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April 24, 2014

After all the spring practices are in the books. As the long 3 month stretch of nothing but conference and NCAA rules debates, police blotters, recruiting and mindless predictions as the only news in college football stare us in the face, the ACC tosses us one last nugget. A conference call with the coaches to talk about spring practices.

You can listen to the nearly 2 1/2 hours of coaches talking vaguely about spring practices here. Coach Paul Chryst is on at roughly 2 hours into it.

Coach Chryst was asked about Tom Savage’s rise in the draft boards.

“You never know what to expect so if you said you’re surprised or not surprised you’d be wrong,” Chryst said. “He certainly has a lot of the talents and physical attributes. The biggest thing Tom hasn’t done is just play a lot of football.”

Savage transferred twice before ending up at Pitt, which Chryst said limited his visibility to NFL teams. Once they got a chance to look at the tape, they apparently liked what they saw.

“I think a lot of the buzz that comes before he wasn’t as much a part of because he hadn’t played for two years,” Chryst said. “I think what he did in the season, the combine, individual workouts, it’s been great to see. Hopefully everyone is right and his stock is rising.”

In Chryst’s seven-year tenure as Wisconsin’s offensive coordinator, the Badgers had 27 players drafted into the NFL. In two years as Pitt’s coach, he has yet to have a player taken. That will change this year, with Savage, defensive tackle Aaron Donald and wide receiver Devin Street each likely to hear their names called.

“I think for the program, it’s good,” Chryst said. “But most important you’re happy for those individuals. That’s what really makes it special.”

Or, dare we say, “neat.”

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April 23, 2014

The ACC released the match-ups in basketball for the next two seasons yesterday.

Here’s what Pitt looks like in graphic format:

PittBBSked2015-16

Syracuse and Louisville are Pitt’s permanent “rivalry” games. That works for me. Both very good teams. I like that Big East connection and history. Yes it means Pitt will always have a tough ACC schedule, but that isn’t a bad thing.

The next pair are the home-and-homes for the season. I assume that they are planning on rotating the pairs to some degree. Which means it could well be five years before we see a UNC or Duke home-and-home.

The next group of five are the home ACC games. Then the last five are the road games. The ACC knows Duke and UNC are still the glamor programs that will draw the crowds. Every ACC team has UNC and Duke split as home-away each year.

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February 5, 2014

The Numbers Are Stable

Filed under: ACC,Conference,Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 12:50 pm

Last year, there was a wide variance on Pitt’s recruiting class in terms of where it ranked against other programs. From 20 to greater than 40.

This year, the consensus is far less spread out. ESPN.com once more has Pitt outside their top-40 (and 9th overall in the ACC). Scout.com says #42. Rivals.com #43 and 247 at #44.

The loss of Wade Freebeck probably dropped Pitt anywhere from 1 to 3 spots in the rankings.

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January 27, 2014

Slight anticipation. Bit of excitement. Hard ticket to get.

Pitt got through their road game with Maryland. Duke throttled Florida State on the road.

Briefly, I’ll get some thoughts from the Maryland game out of the way, first.

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January 24, 2014

Thoughts on Playing AT Maryland

Filed under: ACC,Basketball,Bloggers — Mike Zimmerman @ 6:22 pm

Good evening all.

My name is Mike, and I’m happy to announce that I’ll be joining Chas as a writer here at Pitt Blather. I’ve spent many years here, first as a casual reader and in more recent years as an active poster. You guys are a vital part of this great community, and I look forward to continuing the standard of excellence that the Blather has come to know.

As always, I will remain active in the comments section. Ultimately, the backbone of this site is the tremendous dialogue, and I wouldn’t give that part up for anything. If you like what I have to say, that’s great; if you don’t like what I have to say, that’s great, too.

Now, with introductions out of the way…

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January 23, 2014

2014 Schedule Thoughts and Etc.

Filed under: ACC,Football,Schedule — Chas @ 8:39 am

Here’s the one thing that must be kept in mind for the 2014 schedule. There was no way it was going to match 2013. Not with the excitement over the ACC in the first year. Not with FSU and ND on the home slate. To say nothing of the Labor Day extravaganza to kick things off. So, if that was your benchmark, you will be disappointed.

It’s a better schedule for Pitt, though. Iowa is a solid non-con. There was a bit of shifting and scrambling with the non-con because of the changes with the ACC and ND. So, that removed the road game to South Bend that was supposed to take place.

As noted, the bye weeks work out a lot better.

The Thursday night game at home with VT is a mixed bag, personally. Thursday night is a showcase night and Pitt should be happy to get to host a big one like that against the Hokies. The flip side is not many out-of-towners like myself can attend the game.

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January 22, 2014

ACC 2014 Is Now

Filed under: ACC,Conference,Football,Schedule — Chas @ 3:08 pm

acc2014coming

Sure, Pitt. I get it. You don’t leak. Not like FSU. Not like Duke. Not even Syracuse. No. You have to keep it under wraps until the 3pm time. Fine. You don’t want to share early. I get it.

