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May 23, 2016

Conner Completes Crushing Cancer

Filed under: Football,Injury,Players — Chas @ 5:31 pm

Treatments finished. Cancer, beaten.

Statement from Pitt football coach Pat Narduzzi.

“Over the past six months, James Conner fought cancer the same way he plays football: relentlessly and without surrender. He has inspired and touched so many people in how he has handled this challenge. James is an incredibly special person, and I’m not even thinking about his football ability when I say that. Everyone at Pitt feels blessed to know him and we are tremendously thankful for the wonderful news he received today.”

Don’t care how crappy work was. It is a good day.

After you have watched that take a look at this slideshow Pitt put out – you get to see the details of the uniforms up close and personal.

We have been talking a lot on here lately about Pitt’s history when it comes to our football programs and our past teams.  We have certainly climbed to the top of the heap with our 1976 championship, but we also have walked in the Death Valleys of college football.  Nothing every seems to come easy for Pitt when it comes to our football program.

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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 20, 2016

Pitt announced yesterday the start times for the first two games of the season (and the Thursday night game hosting VT, but we all knew that was going to be a 7pm game).

The season opener against Villanova will be at 1:30 and shown on ESPN3.

The September 10 game against Penn State will be at noon and shown on ESPN or ABC. Disappointing, but not too surprising.

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May 19, 2016

Since we all don’t agree here on The Blather and we do throw down point/counter point often, I’ll chime in on this timely football uniform change subject.  Chas likes it, Justine likes it, but…

Color me unimpressed.

I don’t actually hate what I saw.  I mean I’m not literally gagging each time I look at the football uniforms – but I’m shaking my head and drinking heavily over what I see as a lack of courage on Pitt’s part to create for us an attractive, whole and strong identity.  I’m very disappointed at the bumbling Pitt did with the football uniforms more than anything else.  More on that…

Last night Pitt put on a visually and aurally dramatic “unveiling” show to introduce the Pitt athletic department’s new logos and uniforms. I am led to understand that it was a well received show and everyone seemed to have a good time.  I didn’t drive up for it so I don’t really know, but from the video below it looks well staged I suppose.

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May 18, 2016

The new uniform roll-out is in about four hours from now and I’d like to give you guys a reference point on what our old uniforms have looked like.  Reviewing these iterations of the changes and what we have seen over the past 40 years is it any wonder that Pitt has no “brand” whatsoever.

We have to do this the right way, hopefully tonight,and stick with it even if it means getting less money from the apparel companies.

Before we go any father here is another great article from the Pitt News about the return of the script.

(Sorry, I couldn’t bring myself to post the ‘white on white’ uniforms.  They make me a bit sick to my stomach when I see them.)

PRESENT

2013 Pittsburgh Panthers football uniform

2010 Nike Pro Combat Unis

2010 Pittsburgh Panthers football uniform

2009-2012 White on Blue Uniform

2009 - 2012 Pittsburgh Panthers football uniform

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Tonight is the night of the new uniforms for the Pitt sports teams. Yeah us!! We’ll see the old script back at the team identifier…

“A rebranding process that effectively started 19 months ago finally will reach its conclusion tonight, as Pitt formally unveils its “new” script logo, as well as updated uniforms for its 19 varsity sports.

The return of the beloved script logo, which served as the school’s primary athletic mark from 1973-1996, will be celebrated with a public fashion show at 6:30 p.m. today in the Petersen Events Center lobby. On Tuesday, ahead of the unveiling, the university announced the renaming of its Twitter and Instagram accounts.

“We are excited to make the full transition back to the script logo,” athletic director Scott Barnes said in a statement. “Not only will this move help unify our branding efforts, it also gives us an opportunity to celebrate the amazing history of Pitt Athletics. Wednesday’s event will give Panther fans an opportunity to see some impressive Pitt apparel as well as some of the other exciting improvements we currently have underway.”

This in itself isn’t isn’t really big news – Pitt started doing this willy-nilly back in 2014.  It took two years to get Nike onboard with all the teams’ gear.  Again, the colors will not change but the graphic design of the uniforms will. The public roll-out will be done formally this evening, along with a silent auction of memorabilia and will, I’m sure, make the Internets right away.

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May 15, 2016

We did an article about this last year but here is a follow-up piece by Sam Werner of the Post-Gazette addressing Pitt’s new athletic logo that is to be unveiled on Wednesday (no big surprise that it is the Script PITT from the 1980s) and how it does NOT represent the University as a whole…  a visual reminder here:

Pitt TE coach tweets photoshopped Swimsuit Issue cover

From Werner’s article:

“If the athletic department is the front porch, then the Pitt script logo, set to be re-introduced as the school’s primary athletic mark at a Petersen Events Center unveiling Wednesday, is a sign on the front of the house.

Often times, though, that sign may not represent every room in the house.

Like Pitt, many universities across the country have developed distinct university logos separate from their athletic marks, as they try to strike a balance between the visibility athletics can provide and the academic pursuits of the greater institution.

“Most of the time, the rationale is that, look, we have two different products here,” said Antonio Williams, a sport and fitness brand researcher and assistant professor at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind. “We don’t necessarily want to take away the academic rigor and prestige from the university side by associating with athletics. There may be certain liabilities by associating yourself with athletics.”

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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 9, 2016

(When I say lighter I mean from the last FB article)

Here is Chris Peak’s latest podcast from the Trib-Review that he recorded last night and posted today.  There is always something interesting in these podcasts and I find myself constantly rewinding to make sure I get exactly what he’s saying.

Here he (tries to) list his Top five players on the Pitt roster going into the fall camp.  He mentions how some players work out right away; SO S Jordan Whitehead for example, and some others take a year or two to develop.

Surprisingly he mentions 3* recruit WR Aaron Matthews as someone who was overlooked by fan’s expectations of who will make an early impact this season as a true FR… then says Matthews may not play this year (??).  That reference is in context to  WR Juwann Winfree bagging out at the last moment. Remember the Winfree of the  suspension at Maryland, then over to CC, then pledged to Pitt, then off to Colorado?

Here’s a past article to jog your memory on that Matthews/Winfree subject.

But Peak feels that true FR WRs Flowers and Ffrench (sounds like good ’cause and effect’ on a date, eh?) are more likely to see playing time this season than any other FR WRs. He also mentions (now) SO WRs Quadree Henderson and Tre Tipton getting some PT early on last season and, in Henderson’s case at least, doing pretty well through the year.  Even though Henderson contributed mostly on Special Teams he showed the speed and talent which could push him up the depth chart at WR.

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May 7, 2016

Listen In…

Filed under: Football,Players,Recruiting — Reed @ 7:53 am

Well, if Dan Marino demands it then it should happen.  He wants the Pitt-PSU series to resume (from the Trib):

“Why wouldn’t Penn State want to play us?” Marino said Wednesday. “To me, it would make sense.”

Pitt and Penn State will renew their storied rivalry over the next four seasons, starting Sept. 10 at Heinz Field. Pitt athletic director Scott Barnes said last year that Penn State officials have shown no willingness to extend the series beyond 2019. The teams haven’t met since 2000.

But Marino knows a way to put the series in serious jeopardy.

“We just have to beat them the next four years, and they definitely won’t renew it,” Marino said.

OK then.

Here are two podcasts by Chris Peak of Rivals.

The first which was recorded on May 5th is about Twitter and Tweets and how they can bite people in the ass.

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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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