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February 5, 2016

Time to glance at some of the coverage.

Pitt did very well with the local talent this year. And it was a steady accumulation of local players. Not all from one visit or another. One here. One there. A few days, a week, a month even would pass between verbals. They all kept coming to the same conclusion that the combination of the coaches recruiting them and the local team were where they wanted to be.

The end result being that with only two exceptions, Pitt kept the best local players. That is a huge change, especially since this year and next are among the better years in terms of quality players coming out of the WPIAL ranks.

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February 4, 2016

What a fine finish to a hard fought and victorious recruiting season!  Here is Pitt’s “Signing Day Special” presentation of the 23 young men who just signed on the dotted line to play football for the University of Pittsburgh.  They posted great write ups and videos of each recruit – well done Pitt and thanks for the info.

Before we start digging into the details of the class, here is a great 40 minute video of Pat Narduzzi’s 3:00 pm press conference where he discusses this 2016 recruiting class. Does he look like a happy guy to you?

I agree with the commenters who said that this may be the best overall recruiting class since Dave Wannstedt’s time at Pitt.  Rivals.com has us with 23 recruits who average out to 3.13 stars apiece; five 4*s, 16 3*s and two 2* on the whole.  Not too shabby at all.

The excitement for recruiting is as high as any I can remember it being over the last 15 years, as is the excitement for the program and especially the coaching staff.

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February 2, 2016

Well, it was certainly a big day for Pitt football and HC Pat Narduzzi yesterday.  Both local recruits 4* DB Damar Hamlin (Central Catholic) and WR Aaron Mathews 3* (Clairton) made verbal commitments to play for us.  This is what the staff, the fans and the other present and future local recruits have been waiting for.  Hamlin is the Great White of this year’s crop of WPA players and Narduzzi reeled him in.

Both kids are truly filling positions of need – Hamlin certainly with the graduation of CB Lafayette Pitts and that may happen as quickly as this season, and Mathews helping to ease the pain of 4* Juwann Winfree departure from Pitt to Colorado U.  Mathews won’t be seeing much playing time as a true FR but he’ll help out down the road.

So, Because of this good news and because you guys need your Pitt fixes while at work here, is a compendium of snapshots of media articles to get you through your day.

First off, here is the P-G’s take on Winfree bolting this recruiting class.

Without Winfree, Pitt is left with four-star prospect Ruben Flowers and three-star Maurice Ffrench (who could play defense) as its only receiver commitments for 2016. That’s a position of need for the Panthers heading into next year without Tyler Boyd, who opted to leave after his junior season to enter the NFL Draft.

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January 26, 2016

Pitt and the rest of the ACC officially released the 2016 Football Schedule today. While opponents have been known for a while, the dates have not. Let’s take a look! (more…)

January 20, 2016

 It is getting close to crunch time.

The all-important recruiting Letter of Intent Day (LOI Day) is fast approaching; February 3rd is the date this year with April 1st as the last day the National Letter of Intent (NLI) can be signed for players to qualify for the 2016 recruiting class and football season.

Pitt is pushing hard for verbals from Central Catholic’s 4* Safety Damar Hamlin, a and Khaleke Hudson a 3* Athlete from McKeesport.  Both are local guys who Narduzzi very much wants to land for several reason, not the least of which is that they are local kids and both are being recruited by Penn State and other top name programs like OSU and Michigan and have many other prime offers.  If Narduzzi lands these two guys other recruits will sit up and take notice for their future choices.

On the other side of this is the angst we have about kids who are already committed to Pitt being actively recruited by other programs up to and sometimes including LOI Day. Such as highly sought after 3* Henry Miller of Kissimmee, FL. He’s a CB who will serve us well in two ways: first he’s a good play and we need CBs but secondly, he’s a Florida recruit and if you want your program to grow into a solid winning one those Florida kids with their speed are good ones to land.

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January 15, 2016

While the 2016 basketball season is underway and through the football off season I’ll try to chip in with some historical Pitt football stories once a week, or more if I can, via audio podcasts on The Blather…. hence “BlatherCasts”.  Most will be read from already published books, articles in magazines and yearbooks and old newspapers’ coverage of the football program, team, personnel and the University itself.

Pitt Man and author Sam Sciullo Jr.,  has written four excellent books on Pitt athletics.  His most well know work was in putting together the University of Pittsburgh Football Vault: The History of the Panthers (“The Pitt Vault”) which is a great fun look at just what the title describes.

The Pitt VaultHe also has written Tales from the Pitt Panthers, my favorite of his, which is a compendium of anecdotes about the football and basketball programs.   I truly love how this book is being described in the linked Goodreads page… it starts:

“The Pitt Panthers or the Pittsburgh Panthers? Even their name evokes an argument, a touch of controversy. For anyone who has followed the football and basketball fortunes of the University of Pittsburgh, however, controversy is just one of many facets of Pitt’s programs throughout the institution’s very long history.”

Man, ain’t that the truth and it has just multiplied over the time since the book was published in 2004.  Hey, had he waited 10 years he would have been able to include Wannstedt, Graham and Chryst!