You miss that early bounce and overreactions. Let people wait, only knowing that Pitt will go down to Miami for Thanksgiving weekend.

So we waited. The interminable minutes ticked by.

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December 2, 2013

Aaron Donald On All-ACC

Filed under: ACC,Conference,Football,Honors — Chas @ 8:32 pm

The ACC announced their all-ACC teams today. No shock that Aaron Donald was on the first team squad. What I found mildly surprising was that he wasn’t a unanimous pick. The only unanimous pick was BC RB Andre Williams. Even FSU QB Jameis Winston or UNC TE Eric Ebron couldn’t get all unanimous picks. Rough crowd.

Tyler Boyd was second team All-ACC. Devin Street was on the third team. Offensive guard Matt Rotheram and safeties Jason Hendricks and Ray Vinopal were all honorable mention.

November 14, 2013

All the other Pitt basketball links not tied into the game.

Early signing period for the 2014 class started yesterday. Pitt was drama free with both Sheldon Jeter and Ryan Luther signing their NLIs. Welcome. (No official press release yet, but recruitniks have tweeted out that both signed.)

I talked about how I expect more utilization of the zone because of the rule enforcement earlier. Missed this article that makes the same point. Get used to seeing a lot of articles pro and con (and, generally a lot of bitching) about the new emphasis on enforcing the rules. Mike DeCourcy had a good one before the season started that really summed up a lot of the reasons why the NCAA decided to get tighter with the rules.

It’s the coaches who’ve injected the physicality into the game, gradually asserting their value over the past 15 or so years by instructing players to use their hands to contain penetration, to bump cutters trying to execute intricate offenses, to push players out of post position with forearms to the tailbone.

No one who is not affiliated with the teams or necessary for the competition to proceed, such as the clock operator or referees, is permitted to attend the closed Division I scrimmages teams are permitted to schedule. But there has been lots of buzz about how foul-plagued some of them have been, such as one involving Huggins’ Mountaineers and the Ohio State Buckeyes.

There’ve been some exhibition games that turned into foul fiascoes, as well. Dayton and Division II power Findlay combined for 96 free throw attempts last weekend.

There is a reason this is happening. The players are fouling.

I really don’t mind the rules emphasis. I don’t think it puts Pitt at any true competitive disadvantage. Watching the first couple of games you can see that they players are being taught to do different things in an effort to adjust. A lot more movement with the hands on defense. Trying to disrupt line of sight and get the ball out of the opponent’s hands. It won’t be pretty at times, but it was needed.

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October 17, 2013

Pitt was picked to finish sixth in the ACC this year. Seems about the right range. Upper-half, NCAA bid. Safely within two spots of where they might finish come the end of the season.

1. Duke (50)        805
2. Syracuse (3)   753
3. North Carolina (1)       668
4. Virginia            612
5. Notre Dame  608
6. Pitt    477
7. Maryland        473
8. Boston College             457
9. Florida State  334
10. NC State       332
11. Georgia Tech              311
12. Miami            224
13. Wake Forest               220
14. Clemson       141
15. Virginia Tech               65

Something that will take getting used to is that the ACC’s preseason All-ACC team is limited to just five players. No 6th man. No 2d and 3d and honorable mention. Just the projected best five players. No surprise that Pitt had no player on the list.

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September 4, 2013

Acknowledging FSU

Filed under: ACC,Conference,Football — Chas @ 3:17 pm

After a loss, acknowledging the opponent is not the easiest thing to do for fans of the losing team. Even when the team is beaten as soundly as Pitt was by FSU. We fixate. We obsess about our team. We see all the mistakes, errors problems on one side. It’s easy to completely forget what the other team. What the other players did. I’m as guilty of it as anyone.

So, when Jameis Winston had as close to a perfect game by a QB as possible on Monday night. Regardless of the experience level, it becomes far too easy for us to make comments about how easy the corners and safeties made it for him, because they played off of him. Or that there wasn’t enough pressure from the D-line to take him out of his comfort zone or rhythm. That may be true to an extent.

At the same time, Winston just kept making the throws. He had two incompletes the entire game.

Devin Gardner of Michigan faced a completely incompetent Central Michigan team and still had 5 incomplete passes on only 15 attempts. Oregon utterly demolished a vastly overmatched 1-AA Nicholls St. 66-3 and Marcus Mariotta was 12-21. The closest comparison was Teddy Bridgewater in Louisville’s deconstruction of Ohio. Yet he even threw an interception and had 5 incomplete passes.

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August 8, 2013

Feeling At Home With ACC Bowls

Filed under: ACC,Bowls,Conference,Football — Chas @ 9:30 am

Well, the ACC already had the Gator, Sun, Belk and Pinstripe Bowls to make it feel like former Big East teams had never really left. Now the ACC finished its tie-ins with five other bowls and it just keeps feeling like home.

The partnerships are in addition to what the Conference previously announced, and have the ACC providing a team in each of the six years to the Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman; the AdvoCare V100 Bowl and a new bowl game in Detroit, Mich., hosted by the Detroit Lions Football Club of the National Football League.

