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August 22, 2011

The Oakland Zoo has the new design for the Zoo t-shirt this year. It’s a clean look and apparently already on sale.

Pitt also announced the non-con schedule for 2011-12. I’m not saying that the Pitt athletic department was purposefully downplaying this news, but I get suspicious whenever information like this is released on a Friday.

Looking it over. Yeah, it’s not exactly one that screams out “daunting.”

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March 12, 2011

Stuck in a Storyline

Filed under: Basketball,Big East,Conference,Fans — Chas @ 5:03 pm

Remember when Pitt won the Big East Tournament in 2008? Limping in and finishing 3-4 in the final seven games of the Big East regular season.

Four games in four days. Getting healthy. Getting confident. Consistent. Rising from middle of the pack in the Big East to winning the BET. Sam Young finally started playing consistently at a high level on both ends of the court. While it was something Pitt fans had been expecting for some time, it was a kind of coming out on the national stage for him. Other players found their place. It cemented that team as one that will always hold a special place in Pitt fans’ heart. Even if Pitt bowed out in the first weekend.

Or 2006 and Syracuse. Overshadowing Pitt’s almost as impressive run — only without one player dominating and pushing. Gerry McNamara carrying the Orange all the way to winning the BET. Something UConn’s latest victim, Syracuse could recognize — with requisite bitterness.

While it’s not quite the Gerry McNamara run of ’06, hats must go off to Kemba Walker (who passed Devo for the single-tourney scoring record). He’s got UConn in a position to set a new BET record for five-wins in one go. They certainly have the Team Destiny thing going for them, which is fine, since that makes it all the more likely they’ll run out of gas by next week (just like Gerry’s Orange did).

And almost as bad as losing — being merely a player in some other team’s or someone else’s story. That’s where things stand nationally. Pitt didn’t lose, so much as they were beat by a special player doing special things.

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August 20, 2010

Parking Is A Bitter Bitch

Filed under: Fans,Football,General Stupidity — Chas @ 5:09 pm

Pitt better meet/exceed expectations early, because the frustration over parking and construction will only make it that much more likely people opt not to turn out for games.

Since this matter is taking over some comment threads, I might as well put it in a post.

Sorry to be late on this matter. I don’t handle the tickets and parking passes in my group, and since I don’t live in the ‘Burgh I did not know about yet another Northside giveaway to the Rooneys. In this case, the huge chunk of parking near Heinz Field for an unnecessary amphitheater. This eliminated some 800 prime Gold parking spots. Amazing ripples across the entire spectrum.

My group has been parking in Green 22 and then Green 23 since 2000. A bit detached from most of the action, but convenient in terms of getting in and out of the Northside. Especially since our group is almost all out-of-towners, and often at least one of us is running late or has to get home with some haste. It was also useful since our seats are on the Allegheny Avenue side.

Now we find ourselves with most of our parking relegated to the Red 5 Garage and one spot in Red 7B. The first thought was that we might go “old school” with the whole parking garage — tailgate in there. Just like everyone did when we were in Oakland with Pitt Stadium.

Problem is, Alco prohibits grills and glass bottles in the garage. Not sure how strictly this is enforced, but given this is Alco and a Pitt game — not a Steelers game — I expect rather stridently.

I think everyone understands that space is limited with the removal of some key parking, there would be some problems and frustrations.

The way that Pitt has handled it, however, has been mind-blowingly stupid.

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December 8, 2009

It Has As Much to Do With Continuity

Filed under: Basketball,Fans — Chas @ 11:07 am

As much as it would appear that the talent is down — and compared specifically to last year’s team it is — for Pitt this year, my feeling is that the biggest issue is not simply a lack of experience or talent on the team. For most of the decade, Pitt has had continuity with the guys on the court. Guys who started at least the previous year before to keep things moving forward. That is something sorely lacking from this team.

Even as the team moved from Brandin Knight to Carl Krauser after 02-03, Jaron Brown and Julius Page were still there (03-04). They left but Krauser and Chevon Troutman were ready (04-05). Then it was Ronald Ramon and Krauser (05-06). The following year it was Ramon, Levon Kendall and Aaron Gray (06-07) to make the Levance Fields era go smoothly. Even as Sam Young emerged with DeJuan Blair the following year there was Fields and Ramon plus a guy like Keith Benjamin (07-08). And of course last year’s triumvirate of Fields, Young and Blair. Plus Biggs. Among all of those names there were only 3 second round draft picks (4 if you want to include .

