It is getting close to crunch time.
The all-important recruiting Letter of Intent Day (LOI Day) is fast approaching; February 3rd is the date this year with April 1st as the last day the National Letter of Intent (NLI) can be signed for players to qualify for the 2016 recruiting class and football season.
Pitt is pushing hard for verbals from Central Catholic’s 4* Safety Damar Hamlin, a and Khaleke Hudson a 3* Athlete from McKeesport. Both are local guys who Narduzzi very much wants to land for several reason, not the least of which is that they are local kids and both are being recruited by Penn State and other top name programs like OSU and Michigan and have many other prime offers. If Narduzzi lands these two guys other recruits will sit up and take notice for their future choices.
On the other side of this is the angst we have about kids who are already committed to Pitt being actively recruited by other programs up to and sometimes including LOI Day. Such as highly sought after 3* Henry Miller of Kissimmee, FL. He’s a CB who will serve us well in two ways: first he’s a good play and we need CBs but secondly, he’s a Florida recruit and if you want your program to grow into a solid winning one those Florida kids with their speed are good ones to land.
Before we get into the actual game information and facts, all of which you readers have been addressing in your comments since Navy’s 10 play 75 yard drive in the beginning of the 1st quarter, allow me to talk about some other aspects of Pitt football and The Pitt Blather.
First off, except for the game itself, the last two days were about as great as college football can be. The atmosphere surrounding the bowl from noon on Sunday (when I checked into a hotel in Annapolis) through the pre-game tailgates until the end of the game was top-notch and everyone was happy and glad to be there.
The evening pub crawl was the most fun I have had in many years and I mean that literally. At each stop the bars and restaurants were jammed with Pitt fans that were chanting, singing and talking, loudly, about the 2015 season and our new head coach.
It really made me, and others I’m sure, very proud of the university and the team.
There were some funny things going on – for some reason just because I did that article on here about Annapolis and the Pub Crawl, which was also pasted up on Facebook by a Pitt fan group, whenever I was introduced to anyone they always asked “Hey, where are we supposed to go next?” like I was a tour guide or something.
I honestly didn’t remember the exact things I wrote and had to ask my friend to look that article up on his phone.
Also, I met about 50+ fans who ‘read the Blather but don’t post on it’. It always surprises me a bit when someone says that and when I asked why they mostly said that they felt like an outsider because of all the regular commenters we have on here.
It is now T-27h 30m until Military Pub Crawl muster and we Blatherites better get serious about where we want to meet on both Sunday and then again on gameday Monday for the guys who aren’t getting to Annapolis until the day of the game. Here is the weather report as of this writing.
Sunday: 69º/44 º Cloudy 20% Rain 13 mph wind 89% Humidity
Sunday: 46º/39 º Cloudy 10% Rain 13 mph wind 62% Humidity
On Sunday I’ll be checking into the O’Gallagher Hotel at around noon and will probably take it easy, have a big lunch and watch the Steelers-Ravens game that afternoon. That game should end around 4:00 so… I suggest that we Blatherites meet at the Ram’s Head Tavern at 4:00 for the official “Pitt Blather Meet & Greet” and get a bit of a head start on all the other 7000+ Pitt fans who will be crawling in Annapolis that evening also.
**** Breaking News – ex-Terp WR Juwann Winfree has committed to Pitt this afternoon.****
My friends at Facebook’s Pitt Panther Fanatics asked me to draw up an offensive game plan for the Marine Bowl Pub Crawl on Sunday the 27th… the pre-game day festivities for our Panthers matchup with the Navy Midshipman.
I live about 30 minutes away from downtown Annapolis and we go there regularly for events and meals and such so here is what I recommend for maximizing the cheap drinks hosted by the listed bars (below) from 4:00-9:00 pm… along with some good food
One thing to note is that Annapolis is on the side of a hill and I’m going to list the places to go from the top of the hill down toward the waterfront and the City Dock.
If you look at a map of the Downtown area you see two large traffic circles and then a smaller one down at the waterfront. The two larger ones are the “Church Circle” that is the western one and the other is the “State Circle” (State Capitol bldgs) a bit larger and to the east.
We don’t want to mess with the State Circle so we’ll begin our tour at the Rams Head Tavern which is on West Street (MD-450) just before getting to Church Circle. Do not be put off by the road name, MD – 450 is really just a big street.
