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June 18, 2014

Marlon “Smoke” Williamson was introduced as a new Pitt assistant coach yesterday.

“We are excited about Marlon becoming a member of the University of Pittsburgh community and I know he is ecstatic to be coming aboard,” Dixon said. “As a former point guard with strong knowledge of the game, Marlon will help us in recruiting, scouting and player development. We are fortunate to have a coach with his well-rounded background. Marlon is also extremely excited to be a part of our staff considering his family ties to Pittsburgh.”

The former YSU point guard is openly ambitious and perhaps a little cocky.

“Actually, my pursuit is to become a great assistant coach right now. In the future, I want to become a head coach,” Williamson said. “When you say ‘great assistant,’ you have to fill a lot of bullets. Recruiting is definitely one, but I don’t want to be singled out as just a recruiter. I can get in the film room and break down Xs and Os. The relationship with the players is a huge factor for you as a coach. It’s much easier to play for someone you respect and love versus someone you just play for. That’s what I want to strive for as a professional in this business, being able to relate to the coach, co-workers on the staff, as well as the players and their parents.”

So, like [UMass Coach Derek] Kellogg before him, Williamson made a move to put his career in an upward trajectory.

“This is a big step,” he said. “When you talk about the University of Pittsburgh and ACC, you’ve got to go get players first. Our position as assistants is to put Coach Dixon in a position to be great. I look at coach Dixon as a legend. I don’t think he hired Coach Knight or Coach Barton to be mediocre. We want to give him the tools that he can go coach those guys. Our goal is to win the last game. Why not us?”

These are not bad things for a young assistant.

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June 16, 2014

It’s been something of an open secret for at least a week or so. One of the lead candidates to join Jamie Dixon’s coaching staff has been Marlon “Smoke” Williamson. An assistant coach on the UMass staff.

Williamson is an interesting choice, and not exactly what was expected. He’s a Youngstown State grad and his ties in recruiting are more midwest. Especially the Detroit area as he is reasonably tight with the AAU program known as “The Family.”

Williamson had spent the previous nine years working with The Family, an AAU program in Detroit, Mich. where he served as President of Youth Operations and Head Coach.

Williamson’s duties with The Family included opponent scouting, practice scheduling, monitoring of the athletes’ academic progress and counseling them on educational programs.

Some of the top players to emerge from The Family include Joe Crawford (Kentucky), Jordan Crawford (Indiana & Xavier), Chris Douglas-Roberts (Memphis), Draymond Green (Michigan State) and Malik Hairston (Oregon).

Both Matt Steinbrink at PantherLair and Chris Dokish have been tweeting about Williamson being a lead candidate, and today ESPN’s Jeff Goodman also tweeted it.

The upside is that Williamson is young — about the same age as Brandin Knight — and ambitious. He has AAU ties, which are a definite plus. The negative is that he’s still fairly new and has not shown track record of bringing talent yet. Plus his base for recruiting ties is not an area Pitt has mined — and has some stiff local competition with Michigan and Michigan State.

June 7, 2014

The offseason for coaches isn’t simply about recruiting and going to AAU events and camps. It’s about getting out in the community and speaking. Whether it is something very worthy like a school that helps those with special needs. Or heading out on the alumni club circuit.

For Coach Jamie Dixon the other thing that needs to be settled is finding a new assistant coach.

Dixon arrived at the breakfast only eight hours after returning from a Nike coaches event in the Caribbean. He said it was a pleasant trip, joking he didn’t even mind that Florida coach Billy Donovan was on his return flight.

Thursday was a busy day for Dixon, who said he planned to interview two candidates for the coaching vacancy on his staff created when Barry Rohrssen left for Kentucky.

Well, at least that situation is getting closer to resolution.

April 14, 2014

It seems assistant basketball coach Barry Rohrssen has been the rumored target to replace Orlando Antigua on John Calipari’s Kentucky bench. Granted it has been a slow week-long rumble, but everyone is presuming it will happen (and thank you KSR comment kids for demonstrating that Kentucky fans have little basketball knowledge outside their own team).