Now, that brings us to the here and now and what everyone knows. Pitt has operated without its only returning starter in Jermaine Dixon. The top bench guy expected to start in Gilbert Brown is suspended until late December. I will skip the rehashing of the lack of experience on this squad.

There are guys with experience like Ashton Gibbs, Brad Wanamaker and even Gary McGhee. Guys who have been here a year or two and seen s0me playing time. But they were not regulars in the system. Still learning, finding their way and now have to make a much bigger jump.

Now I don’t think that just experience alone will make the team an elite team. But that isn’t what should be the issue. Chris Dokish pointed out what kind of talent has to be on Final Four teams, and what teams have the top talent in the Big East. That is not in dispute. Those are facts. You will not win big without big talent. Pitt does not have enough of that right now.

Talent alone, however, is not enough. Experience makes a huge difference. Why did Georgetown miss the NCAA Tournament last year? Or UConn in 06-07 (Thabeet, Dyson, Adrien, Price and Robinson) or ‘Cuse in 07-08 (Harris, Flynn, Greene, and Onuaku)? All teams with plenty of talent. All teams with excellent coaches.

Louisville has plenty of that top talent. A lock hall-of-fame coach. They also just lost at home to Charlotte (A-10) by 22.

But this drifts afield. The issue this year should not be whether Pitt has enough big talent on this team right now. Few Pitt fans (sanely) believe that. It’s whether the talent that is on hand will be enough to compete in the Big East and get into the NCAA Tournament this season.

My opinion is that they do have the talent, but they still might not make it. It is not a top-25 team at this point. It’s not related to the talent. It is related to the team still learning what to do. That takes time.

This is the first time we really are seeing a full team have to learn to play together, and without a clear guy that is tops in the pecking order. This team will get better in the season. It will not be smooth and a straight-line progression. There will be games where the team takes a step forward. Then fall flat on its back. Take a big jump and then tumble.

Get used to it.

November 13, 2009

Free t-shirt time.

Apologies to Dobber, I was a little late on getting your shirt from the Syracuse score-win out to you. Missed on Tuesday, and Wednesday was Veterans Day. It went out yesterday.

Reminder, only size Large remains.

Predict the final score of the Notre Dame- Pitt game and get a free “Baldwin for Heisman” t-shirt. Courtesy of PittsburghSteelRocks.com.

There is a variance of +/- 3 points from the actual score if no one hits the exact numbers.

Bruce Feldman at ESPN.com has picked ND to win 35-31. Brian Bennett the ESPN.com beat guy has Pitt winning 35-33. Stewart Mandel of SI.com goes with ND 36-30.

I will also be giving one away while tailgating in Lot 23. I’ll be wearing the Pitt sweatshirt, so I will stand right out.

October 26, 2009

Well, That Was Fun

Filed under: Fans,Football,Opponent(s) — Chas @ 1:07 am

So, while I was in Pittsburgh enjoying a dominating win by Pitt my wife had to take our son to the pediatric emergency room as he is apparently battling pneumonia. He seems to be responding real well to the medicine, so there is no great danger. It did mean I was on duty to watch and care for him last night and most of the day while the wife got some sleep and down time. Hence the lack of anything for a while.

Dumbest thing I heard during the game. A guy behind me complaining about Bill Stull after he hit Baldwin for the deep touchdown. I would love to be making it up, but it really happened. Apparently the pro was all over the mistakes: Stull double-clutched before throwing, it was not actually in perfect stride plus it was over the wrong shoulder.

Seriously? Why even go to the game if you hate everything and need to be that miserable? It was on the money. In stride. Stull had another great game.

Yet, when Stull threw that pick I swear you could see people in the stands catch their breath. There was murmuring.  People began to look around at the rest of the crowd. Waiting to see if anyone and who would boo Stull at that point. When nothing happened there was an exhale.

It was a great effort from the team in all phases. I’ll get more later. After all, there is a bye week to fill the time.

October 23, 2009

I find it funny, amusing and sad.

There are people who still have trouble with Bill Stull as the starter.

Q: Bill Stull is having an excellent year statistically, but do you really think he is the best quarterback on the team? My main objection is that he is not a “playmaker.” I have always felt that the best chance of winning a game is to have a quarterback who is a playmaker.

ZEISE: Bill Stull is indeed the best option for this team at quarterback right now. He’s put that to rest long ago and frankly this isn’t even a worthy discussion at this point. Pitt will go as far as he takes them and in terms of playmakers, I don’t agree. He’s made some big-time throws in recent weeks and Friday against Rutgers he made a few under a lot of pressure. Stull for some reason isn’t the most beloved player on this team among fans, but my goodness, the Panthers are 15-5 with him as a starter. I’m not saying he’s an NFL quarterback — or that he’s even a great player — but to say he is just along for the for ride is inaccurate because he’s made a lot of plays and frankly, a couple of games he’s been the difference between winning and losing. He also proved against Connecticut that he could indeed bring the Panthers back if they got behind and that was a question people had about him.

