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July 23, 2013

Looking For the Big Win

Filed under: Football,History — Chas @ 12:26 pm

Specifically a season opening big win.

We are all excited for this first season in the ACC. Just as we are all very excited for the first game. A Labor Day night game with all the bells and whistles at home against a top team like Florida State. Visions dance in our heads of a big-time atmosphere. Lots of electricity in the air. Pitt riding the continuity of having the same head coach for more than one year and just putting a heroic effort in to defeat the Seminoles.

Just one nagging question.

When was the last time Pitt did that in a season or home opener?

We all know the disappointments and stunners to start a year. Dave Wannstedt offered us ND and Bowling Green. Last year we had the Youngstown State debacle.

Going to toss this out to everyone, because I just don’t have a good answer. I have trouble going with the 2006 pounding of Virginia since the Cavs were 5-7 that year, but that might be the closest thing in the last 20 years.

Is it the almost upset of Texas in 1994 under Johnny Majors? Is that too much of a reach? Whipping Hoopies in Morgantown under Paul Hackett  in 1991?

I know it’s a small sample size, simply because Pitt — like most of college football — rarely starts the season off with a bang. Still, I can’t find much before 1976 and beating Notre Dame in South Bend to start the national championship season.

January 10, 2013

Leftover Legacies and Linkage

Filed under: Football,History — Chas @ 12:41 pm

I see there are articles and discussions on the topic of legacies with this senior class, and one player in particular. Some were probably ready to turn the page by halftime of the BBVA Bowl. Others will want to vent or defend for the next two years.

The one thing of which I feel certain, is that this particular class will be most linked with (blamed on) former coach Dave Wannstedt. I’m hoping it is the last of them. It should be. While there is one more more true Wannstedt classes to graduate, the 2008 and 2009 signing clases that make up this group seem to exemplify the promise and disappointment of the Wannstedt era.

This is really the last group to really feel that the ties to Wannstedt are still there. That draw reference to him.

“We wanted to start with a guy like coach Wannstedt, we believed in coach Wannstedt,” Sunseri said.

“For us to finish with a guy like coach Chryst, we feel like he’s the Dave Wannstedt kind of guy. Coach Chryst obviously is his own person and he brings different attributes to the table, but he’s one of those guys that loves this university, loves the players.”

When the comparisons are to Fraud Graham and Haywood, that can be considered in a positive light.

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October 2, 2012

Over the many years of blogging, both sides of this Pitt-Syracuse game have noted the complete lack of vitriol and hatred. Despite Syracuse being Pitt’s (tied for) 3d most played opponent in football. And the fact that they will have the #3 spot all alone in a few years when ND starts rotating on and off the schedule, there isn’t much of a burning desire to burn their city and make them cry when it comes to football. Everyone wants the win, but no one circles this game on the calendar when the schedule is announced.

In about five years, Pitt will be Syracuse’s #1 most played opponent. Yet, they too can’t muster the hatred.

My longstanding theory is that, despite the closeness of the historical series — Pitt holds a 34-30-3 edge — the fact that neither team has been good at the same time has muted it. Pitt dominated them in the 70s. Syracuse ruled in the 80s and 90s. Now Pitt has been the force for the past 10 years, winning 9 of 10. How do you build up hate if only one side is ever playing for anything? If the other is stuck in their latest down-cycle or rebuilding?

So, instead, what has the team been up to with a bye week?

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September 3, 2012

1-AA Losses In the Last Five Years

Filed under: Football,History — Chas @ 3:04 pm

When you have plenty of time, but no wi-fi, there is only so much you can do. I did, however, have the handy-dandy Phil Steele College Football Preview Guide to keep me entertained. Pitt was #15 on his list of most improved teams for this year! Guessing that won’t be mentioned next year when he talks of his accuracy.

It did allow me to look over the schedules of teams over the past five years and how many BCS programs have lost to 1-AA teams in that span. Time to look at the factoids gleaned.

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July 21, 2012

Football Rivalry History Review

Filed under: Football,History — Chas @ 9:27 am

Yes, I am blatantly stealing this idea from Nunes. Too good not to do an info-dump version for Pitt.

The final year for Pitt in the Big East. Next year, it’s the ACC. So, time to take a historical look at the most played teams, the past and future. The list is of the teams Pitt has played 20 or more times.

