Biggest Personnel Disappointment(s)

Biggest Personnel Disappointment(s)

Submitted by Mark Kerestan (PittPT)

It is that time of year, right before the start of the pre-season football camp, when Pitt seemingly discloses a bombshell as to someone leaving the team for any of a number of reasons. This year unfortunately is no different, with the team announcing that Charles Reeves, monster (sized) 4-Star Tight End recruit, will no longer be a part of the team.

Some POVers have pointed out that this happens at every school, but to be honest I don’t pay enough attention to what is happening at other schools to know if that is true or not. Somehow it has seemed to happen at Pitt yearly since around 2010.

We will soon have plenty to discuss regarding the Two-Deep and offensive/defensive strategies with the players comprising the 2018 Pitt Squad. In the meantime I thought it might be interesting to discuss what promising recruit sticks in our minds as the biggest disappointment, whether the recruitment failed to play to expectations, was injured before achieving expected greatness, or couldn’t get on the field due to grades or other off-field issues?

I’ll start, and as I’m kind of tired and can’t seem to think too far back at the moment, I’ll pick the disappointment that is/was Rushel Shell. Here we had a very promising local HS star, coming to play for his hometown team.

There was a great article in Sports Illustrated before the season started hyping his potential. And then boom, he was part of the Panther group that didn’t get on the field for the first game of the Paul Chryst era, a group of six contributing players held out for disciplinary reasons. There were questions regarding Shell’s work ethic and attitude and he decided not to return to Pitt for his sophomore season.

One may wonder if James Conner would have gotten on the field as a running back if Rushel Shell played to his potential or what a tandem of the two might have looked like. If Rushel Shell did become a star for the Panthers, I suspect that it could have opened the pipeline for getting more of the top players in the WPIAL to commit to Pitt.

So Rushel Shell is my player choice for biggest Panther disappointment…What say you???

Where Pitt Ended Up Stats-Wise in ’17

Where Pitt Ended Up Stats-Wise in ’17

Here is some info to chew on as we get closer to Fall Camp which starts not too long from now in the beginning of August.

I put these two tables in first to show how well we did at some things last season (most of first table) then… because nothing is ever all good with Pitt football… the second table shows what we were poor at doing. Remember there were 129 Division I teams total last season so that is the ranking we are looking at – from 1st to 129th.

Good news first:

As you can see we were a well-disciplined team as far as penalties go.  Not too bad with Passes Had Intercepted either even if we were somewhat low on the total pass attempts. Time of Possession was good (16th) with us keeping the ball 2:27 more than our opponents.

Rushing defense was OK at 41st; other than that we were in the lower two-thirds of the nation in almost everything else of note.

Top Half Stats 3

 

Which brings us to the next table (get the crying towel out).

Here I listed where we ranked among the worst nationally (123rd in Blocked Punts Allowed was our nadir) and then ascending to the lower third of the teams’ rankings.

Needless to say our special teams were horrid except for the Punt Returns.  Not much better was our defensive Tackles for Loss (TFLs) at 106th (Team Sacks made was 74th) and jumping over to the offense for Sacks Allowed at 101st doesn’t make me feel any better… That stat and TFLs Allows at 99th shows what a very poor job our OL did last season – throw in that we were 85th in rushing the ball and it scares the hell out of me for 2018.

Look at our special teams coverage units’ work below… and get your barf bag out.  We were 113th in Punt Return Defense and not much better at our Kickoff Return Defense either being five slots lower at 108th.

I have always thought these coverage teams are where young very athletic players can cut their teeth when they haven’t made a two-deep rotation spot yet… but looking at ours one has to wonder if we have any of those quicker and faster athletes on coverage teams at all.

The bad icing on the bad cake was having only a horrid 35% third down conversion rate (95th) – that was the root of a lot of our problems last year and absolutly has to get better.  The Top one-third of the 129 teams had a conversion rate of 43% or better.  On the flip side of third down conversions at least we were consistent with defense of them being crappy at 84th allowing 41% of the opponent’s conversion tried to be successful.