I have to admit to staring at that link all week. First, it is really hard to argue with success, and by nearly every metric Stull has been a success this season. I’ve been among the doubters as to how successful Pitt’s offense could be over the first few games, but he has done the job. The main problem I have with it, though, is — well, who on the roster would have fit the role of “playmaker” QB? You can’t just declare that he shouldn’t be the guy because he isn’t dynamic enough without a clear alternative that fits that bill.

There is no evidence that Sunseri would be that guy other than his success in high school and nice reports on how he did in the training camp. I like Bostick, but I can’t call him a “playmaker.”

I don’t know if people still hold the Sun Bowl and his performances in the last 3 games of 2008 against him. The natural distrust of the starting QB. The way Stull was guaranteed the job, despite not really outplaying the other QBs in camp. There just should be a point where you have to let it go.

Stull is the starter. He’s been very good this season. He has stayed within the system and has made a lot more throws than he’s missed. Unless there is an injury he should be the starter. Not because he has experience. Not because Coach Wannstedt says so. Because he has been very good in the job.

Speaking of not letting go.

So I’ve got this guy who emails every time Pitt loses a game. If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear it was Lou Holtz in disguise.

Here’s what it looks like: Wannstedt ruined the Bears, he ruined the Dolphins, and he’ll ruin Pitt, too.

And whaddya know, Wanny has won 16 of his last 21 games at Pitt, and only a 28-21 loss to Cincinnati last year kept the Panthers from winning their first ever outright conference title. In previous years, Saturday’s game against USF would have been a classic Pitt stumble.

Not now – not after Wannstedt has his players and philosophy set; not after he made one of the best hires of the offseason by bringing in Frank Cignetti to run the offense and turn wayward QB Billy Stull into one of the nation’s most productive passers (Stull, 2008: 9 TD, 10 INT; Stull, 2009: 14 TD, 3 INT).

Maybe, you know, the guy in Columbus can learn a little something from the guy in Pittsburgh who will, according to my email friend, one day ruin the Panthers.

At least he hasn’t had to hear from the guy in a month.

I won’t defend his time at Miami or Chicago. They were unmitigated disasters that not only messed up the teams for years, but the fanbases there still regard him with disgust while the sportswriters continue to use him as an easy punchline.

Now, understand. I have a continuing ambivalence regarding Coach Wannstedt. I just don’t know if he can be as successful as he thinks on a consistent basis. I think some of his ingrained inflexibility especially with offense is a fatal flaw that may keep him from ever realizing the goals he has set out for the program and we fans want.

That said, the key is that I while I don’t know about the level of success he will achieve at Pitt, there is no metric by which you can say he will or has ruined Pitt. He has underachieved for a few years. He has had headscratching losses (and probably will have more). He frustrates at times.

He has not shown anything, however, to suggest that he will or has ruined Pitt in the four plus years as head coach. Recruiting has improved. Relations with alumni is better. Media relations are stronger. Interest in the program has picked up again.

The police blotter has been relatively clean. No hints of impropriety in the program. Academics have been solid. Things that were in place before Coach Wannstedt and have continued.

At some point, you have to actually have more to go on than gut and past screw-ups.

October 19, 2009

Perfect Score Winner for Rutgers-Pitt

Filed under: Fans,Football — Chas @ 9:57 am

An exact score winner this week. Brian made the pick and was dead on at 24-17.

Mark in DC was heartbreakingly close with a pick of 23-16. Something that will surely haunt him for weeks on end.

Sorry for the lost weekend. Had to travel and no chance to log-on. I’ll be back later with an abbreviated media recap.

September 7, 2009

Boo! Boo! Whatever

Filed under: Fans,Football,Media — Chas @ 5:30 pm

I am stunned that this is taking any semblance of an issue. I really am. Yes Bill Stull was booed. He was booed early. He was booed late. He was not, however, booed incessantly or mercilessly.

Do I agree with the booing? Eh. In general I don’t have a problem with it, but it seemed a little premature.

I didn’t boo during the game. I was not surprised, though, even on the opening drive that quickly died. The early poor throw was not going to help him with the fans.  When I pulled into the lot that morning, the attendant said he was taking a poll: How soon until Stull gets yanked?