For Rohrssen it is almost a no-brainer. Kentucky is a blue-blood job with huge exposure. No, John Calipari assistants haven’t had the greatest success rates, but they get opportunities. Rohrssen obviously wants another crack at being a head coach. His odds increase being on a staff like Kentucky  This may shock some, but the money may have very little to do with it.

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February 20, 2014

Okay, I’m trying  to be back. It’s been a rough few weeks in the offline world, and a lot of the crap has been coming to a head this week. That’s why I’ve been largely silent this entire week. Hopefully I’ll get things back in order soon.

I know there’s a lot of stuff to cover. Right now, I’ll just discuss my feelings on the changes in position coaches.

To recap. Brooks Bollinger resigned from his position as QB Coach at Pitt. He is not taking a job elsewhere in D-1, but has decided to pursue a lifestyle that lets him actually spend time with his family.

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February 14, 2014

Interesting.

The move to hire Troy Douglas as Defensive Backs Coach was made official. But with it, a little bit of adjusting to the coaching duties.

Chryst also streamlined positional assignments for Pitt’s defensive staff. In addition to coordinating the defense, Matt House will work with the linebackers. Chris Haering will coach the outside linebackers and serve as special teams coordinator. On the defensive line, Inoke Breckterfield will continue to coach the tackles and John Palermo will focus on the ends.

Chryst additionally announced that Desmond Robinson, who served as player personnel director this past season, will not be returning to Pitt’s staff.

Question. When did “streamline” become popular verbiage in football circles? Living in the Cleveland area I couldn’t help but absorb the Browns-Jimmy Haslam stuff this week. Haslam kept emphasizing the front office being streamlined. There was one position eliminated (CEO spot held by Joe Banner). Two people fired, but only one position eliminated.

Now Pitt has “streamlined” essentially be completing the phase out of Desmond Robinson. Otherwise, I’m not seeing “streamlined.”

Sorry, bit of a tangent but this was bothering me.

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February 11, 2014

Since everyone is working from essentially the same news and reports, here’s what we have

Pitt’s most obvious opening is to replace Bobby Engram at the WR Coach spot. Yet, the first breaking news was that Pitt has made a play to bring Troy Douglas from Iowa State to be the Defensive Backs Coach.

Iowa State secondary coach Troy Douglas has been offered a spot on the Pittsburgh staff, but Douglas has not decided if he’ll take the position yet, according to a source.

Coachingsearch.com reported that Douglas will join the Panthers’ staff on Wednesday.

Douglas spent the last three seasons with the Cyclones. He previously worked with ISU defensive coordinator Wally Burnham at South Florida from 2006-08.

But now, Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com is tweeting that as of this morning it is a done deal.

Douglas coached DBs in the ACC for a couple years while at North Carolina. He appears to be a solid recruiter and a good DB coach. Considering the spot was essentially coached last year by a graduate assistant (love you Hank Poteat, but you should not have been put in that position) this looks to be a very good move.

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February 7, 2014

The other side of the coin on signing day is that within days afterwards you see assistant and especially position coaches fired or move on to another job. Those that stay through signing day are the ones that have key relationships with recruits and the head coach doesn’t want to have anything change at the last minute.

But after signing day…

Rumors about WR Coach Bobby Engram swirled on signing day. That he was one of three candidates for the WR Coach with the Baltimore Ravens. Naturally Head Coach Paul Chryst claimed not to know anything about it when asked at the signing day press conference. The question had to be asked, even if the non-denial was fully expected.

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January 8, 2014

The Unqualified Hire

Filed under: Assistants,Coaches,Football,Hire/Fire — Chas @ 10:00 pm

It is permissible to like Paul Chryst as a coach at Pitt and still hate hiring decisions. That is the state I find myself once again this offseason.

Ross Kolodziej, who played seven years in the National Football League following a distinguished collegiate career at Wisconsin, has been named head football strength and conditioning coach at Pitt, it was announced by Coach Paul Chryst today.

Kolodziej (pronounced ka-la-gee) was promoted to the post after serving the Panthers as an assistant strength and conditioning coach this past season.

