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January 10, 2015

Clemson dreams of being Pitt when it comes to basketball.

This will be the 400th Pitt game for Coach Jamie Dixon, as the man in charge. It is also, potentially, his 300th win. There may be some talk of that.

Dixon is 15 games into his 12th season as Pitt’s coach. The Panthers are 11-4 overall and 1-1 in conference play.

“A lot of people recognize and talk about it, but I don’t give it a lot of thought, to be honest with you,” Dixon said. “When I sit down and look at it, I might think a little differently — the numbers.

“As I think about it now, I’m just thankful I’ve been able to coach at the university that many years. It does speak to being at a place a long time.”

The emphasis has been on the speed at which it has been accomplished or in comparison to how long it took other coaches to reach 300.

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January 9, 2015

Since we are undergoing a period of changes in the athletic department and the football program in particular let’s take a look at the players who either won’t be on the roster next season via expiration of their eligibility or by virtue of being pushed ‘into their life’s work’ as the saying goes.

At this point we have no idea how sentimental or ruthless Pat Narduzzi will be when it comes to current players he is inheriting on the roster. We saw the large attrition conducted under Paul Chryst but most of those players who either left on their own (few) or were moved out (many) were mostly the type of players Chryst didn’t want to retain because of character issues or by being negative influences in the locker room.

Chryst supplemented those actions by his recruitment practice of weighing personal qualities equally with the talent and skills the recruits would bring to the team. To me it is hard to judge just how well that balance worked out. Some fans care more about the results on the field rather than any off the field issue that might occur; others feel that the players should be actual student athletes who via their play and behavior reflect positively on the university.

Below is a list of players, with their current year status shown, who will be either gone by eligibility or could be on the chopping block for the 2015 season.  A rsJR listed below will most probably be a 5th year rsSR in the Spring and as such they have that last season of eligibility. Given the rest of the roster and what we think we know about Narduzzi’s preferences in the type of player he wants (i.e. faster defensive kids) who do you think we’ll see unexpectedly gone by the 2015 spring practices.  Those practices will start in mid-March and go until the second week of April so they are only about ten weeks away. 

While we are at it let’s also take a look at which ‘players gone for sure’ guys we think will be the hardest to replace by underclassmen at their positions.  Have fun and please explain your reasoning! 

PLAYERS GONE FOR SURE

Isaac Bennett    RB    SR
LaQuentin Smith   DL    SR
Kevin Weatherspoon  WR    rsSR
Manasseh Garner   WR    rsSR
Matt Rotheram   OL   rsSR
T.J. Clemmings  OL   rsSR
David Durham   DL   rsSR
Anthony Gonzalez  LB   rsSR
Ray Vinopal  DB   rsSR
Todd Thomas  LB   rsSR
Adam Lazenga   FB   rsSR

PLAYERS WHO COULD BE ASKED TO LEAVE  (5th year)

Trey Anderson   QB   rsJR
Ronald Jones   WR    rsJR
Khaynin Mosley-Smith   DL   rsJR
Devin Cook    DL   rsJR
Nicholas Grigsby   LB  rsJR
Lafayette Pitts    DB   rsJR
Ejuan Price    DL   rsJR
Artie Rowell    OL   rsJR
David Murphy    LS   rsJR
Jameel Poteat    RB   SR (transferred in last year & is eligible in ’15)

The names have been floating out there for a couple days. I’m sure many have been getting antsy about Head Coach Pat Narduzzi naming a staff. Especially since during the Armed Forces Bowl, he indicated he hoped to name the assistants and coordinators by about today.

Instead, it was very quiet and no real concrete — or even vaguely sure — info on who would be on the staff. Something that P-G beat writer, Sam Werner addressed in his weekly chat.

Comment From KatPanther13: Has local media lost all of their connections in the Athletic Department/Football team? None of you have any scoops PG, Trib, Local Broadcast News, what’s up man?