In the parking lot, waking into the stadium and in the stands, I kept hearing similar questions. People talking about “Tino time.”

The whole time, though, I never thought of it as hating Stull. Just simply that he had proven to most that he was not the guy to be the starting QB.

Yet the whole thing has taken on a ridiculous life. It now seems that Stull was being booed non-stop in the game from the moment he ran on the field to garbage being thrown on him as he was leaving the field.

Both the Trib and P-G columnists focused on it for their Sunday columns. Ron Cook:

I had to check three times yesterday to make sure Kordell Stewart wasn’t playing quarterback for Pitt.

That’s how rough many in the home crowd at Heinz Field treated Bill Stull in Pitt’s easy, 38-3 win against ridiculously overmatched Youngstown State.

It was pretty pathetic, actually.

At least Stewart was a highly paid professional when he was booed and jeered by Steelers fans. Stull is a college kid. He deserved better from those in the stands who jumped his stuff as soon as his second incompletion ended Pitt’s first possession.

“That’s not giving a person much time,” Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said, clearly saddened by the Stull treatment on an opening day when just about everything else went right for the Panthers, the lame competition considered.

Stull’s teammates weren’t thrilled, either.

“I was really disappointed that our fans would boo our starting quarterback,” offensive tackle Jason Pinkston said. “They are supposed to be our fans and be up screaming for us. But, instead, they boo him.”

Pathetic, I tell you.

That’s pathetic? Cook had to check 3 times because there were 3 instances during the game where there were boos. The opening series when Stull looked like he hadn’t changed a whit from the Sun Bowl. The interception where Stull threw it right to the DB. Regardless of whether there was confusion on the route, the DB read Stull’s eyes and stood there waiting for the throw. Then a half-hearted booing when Stull inexplicably came back in after Tino Sunseri was in for one possession.

I get Pinkston and Wannstedt defending their guy. He’s part of the team and to them it is unfair.

Joe Starkey treated it as a meditation on when booing is appropriate.

But the most pertinent question to arise yesterday was this: What is acceptable and what is not when it comes to criticizing a college athlete?

Like Wannstedt, I thought the booing was a bit premature. But I’ll say this: Like it or not, dealing with boos and calls for the backup are part of the deal in big-time college athletics.

I don’t think it’s wrong or bad for fans to do that.

It’s the other stuff — the name-calling, the vicious message-board attacks, the insults that Stull’s family surely must hear in the stands — that is beyond uncalled-for.

It is pathetic and needs to stop.

“Yeah, it’s rough,” said tight end Dorin Dickerson. “(Stull’s) my roommate. I live with him, see him every day. I feel bad for him. He deals with it really well, you know? He’s trying so hard.”

Pathetic seems to be a favorite word from that day.

On the subject of Stull getting booed for coming back in the game in the 3d quarter. Both Cook and Starkey seem to acknowledge that it was on Wannstedt to some degree.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Tino Sunseri played three of Pitt’s final four possessions, but he should have played all of them. Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said Sunseri was supposed to play the rest of the game after he replaced Bill Stull up, 21-3, with 6:44 to play in the third quarter. But Stull returned after Sunseri’s first drive culminated with a 26-yard field goal. Stull led Pitt to a touchdown on his final series. “I was tied up doing something else,” Wannstedt said. “Tino was supposed to play the rest of the second half. That was a miscommunication on my part.”

Exactly how hard is it to communicate: Sunseri’s in there for the rest of the game? Stull was on the sidelines with a baseball cap on, and everyone knew he was done for the day. Yet his inexplicable return provoked a confused and WTF response. Yet, in terms of volume of booing, it was definitely half-hearted.

The booing, was clearly not directed at Stull that time. That time it was at Wannstedt and the coaches for putting Stull back in. Mainly because it made no sense and seemed to be about holding Sunseri to a standard Stull wasn’t held to.

Sunseri went 2-4 and had to settle for a FG. Not horrible, but since they blew a TD opportunity from 1st and goal he got yanked.

Then Bob Smizik felt it wast time for him to go off.

There might be some discussion about the runnerup, but from what I’ve seen and read it happened at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

That’s where the so-called fans of the Pitt football team booed the team’s starting quarterback following his second pass of what was a scoreless game. That’s the quarterback who helped lead Pitt to a nine-win season last year.

Slight factual correction, it was his second incomplete pass. What offends me is that he flat out lies in his description of events.

It was worse: With Pitt leading, when Stull came back into the game in the third quarter, he was booed again and this time more loudly.