I said it on Monday that this would be a bad hire, based purely on his resume.

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January 6, 2014

Okay. You may be ready to panic and scream if you saw this:

KolodziejS&C

CoachingSearch.com doesn’t do permalinks, so it is in their ticker for today.

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January 1, 2014

New Changes In Happy Valley

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Hire/Fire — Chas @ 11:46 pm

Yes, we all know that Bill O’Brien has left Penn State after two years.

Yes, this was a devastating piece on some of the things behind his departure by David Jones. Penn State has a particularly virulent,  nasty and visible group that has been able to gain extra influence. At the same time there is no major (and most minor ones) college program that doesn’t have a batshit crazy wing of fans/boosters. It’s really only a question of how much noise and influence they have.

Those are Penn State’s problems. How they deal or ignore their problems are something about which I don’t care to waste my time.

As a Pitt fan my concern is purely about self-interest.

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December 20, 2013

And no, this has nothing to do with Fraud Graham.

Pitt has shed it’s strength and conditioning coach.

Strength and conditioning coach Todd Rice has resigned from his position, a Pitt spokesman confirmed tonight. Rice spent the last two years as Pitt’s head strength and conditioning coach, and previously held the same title at N.C. State, Boston College and Cal.

Pitt did not provide a reason for the resignation, and said that it will hire a full-time replacement some time after Jan. 1.

Most of the reviews I heard from current and former players about Rice were not necessarily glowing, and Pitt dealt with a spate of back injuries (usually, though not always, indicative of a conditioning issue) along the offensive line. Left guard Cory King and left tackle Adam Bisnowaty both missed multiple games with back injuries this season.

Not glowing reviews. That may be putting it mildly considering the first source that put out word that Rice was out.

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September 21, 2013

Quick Thoughts: Duke game

Filed under: General Stupidity,Hire/Fire — Justin @ 3:47 pm

This one was ugly; like Wannstedt’s mustache full of fish sammich ugly. I don’t know if I have the stomach to watch the defense and give you guys a review. If you really, really want it (post in comments what your opinion is) I’ll do it, but only because you guys are the best. I say that earnestly, not sarcastically. Here are a few quick thoughts. (more…)

May 3, 2013

The rumors of Barry Rohrssen’s return have been swirling for a couple of weeks. To be honest, it has been hard to separate fact from wishful thinking that has been put out there. But it seems that Jamie Dixon is indeed bringing back Slice.

Sources confirmed Thursday night that Barry “Slice” Rohrssen will rejoin Dixon’s staff as an assistant coach, replacing Pat Sandle, an original member of Dixon’s staff who spent the past decade with the program.

That detail is surprising. Sandle first started with Pitt in 1999 under Ben Howland. The LA native left for a couple years to be an assistant at UCLA under Lavin. Of course, Lavin was fired by UCLA who hired Howland and Sandle was not retained. And when Dixon became the Pitt head coach, he hired Sandle.

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March 25, 2013

In the recruiting game, sometimes it doesn’t pay to wait for late offers and sometimes it does. For Jon Severe, it worked out well. The shooting guard from Christ the King didn’t have a lot of offers at first. A 3-star recruit, had offers initially from middling A-10 programs like Rhode Island, GW and Fordham. He didn’t commit and saw his stock rise, including being named New York’s Mr. Basketball. He now has offers from Pitt, WVU, K-State, Creighton. No surprise Pitt and WVU are now after him considering both struggled with being able to score consistently this past year. He is a shooter and willing to drive.

He gets to the rim north to south as well as east to west with a quick first step and good economy of motion. He runs hard in transition, has dexterity putting the ball on the floor and finishing, and actually prefers to drive left. Severe is also a capable shot maker off the catch or the dribble with terrific shot preparation for a youngster.

As you would expect defense and consistency are the issues for him. He’s a bit on the small side for a shooting or wing guard at 6-2 — which was the primary reason he didn’t attract a lot of high-major interest. It’s not clear when he will make a decision. The number of offers swelled, so he appears to be re-evaluating everything.

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