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January 11, 2016

It’s the end of the college football season. Pitt isn’t a participant, but Head Coach Pat Narduzzi will be taking part in the Film Room telecast of the game on ESPN2 starting at 8:30.

Feel free to comment on his brilliant insight and how recruits should be beating a path to Oakland if they are paying attention.

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January 8, 2016

Annexing Canada

Filed under: Assistants,Coaches,Football,Hire/Fire — Chas @ 8:51 pm

I had no choice. I tried to type something simple, like, “Matt Canada Hired as New OC.” But it went through the Mandatory Wordplay Headline Generator  and came out as “Pitt Fans Prepping to Blame Canada.” Another simple explanatory headline on his joining the coaching staff came out as, “Canada Invades Pitt.” So, embrace the bad wordplay and all it entails.

Almost as soon as the surprising announcement of Matt Canada being fired from NC State less than a week ago, the possibility of Canada becoming Pitt’s OC made a lot of sense. There was some prior history between Canada and Head Coach Pat Narduzzi on the Northern Illinois University staff for a couple of years. Canada has a solid rep as an OC, and his offensive style meshes with what Narduzzi wants. Add in the fact that Canada was not just a power 5 OC, but one within the ACC.

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January 7, 2016

As Chas wrote earlier Chad Voytik has made up his mind and left Pitt’s football program. He came aboard in 2012 and is leaving almost four years later to seek greener fields… or to get out of an increasingly uncomfortable atmosphere here at Pitt.  It isn’t surprising to me, but it is a bit disappointing, that Chad didn’t stay to try and rise to the occasion to regain his starting position. I thought he had more fight in him, especially after Chaney left.

It was obvious by the quotes he has issued lately that he thought he was behind the eight ball during 2015 but unless he felt Narduzzi didn’t want him as a starter he would have had the opportunity to regain that starting job.  It became apparent that he thought Peterman won the job and played well enough to keep the position,  but it is ironic if he did think so because the exact thing happened with him after his starting year.

Voytik said he felt like he was given a fair chance this season by offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, who had a prior connection with Peterman after recruiting him to Tennessee in 2012. “I feel like I was given a fair shot, but at times, things might’ve been a little unfair,” said Voytik, who declined to elaborate. “I just think it was the perfect storm of events that worked against me a little bit. That’s life, though.”

If that was indeed a ‘perfect storm’ it is one he had a major hand in brewing.  If Peterman could unseat the incumbent in ’15 why couldn’t Chad do the same for his senior year?  He must not have thought he could do so.  Now he’s apparently looking to move closer to home but the lingering and unspoken feeling is that he didn’t complete what he started out to do at Pitt.

In a more selfish view as a Pitt fan I wanted him to be our competent and experienced relief QB if he didn’t win the back starting job outright and I did believe that could happen. Peterman played like gangbusters in the first seven games of the season but when all the dust settled I truly don’t believe he played so well as to make him untouchable, especially with a new HC coming onboard.

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January 1, 2016

FIRST OFF – HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

As most teams do every year now is the time to sit down with some of the roster players and discuss their and the staff’s plans for the team and the program.  This season’s NCAA’s Letter of Intent (LOI) Day calendar is as follows:

Football (Midyear JC Transfer)
December 16, 2015 – January 15, 2016

Football (Regular Period)
February 3, 2016 – April 1, 2016

What that actually means to Pitt is that there are a pile of pinks slips on one side of Pat Narduzzi’s desk and a few thank you notes on the other.  Because this is Narduzzi’s first recruiting class and now that he’s had a full season of play under his belt he and his staff most probably have a firm idea of who they want to make sure stays on the roster and who is expendable.

All this has to happen, for the most part, before LOI Day so that Pitt can get the maximum number of recruits.  In a normal year, that is when there hasn’t been a coaching change, we don’t usually see a bunch of players being asked to “move on with there life’s work” but who really knows what this staff sees happening before the start of Spring Drills first and then before the start of Fall Camp second.

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December 29, 2015

Post-Bowl Disaster

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Opponent(s),Players — Reed @ 11:21 am

Before we get into the actual game information and facts, all of which you readers have been addressing in your comments since Navy’s 10 play 75 yard drive in the  beginning of the 1st quarter, allow me to talk about some other aspects of Pitt football and The Pitt Blather.

First off, except for the game itself, the last two days were about as great as college football can be. The atmosphere surrounding the bowl from noon on Sunday (when I checked into a hotel in Annapolis) through the pre-game tailgates until the end of the game was top-notch and everyone was happy and glad to be there.

The evening pub crawl was the most fun I have had in many years and I mean that literally.  At each stop the bars and restaurants were jammed with Pitt fans that were chanting, singing and talking, loudly, about the 2015 season and our new head coach.

It really made me, and others I’m sure, very proud of the university and the team.

There were some funny things going on – for some reason just because I did that article on here about Annapolis and the Pub Crawl, which was also pasted up on Facebook by a Pitt fan group, whenever I was introduced to anyone they always asked “Hey, where are we supposed to go next?” like I was a tour guide or something.

I honestly didn’t remember the exact things I wrote and had to ask my friend to look that article up on his phone.