I know you are still learning how to blog Smizik, and I’m guessing you don’t hold the format in the highest regard. That said, like anything, factual accuracy only helps a position. In what report do you base that the booing was loudest when he came back in late in the 3d quarter?

The loudest boos for Stull was on the opening drive of the 3d quarter when he threw that hideous interception. If you think boos then were without logic or reason, then I don’t think we can effectively discuss the issue.

I really feel that the only reason that this is an issue, is not that it is necessarily media driven. It’s that the trade-off for having an easy warm-up game against a 1-AA patsy is that it results in the on-the-field stuff is discounted because of the competition.

That leaves the other stuff. The most significant — Stull not a beloved icon by Pitt fans.

March 26, 2009

Where to Watch in a Crowd

Filed under: Alumni,Basketball,Fans,NCAA Tourney — Chas @ 11:13 am

I’m seriously debating locking myself in a small, dark room with a TV and laptop. If you are more social than that, plenty of other metro areas have places to be with other Pitt alum/fans to watch.

If you are in Boston, it starts early.

Pitt Pep Rally/Pre-game Event
Thursday, March 26 – 4 p.m.
Johnnie’s on the Side
138 Portland Street
Boston, MA

Located just two blocks and an easy walk to TD Banknorth Garden.

With performances by the Pitt Pep Band and Cheerleaders and a special appearance by the Pitt Panther Mascot. Special Panther drink specials and complimentary appetizers (while they last!).

All of the following came from the Pitt alumni calendar:

Tampa/St. Pete’s

Courtside Grille I
110 Fountain Parkway North
St. Petersburg, FL 33716 http://courtsidegrille.com/home.html

Ft. Lauderdale

Miller’s Ale House in Fort Lauderdale
2861 N Federal Hwy
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33306
(954) 565-5747

Lancaster, PA

Trio’s Bar and Grill
3707 Marietta Ave
Columbia, PA 17512
http://www.triobarandgrill.com/

NYC

Village Pourhouse
64 3rd Ave at 11th St. East Village
New York, NY 10003 www.pourhousenyc.com

New Jersey

Fox and Hound English Pub & Grille – Edison
250 Menlo Park Drive Edison, NJ 08837
Phone: (732)452-9100

Hilton Head

One Hot Mama’s American Grille: Hilton Head-Bluffton
7 Greenwood Dr # A
Hilton Head Isle, SC 29928
(843) 682-6262

Washington, DC

Penn Quarter Sports Tavern
639 Indiana Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20004

Atlanta

Hudson Grille – Perimeter Mall
4400 Ashford-Dunwoody Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30346

Chicago

Gamekeepers Travern & Grill
345 W. Armitage
Chicago, IL www.gamekeeperschicago.com

Austin, TX

Fast Eddie’s Round Rock
100 Parker Dr
Austin, TX 78728
512-248-0646

Denver

Choppers Sports Grill
80 S Madison St.
Denver, CO 80209-3002
303-399-4448

Palo Alto, CA

The Old Pro Sports Bar
541 Ramona Street
Palo Alto, CA
650-326-1446

Santa Monica, CA

Yankee Doodles
1410 3rd Street Promenade
Santa Monica, CA
www.yankeedoodles.com

San Francisco

Giordano Brothers
303 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA
415-397-2767

If there are any other gatherings. Missed or impromptu, be sure to leave them in the comments below

Cleveland (thanks Pauly P, one of these times I’ll get down to join the crowd)

Bob Golic’s Sports Bar
1213 West 6th (corner with W. Lakeside, Warehouse District)

January 22, 2009

Sportsmanship

Filed under: Basketball,Fans — Keith W. @ 5:28 pm

Welcome back Chas. My pleasure to fill in for a few days and I will be doing my best to offer some opinions on a semi-regular basis.

During the Syracuse games a few commenters reacted to the Zoo chanting “You hit girls,” in reference to Eric Defendorf and his incident from last November

Defendorf did his time (short suspension and community service) and returned to the team, but Big East student sections are, and will certainly continue, reminding him of the incident throughout the season. Just like they did with Marcus Williams, the laptop thief, a few years back. But my Pitt fans, a short memory we have. You could argue that Defendorf was just pulling a Yuri –  Yuri Demetrus that is. Yes, that’s right. Yuri Demetrus hit girls too. Too bad he couldn’t play basketball like Defendorf.

Hitting a girl is wrong. You don’t need me to tell you that. But should the incident be fair game during a basketball … game? Here is what two commenters had to say in the Pitt Syracuse Open Thread.

