FORMER PITT FOOTBALL STANDOUT TONY SIRAGUSA PASSES AWAY
6/22/2022 4:00:00 PM
PITTSBURGH—Tony Siragusa, a standout Pitt defensive lineman from 1985-89 who went on to play 12 NFL seasons, has passed away at the age of 55.
Nicknamed “the Goose,” Siragusa arrived at Pitt as a freshman in 1985 following a decorated career at New Jersey’s David Brearley High School, where he was an all-state football player and state champion wrestler.
He burst into prominence as a sophomore in 1986, compiling 78 tackles and seven sacks. In a victory over Rutgers that season, he racked up 17 tackles, including four for losses. Hindered by injuries the next two years, Siragusa bounced back as a senior in 1989 with 60 stops, 13 TFLs and 5.5 sacks. His performance helped the Panthers to an 8-3-1 record, including a 31-28 win over Texas A&M in the Sun Bowl.
Known for his passionate play on the field and colorful quips off it, Siragusa remains one of the most popular Panthers of his era. Never one to shy away from a needle-moving quote, Siragusa once said, “If I wanted to learn a school song, I would’ve gone to Notre Dame or Penn State. I want to kill people on the football field. That’s why I came to Pitt.”
Siragusa is, perhaps, Pitt football’s greatest NFL free-agent success story. He wasn’t picked in the 12-round 1990 NFL Draft and ultimately signed with the Indianapolis Colts. Siragusa ended up playing 12 NFL seasons—seven with the Colts and his final five with the Baltimore Ravens—winning a Super Bowl in Baltimore in 2000.
Siragusa retired from the NFL following the 2001 season. He would then embark on a long and varied media career that included work as an analyst for FOX’s NFL coverage, a recurring role on HBO’s iconic series The Sopranos and hosting shows on the Discovery Channel and DIY Network.
“Tony truly was bigger than life, on and off the field,” said Pitt head football coach Pat Narduzzi. “He played the game passionately and relentlessly. Despite not being drafted, he thrived in the NFL for 12 years. His post-football life took him so many places but he never forgot Pitt. We could always count on him to send the best recorded pep talks to our guys before our biggest games. ‘The Goose’ leaves a great legacy and he will be sorely missed. Our sympathies to his family, many loved ones and former teammates.”
We have entered Pitt’s 2022 ACC Conference opponents review. The first team is the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
Geoff Collins enters his fourth season at the wheel of the Rambling Wreck and a wreck it is. In his three years at Georgia Tech, his teams have been consistent. Three straight years of 3 wins with an overall record of 9 – 25 (7-18 conference, 2-7 OOC and no bowls). The fans and blogs are getting restless. They want Collin’s head.
Here are the Rivals 5.7 and above 2022 commits. Also included are the current Transfer Portal (TP) additions.
GT lost 16 players to the TP (nine on offense, seven on defense). In return, they neared the NCAA limit of 32 commits with 15 class of 2022 recruits and plucking 15 from the TP. Notice the two QB TP additions. Are they depth or a QB competition? GT lost two QB’s to the TP. The current QB Jeff Sims has not lived up to his potential.
The best of the TP entries is RB Dylan McDuffie (Buffalo) and Safety Ahmari Harvey (Auburn).
On to the stars identified as NCAA team leaders in selected stats or members of the 2021 All ACC teams. I have added a new stat Athlon’s 2022 preseason All ACC Conference four teams.
In total, 116 individual names (120 positions) were selected. That is approximately one third of all ACC starters for the 26 positions used. I already list the 2021 All ACC selections. Athlon just gives some names to replace those who are no longer eligible. I have the “names” in Orange to identify them.
Get used to a lot of color coding losses. Jahmyr Gibbs is the major loss to the TP. He is going to Alabama to get more national attention for his overall performance. NIL money may be involved but not Addison money.
The offense revolves around QB play. I have added sacked and yards lost to the QB chart. I also added career stats for the Sims and the two TP QB additions.
