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May 15, 2016

We did an article about this last year but here is a follow-up piece by Sam Werner of the Post-Gazette addressing Pitt’s new athletic logo that is to be unveiled on Wednesday (no big surprise that it is the Script PITT from the 1980s) and how it does NOT represent the University as a whole…  a visual reminder here:

Pitt TE coach tweets photoshopped Swimsuit Issue cover

From Werner’s article:

“If the athletic department is the front porch, then the Pitt script logo, set to be re-introduced as the school’s primary athletic mark at a Petersen Events Center unveiling Wednesday, is a sign on the front of the house.

Often times, though, that sign may not represent every room in the house.

Like Pitt, many universities across the country have developed distinct university logos separate from their athletic marks, as they try to strike a balance between the visibility athletics can provide and the academic pursuits of the greater institution.

“Most of the time, the rationale is that, look, we have two different products here,” said Antonio Williams, a sport and fitness brand researcher and assistant professor at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind. “We don’t necessarily want to take away the academic rigor and prestige from the university side by associating with athletics. There may be certain liabilities by associating yourself with athletics.”

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May 14, 2016

The well respected Football Writers of America (FWAA) has come out with their list of the best 11 Sports Information Directors (SIDs) in the nation and Pitt has won it, along with 10 other schools, for 2015.

E. J. Borghetti, who is a great SID and a huge help for us writers on The Blather, is the consummate professional and deserves this honor in spades.

To refresh your memory he is the “Executive Associate Athletic Director – Media Relations” for the Athletic Department and does wonderful work for Pitt and for us fans. (More on that later).

Just for fun let’s look at the criteria the FWAA lays out for candidacy for the awards:

The awards …

In 2009, the Football Writers Association of America introduced its Super 11 Awards, designed to identify and reward the sports information departments and programs that exemplified excellent media relations.

The criteria …

The following ten areas were set forth as the criteria/standards for selection for the awards:

– Players (eligible and playing in varsity games) who are requested should be available to media during Mondays and Tuesdays of game week (minimum).

– Defensive coordinator and offensive coordinator should be available to media once a week during the season (minimum) and once a month during the off-season (minimum).

– Freshmen who play should be available to media.

– If former players and/or boosters are allowed into scrimmages or practices, the media should not be excluded from those same scrimmages or practices. (Whaaaaa??)

Coaches should be available to media on their campuses at least once a week during the season for no less than 30 minutes. They also should be made available after practice each day for updates on the team. Weekly telephonic press conferences do not count toward these times.

– A “no cheering in the press box” statement should be made in the press box before the beginning of each half of play. In addition, SID’s should make every attempt to keep the press box quiet and escort disruptive individuals to the exits.

– Requests for quotes from key players injured in a game should be granted by the home SID and his staff.

– FWAA member(s) should help the each SID with requests for players to be interviewed after a game. Any player who has played (and is not injured) and is not made available for interviews will be so noted by FWAA observers. The FWAA recommends open locker rooms after games, but short of this, any player who plays in a game and is not injured, upon request, should be made available to the media.

– An FWAA pool reporter or a reputable news person should be designated by the home SID before every game in case there is an officiating controversy during the game.

Boosters should not be present at postgame news conferences involving the media, coaches and players. Interruptions or noise will be duly noted by the FWAA observer. Press boxes where non-media are disruptive will also be noted.

The 2015 recipients …

The 2015 winners of Super 11 Awards were the following programs: Clemson, Houston, Kansas State, Louisiana, Indiana, Mississippi State, Northern Illinois, Pittsburgh (EJ and his staff), Southern California (USC), Utah State and Western Kentucky.

On a personal note I am proud to call young Mr. Borghetti a friend and will say his willingness to answer what questions he can is a breath of fresh air when writing these articles.  His candor

Plus he doesn’t take crap from anyone.  Not PSU fans,as shown when this letter to the editor appeared in the local newspaper:

To: Pitt football fans

Speaking of being stuck in the past: Pitt football fans actually believe the program has tradition. Maybe 30 years ago it did. Its current tradition is a half-full Heinz Field for its games and a new head coach every other year. Maybe Pitt fans annoy me because I’m a Penn Stater, but maybe they do because they don’t live in reality. Do the Pitt sports-information people still claim to have nine national championships in football?

To which EJ replied:

Perhaps the real source of Mr. Garth’s grouchiness is that after 16 long years, his alma mater, Penn State, can no longer avoid Pitt on the football field. The origin of hate is fear, and he undoubtedly sees that Pat Narduzzi is building a tough, tenacious and, yes, blue-collar program primed for championships at Pitt.

Blue-and-white colored glasses cannot shield him from the approaching storm. The program that produced homegrown legends Ditka, Dorsett and Marino (among many others) has reawakened — just in time for Sept. 10, 2016.