First from Ira:

Ehh the zoo was kind of annoying, maybe I am just old fashioned, but making fun of hitting a girl chant just seems in poor taste.

And now the other side of the argument from Mike:

i think it was funny when the zoo was chanting “you hit girls”, if he doesnt like it, then dont hit girls. If steeler fans want to chant that at fitz, so be it, but i think the Zoo did an awsome job today, its a great home court.
people need to lighten up

I am on Ira’s side on this one. When I was at Pitt, the Zoo not-so-creatively came up with a “Quinn’s a pussy” chant directed towards Notre Dame’s Chris Quinn who had owned the Panther’s in recent match ups. The chant was so obvious it could be heard on the National television broadcast. I wrote an entry for my old blog condemning the chant and my opinion has not changed.

Unlike Quinn**, Defendorf brought the chant upon himself deservedly through his actions, but to quote an old elementary school adage, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

** Unless Quinn deserved it for raining ridiculous 3-pointers on the Panthers, or for having a scrawny mustache

College athletes represent their Universities and should act accordingly.When students attend a game, and choose to make themselves heard, they are representing the University as well. There are other, classier, ways to support your team.

And yes, I know… everyone else is doing it so why shouldn’t we.

These actions have a trickle-down effect. In both Pittsburgh and in Maine I have covered high school athletics on a semi-regular basis for different newspapers. More and more I am seeing similar student sections and similar vulgar antics at the lower levels of athletics. Is it okay in high school? How about junior high? Actually, I might expect it from junior high kids…

A solution? Conferences should have a Sportsmanship award for each sport. I’ve seen it for high schools. Both the team and the fans should be taken into account for the award. Players and coaches should vote and a banner should be awarded. Maybe it wont solve the whole problem, but it will give a little motivation for fans, teams and schools to clean up their act.

Stay classy Pitt. I’d love to hear some other opinions. Just don’t call me a pussy.

December 25, 2008

I’m Only Happy When It Rains

Filed under: Fans,Football — Chas @ 7:04 pm

Making me feel old. Shirley Manson is now a corporate boogeyman in the Sarah Conor Chronicles. I prefer to think of her from this period with Garbage.

I reference this classic from the 90s because of questions this.

Q: Paul, I am amazed with what I read in your Q & A discussions. I mean, there is the constant criticisms of Billy Stull, the offense, the receivers, the coaches, the secondary etc. — so much that I have to remind myself that this team is 9-3, is back in a bowl game, has NFL talent at multiple positions and generally looks like a program on the verge of again being a top ten team with top flight national talent. You would think the questions were coming from Ohio State fans used to 11-1 or 12-0 seasons and not Pitt fans accustomed to another year of maybe we can get 6 wins. These folks need a serious dose of Division I football reality. What are your thoughts?

ZEISE: I agree there appears to be a jaded group his is not happy with success — but that group won’t be happy even if Pitt was 12-0 and in the BCS national title game — so I wouldn’t worry too much about them. The Panthers made a nice stride forward this year now they just need to keep building on it each year and eventually, the hope is that if you knock on the door with 8-4, 9-3, 10-2, type of seasons long enough, you’ll break through and have that big year everyone so desires.

See if you haven’t been following the Q&A, the questions have continued about Bill Stull’s lack of arm strength. The complaints about Matt Cavanaugh as OC. Is Shady really coming back? Then there are the counter points from those wondering why the fans aren’t savoring this.

Couple this with really pertinent questions like where the weak spots on the team are and how/if recruiting is addressing the issues. Or an evaluation of the O-line’s performance.

And you could say that Pitt fans or a sizable contingent of the fanbase are naturally negative. And this is where I will part company. I think that in an interactive format that invites questions, you are going to get a larger percentage of questions that doubt or have concerns about the faults on the team. They may not always be expressed in the most diplomatic — well, they can be downright hostile towards the players or coaches — but they are asking the questions that still nag at them and others.

It’s harder to ask questions that are positive that are the least bit interesting or not complete softballs. And exactly what is the appeal to asking questions that are essentially, “this team rocks, right?”

It’s one thing to be asking the questions and even being a bit negative at times locally. I’m guessing most are defending and even willing to promote Pitt on a more national level.

November 27, 2008

This Week in Insanity

Filed under: Fans,Football,General Stupidity — Chas @ 9:00 am

Happy Thanksgiving. This is actually unrelated to Pitt. I just want someone to take away the password to my blog if I ever reach the levels demonstrated below.

A couple things that almost defy belief.