Bottom Half stats 2

I don’t think we are going to see much better work from the offense this season.  We’ll rise in the passing categories but I think we’ll regress in everything else the OL has a hand in. Which means QB Kenny Pickett will be running for his life and the RBs will find few holes to run through.  Our Sacks Allowed may be less given Pickett’s quick feet and ability to run though, but that impacts the passing results.

But this is also why I have been consistent in stating that our defense wasn’t as good as some fans made it out to be for last season.  We did a good job over the last two games but the truth is in the 10 games before those we really were sub-par on the whole.

Which begs the question if our defense, with a brand new DC and new terminology (spotlight on MLB Quintin Wirginis with that), is going to carry over the level of play we saw in games #11 (VT) and #12 (Miami) last year onto 2018’s schedule.

I do agree with some fan’s thoughts that Miami wasn’t as strong as a normal #2 ranked team usually is at the end of the regular season but that doesn’t take away the sweetness of the win.

Either way we were better on defense at the end of the year than we were at the beginning of it:

boo

Duke – 17 points allowed;  Virginia – only 14 points; then Whaaaa…? North Carolina – 34 points followed by VT at 20 points then the Miami win by allowing only 14.

That certainly looks like better play from the defense then we had seen over Narduzzi’s first 2.5 seasons, doesn’t it?

Pat Bostick Back in the Booth

Pat Bostick Back in the Booth

Haven’t been able to write anything lately – just finished replacing back deck only to find out today….wait for it….have to replace our whole HVAC system also.  So, if you have articles send them through.  But you have to do tables and such on your own and not in the body of an email – that’s too much work to try to fix for publication.

Link: Pitt Football Radio

Pitt Football Radio Team Unveiled for 2018 Season

PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh and its multimedia rights holder IMG unveiled today the Pitt football radio crew for the 2018 season. The three-person broadcast team will consist of iconic play-by-play man Bill Hillgrove, color analyst Pat Bostick and pregame host and sideline reporter Larry Richert.

“There is tremendous anticipation for the 2018 football season and we are proud to have an outstanding radio team calling the action,” Executive Associate Athletic Director for Media Relations E.J. Borghetti said. “I say this on an annual basis, but I believe we have the best radio crew in college football. Their knowledge, passion and professionalism are simply exceptional.”

 Known to fans nationwide as the “Voice of the Panthers,” Hillgrove enters his 45th season calling play by play for Pitt football. He initially was the Panthers’ color analyst from 1970-73 before taking over as play-by-play man for the 1974 season. Hillgrove has called Pitt basketball since 1969.

 Hillgrove also begins his 25th season as the play-by-play announcer for the Pittsburgh Steelers this fall. Sports Broadcast Journal recently named him and Pittsburgh Penguins’ broadcaster Mike Lange to its 2018 list of Most Popular ‘One-Two Play-By-Play Pairs’ Across American Markets.

 Bostick makes his full time return to Pitt football radio broadcasts as color analyst this fall. The former Panthers quarterback previously served in that role from 2011-15 as well as select games during the 2017 season.

 Bostick makes a tremendous impression on listeners with his keen insight and analysis. In addition to game days, he will continue to be a frequently heard voice talking college football on Pitt flagship station Sportsradio 93.7 The Fan throughout the week.

 Bostick resumes the analyst role that was manned by Billy Osborn the past two seasons.

 “Ozzie has some great things going on, both professionally and personally, that are demanding his fulltime attention,” Borghetti said. “He was recently named a senior vice president for Defend Your Head, a helmet technology company that is doing important work. On the family front, Billy’s boys are playing football every weekend and those are moments you just don’t want to miss.

 “You won’t find a person with more Pitt pride than Ozzie. We thank him for his great work the past two years. He has a standing invite to the booth anytime he’s in town.”