He can stay home the day a parade is held to celebrate Coach Narduzzi bringing a 10th national title to Pitt.

… not Todd Graham nor anyone else that I can remember.

It was well deserved promotion when EJ was fleeted-up to the “Executive Associate Athletic Director – Media Relations”

 

May 13, 2016

Recruiting Talk

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Recruiting — Reed @ 7:52 am

There was a good article from my friend Chris Logue over at Pitt Nation Sports that centered on Narduzzi’s recruiting philosophies,  where our recruiting efforts have been targeted and where we will (should?) be getting the bulk of our recruits from.  It is titled “Narduzzi active in forging recruiting identity outside of the Pitt norm

It is a good read and thought provoking but I wonder if Chris took a detailed look at what our geographical recruiting ‘gets’ have been over the last five years.  After reading his article I started to wonder if indeed it was more important to spread out Pitt’s recruiting targets or to concentrate on landing more of the higher quality local (meaning Tri-State area) high school players.

Here is our “Out Of Area” (OOA) recruiting over the last six years.  I used the years 2011 until 2016 to survey because that was when we had Steve Pederson as our athletic director for most of the years and had lower limits on our recruiting budget.

Year In Class OOA  / % Where From Key OOA Recruits
2011 21 13 / 62% FL (3), TX (3), MD, DC, TN, OK, NY, AL Mosley-Smith, Jones, Steve Williams
2012 15 6  / 40% WI, NY, MD, WA (2), TN Roberts, Lewis, Voytik
2013 27 9  / 33% NY (2), WI (2), HI, MI, NJ, MD Ibrahim, Blewitt, Officer, Taleni, Weah
2014 23 10 / 43% MI (2), NY (2), FL, IL, DE, CT, VA, NJ Ollison, Folston, O’Neill, Maddox, Hayes
2015 15 5  / 33% CA, TX, NJ, DE, FL Brightwell, Edwards, M. Henderson, Q. Henderson
2016 24 12 / 50% FL (4), NJ (2), NY (2), VA,(2), IL, NC, Watts, Pine, Ffrench, Campbell, Miller, Camp

However, getting distant players isn’t the end all be all to success at Pitt as we have seen the results of those recruits actually play out on the field, but sometimes it does help.  If you look at the 2011 recruiting class of Todd Graham’s and then look at where they are now there are few still with the team.  Out of the 13 players from far away 10 of those didn’t last at least four years in the program.

There were a few reasons for this and on was that because Graham was stuck with a decimated class after Wannstedt was fired he went after marginal players who he was recruiting during his latter years at Tulsa. Regardless – a 77% attrition rate is horrendous.  Granted many of them were purged when Graham left, then  Chryst was hired with the mandate from the administration to get rid of those dead weight and marginal players.

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May 11, 2016

Not to make a shabby pun but the issue of concussions in football has reared its ugly head again.

There was an initial and prompt backlash toward Pat Narduzzi for what seemed to be a cavalier attitude towards the enormous problem of the effects of concussions on football players.

However, there was also the correct rollback by the media once the actual quotes, and Narduzzi’s intent, became clear.  There are a lot of media pieces about this but I think Craig Meyer (Werner’s sub) in his P-G Red Shirt Diaries lays it out the best.  Maybe that is because he was the reporter who asked Narduzzi the actual questions about the meeting’s discussions about the subject:

From Meyer: “I followed up by asking what the concussion discussion centered around and what kind of things they talked about. Were they talking about how to handle concussed players? Or how to possibly spot and diagnose whether a player has one?

Narduzzi’s response at that question was at first worrisome – mostly because readers and the pundits didn’t take the time to really cipher what he actual said.  Here is the quote:

“Hopefully coaches aren’t doing that. We’ve got a major problem in college football if coaches are diagnosing. There was a neurosurgeon who came in and explained some of the data and how they need to get more data so they can make decisions. I think when you look at all the results and all the talk, I think it’s media hyped. They’re talking about how they need to get more data and feedback on really what it is that’s causing these injuries.”

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May 10, 2016

ACC meetings started yesterday and the big topic that the media (and fans) wanted addressed: ACC Network. Still as clear as ever, which is not even a little.

But to the surprise of no one tracking this saga, ACC commissioner John Swofford plans no public enlightenment during this week’s league gathering at Amelia Island, Fla.

Swofford told the ACC Digital Network’s Jeff Fischel that he remains “very focused” on a sustainable television path for the conference. This he did without mentioning over-the-top (OTT) outlets such as Netflix and Hulu, and partner ESPN’s bleeding of traditional cable subscribers and subsequent personnel cuts.

“We think we’re in a really good position for the long-term,” Swofford told Fischel. “We’ve just got to make the right decisions and time things appropriately.”