From the “there’s always a hater” file:

Jay from Cincinnati writes: There was a small blog in the Cincinnati Enquirer with your comments about Coach Brian Kelly and the national coach of the year, Why? Now don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with the results from the team this year. But he’s only been here two years, hasn’t seen any action from his recruits, he was ready to throw the towel on Tony Pike and was forced to use him when other QBs went down. You don’t groom a QB after the season started and be forced to use him. What you’re seeing is all Tony Pike. One could question Coach Kelly’s ability to see talent by not naming him the starter from the very beginning. Take a look at the film from the West Virginia and Louisville games, there are some very questionable calls from the offense. Coach of the year for what? Being a salesperson for the team, school?

Brian Bennett: Thanks, Jay, for proving that no matter how much a coach does, even if he goes 20-5 and gets a program without much history to the cusp of the BCS and does so despite having to use five different quarterbacks in a season, there will always be someone to complain about it.

Wow.

From the frustrated fanbase has lost its mind department, Irish fans are a little unhinged.

Here are a couple of things he [new Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick] could do to forestall the uprising:

  • Immediately renegotiate all game contracts to designate that only neutral conference officials be used in any game in which Notre Dame plays. It’s bleeding obvious, and today’s game was just one more log on that fire. Taking it one step further, he should lead the charge in taking officiating away from the conferences altogether.

  • Demand that Notre Dame have some say (assuming it does not currently) in the selection of the announcers for NBC broadcasts. We don’t need homers, but we could live without the glee provoked by Notre Dame’s miscues evinced by the former Southern Cal quarterback and his figure-skating-devotee partner. We’d be better off with the actual Mitch Daniels and Bea Arthur. We should can their look-alikes.

That’s right, ND fans are complaining about not getting the calls in their own stadium. Forget the fact, that practically every non-con game in every conference goes by the following rules: conference refs from the visiting team are used. Oh, that’s right, the Irish don’t have a conference affiliation for road games.  They  — they feel that the NBC announcers are anti-ND?  So when in doubt, fall back on the fact that Pat Haden played QB at USC. I’m sure they don’t care, but no one else sees these things through that Irish prism.

It is not a totally uncommon occurrence for the boys of BGS — who I actually enjoy reading when they stick somewhere near reality. They just have a touch of paranoia and see conspiracy from anyone who went to a rival school.

A real classic example came way back when they still loved Charlie Weis. Remember the reported interest Weis had from an NFL team. The thing Weis never denied getting and which helped him get his ridiculous 10-year contract. Well, when the rumors first started, the messenger was clearly doing it to preemptively strike down the Irish before they could return to glory.

Why would he do this? Well, surprise, surprise…Schefter’s a notorious Michigan homer. (Check this out, direct from the annals of Wolverine nostalgia.) Schefter’s “developing story” was nothing more than buckshot from Ann Arbor, aimed not only at Irish fans who are feeling pretty good about their coach, but also directly targeting recruits who are considering the Irish. (“Despite the fact that he has one of the country’s most heralded recruiting classes coming in next season, Weis has positioned himself to leave Notre Dame after this season for the NFL…”) What better way to shake the foundation of an up-and-comer than insinuating he’s not long for college ball.

I don’t even know how to begin to address the substance of those delusions.

October 22, 2008

Do you know what today is? It’s Big East Basketball Media Day in NYC. As is Coach Jamie Dixon’s MO, he’s bringing the seniors (PDF). So DeJuan Blair, but Tyrell Biggs along with Sam Young and Levance Fields.

The Big East is going all out with content.

In the days following men’s and women’s media day, fans will be able to watch a narrated behind-the-scenes look from each event, which will consist of “off-the-cuff” interviews with prominent media members, coaches and players.

Soooo… It’s scripted event, they are trying to make look spontaneous?

As Midnight Madness took place for some, SI.com’s Seth Davis asked questions about each top team.

With DeJuan Blair, Tyrell Biggs and Sam Young, the Panthers are as good up front as any other team in the country. In Levance Fields, they have as tough a point guard as you’ll find anywhere. But they lost three very good outside shooters off of last year’s team in Keith Benjamin, Ronald Ramon and Mike Cook, who together sank 56 percent of the team’s three-pointers. (And keep in mind Cook only played 11 games before blowing out his knee.)

Pitt’s dearth of long-range shooters could be an especially glaring deficiency with the new three-point line. Right now, Jamie Dixon will be looking to three possibilities to fill that role: Brad Wanamaker, a 6-4 sophomore who averaged 2.2 points as a freshman; Ashton Gibbs, a 6-2 freshman from New Jersey; and Jermaine Dixon, a 6-3 transfer from Tallahassee Junior College. Dixon, it should be noted, is the younger brother of my all-time favorite college player, the former Maryland guard Juan Dixon, but until one of those three proves he can make shots, this will remain a open question, dialed in from long-distance.