Additionally, the ACC also reached partnership agreements with ESPN Regional Television’s Beef ‘O’Brady’s Bowl in St. Petersburg, Fla…

BEEF! I can live with St. Pete. Just the absurdity of the name makes it worth it. It’s okay. Just as long as –

…and the Birmingham (Ala.) Bowl games in those seasons when the games are scheduled to be played after Christmas.

NNNNNNNOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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July 26, 2013

Clock Is Ticking on NYC

Filed under: ACC,Basketball,Big 11,Conference — Chas @ 10:52 am

The new Big East better be wildly successful beyond expectations. And quickly. They already know that the ACC is gunning for NYC.

Don’t forget the Big Ten.

“Make no mistake about it: We’re going to be out there with events and with press opportunities, and we’re going to work hard to build relationships and friendships,” Delany said. “We know it’s a competitive area for everything, and so we won’t dominate anything, but we want to be relevant for years to come.”

That means, as he told The Star-Ledger Thursday, that “everything is on the table” — even the Big Ten football kickoff, an annual event that attracts thousands of fans at $100 a pop for a luncheon and autograph session with coaches and players.

That one has a long history here and won’t move any time soon. But the Big Ten basketball tip-off? The postseason hoops tournament? All of that could be coming to a hotel ballroom or an arena in the New York area, sooner than later, because Delany wants to conquer the media capital of the world.

The ACC would do well to force its way into MSG or Barclays soon. Better to be battling the Big 10 from a position inside than trying to vie with them for the spot.

Last ACC Media Days tie-in. Time to clear the links for all Pitt related stuff.

NFL.com’s draft guy thinks Pitt and Syracuse will see their recruiting improve now that they have access to the South.

While adding Pitt and Syracuse has helped expand the ACC’s geographic footprint in the Northeast, the move to the ACC should help the recruiting efforts of Pitt and Syracuse, especially in the Southeast. The Big East was a Northeast-centric league, with only Louisville and USF located in the Southeast. Kentucky, though, produces barely of handful of top-level recruits annually. Now, Syracuse and Pitt will venture outside the Northeast for the vast majority of their game.

As for the importance of recruiting Florida and Georgia, 11 of the 25 players on the preseason All-ACC team are from those two states. It’s hard to see Pitt and Syracuse grabbing top-tier prospects from Florida and Georgia, but schools can win a lot of games with second-tier guys from those states.

Of course, Pitt kind of needs someone who can recruit those areas to get those kids, beyond just one or two.

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July 25, 2013

Other ACC Tidbits

Filed under: ACC,Conference — Chas @ 9:12 am

Nearing the end of the ACC Media Days info posts/dumps. Dave Teel is one of the best ACC beat writers out there. Just does more than simply cover VT and UVa. He covers the ACC. Teel should be on the reading list at least a couple times a week.

His notes following the Media Days are just loaded.

The drumbeat to NYC for the ACC Basketball Tournament continues:

“When you have the footprint we now have, and you have Syracuse, and then you have the relationship with the Yankees and the Pinstripe Bowl … there are natural tie-ins there,” Swofford said. “Obviously Fox wanted exposure, we wanted exposure, in the New York area. It’s worked out really well.”

Over breakfast Monday, Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage told me he expected decisions on future ACC basketball tournaments at October’s annual fall meetings or shortly thereafter. He and other U.Va. administrators have advocated a long look at New York, home to the KnicksMadison Square Garden NetsBarclays Center.

Both arenas are presently occupied for postseason, the Garden by the Big East, Barclays by the Newport News-based Atlantic 10. Terms of the Big East’s deal are uncertain, Swofford said, while the A-10 is contracted at Barclays for the next four seasons.

Both arenas figure to require a multi-year commitment from the ACC, which is set to stage its 2014 and ’15 tournaments in Greensboro. Swofford said such an agreement is possible, and while ACC coaches prefer the more hallowed Garden and nearby Times Square, he made clear Barclays in Brooklyn is very much in play.

“From everything we can gather talking to people in and around New York, Brooklyn generally speaking is very trendy, very hot and attractive right now,” Swofford said, “and only is projected to become more so, and part of that is related to Barclays Center.

“There’s a subway stop that empties right at the building itself. There are projected hotels and so forth to be built, restaurants.”

I mentioned to Swofford the positive vibe downtown venues such as Charlotte and Washington, D.C., provide, in direct contrast to Greensboro.

“That kind of situation is appealing,” he said. “You do see it in Charlotte with our football championship game or our basketball tournament. My favorite Final Four cities are the cities where you can walk. You check into the hotel and you walk to the arena, restaurants, whether it’s San Antonio, New Orleans, Indianapolis, Atlanta.”

At this point, about the only ACC people that want to keep the ACC Tournament in Greensboro are probably just the ADs and college presidents at schools in North Carolina. While the ACC Tournament has never gone more than a year away for Greensboro, that is definitely changing.

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