Most Played Teams in Pitt Football

1. West Virginia: 104, 61-40-3. Like it or not, you know at some point the Backyard Brawl will be played once more.

2. Penn State: 96, 42-50-4. Unless this resumes as a full-time series.

3. (tie) Notre Dame: 67, 20-46-1. Sadly, this is not the most lopsided historical record on the list.

 3. (tie) Syracuse: 67, 34-30-3. You would think both sides would care more about this series, as within the next 5 years or so Pitt will be their most played opponent and Cuse remains a top-3. Yet you would be hard pressed to find a fan on either side who circles this game on the calendar.

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June 25, 2012

Classic Comebacks: 1970 Backyard Brawl

Filed under: Football,History — Chas @ 4:29 pm

While not as disastrous as the Dave Hart era of Pitt football, the Carl DePasqua period that came right before Johnny Majors I was hardly stellar. A 13-29 record over 4 years and only one season at .500. Pitt under DePasqua effectively peaked halfway through the second season. Pitt had reached 5-1, before riding a 4 game losing streak to 5-5. Those were followed up with 3-8 and 1-10 seasons and Pitt’s 3d coach in 7 years.

Still, if there is one thing that lingers — and vaguely redeems — from the DePasqua era, it is the 1970 Backyard Brawl which also served as Pitt’s homecoming. A game that saw Pitt come back from 35-8 to win 36-35 (hat tip to EDSBS).

In two parts. Part One:

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February 16, 2012

Final Brawl Day

Filed under: Basketball,History,Opponent(s) — Chas @ 10:48 am

Apparently this could be the final Backyard Brawl meeting. There’s a little history involved. You may have caught a brief mention of it somewhere. I’m sure ESPN will show it’s usual reserve and sense of understatement on the topic for tonight’s 9pm game.

I’ve been on record of wanting to continue the Brawl. That hasn’t changed, but the hand-wringing does bring out the contrarian in me. [As does lazy writing that opts for short, one-sentence paragraphs to fill the space rather than any sort of actual writing on the topic. Joe Starkey takes it to Ron Cook levels today, with an epic effort of 12 short, one-sentence paragraphs.]

For a better view, this from Ray Mernagh is superior in style and substance.

Pitt fans don’t want to go to WVU anymore because of the behavior of the crowds in Morgantown. That’s fine and it’s also understandable. So don’t go. I’m sure the Pitt players want to continue to go to Morgantown. It’s the kind of setting that gets your juices flowing as a player. It’s you, and your 14 guys/coaches, against the world. It’s a test. It’s what a rivalry should be. It’s what Truck Bryant and Kevin Jones and Jabarie Hinds will relish tonight when they step on the floor and get verbally assaulted by the Oakland Zoo.

The Pitt/WVU basketball series has given us far too many memorable evenings/afternoons to stop it because both are headed to greener pastures. Both programs will continue to be strong in the future and playing each other can only help.

I suspect that Pitt and WVU will end up missing next year in the basketball side, but I believe that going forward there will be an annual game. Unlike the arguments against continuing in football, basketball is an easier sell.

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November 30, 2011

Not A Casual City Game

Filed under: Basketball,History,Opponent(s) — Chas @ 2:18 pm

I don’t think Duquesne is that good this year. It’s just that Pitt is very much an uneven, work in progress right now. Duquesne has more experience, but is at a size disadvantage.

The Dukes will trot out an experienced guard-oriented lineup that is high on energy but short on height. Coach Ron Everhart’s tallest starter is 6-foot-7 junior Andre Marhold.

The Panthers have not been a consistent rebounding team, but two of their young post players are starting to come into their own. Freshman Khem Birch and sophomore Talib Zanna have combined for 40 points and 38 rebounds the past two games.

“It’s going to be key,” Pitt senior forward Nasir Robinson said of controlling the boards. “We’ll do a good job on the rebounds and take advantage inside. We have athletic guys like Khem Birch, Talib, Dante [Taylor] and me. We have to use our athleticism and get it done.”

The Dukes will try to exploit Pitt’s transition defense, which was leaky in its loss to Long Beach State. The Dukes, after scoring just 59 points in a season-opening loss at Arizona, have been much better executing their offensive game plan. With their up-tempo style, the Dukes have averaged 85 points in their four victories.

