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December 7, 2014

There are many advantages of being in a major conference. The TV money is usually listed at the top. Don’t forget the backing of that major conference when it comes to shoehorning a team into a bowl.

Plenty of mid-majors were bowl eligible. Some with better records than a bunch of 6-6 teams from major conferences that had more eligible teams than tie-in bowls.

Pitt was among those in the 6-6 mediocrity. Still, they get to have one more game. The seniors get one more chance to notch a victory. The coaches get to have more practices and start preparing even more underclassmen for 2015.

Pitt is heading to Ft. Worth for the Armed Forces Bowl.

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May 23, 2014

All About the Money

Filed under: Athletic Department,Bowls,Football,Money — Chas @ 7:43 am

Year one in the ACC was a mixed bag for football and basketball. The teams finished about where they were expected before the season began. How they ended up there, made it feel like it could have been better.

What isn’t in dispute is that the money was a lot better right from the start.

Pitt’s annual share is about $17 million.

After almost a full year in the new conference, where has that money gone? Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson said he decided to put it in the hands of the people who knew best what various sports needed to be successful.

“Basically, what we did at this point with additional revenue is we’ve let the coaches put that into their recruiting budgets and their travel and competition budgets,” Pederson said in a meeting with reporters earlier this month.

“We tried to make sure that our coaches had enough money to recruit the way they felt they needed to recruit, and so they got significant increases in their recruiting budgets — some cases more than others — then also in their travel and competition budgets so that they could go to meets and games that they needed to play or bring teams in here that they wanted to play.”

The money also has, at least partially, allowed Pitt to make capital improvements to facilities for its flagship sports. This summer, the men’s and women’s basketball team areas in Petersen Events Center are undergoing a renovation. The football weight room at Pitt’s South Side facility also is getting a significant expansion.

And I’m sure some is being set aside for the eventual increase in the total cost of scholarships if the stipend or other methods are passed for the major conferences.

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December 28, 2013

Recapping the Pizza Bowl

Filed under: Bowls,Football — Chas @ 6:41 am

I have to start with this, because I swear, I may have written or read something exactly like it after the UNC game.

The Falcons fell behind early thanks to breakdowns in all three phases of the game, then forged an impressive second-half comeback, only to see the University of Pittsburgh kick a field goal with 1:17 left and claim a 30-27 victory in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.

Hell, if Pitt had lost this game we could have pointed to key breakdowns of our own in all three phases of the game.

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December 26, 2013

Going Out of 2013 Above .500

Filed under: Bowls,Football — Chas @ 10:24 pm

Are there still reasons to angst? Oh, hell yeah.

Do I care for at least a day?

No. No, I do not. Tonight and tomorrow, I’m going positive.

I don’t care if it was “only” a MAC team in Detroit that Pitt just beat. I don’t care if it was “only” a minor bowl game. It was a win.

Pitt was undermanned on its offensive line as it was for most of the second half of the season. Pitt lost its starting QB for the entire second half. Devin Street couldn’t go. Pitt had an officiating crew that did its best not to call penalties  that might have gone Pitt’s way for most of the game (two offensive linemen blatantly tackling Aaron Donald and no call?).

There were the key breakdowns in special teams and defense that we have come to expect. The offensive line couldn’t pass protect — per usual.

Yet, Pitt came away with the win.

James Connor did everything he could to carry Pitt to a victory. Chad Voytik got through the shakes to show why he will be the starting QB. Tyler Boyd is Tyler Boyd.

Pitt was a 7 point underdog by kickoff. Still, the Panthers came away with a win and it didn’t have to happen in Birmingham.

There’s 7 weeks of angst for signing day. Plenty to worry over for the team up to and through spring practices. But, I’m going to enjoy this for a little while.

Open Thread: Pizza Bowl

Filed under: Bowls,Football,Open Thread — Chas @ 1:32 pm

Man, getting home in time will be tight. That means keeping this brief so I can get crap done to make this work.

6pm on ESPN.

Focus continues to be about ending the season with something resembling positive energy.

A few weeks back, Pitt coach Paul Chryst said he was talking to redshirt senior nose tackle Tyrone Ezell when Ezell recalled the Panthers’ most recent bowl win, a 27-10 victory in the BBVA Compass Bowl against Kentucky to end the 2010 season.

Ezell was a redshirt freshman on that team and told Chryst what it felt like to end the season with a victory, the sense of accomplishment and positive momentum heading into the offseason. It’s something that the freshmen, sophomores and juniors have not experienced, with the past two seasons coming to an end with a 6-7 record and a loss in Birmingham, Ala.