Sam Werner: Believe me, I wish I had more information to give you regarding the coaching staff. Not as an excuse, but Pitt’s leadership is in a great state of flux right now. A new chancellor came in August, and they’re in the midst of a transition at athletic director. That means that a lot of people who used to be in the loop aren’t necessarily anymore, and people might be less willing to talk because the future of the athletic department is a little more unsettled.

Pitt has always been very hard to crack when it comes to leaks and movement. (more…)

January 8, 2015

Running through the usual list of PITT sports websites I visit every morning while I have my first cup of Joe I read an opinion piece by Joe Starkey of the Tribune Review titled What PITT Football could be that he posted on Wednesday night. I found that it mostly made sense and was well thought out, hitting on the the root of the matter of PITT football program’s mediocrity over the last 31 years and what Pat Narduzzi has to bring to PITT to change the culture of apathy on the part of the administration, students, local populace and, in my opinion, the local media as well.

Starkey opens his article with a simple declaration “It’s time for a key substitution regarding Pitt football: Excuses out. Expectations in”. That is a pretty simple stance to take and one he expounds upon later in his piece when he says:

Time will tell whether Pat Narduzzi is the guy to change all this, but you have to like the fact he is coming from a place (Michigan State) where Mark Dantonio & Co. looked at all the built-in excuses, kicked them in the face and created an entirely new culture. And did so without batches of five-star recruits. After decades of mediocrity, Michigan State has become a bastion of positivity and big wins.

That is fantastic! PITT will do it right now if only Starkey would let us in on exactly how Dantonio & Co. accomplished it! I do wonder if Starkey and PITT fans forget that sometimes ‘excuses’ can also be seen as ‘reasons’ for an outcome and vice versa. If in the past, as a lot of us believe, the PITT administration tried to create and sustain a successful football program while stinting on the financial resources to make it happen then is it an excuse that it didn’t work out or is it a reason we did what we did?

Perhaps it depends on how one looks at the University’s financial situation as a whole or maybe just the level of honest interest the Chancellor and the BoT had in fielding a successful team, which might have been even less than we saw in public. To me that is a contributing reason for the poor results we have seen over the last two decades, to others it may just be an excuse. Nothing happens in a vacuum, there are always reasons things turn out the way they do.

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January 7, 2015

One To Forget

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 8:32 pm

Pitt won because BC is not good.

There’s no pretending that Pitt overcame any adversity other than what they inflicted upon themselves. The Panthers struggled in all facets of the game at various points or for the almost the entire time — depending on the particular facet.

Pitt had three stretches of over 3 minutes without scoring a point. One in particular lasted 8:44 from the end of the first half into the beginning of the second half. These three droughts totaled 15:32 of the game — almost 1/3 of the total time. Still, Pitt managed to be the one getting the win.

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January 6, 2015

Open Thread: Pitt-BC

Filed under: Basketball,Open Thread — Chas @ 3:30 pm

Hope everyone is staying warm and safe. Trying to reestablish the rhythms of kids going back to school with all of the other things after winter break. Coupled with the perfect timing of bad weather and a wife that waited until now to catch some bug to lay her out. And of course, we are all coming off a lousy weekend for sports in Pittsburgh.

So, tonight is a kind-of-late weekday game. Pitt at Boston College at 9pm. The game is all over the RSNs — Root, NESN, YES, CSN, plenty of the FoxSports and ESPN3.com.

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January 4, 2015

I have a confession to make, with a question to go with it.

Was anyone else laughing when the buzzer went off at the end of the bowl game? Honest to God, I was and my wife couldn’t understand it (and I wasn’t even drinking or taking any Windowpane acid either).  When we went up 31-6 she turned to me and said “I guess you didn’t expect this to happen, did you?”  My reply was that there was no way the game was going to end nicely.  Not that I thought we’d lose, I didn’t, but I was sure there would be drama at the end.

When the Houston QB hit those two long completions in a row, 43 yards and 32 yards down to our 7 yard line at the 4:00 mark I was resigned to it.  Then, when Nick Grigsby grabbed his own balls instead of the football on that second on-side kick I knew we were sunk.  Silly women, she couldn’t believe what happened but we PITT fans weren’t that surprised were we?  Reading the 600+ comments in the game thread I can see that that is true.  There was much anger and some disgust but really, no one was saying ‘I can’t believe this happened‘ because deep in our hearts we knew it could.