MILITARY BOWL PRESENTED BY NORTHROP GRUMMAN
December 28, 2015 • 2:30 p.m., ET
Annapolis, Md. • Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (34,000/FieldTurf)
PITT BOWL GUIDE LINK (PDF): Pitt Military Bowl Media Guide
Pitt’s ‘pump-up’ for this season…
Here is “The Journey “- the “pump-up’ to Navy’s 2015 season…
* Pitt makes its 32nd all-time postseason appearance when it faces nationally ranked Navy in the Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman.
* Led by first-year head coach Pat Narduzzi, the Panthers finished the regular season with an 8-4 record, their best 12-game mark since 2009. A bowl victory would give Pitt nine wins, its most since that 2009 edition finished with a 10-3 mark.
* The Panthers and Midshipmen are not unfamiliar foes. In a series that dates back to 1912, Pitt leads, 22-14-3. The teams split the past four meetings, the most recent occurring in 2013 when host Navy defeated Pitt, 24-21, on a field goal as time expired.
Is anyone all that surprised Jim Chaney took off (or was helped on his way) this morning? I wasn’t. I had the following Facebook private message conversation with another Pitt football fan at 8:41 am on Friday morning:
Jeff, the real point was what I’ve heard about Narduzzi and Chaney. I just wouldn’t be surprised if Chaney was gone in a year or two. Narduzzi took a big gamble on letting Chaney run with Peterman and it just worked out toward the end of the year.
However, to fire an Ass’t Coach means buying out their contract and that is big $$$. But we saw publicly some tension between Narduzzi and Chaney on the sideline (and with Narduzzi’s rather snide “You’ll have to ask Chaney that” and I’ve been told it was worse in the locker room and clubhouse.
I didn’t write about it on the Blather because I don’t do that unless it this type of information is made public in another forum first. But there were signs of discontent with the coaches both on and off the field.
Last month the fine sports blog Cardiac Hill had a good take on what transpired between Narduzzi and Jim Chaney at the end of the 1st half against North Carolina:
…Even the coaches had serious issues. Major miscommunication cost the team approximately ten crucial seconds at the end of the first half when driving to potentially score some points. Pat Narduzzi appeared livid with offensive coordinator John Chaney as Nathan Peterman looked to the sidelines for a play call. Pitt was forced to use a timeout. That proved costly as the Panthers needed another timeout as they simply ran out of time and weren’t able to get the ball into the end zone or spike it for a field goal attempt.
The bottom line is that Annapolis is one of the best places to watch college football in the US. The city itself is an historic treasure and the Naval Academy, it’s alumni and Midshipmen are great hosts to visiting fans. Below is a ton of info about the Bowl game and associated issues. There will be a lot to do. One thing I highly recommend is that you take the opportunity to work in a visit to the Naval Academy itself. Visiting there is a pretty formalized because so many people do it every day.
Here is the link to the Armel-Leftwich Visitors Center and some more additional info and numbers to call if you plan on getting more info. I will say this – if you go to the Main Chapel (ADM John Paul Jones is buried here)…
and to the Naval Museum on campus be prepared for the waterworks to start… at least they always do for me. The Naval Cemetery is impressive as hell also.
I plan on visiting in late morning on Sunday and because I am a retired Coastie can park on the Academy grounds at the Visitors Center – I can take three guests with me if anyone is interested – you just have to have valid photo IDs.
Our favorite restaurant/pub in Annapolis is the Irish pub Galway Bay but there are a ton of good and interesting places to eat and drink. Sometimes the weather in late December isn’t all that bad so don’t hesitate to go down Main Street and walk around the dock harbor. You’ll see that statue of Alex Haley, author of “Roots” and who was on active duty with the US Coast Guard when he wrote that book (way before my time you jagoffs). Also check out this small museum, the Waterfront Warehouse, for in-depth history of Annapolis and immediate region.
PITT (8-3, 6-1 ACC) vs. MIAMI (7-4, 4-3)
November 27, 2015 • Noon, ET
Heinz Field (68,400/Natural Grass) • Pittsburgh, Pa.
ESPN2 • Pitt IMG Sports Radio Network
PittsburghPanthers.com • @GoPittFootball • #MIAvsPITT
Here is this last evening and this morning’s media recap for the day:
8-3 sounds damn good doesn’t it, especially after I predicted that we’d be 9-3 at the end of the regular season. I’m lying!! I predicted 6-6 with a chance at 7-5 “if the ball bounced our way a few times“. Glad to be wrong with that one and with this 45-34 win behind us we have an excellent chance to end the regular season at 9-3.