Richert will provide pregame coverage and in-game sideline reports for the sixth consecutive season. One of Pittsburgh’s most recognized voices and faces, he has hosted the venerable KDKA Morning News Show (1020 AM) since 2001. His broadcasting career spans nearly four decades in both radio and television.

Led by 50,000-watt flagship station 93.7 The Fan (KDKA-FM) in Pittsburgh, Pitt football games are broadcast on the Pitt IMG Sports Network, a loyal lineup of stations that spans the Commonwealth. The 2018 stations are:

Ambridge        WMBA-AM      1460

Beaver Falls     WBVP-AM       1230

Bedford           WBFD-AM       1310

Connellsville    WKHB-FM       103.9

Harrisburg       WTKT-AM        1460

Indiana            WCCS-AM       1160

Johnstown       WCRO-AM       1230

Meyersdale/    WQZS-FM        93.3

    Somerset

Oil City             WKQW-AM     1120

Pittsburgh       KDKA-FM         93.7

Uniontown      WMBS-AM      590

Game broadcasts are also available on SiriusXM Satellite Radio.

Football radio coverage on the Pitt IMG Sports Network includes:

  • A three-hour pregame show (first hour on 93.7 The Fan and the last two on the entire Pitt IMG Sports Network).
  • Panther Reaction, a call-in show on 93.7 The Fan following postgame coverage.
  • The Pat Narduzzi Show presented by the Dollar Energy Fund on most Wednesdays from 6 to 7 p.m. Coach Narduzzi previews the upcoming game and takes questions from callers. (Live stream on PittsburghPanthers.com.)

Season tickets for the 2018 Pitt football season are now on sale. Call the Pitt Ticket Office at (800) 643-PITT (7488) or log on to PittsburghPanthers.com.

The Issue of the Pitt Fan Base

The Issue of the Pitt Fan Base

Another interesting look at Pitt and its athletic department over the years from our reader friend “Anon”.  One important thing about this particular reader and contributor – he and his family have been intimately associated with the University of Pittsburgh for many, many years so when he writes something I pay very close attention to it…and it has matched with what I know almost 100% of the time.

In writing this, my purpose is to open thinking about what are the issues with the size and fervor of the Pitt football fan base.  Only this sport is being questioned as basketball has proven in the past to be quite attractive and sold out when Pitt has been relevant in the top 20 in basketball. Surely under Capel, we all anticipate a recalibration and quick building of a highly successful program again.

So, what are the issues with Pitt football?

Certainly for those of us who enjoy the college football sport and who have developed a genuine caring about Pitt football in particular, this is a serious question. Our current Athletic Department and leadership at Pitt have made a strong commitment to utilizing sports as a “front porch” for national recognition and respect for the University of Pittsburgh.

 Yes, yes, we all know the naysayers and their mantra of “Pitt’s too cheap or the administration hates the athletic department.” Those who make these claims are influenced by (1) the waters of the three rivers which still has negativity molecules in plentiful supply; (2) a complete lack of knowledge of Pitt’s organization and finances; and (3) recognition of what Pitt truly values.

 So, skipping the water problem, it can be acknowledged that for decades Mr. Jerry Cochran ran a very squeaky tight ship concerning Pitt finances and contributions to the athletic department.  Nothing but nothing got past him for coaches salaries, athletic costs, etc. That continued until his retirement a few years ago. Also, it might be added that with the retirement of Chancellor Mark Nordenberg who genuinely wanted good sports programs at Pitt, a new regime came in at the right time for Pitt athletics.

Unlike Nordenberg who formerly ran Pitt’s law school, Chancellor Gallagher is more current on marketing, positioning, and building upon Nordenberg’s success in academic enrichment of Pitt. Yes, yes, Gallagher was rushed into a bad choice in Barnes as AD but that was due to the last five years of Jamie Dixon’s difficulties at Pitt due to his recruiting base and the ACC which he never wanted Pitt to be in as opposed to either the Big East or B10 where he could continue his recruiting of the NY-Philly area.