The Panthers have a chance to put a positive cap on the up-and-down 2013 season today when they play Bowling Green in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.

“There’s a big difference in our room between going 7-6 and 6-7,” Chryst said. “There’s a lot of reasons. The senior class, they want to finish it out right and I think they want to send the young guys into next year with some momentum. Every team’s the same way. Bowling Green’s probably got the same mantra. We’re looking forward to going up, getting one more chance to play and our goal is to play the best game we’ve played to this point.”

Not that anyone is implying the effort was less than 100% in the past two years in Birmingham. Well, maybe it’s being implied a little.

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December 25, 2013

Friends, Future and Finales

Filed under: Bowls,Football,Opponent(s) — Chas @ 4:34 pm

From a storyline, perspective this bowl has all three.

Merry Christmas everyone.

I still don’t have a handle on this day. I’m Jewish, which meant Christmas was just a really dull day other than watching NBA games on TV. The wife is Christian, though, so there has been a shift in how I have to treat the day. I’ve been doing Christmas with her family or just her and our kids for 17 years (Holy crap! It really has been that long?). You would think I would have a better approach by now. Yet, I still find myself looking at what movie theaters are open and something else to do. At the very least, I shouldn’t let myself whine about it any longer. Yeesh.

Okay. Time for a media run-through. There’s a bowl game tomorrow evening.

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December 23, 2013

Bowling Green Returns

Filed under: Bowls,Football — Chas @ 9:03 pm

It’s been over five years since Bowling Green upset Pitt to start the 2008 season. Yet some of us still remember that loss vividly. Quite a set of bookends to what otherwise should have been a very positive year. Start with a loss to Bowling Green at home. End with a 3-0 shutout in El Paso. 9-2 in between. Amazing how easy it is to forget that 9-2 part.

For Bowling Green, this is also a return to Ford Field, where they upset Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship — and cost the MAC a lot of cash by knocking NIU from an at-large BCS spot.

So far Bowling Green has sold roughly 7,500 tickets for the bowl game, and the Falcon players said they hope a large crowd of BG fans will have the same effect it had two weeks ago.

“The first drive of the MAC championship game, the D-line couldn’t hear my calls,” Lynch said. “It was a mess that first drive; it’s loud in there.”

Goble confirmed Lynch’s words, adding, “I messed up a call because I couldn’t hear what the linebackers were saying. We didn’t need to bring any ‘juice’ to that game.

“And it was exciting to see all the orange. In fact, that will be one of my favorite football memories: Being able to go up to the stands and [interact] with fans that were leaning over the brick walls.”

Not sure what Pitt’s ticket sales are doing at this point, but I’m guessing Bowling Green might have a slight edge in crowd.

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December 6, 2013

Anywhere But Birmingham

Filed under: Bowls,Football — Chas @ 7:20 am

Yes, even if that means Detroit.

As an economic model, the college bowl system is up there with the Shoe Event Horizon (only less logical).

It now seems like a secondary cottage industry for pundits and commenters now exists  to complain about the volume of bowls. More noise that eventually sounds like so much static.

I’ve long since stopped being bothered by the whole issue of bowls and the overwhelming volume. People show up to them. We watch them. The beat goes on.

Even when it comes to Pitt, given their 6-6 record — again. I’m at a point where I can’t get worked up over where they Panthers go for their bowl. At least they are going. At least they get the extra practices.

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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 19, 2013

I would have hoped people would understand this after the last ten years of the Big East, but now I have to put on a condescending tone and talk down to people. Not really. No. Well… maybe a few.

Bowl games are meaningless. There are so many now that they have lost their meaning. They are just exhibition games. Unless it’s a playoff/BCS bowl, who cares. I think we all know old man complaints. But woe unto the coach that doesn’t get their team into a bowl game. And by god, it better be one in a good location. So, yes, bowl games have reproduced to absurd levels when over half the 1-A programs go bowling. Yet they still matter despite the contradictions and complaints. So be it.

Among the — now — 5 major conferences, it is not unreasonable to say that the ACC has the weakest bowl line-up. Here’s the reality. There is nothing the ACC can do about it.