That’s why I’m not even parsing the game that was played.  It doesn’t matter who did or didn’t do whatever whenever.  IT JUST WAS.  As PITT fans we ‘get’ that.

And perhaps that was Fate’s way of saying “Boys, it is time for a completely clean slate for 2015“.  The Chancellorship changed, the old AD was shown the door,  the head coaching job turned over and I believe all the staff coaches will be gone this week.  Perhaps in the long run, and especially given our recent four year history, this kick in the nuts loss is the perfect way to make us sit back and clear our own minds as far as being a PITT football fan goes.

I’ve decided not to have any expectations whatsoever with Narduzzi and the new people he’ll bring in.  I firmly believe we have a 50/50 chance of being ‘Same Old PITT” as we do with winning lots of football games.  I’ll take things day to day and will walk the “Show me!” line as the off season goes by and the games begin.  I look at PITT football with tabula rasa; a blank slate to imprint with facts and opinions as things unfold and not before.

Anyway, I had a great time writing and conversing with everyone on here during the ramp up to and then the playing of 2014’s games.  We’ll have just as much fun, hopefully more, starting today for the new 2015 season.

Chin up boys and HTP!

January 3, 2015

I’m not emotionally prepared to discuss yesterday at this point. Thankfully there is a basketball game to take my mind off of it (please?).

It’s a nooner on various local cable providers with ACC distribution — looks like a lot of options all over the country. For Pittsburgh, it is on WTAE.

Record-wise, NC State isn’t too different from Pitt. They are 10-4. They have one decent win over a major conference team (Tennessee). They have a horrid non-con loss (Wofford at home). Lost a road game in the state of Indiana (Purdue). Laid an egg of double-digit loss  in the two games against good teams (WVU and Cinci). It’s a superficial comparison, but it works.

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January 2, 2015

Open Thread: Armed Forces Bowl

Filed under: Bowls,Football,Open Thread — Chas @ 8:59 am

Pitt-Houston. Interim coaches all around.

Noon start on a Friday on ESPN. Hope you took an extra day off from work. That or you are like me trying desperately to get the work done as early as possible and get home just in time.

Pat Narduzzi will be on hand for the game. He was asked after the Cotton Bowl, and made it clear that he would be attending.

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January 1, 2015

As seems to happen regularly with PITT football this last year was one that was neither very satisfying or particularly exciting until the last days of the last week of the last month when the personnel changes began happening. Then things started to roll into developments that we can sink our teeth into on here. Some good, some undecided but that still excites fans.

Let’s start from the New Year of 2014 and look back at the most interesting thing that happened in each month. This will be Part 1 and will encompass January until the end of September and the four games played to that date.

Jan 6th:  Tyler Boyd was named as a Freshman All-American Wide Receiver for the ’13 season. That made sense considering he broke the big receiving records that a past PITT star, Larry Fitzgerald (that never gets old), had set back in 2002. Boyd racked up 85 receptions for 1174 yards and seven TDs in his rookie year, all from the arm of transfer SR QB Tom Savage. Not too many people in Western PA were surprised that Boyd did this since he had been a star at undefeated Clariton HS for the past four years. If you remember, the first thing PITT had to do after Boyd signed his Letter of Intent back in 2013 to was enroll Boyd in a Personal Therapy program to teach him how to accept losing football games. He had six chances to show that he was OK in that area. That was a good thing as in this, his second year, Boyd was a fine all-around player and teammate and has built on that to be a stalwart of the future Panther teams.