“I don’t know that there will be public clarity,” Swofford said of this week. “I think we will move further down the trail of where we’re headed, without question. … We’re really just not going to have a whole lot more to say until we reach a point of saying something definitive. It takes some patience with that, but we’ll get to a good place, I’m confident.”

That was some well phrased nothing.

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May 9, 2016

(When I say lighter I mean from the last FB article)

Here is Chris Peak’s latest podcast from the Trib-Review that he recorded last night and posted today.  There is always something interesting in these podcasts and I find myself constantly rewinding to make sure I get exactly what he’s saying.

Here he (tries to) list his Top five players on the Pitt roster going into the fall camp.  He mentions how some players work out right away; SO S Jordan Whitehead for example, and some others take a year or two to develop.

Surprisingly he mentions 3* recruit WR Aaron Matthews as someone who was overlooked by fan’s expectations of who will make an early impact this season as a true FR… then says Matthews may not play this year (??).  That reference is in context to  WR Juwann Winfree bagging out at the last moment. Remember the Winfree of the  suspension at Maryland, then over to CC, then pledged to Pitt, then off to Colorado?

Here’s a past article to jog your memory on that Matthews/Winfree subject.

But Peak feels that true FR WRs Flowers and Ffrench (sounds like good ’cause and effect’ on a date, eh?) are more likely to see playing time this season than any other FR WRs. He also mentions (now) SO WRs Quadree Henderson and Tre Tipton getting some PT early on last season and, in Henderson’s case at least, doing pretty well through the year.  Even though Henderson contributed mostly on Special Teams he showed the speed and talent which could push him up the depth chart at WR.

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Even if nothing comes of it, the late-spring/summer brings talk of conference realignment/expansion/chaos. These days, most of that is emanating from the Big XII.

Conference meetings have been happening. The ACC has theirs this week. The Big XII had a preliminary meeting last week, but don’t have their real meetings until after Memorial Day.

It always boils down to money, but the Big XII is wrapping this one up primarily in the matter of the College Football Playoff. How a more members and an unbalanced schedule is actually a plus for getting teams into the CFB playoff.

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May 8, 2016

Apparently Chad Voytik wants to be in Arkansas State to play his last year rather than in Eastern Kentucky.

 “I wanna play my last year, with the current situation at Pitt it would have been an uphill battle to get back the starting position,” said Voytik in an interview with WRCB. For one the offense didn’t fit me. We got a new OC, a lot of pocket passing, not much boot-leg or roll outs. Which is what I like.”

This comment reveals a big reason why Voytik might be interested in playing for the Red Wolves, a team notorious for fielding dual-threat quarterbacks. He likely saw a nice fit with A-State OC Buster Faulkner’s fast paced offense.”

Whatever, it’s starting to become old and tiresome. He backed off a challenge here at Pitt, sold a bill of goods to Eastern Kentucky and now, at least FOR now, he’ll be a Red Wolf.

That quote above does it all for me. “For one the offense didn’t fit me.” Gee, sorry Chad.  Guess you gave old Toddy Graham a call to see if he was still running what you were recruited for?

Folks,  let’s not hear anymore insane and over the top criticism of Tino Sunseri, who stuck it out with Pitt through all the hardships Pitt’s own football program and team went through with the shitstorm that happened from 2010 through 2012, only to be then pilloried by his school’s own damn fans.

All Sunseri did when faced with a new offense that didn’t fit his skill set at all was to buckle down and try his best to make it work… for the team.

Yet somehow and in some strange way Pitt fans look at Chad Voytik -who never won as many games a season for Pitt, had way lesser production than Sunseri did and apparently half the guts – and they think he’s some sort of Golden Boy.  And the even weirder thing is I believe its because he made a few phone calls back in 2011.

Stallings Gets First Verbal

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting — Chas @ 11:25 am

A point guard for the 2017 class.

Aaron Thompson is considered a 4-star recruit by Scout and ESPN. Rivals and 247 say 3-star. He’s out of Fairfax, Virginia and also had offers from Miami, GT, Temple, Dayton, SMU, VT and PSU.

Stallings had been recruiting him at Vandy so there was a relationship there.

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May 7, 2016

Listen In…

Filed under: Football,Players,Recruiting — Reed @ 7:53 am

Well, if Dan Marino demands it then it should happen.  He wants the Pitt-PSU series to resume (from the Trib):

“Why wouldn’t Penn State want to play us?” Marino said Wednesday. “To me, it would make sense.”

Pitt and Penn State will renew their storied rivalry over the next four seasons, starting Sept. 10 at Heinz Field. Pitt athletic director Scott Barnes said last year that Penn State officials have shown no willingness to extend the series beyond 2019. The teams haven’t met since 2000.

But Marino knows a way to put the series in serious jeopardy.