Georgia Tech running backs and receivers 2021 activity. Also returning production summary for Pitt and Georgia Tech.
GT is now leading in the lowest percentage of returning offensive production of the ten teams I have reviewed. While they picked up two RB’s from the TP, I am surprised that they did not pick up any WR’s. They did get two TE’s.
Can the Oline stats mitigate the loss of returning production. I added Pitt allowed sacks and tackles for loss.
Just to refresh your memory a “bright green” color coding means the player(s) are lost due to medical reasons.
GT lost three of their OL starters. They have added four players from the TP for potential starters (Tchio-Clemson, Quick-Alabama) and experienced backups.
Unless the OL makes a gargantuan leap in play, the Oline will not help mitigate the skill players loss.
On to the defensive review.
Georgia Tech had 46 players make a defensive stat. But nine of them were offense players. Two were special teams players. That leaves 35 defensive players making a stat.
The chart below strips out the non-defensive players and eleven players who did not make at least seven or more tackles.
The below chart includes 24 players- eleven DB’s, nine DL’s and four LB’s making up (and I mean made up) “seven+ tackles two deep.” Yep, I lowered the number of tackles to have at least a “two deep.”
Half of my “two deep” are gone. Less than half of the total defensive production is returning. The DB position needs rebuilt. GT did pickup five defensive players from the TP. All were DB’s with P5 backgrounds.
Let us put the above in perspective – 2021 NCAA defensive stats
Georgia Tech’s 2021 defense, in my opinion, was a solid F+. Then they lose more than half of their production.
I feel sorry for Geoff Collins. He took over a team that ran the triple option and tried to convert it into a P5 offense. He signed a seven year contract.
The last of Pitt’s three Out of Conference (OOC) games to be reviewed – the Western Michigan Broncos.
Tim Lester enters his sixth season as head coach of the Broncos. Overall, his record is 32 – 25 (22-6 conference, 9-7 OOC, and 1–2 bowls). Obviously, last year’s 44-41 victory over Pitt is his claim to fame. He has never won his division but has finished second and tied for second two other times. The other two years they finished fourth (including last season).
After going 8-5 in 2021, WMU rewarded Lester with a two-year extension thru the 2025 season. No financial terms were announced but another eight win season will automatically add a year to his contract.
How did they do it – the 2021 schedule and results. Also, the WMU 2022 OOC schedule.
Pitt is the high lite of the WMU home schedule.
There are no 5.7, 3-stars and above. Just a few 5.6 and 5.5, 3-stars in the 2022 recruiting class. The Broncos did pick up a few (four) from the TP.
Hollenbach was a walk-on QB at Alabama. He had no stats in his three seasons in Alabama. All transfers are for positions of need.
WMU did lose 8 players to the TP – six offense, two defense.
On to the stars identified as NCAA team leaders in selected stats or members of the All MAC Conference teams.
Reminds me of all the blue (eligibility) color coding on Wake Forest’s chart.
The offense revolves around QB play. I have added sacked and yards lost to the QB chart.
Eleby is gone. Probably made an unwise decision on entering the NFL draft with eligibility remaining. He did sign a free agent contract.
Jack Salopek from Irwin (Norwin) is the heir apparent to Eleby. Hrabowski, as you will see, is more of a running QB.
Western Michigan running backs and receivers 2021 activity. Also returning production summary for Pitt, West Virginia, and Tennessee.
The Bronco run game seems to be intact. The top three returning RB’s had nearly 2,100 yards between them.
It is the WR group that has ben devastated. Seven of the nine receivers were lost to eligibility or the TP. Maybe WMU goes with a running QB (Hrabowski-class of 2021).
WMU does return their deep ball threat in Corey Crooms.
Can the Oline stats put a damper on the returning production. I added Pitt allowed sacks and tackles for loss.