Feb 5th: LOI day came and went without any real surprises. We signed almost the expected full class with the exception of QB Wade Freebeck who bagged on us for the Vanderbilt Robber Barons. That left us with one QB in the class in Adam Bertke who looked good in the fall camp. As has been Chryst’s plan, a lot of these true FR saw playing time. On offense the FR who contributed most was RB Chris James who played in all 12 games, had 82 carries for 406 yards (4.9 ypc!) and 4 TDs which is a great first year especially considering he was playing behind our star RB Conner. WR Adonis Jennings got in some games in the 2nd half of the season, held back because of limited time in camp practices due to an injury, and had 6 catches for 55 yards (9.2 ypc). Both those guys, including the redshirted RB Qadree Ollison, who at 6’2” & 220 could fill the FB role later or more likely be the thunder to James’ lightning, will be the nucleus of the skill positions in the future.

But it was on defense where we saw the most impact from this recruiting class. DB Avonte Maddox , a future star for us, played in all 12 games eventually starting five in the latter part of the season. He had 27 total tackles. DB Pat Amara played in nine games starting two and had 18 tackles;. LB Quentin Wirginis played in all the games, mainly on special teams coverage squads and had five tackles. Wirginis has a ton of potential and is a ‘tough kid’ as stated by the staff. I don’t doubt that as I know his father from my professional life (he owns the Gateway Clipper Fleet) and he’s no pushover either. (more…)

Welcome, 2015

Filed under: Bowls,Football — Chas @ 10:43 am

Hope everyone had a good one. No Pitt coaches appeared to have been arrested on the final day of 2014, so that is always a positive way to end the year.

It is nice to feel like we are starting the new year with some sense of optimism and hope. Hopefully the hangovers are at a minimum.

I’m feeling pretty good this morning and enjoying a mid-morning mimosa. Would have preferred a Bloody Mary as the morning drink, but mixing them up is too time consuming and I’ve yet to find a mix that I really like. If this is the biggest problem I have today, I think 2015 is off to a good start.

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December 30, 2014

Open Thread: FGCU-Pitt

Filed under: Basketball,Open Thread — Chas @ 3:42 pm

Hey, some basketball!

Any abbreviation that ends in “CU” has me thinking credit union, first.  No matter what the Sweet 16 run a couple years back did for Florida Gulf Coast name recognition.

It’s another ESPN3.com game. Things get underway at 7:30 tonight.

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December 29, 2014

A little more than a week ago, the anticipation on the head coach hire was strongly leaning towards the idea that Pitt was going to get an experienced head coach. That turned out not to be the case, but for my own amusement I find it worth reviewing some of the names that may or may not have been legitimately linked to the Pitt job. And why they didn’t happen.

Not included are guys that really (or likely) were interviewed like Doc Holliday, P.J. Fleck and Justin Fuente. All three signed extensions, but the extensions were aided either because Pitt showed interest or had already talked to them and they knew there was no chance.

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December 28, 2014

A Well Respected Man

Filed under: Coaches,Football — Chas @ 3:22 pm

It is a risky thing to say that hiring an assistant coach for a team is ever a true slam dunk. There’s the learning curve. The expectations. Yet, in the case of Pat Narduzzi, the national media seems to be falling over themselves to praise Pitt’s hire of Pat Narduzzi. Especially in terms of “fit.”


Yes, it was a theme.

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From Now Onward

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Players,Recruiting — Reed @ 9:58 am

Alright, we have dissected, diagnosed and disagreed for the past week on Paul Chryst’s tenure as the HC at PITT over the last three years.  We’ll keep doing so I’m sure but the last thread was 400 comments and trying to keep a decent conversation we can all follow with that many is impossible.

So, here is a new thread and what I’d like to see is our opinions and hopes about what Pat Narduzzi will bring to the PITT table given what we know about him, his track record as the DC at MSU and what he is stepping into in a few day at PITT.  What is he getting in terms of player’s talent, experience and potential, perhaps the most important of all considering he’ll almost surely be here at least three years, and what he can do on the recruiting trail from now until LOI Day?

Is the lack of a new AD for perhaps months, maybe even into the spring, going to impact his start here?  Will we really put out the big money for staff?

What do you see our play like in 2015 given our returning starters, our opponents and the fact that we’ll have a new coaching staff (I still think Rudolph goes to Wisconsin after the bowl game).

This will be fun and remember that we save all these comments so when Narduzzi departs in three years to be the DC at YSU we’ll have our opinions to look back on.

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