Not sure why he excluded Travon Woodall except that he might have him in as the back-up PG and so not as the guy to take Ramon’s spot.

While the new 3-point line’s likely impact has been minimized by many coaches — including Coach Dixon — there are some who aren’t so dismissive.

But the only data we have suggests the change could be radical. Those numbers come from U.S. participation in international play, which uses a 20-foot, 6-inch line for the 3-point shot. That’s closer to the goal than the 20-feet, 9-inches that’ll be the new rule for college, yet some of the best young American players have struggled terribly when adjusting to the international distance.

In the past three competitions for college-age players — the 2007 Pan-American Games, the 2007 Under-19 World Championships and the 2008 Under-18 FIBA Americas Championships, the U.S. shot a combined 119-of-393 (30.3 percent) from 3-point range. Now, that figure is deflated by the fact the international game uses a shorter shot clock, but it ought to have been inflated by the presence of elite players on those teams: Davidson’s Stephen Curry, Michigan State’s Drew Neitzel and Washington State’s Derrick Low.

The game could change more than coaches would have you believe.

If so, that’s a big advantage for Pitt, since the reliance on the perimeter shot by Pitt will not be as high as others.

Now ESPN.com has the team breakdowns from Blue Ribbon Yearbook (Insider subs.). Here’s the “Final Analysis” on PItt.

BACKCOURT: B+
BENCH/DEPTH: B
FRONTCOURT: A-
INTANGIBLES: A-

Dixon did an incredible job last year, guiding the Panthers to 27 wins and a 10-8 Big East mark despite the injuries to Fields and Cook. The program’s strength was evident as players like Benjamin, Ramon and Brown stepped into larger roles and filled them.

This year, Pitt will rely on its three all-conference candidates — Fields, Young and Blair — to lead what will otherwise be a very young team.

Pitt owes its recent string of success to the defensive-approach preached by Dixon. Now entering his sixth year as head coach, Dixon thinks this might be his best defensive team yet.

“I like this team,” Dixon said. “I’ve liked all our teams, but I like this team. I think we can be very deep, very tough physically. We’ve got some guys that can make shots and create shots on their own.

“The question to me is how good we can become defensively. I think this can be a good defensive team; as good defensively as any team we’ve had.”

If he’s right about that, Dixon might just take Pitt to its first Final Four.

Homecoming weekend doesn’t end Saturday night, by the way. In lieu of Midnight Madness for the students, there’s the FanFest Sunday afternoon at the Pete.

The University of Pittsburgh will host its fifth annual Basketball Fan Fest and Intrasquad Scrimmages on Sunday, Oct. 26, at the Petersen Events Center. The event will highlight the Pitt men’s and women’s basketball teams and feature autograph sessions, team scrimmages and various fan-oriented events. Admission is free to this family-oriented event. Free parking is available in the OC Lot. Doors open at 12:30 p.m.

So, there’s that.

October 18, 2008

Pitt-Navy: Open Thread

Filed under: Fans,Football,Open Thread,Opponent(s) — Chas @ 3:08 pm

With my wireless card screwed, I am line-bound on the computer for the moment. So, I can’t watch the game and post at the same time. Sorry, I have the game on my TV, and I’ll pass on watching on the computer.

Reader DanS. has some pictures he’s passed on. First, the horde has apparently invaded and taken over a local elementary school as they raise their flag to show control and dominance.

This is where the flag was raised in relation to the stadium.

It does seem that the Pitt contingent has arrived.

Thanks again to DanS. for the photos.

Any ways, fire away in the comments. I’ll try to check in at the half with some thoughts.

OKAY, Click Herefor the LiveBlog.

HALFTIME UPDATE: A great opening half. Pitt leads 35-14.

As frustrating as that 14 point swing on Stull’s interception was, credit to OC Matt Cavanaugh. He came out calling 4 straight passing plays. As much as anything to get Stull’s confidence back up. The first two throws were not there, but the next two were right on the money and all was right.

Pitt’s defense unnerved me in the opening series, but my did they figure things out. Forcing 4 punts in the first half. Navy had 0 punts last year in the first half, and only 1 for the entire game.

You can see that Navy’s d-line can’t really handle Pitt. They are bringing up the linebackers. It is really opening things up.

Just want to see Pitt keep up the pressure on both sides of the ball in the second half.

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