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July 17, 2013

The ACC is yet to officially announce its bowl line-up for 2014 and beyond. But it isn’t hard to see what it is going to look like:

  • Discover Orange Bowl
  • (Captial One Bowl (vs. SEC))
  • Russell Athletic Bowl (vs. Big 12)
  • Belk Bowl (vs. SEC)
  • Gator / Music City Bowls (vs. SEC)
  • Pinstripe Bowl (vs. B1G)
  • Sun Bowl (vs. Pac-12)
  • Military Bowl (vs. American)
  • Unnamed Detroit Bowl (vs. B1G)

Explanation on some of these deals below.

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June 25, 2013

Ugh. Really? This is a thing? Getting all worked up over future bowl tie-ins for the ACC? This is one more sign of doom and gloom? That the ACC and Pitt are screwed because of exhibition games that will take on less meaning with playoffs coming?

I can’t do it. I can’t even muster the hint of angst over this.

We’ve traded Birmingham for Shreveport as the worst of the “official” bowl relationships in Pitt’s conference. The other thing, is that the ACC like just about every conference is seeking more control over the bowls and making sure the same team is not getting sent to the same bowl every time. Something Pitt fans should fully be supporting.

But since the ACC may not have a full tie-in with the Gator Bowl, it’s time to panic. Instead, what we are seeing are deals with multiple conferences. The ACC will share a bid with the Big 10 on this. They will share other bids with other conferences in other bowls. Why?

 

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January 7, 2013

At Least It Is Over

Filed under: Bowls,Football,Opponent(s) — Chas @ 10:21 am

Thank goodness Tyler Boyd verballed to Pitt on Saturday. Otherwise I don’t want to think about how angst-ridden we Pitt fans would have been Saturday night. As it was, it wasn’t pretty.

Starting with some football. Because, at least it means the season is officially finished.

Let’s face it, the signs and portents were there from the start. Doakes being suspended to make an already weak link spot on a weak O-line that much worse. With Ray Graham and a couple others unable to go, it was even less promising. I know Graham would never have done it, but if I were Graham and watching the O-line during the week. I might have been grabbing my hamstring and gimping up to avoid any stupid chances in this game.

And on the fifth play, the interception-free streak of Sunseri came to an end to at least try and snuff out hope early.

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January 5, 2013

Hopefully there won’t be much overlap between the end of Pitt-Rutgers basketball on ESPN2 and the BBBVA Compass Bowl game of Pitt-Ole Miss on ESPN at 1pm. And if there is overlap, it would be nice if it was the end of a Pitt blowout of the Scarlet Knights.

Good news! Pitt will play with 11 players on offense despite Arthur Doakes suspension. Coach Chryst says so.

Pitt coach Paul Chryst refused Thursday to name a replacement at right guard for redshirt sophomore Arthur Doakes, who has been suspended for violating a team rule and won‘t play in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Saturday against Ole Miss.

“We have a plan,” he said. “We are going to line up with 11 (players). I promise that.”

The plan involves shifting the line a little.

Chryst will deal with the loss of right guard Arthur Doakes by juggling the offensive line. Matt Rotheram, who has played right tackle all season, will move to guard, his natural position when he was recruited in 2010 from North Olmstead (Ohio) High School. Zenel Demhasaj will get the first start of his Pitt career at right tackle. Demhasaj, a redshirt junior who is not returning next season, has been at Pitt for the past two years after transferring from Nassau (N.Y.) Community College.

So, plugging in someone new and shifting one of the linemen from where he played all year. What could go wrong? Not saying there’s much of a choice. Just saying, that I’m not optimistic about what to expect from the line.

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January 3, 2013

It’s been a while since I wrote anything about the football team (okay, it’s been a while since I had some time to write much of anything). So, time to hit the links.

Cam Saddler is back with the team and down in Birmingham. Arthur Doakes, however, is not.

Pitt redshirt sophomore Arthur Doakes , who started the final four games of the regular season at right guard, was suspended for at least one game for violating team policy, a university spokesman said Wednesday. Doakes won‘t play in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Saturday against Ole Miss, but coach Paul Chryst hasn‘t named a replacement. Redshirt sophomore Shane Johnson , who never has started a game in three seasons at Pitt, is listed behind Doakes on the team‘s two-man depth chart. Doakes, 6-foot-6, 340 pounds, had replaced regular starting right guard Ryan Schlieper , who suffered a season-ending ankle injury Oct. 27 against Temple. Doakes is the second Pitt offensive lineman suspended this season. Redshirt junior Juantez Hollins was suspended for the season before the start of training camp.

Nothing to worry about there. Why the last time there was a last-minute loss of an offensive lineman before a bowl game with little to no help behind him it was only the Sun Bowl. No reason to panic. None at all.

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