Also, I met about 50+ fans who ‘read the Blather but don’t post on it’.  It always surprises me a bit when someone says that and when I asked why they mostly said that they felt like an outsider because of all the regular commenters we have on here.

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December 22, 2015

In a fast and furious nine day blitz Pat Narduzzi and Pitt have landed five of our more highly targeted recruits giving us a successful stretch of commitments that we haven’t seen since the DW years. Four are HS seniors who could fill immediate needs and the fifth is a JUCO transfer who had some troubles at his first school.  They are as follows (rankings by Rivals.com).

4* WR Juwann Winfree a speed demon late of the university of Maryland and Coffeyville, KS Junior College.  Winfree had his share of problems at the University of Maryland and was twice suspended by who may be one of the most incompetent D1 coaches in Randy Edsall.  Reading between the lines it seems that Winfree’s suspensions were due to poor behavior (not criminal or drug related) and poor academics.  He’ll have two years of eligibility left starting next season and we’ll need him to contend for the open WR1 vacancy due to Boyd’s departure.

4* ATH George Hill who had some very nice offers including Nebraska, MSU, OSU and Michigan;

3* CB Henry Miller with offers from a lot of D1 Power 5 schools;

3* OL Zack Williams who had to choose between WVU, UL, Miami and NC State

3* ATH Patrick Campbell with offers from six old-BE schools and Temple.

We also landed 2* OL Harry  Morgan.

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December 12, 2015

Is anyone all that surprised Jim Chaney took off (or was helped on his way) this morning? I wasn’t.  I had the following Facebook private message conversation with another Pitt football fan at 8:41 am on Friday morning:

Jeff, the real point was what I’ve heard about Narduzzi and Chaney. I just wouldn’t be surprised if Chaney was gone in a year or two. Narduzzi took a big gamble on letting Chaney run with Peterman and it just worked out toward the end of the year.

However, to fire an Ass’t Coach means buying out their contract and that is big $$$. But we saw publicly some tension between Narduzzi and Chaney on the sideline (and with Narduzzi’s rather snide “You’ll have to ask Chaney that” and I’ve been told it was worse in the locker room and clubhouse.

I didn’t write about it on the Blather because I don’t do that unless it this type of information is made public in another forum first.  But there were signs of discontent with the coaches both on and off the field.

Last month the fine sports blog Cardiac Hill had a good take on what transpired between Narduzzi and Jim Chaney at the end of the 1st half against North Carolina:

…Even the coaches had serious issues. Major miscommunication cost the team approximately ten crucial seconds at the end of the first half when driving to potentially score some points. Pat Narduzzi appeared livid with offensive coordinator John Chaney as Nathan Peterman looked to the sidelines for a play call. Pitt was forced to use a timeout. That proved costly as the Panthers needed another timeout as they simply ran out of time and weren’t able to get the ball into the end zone or spike it for a field goal attempt.

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December 11, 2015

Before we get serious here – have fun with this…

News out of the Southside today is that there have been some discussions about players discussing transfers with the coaching staff.  Not too surprising is that the first to surface is Chad Voytik’s discussion with Pat Narduzzi.  Sam Werner has tweeted this on the subject:

Narduzzi says he has had “a little bit” of discussion with QB Chad Voytik about possible graduate transfer. #Pitt.

Werner then followed that tweet with this:

Narduzzi: “Chad knows we want him here, but we want what’s best for Chad, too. I know it’s not easy being a backup quarterback.”

This isn’t earthshaking news really. I think most Pitt fans figured that once this staff sat Voytik down onto the bench in favor of transfer-in QB Nate Peterman that Voytik would be looking around.

Personally I felt that Voytik would stay the course and either try to win the starting job back or be the solid #2 QB ready to go in place of Peterman if needed.  In my opinion Voytik doesn’t have a solid shot at a starting job in a D1 school as he really isn’t that talented of a QB to just waltz in and grab that position from an imcumbent

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December 10, 2015

Narduzzi Early Extension

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Money,Narduzzi — Chas @ 8:33 am

That didn’t take long. On the heels of being the only new coach in a major conference to improve upon the previous season’s work, football Head Coach Pat Narduzzi has received a contract extension.

Two years will be added to Narduzzi’s original five-year agreement, ensuring he will remain the Panthers’ head coach through at least the 2021 season. Financial terms and other contractual details were not disclosed.

“Pat Narduzzi has adrenalized Pitt football on and off the field,” Barnes said. “We are proud of what our program has accomplished this season. Moreover, we’re excited about what our student-athletes can continue to achieve–on the field, in the classroom and in the community–under Pat’s long-term leadership.”

“I’m greatly appreciative and humbled by the support and faith that Scott Barnes and Chancellor Patrick Gallagher have shown me,” Narduzzi said. “The University of Pittsburgh is an incredible place with incredible people. My family and I plan to make Pittsburgh our home for a very long time and we’re glad the leadership at Pitt feels the same way. It is an honor to serve as Pitt’s head football coach and I’m continuously energized by what we can, and will, accomplish here.”

Yes, yes, we all know. These contracts mean nothing as far as really keeping a coach if a bigger school wants to unload the dump truck of cash. Yada, yada.

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