The fall off in attendance at the Pete plus less success on the court signaled that something had to change, so why not Barnes who was part of the NCAA Tournament Selection committee? That didn’t work and was further not a boon to Pitt football.  So, rather quickly Pitt moved on from Barnes to Heather Lyke.

 Heather Lyke was underappreciated due to the size and scope of Eastern Michigan sports. But, what was forgotten was that this is a very bright lady who spent considerable time in Ohio State’s athletic department plus earned a law degree. She has been shaking and churning the Pitt athletic department and staffs to find very good coaching talent. She does not appear to be another Steve Pederson or Scott Barnes, in fact, she just might become Pitt’s best athletic director in decades.

 Add to the staffing of the athletic department and many coaching positions, there is the big money from membership in the ACC. But, keep in mind that the Pitt administration is still shoring up the football programs expenses. Money is not overflowing from alumni, fans, and merchandising sales so far. Perhaps there will be change as more success happens on the field. Currently, Pitt is investing in building football, basketball, baseball, soccer, softball, and wrestling programs. Please don’t sit on laurels as this is a concerted effort by Pitt and it had better work.

 The reason that it better work is simply that Pitt wants sports as an attractive, successful symbol of Pitt’s national image. However, the fundamentals of Pitt are #1 above all else, academics, research, and international recognition. Yes, you are reading this correctly, Pitt would drop any sport tomorrow if it were a choice between that sport and Pitt academics. So, for those of you who would close one eye if Pitt engaged in some shady practices to get recruits, build programs, or get national ranking attention, you are daydreaming while giving Pitt’s core nightmares.  Many of us who love Pitt football and basketball would rather see Pitt close down all sports and simply concentrate on becoming the Stanford of the East before engaging in the nonsense done by so many big nationally recognized sports programs.

Let’s go back to what is the core problems of Pitt fandom.

 First, for most of Pitt’s history, it was a commuter university of national acclaim. Streetcars, buses, and cars delivered students to the campus and then quickly got them to their places of work where they could earn tuition money. The number of dorm students was a small percentage of Pitt’s student enrollment unlike big land grant universities. Pitt did not have a tidy little 10,000 to 30,000 town that was integrated with the university. Pitt had Oakland which was the residence of many wealthier people as well as working class families of steel workers from Jones & Laughlin and other mills.

Not the ideal Chapel Hill version of a campus and town. Pittsburgh was big, bustling, and bruising with one of the smallest African-American populations of a major city in America. Pittsburgh was sectionalized into ethnic enclaves such as Polish Hill, Swissvale, Garfield, Bloomfield, Squirrel Hill, Homewood, the Hill District etc. Immigrant families lived in close proximity to others who shared their ethnicity. So, Pittsburgh in many ways was a lot like a smaller New York but more industrialized. That made for a different student body at Pitt.  Pitt wasn’t the place you went to party or cruise through college. You had to work your ass off both in school and in a one or more jobs to get that diploma.

 Pitt embarked on a disastrous trimester system. Why? It enabled students to accelerate their course load over a year to graduate in possibly as short as two and a half years. What that experiment did was destroy any concept of alumni “Class of XXXX” as each student was in their own class not a large collection of people at the same pace going through  college. That took away the sense of camaraderie for most students.

 Pitt never had a strong vibrant Greek system. It was too expensive for most students and students were too busy studying and working to afford the time and efforts of joining a Frat or Sorority.  Other schools could count on the collective efforts of the Greek System to support and encourage playing sports at their universities.  Pitt was a totally opposite of PSU as humanly possible in what was important to the student and their families.

 The Academic leadership of Pitt did resent Pitt’s athletic department and what they tried to do to build programs. Under Chancellor Litchfield, Pitt almost went bankrupt as a private university (private like Northwestern and Stanford are private) due to the incredible millions spent on bringing in world recognized faculty, building out research programs, investment in buildings, investments in the Medical school and acquisition of hospitals, and building of the International Affairs programs of Pitt.