“Against Arizona we walked the ball up a little too much,” McConnell said. “Since then, we got the ball out every time and did not allow [opposing teams] to get set on defense.”

And no doubt they have been reviewing that Long Beach State game.

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October 14, 2011

Quick Recruiting Rewind

Filed under: Football,History,Recruiting — Chas @ 11:34 am

The Russel Shell commit is obviously welcome news. The 4- to 5-star Army All-American Running Back is staying home to play college ball.

Depending on the recruiting service you prefer, Pitt how has three or four, 4-star or higher recruits in this class — Shell, Chad Voytik, Demitrious Davis, Corey Jones and Adam Bisnowaty have all been tagged in at least one recruiting site (ESPN, Rivals.com, Scout.com).

With the commit of Shell, Pitt’s recruiting class is rising in the national rankings (Insider subs).

“Aside from a strong power-base and ability to break first contact, Shell has good lateral agility the shiftiness to avoid through the hole which has helped him avoid a lot of punishment throughout his career. He can get outside with above average speed, make yards on his own between the tackles and is just a well-rounded back who the Panthers could lean on to help turn the program back into a Big East contender.”

Pittsburgh now has 18 Class of 2012 commitments and could push for a spot in ESPNU’s top 25 class rankings.

Realistically, though, as important as the big gets are — and they really, really are important — it will be the development of 3-star type recruits and the hidden gems — that will make the difference between mediocrity and contending for conference championships and BCS games. It will be getting those players that fit the system best and operate within it.

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September 27, 2011

Link Items 9/27

Filed under: Conference,History,Money — Chas @ 3:26 pm

Just some other stuff to get out there.

UConn. Really? Didn’t your state’s governor learn anything from the Missouri governor trying to get his state school into the Big 10?

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, speaking to reporters outside his Capitol office, said he no longer expects the ACC to act quickly after adding Pittsburgh and Syracuse from the Big East earlier this month.

“I think there was expectancy built up initially that this was quickly going to be resolved,” he said. “That’s clearly not the case. The ACC has the first decision to make and that’s whether they’re going to stay at 14 teams or stay at 16. I know that there’s one team, one school that they would like to get into the ACC that would guarantee them going to 16 teams and that’s been speculated to be Notre Dame. I suspect that that’s true. I don’t know how likely that is to happen or not happen. Although, I tend to think it’s not terribly likely.”

Malloy said if Notre Dame isn’t interested the ACC must decide if there is any compelling reason to expand again.

“Beyond that, then you fall back to the Big East,” he said “The Big East then has to rebuild itself to fill the loss of the two teams that left and has to worry about its ability to compete on the major sports of basketball and football in particular, as well as how do we make that work for student athletes.”

Well played, governor. I’m sure announcing that UConn will settle to fall back into the Big East will do wonders for the effort to rebuild the conference. It just enhances that image of stability.

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September 26, 2011

Bravado Haunts

Filed under: Coaches,Football,History — Chas @ 10:15 am

If there is one thing Pitt fans should be aware after the past weeks, it is that past words will be thrown back in your face. It doesn’t matter if it was seven to eight years ago or seven to eight months. Chancellor Nordenberg’s statements after the ACC raid of the Big East in 2003 and 04 were constantly being cited and referenced last week after Pitt and Syracuse announced they were going to the ACC.

Now, after the loss to Notre Dame, the statements from Coach Todd Graham about winning and high octane offense are tossed back. Both papers had their columnists take the obvious shots. Referencing the high octane, sputtering, not matching the hype.

Not unexpected. Predictable, even.

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September 7, 2011

Extra Reading Material — 9/7

Filed under: Football,History — Chas @ 1:31 pm

A couple good stories to read today. One short, one long.

This short post on the Rice Marching Band (known as the MOB). They got some attention over the weekend with their halftime performance against Texas where they spelled out “$EC.” In the past they also had some fun at the expense of Coach Todd Graham — who left Rice for Tulsa after one season.  But A&M is a favorite target for a reason.

The MOB certainly seems to enjoy gigging their former Southwest Conference foes. During Saturday’s show, the band took on Texas Gov. Rick Perry (a proud A&M grad) and his presidential bid. The announcer declared, “The next time you go to the polls, ask yourself: Is your candidate smarter than an Aggie?”

