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February 11, 2016

Lets talk Pitt football for a while to get the sour BB taste out of our mouths.

I hadn’t seen this Pitt LiveWire video of the Southside War Room when the class of 2016′ faxes start rolling in. Narduzzi looks like a little kid on Christmas morning and that is a nice bit of Jamie Dixon in the hallway watching HCPN  talk to a George Hill.

Here is some yapping about how Pitt plans to fill the seats at Heinz. good luck and a successful program needs three things; a good coaching staff, good players and great fan support… well, two out of three isn’t too bad is it?

“Athletic director Scott Barnes set the bar high for everyone — coaches, players, the ticket office and fans — when he revealed Monday an ambitious plan to sell a record number of Pitt full-season packages at Heinz Field: 53,775, an increase of more than 19.5 percent from last year. Two years ago, Pitt sold 40,696.

“It’s a lofty goal,” he said, noting the Pitt record of 53,433 was set in 2003.”

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February 9, 2016

To get out of the BB negativity here are some items about the football program…

First – here is the UPMC LiveWire 2016 LOI Day Special program – 50 minutes of Pitt fun.  Enjoy!!

In breaking news Pitt wants more asses in those yellow seats.  Not that we haven’t heard that before but AD Barnes has set specific goals and started the process by having the season ticket renewal forms arrive at the season ticket holders’ homes the day after we landed our best recruiting class in eight years… smart move actually.

Athletic director Scott Barnes set the bar high for everyone — coaches, players, the ticket office and fans — when he revealed Monday an ambitious plan to sell a record number of Pitt full-season packages at Heinz Field: 53,775, an increase of more than 16 percent from last year. Two years ago, Pitt sold 40,696.

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February 4, 2016

What a fine finish to a hard fought and victorious recruiting season!  Here is Pitt’s “Signing Day Special” presentation of the 23 young men who just signed on the dotted line to play football for the University of Pittsburgh.  They posted great write ups and videos of each recruit – well done Pitt and thanks for the info.

Before we start digging into the details of the class, here is a great 40 minute video of Pat Narduzzi’s 3:00 pm press conference where he discusses this 2016 recruiting class. Does he look like a happy guy to you?

I agree with the commenters who said that this may be the best overall recruiting class since Dave Wannstedt’s time at Pitt.  Rivals.com has us with 23 recruits who average out to 3.13 stars apiece; five 4*s, 16 3*s and two 2* on the whole.  Not too shabby at all.

The excitement for recruiting is as high as any I can remember it being over the last 15 years, as is the excitement for the program and especially the coaching staff.

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February 2, 2016

Well, it was certainly a big day for Pitt football and HC Pat Narduzzi yesterday.  Both local recruits 4* DB Damar Hamlin (Central Catholic) and WR Aaron Mathews 3* (Clairton) made verbal commitments to play for us.  This is what the staff, the fans and the other present and future local recruits have been waiting for.  Hamlin is the Great White of this year’s crop of WPA players and Narduzzi reeled him in.

Both kids are truly filling positions of need – Hamlin certainly with the graduation of CB Lafayette Pitts and that may happen as quickly as this season, and Mathews helping to ease the pain of 4* Juwann Winfree departure from Pitt to Colorado U.  Mathews won’t be seeing much playing time as a true FR but he’ll help out down the road.

So, Because of this good news and because you guys need your Pitt fixes while at work here, is a compendium of snapshots of media articles to get you through your day.

First off, here is the P-G’s take on Winfree bolting this recruiting class.

Without Winfree, Pitt is left with four-star prospect Ruben Flowers and three-star Maurice Ffrench (who could play defense) as its only receiver commitments for 2016. That’s a position of need for the Panthers heading into next year without Tyler Boyd, who opted to leave after his junior season to enter the NFL Draft.

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January 29, 2016

With less less than five days until LOI Day, Feb 3rd, and when we’ll have the final listing of our 2016 recruiting class I thought we could take a step back and hear some stories about Pitt’s recruiting in years past.

Take a minute and listen to these two pieces.  I ran across them the other day and waited until we were sick of Pitt basketball to post them.

First we have how recruiting has changed over the last 35 years or so and then we’ll follow up with a piece on how James Conner was flying under the radar until Pitt figured things out.

Varsity Xtra; Recruiting Different as Night and Day. By Mike White Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Jan 28, 2011.  Exactly five years and one day ago today we read this:

Here is a piece written about our great RB James Conner.  This was published by Bleacher report back on July 19, 2015 before Conner’s injury in our first game and of course before his diagnosis and subsquent, and ongoing, battle against Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

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January 20, 2016

 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.