(Any italics are my text…)
PITT (6-2, 4-1 ACC) vs. #8/9 NOTRE DAME (7-1) (Doctored up)
(Notre Dame’s new true Freshman Hunchback)
November 7, 2015 • Noon, ET
Heinz Field (68,400/Natural Grass) • Pittsburgh, Pa.
ABC National Telecast • Pitt IMG Sports Radio Network
PittsburghPanthers.com • @GoPittFootball • #NDvsPITT
LINK (PDF): Pitt Game Notes (vs. ND)
* Pitt and Notre Dame renew ties for the 70th time when the Panthers host their historic rival for a noon ABC national telecast at Heinz Field. Pitt owns a 6-2 mark, its best start since 2009. The Irish are 7-1 and ranked as high as No. 8 this week.
* The Panthers are looking to bounce back from a 26-19 loss to ACC foe North Carolina. The defeat halted a four-game winning streak for Pitt. Notre Dame visits Pittsburgh having won its last three games following a two-point loss at undefeated Clemson (Oct. 3).
* Close games and dramatic finishes have been the rule for Pitt and Notre Dame in recent years. The past six meetings have been decided by an average of 4.5 points. Two of those contests have gone to overtime.
* Pitt is 5-2 in games decided by single digits this year. The Panthers were 1-5 in single-digit contests last season.
* All-America candidate Tyler Boyd needs just 49 receiving yards to become Pitt’s all-time leader in that category. Boyd enters the Notre Dame game with 3,013 career yards, second only to Antonio Bryant (3,061 from 1999-2001) at Pitt.
* Tyler Boyd is already Pitt’s career receptions leader with 226. Boyd is the ACC’s active career leader and ranks second nationally with 6.85 catches per game.
* Quarterback Nate Peterman is completing 67.4% of his passes this season, the second-best percentage in the ACC and 15th nationally. Peterman has thrown 151 consecutive passes without an interception dating back to the first half at Iowa (Sept. 19).
* This season marks the 40-year anniversary of Tony Dorsett’s legendary 303-yard rushing game against Notre Dame in 1975. Dorsett’s incredible effort sparked the Panthers to a 34-20 win over the Irish at Pitt Stadium.
In a sign from Heaven this vision appeared on the building facing Notre Dame’s football field immediately after Dorsett broke the 300 yard mark. “It’s like God deserted us just because Pitt beat the crap out of our team” a scared undergrad said, “But He’ll make it right after next year’s game here at Notre Dame, I know He will. There’s no way we lose two in a row to them!!” But apparently God took the Panthers getting five points in 1976…
Pitt and Notre Dame meet for the 70th time in a series that dates back to 1909…the Irish lead the all-time series by a 47-21-1 count…Pitt and Notre Dame have split the past eight meetings with each team winning four times since 2004…close contests have been the norm for most of the past decade…nine of the past 10 games have been decided by single digits…in the last meeting, Pitt edged the Irish, 28-21, at Heinz Field in 2013…
Pitt’s 2013 win snapped a three-game series losing streak and gained a measure of revenge for its 2012 loss, a 29-26 heartbreaker in three overtimes at Notre Dame…the Panthers are 11-26-1 at home and 10-21 on the road against Notre Dame…Pitt’s longest winning streak in the series is three games, achieved three separate times (1932-34; 1958-60; 1983, ‘86-87)…Notre Dame’s longest winning streak against Pitt is 11 games, which occurred from 1964-74…
…that streak was snapped in 1975 when Pitt defeated the Irish, 34-20 (page 36 of the Post Gazette), behind 303 rushing yards from Tony Dorsett…the 303 yards remain a Notre Dame opponent record…in four games against the Irish (1973-76), Dorsett rushed for 754 yards, an NCAA record for a player against a four-year opponent…
(Here is the recap of the 1976 ND game the season after the 303 yard performance… this game sticks in my mind more than the 303 game actually… sweet as hell! All the Pitt fans in ND stadium were looking at Hornung up in the press box and screaming “Jump! Jump!”)