“We just have to beat them the next four years, and they definitely won’t renew it,” Marino said.

OK then.

Here are two podcasts by Chris Peak of Rivals.

The first which was recorded on May 5th is about Twitter and Tweets and how they can bite people in the ass.

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May 6, 2016

Sorry to have to do this on a Friday morning when you are looking forward to the weekend but it never ends with these guys, does it?

Like the non-believers in the OJ Simpson case and Holocaust deniers,  the only people who believe in Paterno’s innocence is a constricting circle whose members may be less in number every year but become more crazy at every issuance of more damning evidence. Sadly today that might not be the most troubling news out of Happy Valley.

The Penn Live newspaper’s website has a ‘bombshell’ (!!) story on the fact that newly released court papers show that Joe Paterno was told, by a young boy in a face to face conversation, that the boy had been abused by Jerry Sandusky…  back in 1976.  This came to light of day because of an ongoing court battle between the insurance company that covered PSU’s liability issues (We ain’t paying you jack shit!”) and PSU.

“The civil case is, initially filed in November 2013, is still grinding toward trial in Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas.

And in preliminary work on that case, Judge Gary Glazer this week filed a ruling that attempted to clear the decks of some of the issues that could be resolved based on the pleadings to date.

What was unexpected Thursday, was Glazer’s reference to four cases between 1976 and 1988 in which PMA Insurance attorneys have presented allegations that “PSU agents allegedly learned of Sandusky’s abusive acts.”

One of the PMA allegations was that “in 1976, a child allegedly reported to PSU’s Head Football Coach Joseph Paterno that he (the child) was sexually molested by Sandusky.”

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May 5, 2016

Danny Marino was back in town taking part in a charitable donation Big Check photo op with Anthony’s Pizza.  Here it is:

Now… here is an old treat.  It is a 55 minute ‘look-back’ at Pitt’s football history.  It was made in 1989 so it is dated but for those who don’t really know why us old guys bitch so much – here is the reason.

 

 

May 4, 2016

There’s a “but” involved.

Been rumored for a month or so that Pitt and Penn State would face-off in basketball this year. BUT that it wouldn’t be any sort of “home-and-home” exchange. Sure enough, it’s going to be in New Jersey. And it is the undercard.

Villanova will play Notre Dame and Pitt will face Penn State in the first Never Forget Tribute Classic at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. on Dec. 10, sources told CBS Sports.

An official announcement is expected soon.

The first game of the doubleheader between the Wildcats and Fighting Irish will be available on CBS while the second will air on CBS Sports Network.

Villanova and Notre Dame will tip off at Noon ET with Pitt and Penn State expected to begin their game at approximately 2:30 p.m. ET.

So it is the undercard, but goes second. That’s different, but that is CBS for you. They will make the Nova-ND their Saturday noon game, and see if people can find their cable sports channel for the second game.

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The Cardiac Hill blog is running a “Bracket of Pitt” series that has  ‘all things Pitt” subjects listed much like we see during the college basketball NCAA tournaments.  Here is how they describe what they are going to do:

“The Cardiac Hill Podcast has a new segment; the Bracket of Pitt. It’s a 64-item bracket of everything Pitt. People, places, things, etc., basically if it has anything to do with the University of Pittsburgh, it’s in. I’ll be hosting the tournament primarily with Jim Hammett of Cardiac Hill. We’ll post the first episode here (and on SoundCloud) tomorrow with me & Jim discussing the bracket and you can vote for the matchups @CoreyECohen on Twitter; one vote per person. Each week we’ll put out a new episode discussing your results and advance the bracket accordingly! Let’s make some May Madness here at Cardiac Hill, we can’t wait to debut the #BracketOfPitt!”

This sounds like an original and fun idea and will fill up some of the Pitt sports dead time from now until the football Fall Camp opens up in early August.  Here is what the bracket looks like as a snapshot but click on this link to see the details.

Cardiac resized

Guess The Pitt Blather didn’t make the cut.

May 3, 2016

Basketball Notes, 5/3

Filed under: Basketball,Players,Prognostications — Chas @ 7:45 am

It’s the time for recruiting. Coach Kevin Stallings have put out plenty of offers. For transfers, grad transfers, still deciding kids in the 2016 class, and especially kids for the 2017 recruiting class.  Big men, guards, shooters, forwards. They have been all over the place. Nothing close to concrete. Makes it kind of difficult to get a handle on what they are looking for — other than players. Now it just comes down to landing some.

On media related news, Paul Zeise is leaving the Pitt basketball beat for the Post-Gazette. He’s been moved up to sports columnist/opinionator. Zeise was a very good beat writer first for Pitt football and then basketball. He’s been grinding for years on that side and has raised his profile on the general sports side for the last few years via radio work. It’s a well-earned promotion.

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