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January 18, 2016

FB Bits & Pieces – 1.18.16

Filed under: Football,Media,Players,Recruiting — Reed @ 11:12 am

Huh, maybe those continuing phone calls from other schools to Tom Macvitte are getting answered.  Mike Vukovcan of KDKA reports this:

“**Source tells me that Pat Narduzzi and OC Matt Canada have an in home visit tonight with QB Thomas MacVittie. I think it’s becoming quite clear that MacVittie is a HUGE priority in this recruiting class.

**The offer yesterday to 2017 QB Matt McKay (Raleigh, NC) is an interesting one. McKay is the ultimate dual-threat quarterback as evidenced by his 46 combined touchdowns this past season.

Here are the HUDL highlights of McKay’s JR season in HS.  You can skip the ad after a few seconds.

Vukovcan is full of interesting stuff, here is a bit of speculation on his part:

**Here’s a name to keep your eye on: Derrick Green. He’s a former 5-star running back for Michigan. However, he’s graduating this spring and announced he’s going to be a graduate transfer.

I received a message from Green last night and he told me that he’s interested in looking at Pitt and making a visit. I’m hoping to do an in-depth interview with Green later today.

Green played sparingly last season for first year coach Jim Harbaugh. In 9 games this season, Green rushed for 158 yards on 47 carries and scored 2 touchdowns. For his career, Green has totaled 898 yards on 212 carries and 7 touchdowns.

At 5’11 and 240 pounds he’s be the hammer in the backfield… maybe we bring back the Fullback a bit more?

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January 15, 2016

While the 2016 basketball season is underway and through the football off season I’ll try to chip in with some historical Pitt football stories once a week, or more if I can, via audio podcasts on The Blather…. hence “BlatherCasts”.  Most will be read from already published books, articles in magazines and yearbooks and old newspapers’ coverage of the football program, team, personnel and the University itself.

Pitt Man and author Sam Sciullo Jr.,  has written four excellent books on Pitt athletics.  His most well know work was in putting together the University of Pittsburgh Football Vault: The History of the Panthers (“The Pitt Vault”) which is a great fun look at just what the title describes.

The Pitt VaultHe also has written Tales from the Pitt Panthers, my favorite of his, which is a compendium of anecdotes about the football and basketball programs.   I truly love how this book is being described in the linked Goodreads page… it starts:

“The Pitt Panthers or the Pittsburgh Panthers? Even their name evokes an argument, a touch of controversy. For anyone who has followed the football and basketball fortunes of the University of Pittsburgh, however, controversy is just one of many facets of Pitt’s programs throughout the institution’s very long history.”

Man, ain’t that the truth and it has just multiplied over the time since the book was published in 2004.  Hey, had he waited 10 years he would have been able to include Wannstedt, Graham and Chryst!

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January 7, 2016

As Chas wrote earlier Chad Voytik has made up his mind and left Pitt’s football program. He came aboard in 2012 and is leaving almost four years later to seek greener fields… or to get out of an increasingly uncomfortable atmosphere here at Pitt.  It isn’t surprising to me, but it is a bit disappointing, that Chad didn’t stay to try and rise to the occasion to regain his starting position. I thought he had more fight in him, especially after Chaney left.

It was obvious by the quotes he has issued lately that he thought he was behind the eight ball during 2015 but unless he felt Narduzzi didn’t want him as a starter he would have had the opportunity to regain that starting job.  It became apparent that he thought Peterman won the job and played well enough to keep the position,  but it is ironic if he did think so because the exact thing happened with him after his starting year.

Voytik said he felt like he was given a fair chance this season by offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, who had a prior connection with Peterman after recruiting him to Tennessee in 2012. “I feel like I was given a fair shot, but at times, things might’ve been a little unfair,” said Voytik, who declined to elaborate. “I just think it was the perfect storm of events that worked against me a little bit. That’s life, though.”

If that was indeed a ‘perfect storm’ it is one he had a major hand in brewing.  If Peterman could unseat the incumbent in ’15 why couldn’t Chad do the same for his senior year?  He must not have thought he could do so.  Now he’s apparently looking to move closer to home but the lingering and unspoken feeling is that he didn’t complete what he started out to do at Pitt.

In a more selfish view as a Pitt fan I wanted him to be our competent and experienced relief QB if he didn’t win the back starting job outright and I did believe that could happen. Peterman played like gangbusters in the first seven games of the season but when all the dust settled I truly don’t believe he played so well as to make him untouchable, especially with a new HC coming onboard.

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January 4, 2016

Chad Voytik Is Moving On

Filed under: Football,Players,Recruiting,Transfer — Chas @ 8:21 pm

I can’t blame him for deciding to transfer after he gets his degree in the spring.