Football and basketball were not important except as entertainment.  Resentment built with a lot of former players, friends, and families to form the Golden Panthers which decided to put their money into Pitt athletics such as recruiting and hiring Johnny Majors and continuing right up until the 80’s when scandal happened.

So, unless there is a similar banding of wealthy ex-athletes and families, like the Cost Family and others, Pitt sports will be reliant upon the monies of the ACC until sufficiently successful to be self-sustaining and growing.

 Remember, there were many other factors too affecting sports fans for Pitt. The coming of conferences while a boon in monies to be shared, destroyed old-time rivalries. Does anyone seriously think that if Pitt were playing Penn State, West Virginia, Navy, Syracuse, Miami and Notre Dame virtually every year that we’d be having attendance discussions?

Pitt Stadium could seat 60,000 people. Heinz Field seats over 72,000 people which is extremely large for Pittsburgh in general. By the way, the Rooney’s are not dumping on Pitt! They contribute quite a bit of money to Pitt as well as Duquesne plus they don’t own Heinz Field but happily share it with Pitt under the Pittsburgh Sports Authority. Pitt’s leasing deal saves Pitt millions while enabling top-tier facilities.

 Well, enough rambling on.  Just take these words from someone who has followed Pitt football for more than 60 years plus has known many of the past and great players of Pitt.

Editor’s Note: My parents were professionals at Pitt before and during the Chancellor Litchfield years and my father, as the Assistant  Dean of the Graduate School of Business (back when there was a lot less faculty) , worked very closely with Litchfield on starting the International School of Studies mentioned above.   What is written above are just the same thoughts I heard all the time when growing up in the 50s, 60s and early 70s in my “Pitt” household.

My Pitt Story….the Road Rarely Travelled

My Pitt Story….the Road Rarely Travelled

It was been wonderful to read all the great stories of Pitt fans on the Pitt POV.  There is sort of a common thread and that is our common roots.  Mount Lebanon. Donora. Squirrel Hill. Belle Vernon. Johnstown. Etc.  Most of us have personal football involvement, or at least a healthy dose of participatory athletics also.

Me, I grew up in Rhode Island.  The only athletes they grow in Rhode Island frankly are sailors (which I am) and the occasional hockey player.  Heck, we had hockey cheerleaders in my high school (they wore VERY thick nylons!).  My high school won the football state championship twice when I was there.  No one really cared that much.  Attendance was never more than a few hundred.  No one from my school, I would venture to guess, ever played football at a P5 school. I played a bit of high school basketball, until I discovered I enjoyed skipping out on late study halls and going to the beach instead.

I knew nothing, absolutely nothing, of Pittsburgh until I found Pitt in one of those college reference books you used to research colleges back when we had actual bookstores.  I got recruited for my guitar playing…Pitt had a great guitar teacher in Joe Negri, who if you don’t know who that is, his other job was Mr. Handyman on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, which used to be filmed at the Pitt music school building before my time.  The Pitt jazz band had a very nice national reputation, and so that was enough for me.  My high school guidance counselor said he had no record of anyone going to Pitt from my high school before.

I had never attended a college football game before coming to Pitt.  My first game ever was a 34-0 thumping of #14 NC State.  I learned who Ironhead Heyward was on that day.  It was cool.  I think I perhaps went to see Pitt beat Navy.  These games were fun!

And then the later in that season the 10-0 win over PSU happened (1987).  I remember at that earlier NC State game people chanting “Penn State sucks” and I found it so odd that we, well, we dissed another college in our fight song?  That made zero sense to me.  I had no context, no history.  And then, 10-0.

