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February 17, 2017

The only surprise in the firing of Mike Mark Gottfried from NC State was the timing. With only a few weeks left in the season, NC State made Gottfried’s lame duck status official.

The list of names possible for NC State range from the obvious: Archie Miller. To the jump before pushed: Tom Crean. To the absurd: Greg Marshall or Chris Mack. To other alum: Vinny Del Negro. To random natives of North Carolina: Kelvin Sampson.

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February 16, 2017

It’s stale news, but still worth hitting.

Coming back to work for a third Pitt head coach, Charlie Partridge takes over as Defensive Line Coach.

Charlie Partridge, a renowned Florida recruiter who previously served as a Pitt assistant from 2003-07, will return to the Panthers’ staff as defensive line coach, Pat Narduzzi announced.

Partridge rejoins Pitt after serving the past three seasons as head coach at Florida Atlantic University. Prior to FAU, he was an accomplished assistant at Arkansas and Wisconsin.

“I’ve been a big fan of Charlie’s work for a very long time,” Narduzzi said. “I remember watching his defensive lines at Wisconsin and really admiring how they played. Charlie’s players reflected his high energy and passion. He’s an incredibly bright coach who is an excellent teacher and knows how to develop players.”

The opening sentence of Pitt’s press release sums up the hiring.

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February 5, 2017

Surprisingly Sims Out

Filed under: Assistants,Coaches,Football,Hire/Fire — Chas @ 11:01 am

It broke on twitter via Richie Walsh for KDKA-TV. And quickly confirmed by other outlets.

Defensive line coach Tom Sims is no longer with the team, according to a source.

Sims, a defensive tackle at Pitt who was a sixth-round draft pick in 1990 after his senior year, played in the NFL until 1996 with the Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts.

Pat Narduzzi hired Sims, 49, back to his alma mater from Youngstown State in 2015 when Narduzzi took over as Pitt’s head coach.

With national signing day now in the rear-view mirror, and four defensive line recruits officially in the fold, Narduzzi will look for a new assistant to coach that position.

Narduzzi also said Friday morning on a conference call that when the NCAA approves a 10th assistant coach for Football Bowl Subdivision programs, which it’s expected to do in April, he will most likely add to the defensive staff.

From a coaching standpoint, this comes as a surprise. I thought Sims had been doing an excellent job considering injuries and lack of depth on the D-line.

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February 2, 2017

This Year’s OC is…

Filed under: Assistants,Coaches,Football,Hire/Fire — Chas @ 8:27 pm

…hello, Shawn Watson.

Shawn Watson, a 35-year coaching veteran who owns an extensive and accomplished record overseeing offenses on the collegiate level, has been named offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Pitt by Pat Narduzzi.

Watson previously served as offensive coordinator at Texas (2014-15), Louisville (2012-13), Nebraska (2007-10) and Colorado (2000-05). He also has head coaching experience on his résumé, serving in that capacity at his alma mater, Southern Illinois, from 1994-96.

Watson joins the Panthers from Indiana, where he spent the 2016 season as an offensive quality control assistant before being named the Hoosiers’ quarterback coach. His Pitt appointment serves as a reunion with Narduzzi. The pair previously worked together on the late Randy Walker’s staff at Miami (Ohio) from 1990-92.

“Shawn Watson was one of my first mentors in this business,” Narduzzi said. “He sat me down as a young coach and taught me how to work with wide receivers in my first full-time job at Miami in the early 1990s. Ever since that time, we have always talked about being able to reunite on the same staff again. I’m really thrilled that the time has finally arrived and he’ll be joining us at Pitt as our new offensive coordinator.

“Shawn is, first and foremost, a wonderful person and father,” Narduzzi added. “As a football coach, he is extremely knowledgeable, an excellent recruiter and will be a tremendous strength in the quarterback room and offensive staff room. I’m really looking forward to having Shawn and his wife Anita join us in Pittsburgh.”

I think most Pitt fans will concede that their first reaction to the name, was hardly, “Oh, hell yes!”

But it shouldn’t have been, “Oh, shit!” Either.

The latter would have been reasonable only if the name had been Scott Loeffler.

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December 22, 2016

What had been rumored to be possible from the moment Oregon State lost their AD to Georgia Tech, to likely from last week to now being official.

University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said a national search for “the next great leader of Pitt Athletics” will begin immediately to replace Scott Barnes, who has accepted the athletic director post at Oregon State.

Barnes will work closely with the Chancellor to assure a smooth transition in coming weeks.

“Scott Barnes is an outstanding athletic director and has been wholeheartedly committed to the success of our student-athletes during his time at Pitt,” Gallagher said. “I am very sorry to see him leave, but I know that Scott is doing what is best for his family, and I wish them well as he takes on his new role at Oregon State.”

