the video was released Feb. 24 on Facebook, they reached their goal and money kept coming in from 92 donors. So far, they have raised $5,800, Ford said. Two donors gave $500. Donations are still being accepted on the GoFundMe page on Facebook.com/BringitbackPGH.

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April 12, 2016

Here are a couple of podcasts to listen to while working.  First is Jerry DiPaola being interviewed by WTAE’s Junker and the other Guy about the Spring Game… and talks about the closed practices.  He makes a good point (again!) about being able to watch only the calisthenics, then the kicker and the punter punting.  He hates it, every media person hates it, I hate it and some at Pitt even dislike it.

DiPaola’s Guy and Junker Interview 4/11/16

He also talks about how the offense looks unbalanced at this point because of the dearth of receivers with any game experience at all.  Challingsworth and Ford are the only two WRs on the roster who caught passes last season.  He quotes Nate Peterman as saying “Wait and see which WRs we can count on.

DiPaola reiterates that Stocker is slowly cementing the QB2 position.  Stocker is a big QB and is also a good runner – DiPaola mentions “Wildcat” a few times.  The subject of bringing in a FBS transfer QB in (Schneider) and how that signals that the staff isn’t happy with our current #3 and #4 QBs.

What is shaping up is a competition for the 2017 starting job between Schneider and MacVitte.

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