…the Pitt-Notre Dame series is long on history and color…on Nov. 13, 1999, the Panthers defeated Notre Dame, 37-27, in the final game ever played at Pitt Stadium…Pittsburgh product Kevan Barlow scored two TDs, including the game’s final score on a two-yard run to close down the 74-year-old structure…
…the 2008 game at Notre Dame was an instant classic...the Panthers clawed back from a 17-3 halftime deficit to defeat the Irish, 36-33, in four overtimes…the four-overtime affair marked the longest game in both Pitt and Notre Dame history…the ‘08 game also marked the Panthers’ second consecutive victory at Notre Dame Stadium…
…in its prior visit to South Bend (2004), Pitt beat the Irish, 41-38, behind five touchdown passes from Tyler Palko, an unprecedented achievement against Notre Dame. Here’s another piece on Palko for your Pitt football pleasure, and to keep you from going back to doing what your supposed to be doing to earn that salary your getting…
SERIES IN BRIEF
Series Began: 1909
Series Overall: ND leads 47-21-1
At Pittsburgh: ND leads 26-11-1
At Notre Dame: ND leads 21-10
At Neutral Sites: DNA
OT Games: Series tied, 1-1
Last Meeting at Pitt: Nov. 9, 2013 (Pitt 28, Notre Dame 21)
Last Meeting at ND: Nov. 3, 2012 (Notre Dame 29, Pitt 26, 3OT)
Current Series Streak: Pitt has won 1 (2013)
Longest Pitt Series Win Streak: 3 games (three times, last: 1983, ‘86-87)
Longest Notre Dame Series Win Streak: 11 games (1964-74)
Largest Pitt Victory Margin: 26 points (26-0, 1936)
Television • ABC (WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh)
Sean McDonough, play-by-play
Chris Spielman, analyst
Todd McShay, reporter
Pitt Radio • 93.7 The Fan & the Pitt IMG Sports Network
Bill Hillgrove, play-by-play
Pat Bostick, analyst
Larry Richert, reporter
SiriusXM Satellite Radio
Sirius Channel 84, XM Channel 84
WPTS Radio (Pitt Student Station) • 92.1 FM
Pitt IMG Sports Network Online Audio Options
Finally, because this cracked me up when I watched it and because it is very well done, here is “Naptown Funk” (Naptown is Annapolis). Call me a hopelessly sentimental guy but when I see young men and women in the Military enjoying themselves I get a big smile on my face – especially considering what tough times they’ll be facing in a few years.
Plus, this might be the first time in the history of the U.S. that all five Armed Forces worked successfully with each other on something:
November 2, 2015
Pat Narduzzi Press Conference (italics are mine at the end for the ND story)
Notre Dame Week
PRESS CONFERENCE VIDEO: Narduzzi ND Preview
PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT (HTML LINK): Narduzzi Text Transcript
(This is one of a weekly series of articles entitled “Monday Morning Quarterback”. I will try to post them two days after the football games are played so as to have our wilder emotions under control by then. It will be my take on the positives and the negatives we saw happen and a chance for commenters to agree or disagree and to add their own thoughts.)
This is will a Friday morning edition of course and that’s good because I don’t want three days to think about that game before I can put it into the history books… and I don’t think you want to either.
We’ll get back to all that in a second… here is the obligatory highlights video:
Now lets get the hard part out of the way with Narduzzi’s post game press conference:
Here is the info dump on the game and the cumulative stats for the season:
OK, now is the hard part and it is a bit like looking into a ‘Way-Back’ mirror to the last week of camp where we talked about things that might bite us in the ass… sprinkled with some new problems that have shown themselves growing week-by-week.
One thing that I’ll keep first and foremost in my head for the next ten days is that a good, solid, football team came into Heinz Field and won the game. North Carolina is no stumble bum team that just happened to get luck breaks to win the game. That wasn’t the case, they came here and won the play on both sides of the ball and scored more than we did.
No pressure, but this is the most important game any player on this roster has ever been in. It’s unquestionably the biggest game since for Pitt the 2010 Backyard Brawl. It may be even bigger than that. If Pitt wins, Narduzzi and company are in the driver’s seat for the ACC Coastal. Lose and Pitt will need a lot of help. If the goal is to be a nationally relevant program, these are the games you have to win.
UNC comes to town with similar pressure. Both teams were 6-6 last year and thanks to some coaching changes (UNC added DC Gene Chizik) have taken an obvious step forward. Like Pitt, a win for the Tarheels will put them in the driver’s seat for the ACC Coastal.
How $%&@ing awesome is it to have a nationally televised game with huge implications on the line in late October? Let’s take a look at what UNC brings to the table. (more…)