We rushed the field.  My roommate stole one of the coaches’ head phones.  It was bedlam and pure joy. A year or so later my crew and I apparently broke the game clock on national television.  We have pounding on it vs. Notre Dame, “Lets Go Pitt!”  Suddenly the ref runs over and seemed kind of upset.  The police came and said if we did not settle down we would all be hauled away.  Literally two plays later we scored a touchdown.  We became quite joyfully unsettled…and away we went…

For me, however, the Fitzgerald Fieldhouse was where I really became a Pitt fan.  I can still hear Paul Evans screaming at his players (unfortunately).  When Jerome sent it in, well, wow.  My roommate (was in the pep band) got a piece of the glass.  The Georgetown fight at the Civic Arena I will always remember too.  Sadly I will of course always remember things like…Vanderbilt.  Such is the life of a Pitt fan.  But what a great time to be a Pitt basketball fan.  Warts and all, the Fieldhouse was special in those years.

I can’t say my story is too interesting, sorry!  But perhaps a bit of something different, that even people from far away strange lands, lands that don’t care about football or basketball, lands where the name “Pitt” just don’t register in any meaningful way, even from there, someone can grow to be a rabid fan of Pitt athletics.  HTP.  DD.

Pitt, Polio and Perspective

Pitt, Polio and Perspective

Here is a rather long and in-depth piece, part Bio and part look at the state of the program,  by our reader and some time Commenter Troy (UlteriorMotifs). The thoughts and writings are all his…

How does the Pitt football program compare to its peers and what are its prospects?

First time caller, long time listener. Actually, I’ve commented several times on Pitt POV and Pitt Blather, but very infrequently. I’ve been a daily reader of both sites for many years and finally decided to cast off my lurker status and participate in a significant way.

To establish my bona fides (or lack thereof), let me state quickly that, apart from a pair of summer school courses, I never attended Pitt. I have, however, been a fan of the program practically since birth. I grew up in the area, went to grade school about 10 minutes away, and my father and one uncle have Pitt degrees. I started going to basketball games at Fitzgerald when Pitt was still in the Eastern Eight – not just the marquee contests, but also scintillating matchups against powerhouses like Westminster and St. Francis (PA).

I was a regular presence at various Pitt summer programs and the proud winner of the hustle award from Pitt basketball camp. For my efforts, I received a poster of Bernard King doing a reverse dunk, his head just under a rim illuminated like a halo, with the inscription St. Bernard underneath. That poster hung on my wall for many a year and may have marked the pinnacle of my athletic achievement.

The first number I ever wore in youth sports was #13 (you know why) and I attended the vast majority of Pitt football games from the time I was a toddler until I went away to high school in Westmoreland County. By this time, I was estranged from my father, yet I chose to hang on to the best memories of our relationship, which involved parking in random driveways absurdly far from Pitt stadium to save a few bucks (Dad was Costanza-like when it came to paying for parking) and walking down from the Hill into the mass of humanity surrounding the stadium.

We probably started going to the games together when I was four and it took me years to figure out why the college students mobbing all around us were acting so strangely. At the time, I just assumed they were excited about Pitt football; I didn’t realize chemical enhancement was in play.

I was years away from sampling the good stuff; I just loved devouring every morsel of information in the program guide, hearing the roar of the Panther over the PA, the steep climb up Cardiac Hill on those rare occasions when we scored a parking spot in the flatlands of Oakland, the Panther icon painted brightly on the building behind the stadium, the Golden Girls (we always brought binoculars), one side of the stadium chanting “Hugh” and the other responding “Green”,  and, of course, post-game trips to the “O” for cheese-drowned, artery-clogging curly fries.

So, I stayed with Pitt as I came of age – even though that coincided with the shockingly rapid descent of program from elite, to good, to average, to outright putrid. I’m not old enough (43) to really remember the glory days, but as someone who achieved consciousness just afterward, the glory days were recent enough to think Pitt might someday reclaim those dizzying heights. 30 years of average performance – and that’s what’s it been really apart from the national embarrassment of the Hackett/Majors 2 period – has tempered my expectations.

While I still hope against hope for the magical season where everything falls into place, I am (largely) resigned to the idea that Pitt will never win another national championship and I’d say the chance of Pitt making the college football playoff in my lifetime, if I live another 43 years, is probably about 50/50.