Barnes is a native of Spokane, Washington and there have been whispers that there are family reasons he would like to be closer to home — which is obliquely referenced.

“Upon accepting the athletic director position at the University of Pittsburgh more than 18 months ago, I mentioned how honored and humbled my family was to join the ‘Pitt Family,’” Barnes said. “During our time here, we’ve learned, more and more, how fitting that description really is. Pitt is an incredibly special place with wonderful people who have become like family for us.

“That’s why leaving the university to accept the athletic director position at Oregon State was such a difficult decision. Ultimately, we felt this was a choice we had to make based on some very important personal family considerations.”

I do wish him well and hope things work out for his family.

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December 15, 2016

I know the premise might piss some off as too flippant, but I can’t disagree that Pitt coaching searches are a bit of a pip. A groundhog day thing full of crazy rumors, angst and a bit of self-loathing.

So, yeah. Matt Canada took the OC position at LSU. More money and a higher profile job. Calling it a “lateral move” is either ignorant or an attempt to cheap shot Pitt. I favor ignorance in this case.

To expand on some of what I said the other day. If Canada had stayed at Pitt and had similar success for just one more season he would be in the mix for head coaching jobs in the MAC, C-USA and Sun Belt. Have success at LSU for a year or two as OC. Especially in light of all their underachieving in the past 7 or 8 years and he is in being interviewed for AAC, low Power 5 conference jobs and OC spots in the NFL.

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December 13, 2016

Canada to LSU?

Filed under: Assistants,Coaches,Football,Hire/Fire — Chas @ 8:10 am

It seems that the dominoes that would have to fall for Matt Canada were no longer in place last week. Lane Kiffin did not get the Houston head coaching job. Kiffin was the favorite choice — by all reports — to be the OC under non-interim HC Ed Orgeron. Kiffin was ready to leave Alabama and they were ready for him to go.

Instead, Kiffin took a pay cut and will be the new head coach at Florida Atlantic.

Kiffin’s salary at FAU will average in the $1 million range annually, according to sources. He was making $1.4 million per year as Alabama’s offensive coordinator.

Brief digression. Recruiting in Florida is realistically tougher than ever. Forget the top tier schools there — FSU, Florida, Miami — and all the top-tier SEC schools that recruit the area. Competition for the underrated, diamonds-in-the-rough, athletic 3-star kids now has Charlie Strong (USF), Butch Davis (FIU) and Kiffin working to keep them in state. Pitt and a lot of other programs are going to have a lot more work to do if they want to pry kids out of Florida.

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April 14, 2016

In case you missed it, Donald Trump endorsed necromancy, Lynn Swann is the AD of USC, and Tubby Smith is going to Memphis after Pastner went to GT. All boggle the mind in different ways.

In the realm of sanity, the coaching staff for Kevin Stallings looks pretty damn good with the final hire.

University of Pittsburgh head coach Kevin Stallings announced the addition of Kevin Sutton to his staff Wednesday afternoon. Sutton joins Tom Richardson and Jeremy Ballard as an assistant coach for the Panthers after spending the previous three seasons at Georgetown.

“I got to know Kevin in 2007-08 when we were recruiting one of his players out of Montverde Academy,” said Stallings. “He has a wealth of experience and is an excellent teacher and mentor. Kevin is well connected in the recruiting world particularly at the prep school level and within the ACC footprint. When you ask people in the profession about Kevin the feedback is extremely positive and flattering. I am very excited to have him on our staff.”

Sutton, a coaching veteran with 27 years of experience, joined the Georgetown staff in 2013. He helped the Hoyas to a 55-44 record with a pair of postseason appearances. In his second year with the program, Sutton saw the Hoyas go 22-11 overall and reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Sutton arrived at Georgetown following two seasons as an assistant coach under Mike Lonergan at George Washington. He also had a pair of two-year stints as an assistant coach at both James Madison and Old Dominion.

In addition to his collegiate coaching experience, Sutton coached at five nationally-ranked high school programs – Flint Hill Prep, Harker Prep, St. John’s Prospect Hall, Montrose Christian and Montverde Academy – amassing a 489-102 record and winning two national championships. In 1998, he was the associate head coach on the USA Today Super 25 National Championship team and in 2007, he was the head coach of the Montverde Academy Hoops.com National Championship team. He also coached Montrose Christian and Montverde to second place finishes in national championship tournaments.

Sutton has also been selected as a coach for USA Basketball on three different occasions.

Given where he was an assistant and the prep schools he coached, Sutton will be a strong presence for Pitt in the Baltimore-DC area.

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April 6, 2016

Some movement on Kevin Stallings coaching staff. The only sure things were that Stallings was bringing his longtime assistant Tom Richardson with him. And that none of the old Pitt assistants would be on the staff. There is now some debate on the nature of what Brandin Knight was offered to be an assistant.