Western Michigan had a very solid Oline in 2021. That is verified in their number six ranking in tackles for loss allowed (TFL’s). But they lost three starters to eligibility. They did pick-up a player with experience from the TP. But they are now in rebuild mode.
On a side note, I had previously stated that the 2021 Oline data is from the NCAA. I also said that since the NCAA ignores the 2020 season, a freshman player can be from the class of 2019. 2020 or 2021 and be marked as a freshman. WMU is an example of this in action. Jacob Gideon (thirteen starts) and Addison West are freshmen per the NCAA. Both are from the class of 2019. We have until the end of the 2025 season before we see the end of these abnormalities.
On to the defensive review.
Western Michigan had 38 players make a defensive stat. But six of them were offense players. Two were special teams players. (The punter made 6 solo tackles and had two assists.) (Pitt’s Ben Sauls (kickoff specialist) had four tackles. Maybe Pitt needs to work on kickoff coverage.) That leaves 30 defensive players making a stat.
The chart below strips out the non-defensive players and seven players who did not make at least six or more tackles.
The below chart includes 23 players- nine DB’s, seven DL’s and seven LB’s making up (and I mean made up) “six+ tackles two deep.” Yep, I lowered the number of tackles to have at least a “two deep.”
Per the NCAA defensive team stats, the Broncos where an average defensive team. Though they seemed to excel at limiting first downs (and the related stat – 3’rd down conversion pct).
It is my belief that Pitt will go 3-1 in OOC play (losing to Tennessee).
Up next, the conference opponents’ reviews starting with Georgia Tech.
A few years back I wrote a very detailed three article piece on high school football recruiting and how it works behind the scenes – things that casual fans never really saw or knew about. With those articles and other writings on recruiting I got some blow back along the lines of “How would you know those details if you weren’t in the business?“
Well, the way I did know the backstory on the ins and outs of HS to college football recruiting was through my friendship, and many, many conversations, with Coach Roger Wrenn. We knew each other since 2009 and he was a pleasure to talk with – but mostly to just listen to and learn:
T. Roger Wrenn, a legendary football and baseball coach in Baltimore City at both Patterson High School and Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, who retired in 2011, passed away Monday at the age of 76 after a two year battle with cancer.
Wrenn spent the bulk of his career at Patterson High School, from 1974-2005 before moving to Poly for his final six seasons. During that time he posted a career record of 284-113-2 on the football field and won eight Baltimore City championships and three Maryland Scholastic Association (MSA) titles.
He also spent 29 years as the head coach of the Patterson baseball team where he posted an incredible record of 431-69-2. That was good for the second most wins in Maryland high school baseball history at the time of his retirement.
During his tenure he produced one of the most accomplished coaching trees in the Baltimore area. At one point as many as nine former assistants of Wrenn had coaching jobs in the Baltimore area at the same time.
In April, Wrenn was presented with the John Harvill Lifetime Achievement Award by the Maryland State Football Coaches Association (MSFCA), becoming only the eighth individual to be given the honor. He is also a member of the MSFCA Hall of Fame and the Maryland State Baseball Hall of Fame.
Current Fallston head coach Keith Robison, who began his coaching career under Wrenn at Patterson, before stints as head coach at Overlea and Perry Hall, said Wrenn was tough on young coaches for a reason.
“We are all saddened by the loss of our coach, our mentor and the single greatest influence on our careers as teachers and coaches,” said Robinson. “I say we, because Roger’s coaching tree is vast, and it includes those who once played for him and those who were fortunate enough to teach and coach alongside him.
As you can see Roger was like a football god here in Maryland (an over 70% win rate and 11 championships will do that) and his players had many visits from college head coaches and recruiters over the years. He told me some interesting stories about Pitt’s trying to recruit his players from the early 1970s on to the end of the Wannstedt regime.
Most of his players went to Maryland and other ACC schools, some to WVU with others going to universities across the country. He was a real pleasure to know and I respected his humble approach to his describing, really downplaying, his influence on both HS and college athletics. I will miss him.