This may sound defeatist, but consider that the last time a team from outside college football’s elite hoisted the National Championship trophy, was in 1991, nearly 30 years ago. And even that year, the upstart team was Washington (a pretty strong program historically) which split the title with the mighty Miami Hurricanes.

The previous year, Colorado and Georgia Tech, in arguably the most unlikely outcome ever, shared the crown. But the sport has changed since then for many reasons, some of them related to demography, but most of them related to money, and since the early 90s, it’s been nothing but a stream of the usual suspects. Could Pitt break the glass ceiling? Sure, it’s possible, but exceedingly unlikely.

I don’t say this merely because of the last three decades of on-field results, although historical record plays a part. I’m not considering the team’s performance (fewer than 10 wins virtually every year) in a vacuum; looking at it in the context of Pitt’s commitment to athletics, as well as how the competitive landscape and local, regional, and national demographics have evolved in the nearly four decades since I started walking up that hill to Pitt Stadium.

Continue reading “Pitt, Polio and Perspective”

Rivals’ Pitt HC Poll; Who is the Best?

Rivals’ Pitt HC Poll; Who is the Best?

Rivals.com just did a poll on its message board asking Pitt fans to vote for who they thought was the best Pitt head coach going back to Foge Fazio.  I didn’t vote because I was overseas for most of the 1980s and ’90s and couldn’t follow Pitt football except for the scores… but lots of Pitt fans did.

Here is the link if you can use it – it may be behind a paywall.

One of our readers who wishes to remain anonymous sent me a detailed email with his thoughts on this matter and here they are:

Today I spotted a poll on Pantherlair about the best Pitt coaches excluding the well known highly successful ones such as Sherrill, Majors, Warner, and Sutherland.  What world of ignorance or just too young to know why things happened was my reaction.

 Why is that people don’t understand as to what happened and why these coaches succeeded or failed?

 Foge Fazio:

 Very likable DC under Sherrill, everybody loved him plus he was a former Pitt player.  What Foge lacked was experience as a head coach so what he continued to do was be “everyone’s best buddy” and that didn’t work with the cast of talented and head strong team under his command. Players got into trouble as so many were destined to be in the NFL. He simply couldn’t handle offending and losing personal relationships. He was a great defensive coach and excellent lieutenant but not general.

 Mike Gottfried:

 Gottfried came from Kansas as head coach of all places.  By Pitt standards, he was affordable, younger, and a former QB who was known for offense. Frankly, he worried a lot of Pitt fans as being so outside of the Tri-State recruiting grounds that he might fall flat. He didn’t fall flat as a recruiter thanks to BUD RATLIFF, the recruiting director. Ratliff was ranked as one of the top five recruiters in the country!! Imagine if Ratliff had been with Sherrill, Pitt would have made dust of Ohio State, PSU, and USC.  Look at the talent that Ratliff brought to Pitt.  So many of those recruits went on to the NFL.  Gottfried’s teams were three deep in potential NFL players. 

 What people forget was the game day coaching by Gottfried.  He didn’t overwhelm teams despite all the talent at hand. There were issues with his coordinators including one from Michigan that almost got Pitt noted by the NCAA.

 The real undoing of Mike Gottfried was his emotional makeup. He would walk in the rain for hours after a loss or being out of communications if upset. Then there were the rumors about a little unsavory fraternization (edit note: true) .  Put together and MG was no longer what Pitt’s administration wanted.  Of course, there was a betrayal by OC Paul Hackett who wanted to replace Gottfried asap.  That didn’t turn out well for Pitt.

 Walt Harris:

 Harris clearly saved Pitt from ending football by finding ways to keep Pitt competitive. No one seems to recall that his only head coaching experience was at Pacific University which disbanded football. He was Ohio State’s QB coach, not Offensive Coordinator, when he was hired to Pitt. He stayed with Ohio State for their bowl game and never got out of the gate with choosing assistants or recruiting until after the game, a la Todd Graham type of start.