Stallings said discussions with longtime Panthers assistant and former player Brandin Knight included a “sizeable pay raise” and touched on changing his title to associate head coach, but Knight declined to pursue other options.

Prior to Stallings statement, it was assumed that Richardson was going to be associate head coach (top assistant) as he was at Vandy.

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[Editor note: I drafted this before I even knew Reed was writing his own thing on Barnes. So, this isn’t a counterpoint. Just my own thoughts.]

One of the nice things about traveling is that it does give you time to think. Between the driving, the flights and motion there has been a bit of time for that. Can’t break out the laptop and there are only so many times you can bust out a pithy 140 character tweet that neatly encapsulates the rambling thoughts bouncing around the head. It gave me a rare chance to step back and actually think before blathering.

That has led me to think more and more about the hiring of Kevin Stallings. I’m not going to waste my energies venting about Stallings. I want him to prove that it really was Vandy, not him, that was the reasons for the underachieving.

That he is reinvigorated by the move and that it is going to turn out a lot better than it seems. Retaining the recruiting class and the fact that all seems calm with the returning players is encouraging. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I’d rather have a little hope for a while longer.

I think that what most of us are bothered by is not hiring Stallings, but why hire Stallings.

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March 28, 2016

This Really Happened

Filed under: Basketball,Coaches,Hire/Fire,Stallings — Chas @ 10:44 am

Very grateful that my father and brother-in-law keep stocked bars with some truly excellent bourbons and scotch. Though, I’m pretty sure I’d be drinking any rotgut when Saturday night went to hell.

I don’t know what to say. I was keeping my expectations low, simply because looking at the landscape of college basketball and the coaches out there. I just didn’t see any homerun hires. Solid ones? Sure. Medium risk, high reward? Even that. But this? Never saw it coming.

As usual Pitt kept a tight lid on things until the very end. And oh, what an end.

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March 24, 2016

Coach Search 2016, Continues

Filed under: Basketball,Coaches,Hire/Fire — Chas @ 7:48 pm

Programming note. I am traveling early tomorrow. Heading to Texas. Coincidence. I swear.

Not the Metroplex, but Houston to see family and take a bit of a vacation for a week. If you want to impute the selfish reason of not wanting Dixon to leave because I wanted a bit of peace on the vacation. Well, you probably are not completely wrong.

Now, I have to remain somewhat plugged in, and will post a little.

Okay, onto more stuff about potential candidates.

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March 23, 2016

Coach Search 2016

Filed under: Basketball,Coaches,Hire/Fire — Chas @ 7:30 am

So, so weird that this isn’t football related.

Have we got the Miller boys out of our system yet, or is this going to be an ongoing thing?

I don’t know that there is much to say after yesterday’s 15 minute flurry. Neither Sean or Archie were ever going to be interested. Sean is at a basketball school, in a major conference, with tons of resources, easier access to talent, makes big money, etc. Yes, he’s a Pitt alum and local, but he wasn’t coming back.

Archie is waiting for his spot. He had offers/interest from Alabama and others and passed last year. I don’t even know for certain that he would go back to his alma mater of NC State when they get tired of Mark Gottfried (related note, good luck to Cat Barber in the NBA Draft and good riddance).

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March 22, 2016

Over the last five years there have been 45 coaching changes at the power conferences, Big East and a handful of other programs that have a high profile/top-25 team (New Mexico, VCU, UNLV).

I thought it might be useful to take a look at how the vacancies were filled.

2011 – 10 changes: 4 Power Moves; 3 Mid-Majors; 2 Assistant Coaches; 1 Ex-Coach/TV analyst

2012 – 8 changes: 3 Power Moves; 4 Mid-Majors; 1 Assistant Coach

2013 – 6 changes: 2 Power Moves; 1 Mid-Majors; 3 Assistant Coaches

2014 – 10 changes: 2 Power Moves; 3 Mid-Majors; 3 Assistant Coaches; 2 Ex-Coaches/TV Analysts

2015 – 11 changes: 2 Power Moves; 4 Mid-Majors; 2 Assistant Coaches; 2 Ex-Coaches/TV Analsyts; 1 NBA Front Office/Alum

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March 21, 2016

Here’s a simple reality. It is very likely that Pitt basketball is going to slip a little further in the short term before it improves.

Complain about the disappointments of this season, but there aren’t that many examples of programs that lost their head coach after being in the NCAA Tournament — and improving immediately. Let alone tread water. In the last five years, the only examples that spring to mind are just this past year: Shaka Smart to Texas, Iowa State under Steve Prohm and Will Wade at VCU. And again, all three didn’t do dramatically better. They stayed constant.

There are just so many changes. From style of play, lost recruiting class, transfers, graduations.

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