“Chad has been a tremendous leader and teammate during his Pitt career, and certainly during the year I had the opportunity to coach him,” Narduzzi said. “We wish him the very best and will help him any way we can as he maps out his future pursuits. We will always consider him a Pitt Man. His contributions have been invaluable to what we are building here.”

“I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to attend and play for the University of Pittsburgh,” Voytik said. “I am blessed to have met some amazing people along the way: teammates that I’ll always be friends with, coaches that made me a better player and person, and fans that offered a tremendous amount of support. Pittsburgh will always be my second home.”

I wish him nothing but the best.

Let me start by repeating something I am know I have said on Twitter, and I’m pretty sure I have said on this site. It is not conflicting or inconsistent to think:

A. Nate Peterman was the better option at QB in the offense Pitt ran this past season.

B. Chad Voytik was not given a fair chance to keep the starting QB job.

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Setting Jamel Artis Apart

Filed under: Basketball,Players — Chas @ 8:28 am

In the overall development of Jamel Artis as a player, forcing him to play out of position last year may have been one of the best things for him and the team this year. It was a move out of necessity, and the lack of meaningful depth inside was painful for much of that year.

Unlike small forwards of previous years, Artis had been forced to play inside on both ends of the court, rather than operating on the wing or somewhere on the perimeter in his development. This has been a key difference is his offensive game, from say Durand Johnson or J.J. Moore.

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January 2, 2016

Good Luck To Tyler Boyd

Filed under: Draft,Football,NFL,Players — Chas @ 9:49 am

It should not be a shock that Tyler Boyd declared for the draft. He is that good, and barring injuries should have a successful NFL career.

Whether he goes in the first or second round is up for debate, but I don’t see how his draft stock will really rise any further if he came back. The only seeming knock on Boyd is that he lacks “elite” speed, so that won’t change. All the other stuff he possesses, he has shown in spades in the past three seasons.

— Hands. Yep.

— Great route running. Check.

— Very versatile — able to stretch the field or play in the slot. Hell, yeah.

— Constantly successful against opposing teams’ best corner and facing double teams. Very much so.

If Boyd had chosen to stay, he would be dealing with a third offensive coordinator in four years. No matter what promises Head Coach Pat Narduzzi could have made him, there just would have been no guarantees. It’s not like he could be showcased that much more.

To say nothing of the risk of injury — even with an insurance contract.

I wish him and his family nothing but the best, and only hope that he finds the time down the road to finish his education to get that degree from Pitt.

January 1, 2016

FIRST OFF – HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

As most teams do every year now is the time to sit down with some of the roster players and discuss their and the staff’s plans for the team and the program.  This season’s NCAA’s Letter of Intent (LOI) Day calendar is as follows:

Football (Midyear JC Transfer)
December 16, 2015 – January 15, 2016

Football (Regular Period)
February 3, 2016 – April 1, 2016

What that actually means to Pitt is that there are a pile of pinks slips on one side of Pat Narduzzi’s desk and a few thank you notes on the other.  Because this is Narduzzi’s first recruiting class and now that he’s had a full season of play under his belt he and his staff most probably have a firm idea of who they want to make sure stays on the roster and who is expendable.

All this has to happen, for the most part, before LOI Day so that Pitt can get the maximum number of recruits.  In a normal year, that is when there hasn’t been a coaching change, we don’t usually see a bunch of players being asked to “move on with there life’s work” but who really knows what this staff sees happening before the start of Spring Drills first and then before the start of Fall Camp second.

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December 29, 2015

Post-Bowl Disaster

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Opponent(s),Players — Reed @ 11:21 am

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.

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December 24, 2015

Happy Holidays From Huuuuuugh Green!!

Filed under: Football,Players — Reed @ 9:05 pm

When I was watching Ejuan Price get his ten tackles, six tackles for loss and his five sacks in  the win over Louisville last month I started to cast my mind back and was wondering when was the last time Pitt had games totally taken over by a single defensive player. I mean the type of dominance that offensive coordinators dread and that makes a ballgame lopsided in our favor.

Of course Aaron Donald came to mind, he being the winner of almost every defensive and lineman award possible in college ball.  He was certainly wonderful for Pitt and has continued his great play into his career in the NFL.  Plus he’s in modern times and that means all of us on The Blather have seen him play either live or on TV.  So he’s a big favorite Panther of ours.

However, in my mind the #1 “Disrupter” in my book has always been our shining DE/OLB/MLB/Every Defensive Position Hugh Green.

hugh-green

He was and still is legend in college football and his name is very much in the conversation when talking about the greatest college football players, both on offense and defense, who ever played the game.  For good reason – as you’ll hear in this audio clip of the Sport’s Illustrated article titled “Green Light for the Panthers”

Enjoy…

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