 Yes, Walt Harris had good passing and QB coaching abilities, but he never had strong rapport with Western PA coaches when Western PA still had a lot of talent. He made some mediocre quarterbacks look far better than they were but he also distained the running game for the passing game. Also, his defenses were mediocre, not able to stop teams. Now, he is the Gold Standard to many Pitt fans.  Give me a break.  He is a nice guy and he also had a problem at Pitt that went beyond his agent mouthing off about Harris’s better opportunities elsewhere.  There were many stories about his marriage that didn’t help him with the administration.  As for his recruiting, he appealed to those wanting a strong passing offense but that was it.  He was not a natural recruiter.

 Dave Wannstedt:

 People don’t recall that there was a lot of controversy about Pitt hiring DW.  He was disliked in Miami and never had a good relationship with his Hall of Fame QB, Dan Marino, a Pitt guy. What made DW attractive to Nordenberg was his strong love of Pitt, donations, and hosting fund raisers for Nordenberg.  Oh yes, he did have some National Championship rings plus a NFL Championship ring.  Dave definitely is and was a likable guy who loved Pitt and his home town of Pittsburgh. That alone made him very unique for Pitt.

 Game day coaching for DW was mediocre to be kind, but he could make a huge splash in recruiting with his rings, love of Pitt, NFL experience, media exposure, and being a Pennsylvania kid.  Give him all the credit in the world for being the type of guy who might have remained at Pitt until retirement. I might add that there were no bad stories about DW or his family at any time. He was just a damn good guy and had the local accent to a tee.

 What the fools voting forget is how rude and insulting Pitt fans were to DW’s family. One bragged about getting into an elevator at Heinz and bad mouthing Wannstedt with DW’s wife and kids in the elevator. Pitt fans were evenly split on getting rid of him and his game day coaching or loving him to stay forever.

 What undid DW was the actions of those he recruited, not his game day coaching. Players being arrested and Pitt getting horrible press about the police reports and bar fights was the final straw for the administration.

 Paul Chryst:

 When PC was hired, no one could figure out why other than Barry Alvarez recommending him to the administration. Alvarez wanted the Pitt job at one point in his career, so the administration knew him and knew how well he had done at Wisconsin, so why not take his recommendation.  Plus, the price was right after the mess in coaches after DW’s exit.  PC wasn’t a controversial figure or showboat.  He was quiet with a good sense of humor but hardly what someone would call “pushy” in the age of flamboyant head coaches.

 What PC knew was offense and he knew that Pitt needed line talent badly so that was his strength. PC never recruited bad actors or kids with character issues. He cared deeply about a kid’s family, his respect for his family, and loyalty to a commitment. PC was an all around good guy if not an exciting head line grabbing coach.

 When PC left, he didn’t leave the cupboard bare. He didn’t leave problem players. He might have been a multi-decade coach at Pitt if his alma mater and Alvarez didn’t call for him to return to Wisconsin to lead the program. He sure didn’t hurt Pitt other than the departure before people wanted.

 Pat Narduzzi:

 Nobody was whining when Pitt had two back to back eight win seasons, despite having a less than stellar defense. Last year was a big disappointment and I won’t sugar coat it that “if and what if” might have been the difference.  A staff shakeout was needed and give credit that it was done. This year we’ll see how that works out.

 Recruiting wise, we still have to wait to see what happens this year. If enough people who know Florida say that the kids who committed are really good, then many of them will get an additional star in their senior seasons. So, what is missing?

 Yes, PN is more clandestine than his predecessors in preparation for games. Ok, maybe that was how they did things at MSU, maybe not. While it makes the life of some sports writers more difficult, that doesn’t mean that he dislikes them or that he is trying to be difficult. 

 There are no bad faith or bad acts by PN or his players that he doesn’t address. This administration is very happy with him.  He is doing things the right way.

As of 8:00 pm the results were close with Gottfried, Harris and Wannstedt in the top three spots respectively.  I won’t write on this but will say I agree with most of the above… some not so much though.