The MOB will take on a sacred cow “wherever we find it,” says Throckmorton. “The thing about A&M is everything is sacred there. It’s sort of a match made in heaven.”

One more reason why A&M will fit right into the SEC.

Then there is the long, sad story of Daryl Turner.

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December 9, 2009

Maybe it’s the plunging temperatures, freezing rain and overall grayness of the day. Maybe I’m just in a downer mood. Not sure, but for some reason the Big East honors did not do much to cheer me.

It should surprise no one that Pitt kicked ass in this. Four players made the 2nd Team All-Big East and ten made the 1st Team.

2nd Team All-Big East players from Pitt were: TE Nate Byham, K Dan Hutchins, DT Gus Mustakas and S Dom DeCicco.

1st Team All-Big East players from Pitt were: WR Jonathan Baldwin, OG John Malecki, OT Jason Pinkston, TE Dorin Dickerson, QB Bill Stull, RB Dion Lewis, DE Greg Romeus, LB Adam Gunn, DT Mick Williams and CB Aaron Berry.

Dion Lewis and Greg Romeus were unanimous picks at their spots.

In addition, Dion Lewis was unanimously chosen as Big East rookie of the year and named the offensive player of the year. The first Pitt player chosen for the offensive PoY since Larry Fitzgerald.

Greg Romeus and Mick Williams were named co-defensive players of the year in the Big East. The third time in the last four years that Pitt players have taken that honor.

The ten 1st team spots is as many as WVU and Cinci had combined. Yet Pitt finishes behind both of them.

So while I am happy for the deserved recognition for the Pitt players. Especially for what Dion Lewis has done this year, it makes the finish to the season just a little more bitter at the moment.

January 5, 2009

This Means Something

Filed under: Basketball,History,Polls — Chas @ 1:10 pm

I suppose to programs that have done it multiple times and have National Championships, this might seem like a nice but relatively minor event. Arguably getting to number 1, even in early-January is as much about about being high enough in preseason rankings and attrition of those teams ahead.

The time that truly matters is at the end of the year.

That may be true. It does, however, matter right now. This is a big deal for Pitt. In the 101 years that Pitt has played basketball, and however many years that there have been polls Pitt has never been ranked #1. Not in NCAA Tournament seedings. Not in the polls.

Even in this period where Pitt has set itself as one of the top-25 teams of this decade, they have never reached higher than #2 for only brief periods.

The polls come out later, but teams ranked 1, 2 and 4 all lost (here’s a couple AP voters showing their ballots).

Just an ridiuclously awesome thing to enjoy the reflected glory of what the team has done. I mean, I know it’s silly, but I’ve had a big goofy grin on my face most of the day just thinking about seeing Pitt in the #1 spot.

The players know to say the right thing.

“We’re excited,” sophomore center DeJuan Blair said. “It means a whole lot for us. But we need to stay focused and keep our heads in it, stay humble.”

The first Pitt basketball team to ever accomplish it. At least one goal achieved.

UPDATE (1:33): Here’s the Coach’s Poll (ESPN/USA Today) story, Pitt got 30 of 31 votes — one coach kept UNC at #1.

January 4, 2009

The Formula for No. 1

Filed under: ACC,History — Keith W. @ 8:02 pm

If No. 11 beats No. 2, No. 3 beats No. 11 and UR beats No. 1, what does No. 3 equal?

Down go the Tar Heels!

Pitt was ranked No. 3 going into the week.

No. 2 UConn fell to Georgetown . Than, Pitt knocked off the Hoyas.

Now, just seconds ago, the final variable fell into place.  The team most pundits have already given the National Title, No. 1 North Carolina,  fell at home, to our good friends the BC Eagles, 85-78.

Fan House already has a take on the game.

How they did it was pretty simple: BC was on fire from behind the arc and clamped down the Heels defensively. The Eagles also fought on the offensive glass and kept UNC from getting into their deadly transition game. That fact caused the normally poised Tar Heels to take frustration shots and make frustration fouls which fed the deficit.

I don’t see how anyone can’t pick Pitt to be No. 1.

The Panther’s have never been ranked No. 1 , and it will be interesting to see how the team will handle the bulls eye.

Pitt’s next game is Sunday at home against St. John’s (who beat ND this weekend).  The Red Storm  seem to have a knack for upsetting the Panther’s when they least expect it. You can bet the Pete will be buzzing a week from today.

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