After the press release for the new fan initiatives went out on Monday four local media reporters had a chance to sit down the AD Scott Barnes and discuss those changes and other topics.
Sam Werner of the Post-Gazette, Craig Meyer of the Post-Gazette, 15 year old Lance Lysowski of DKPittsburghSports.com and the silver-backed gorilla of Pittsburgh sports writing Jerry DiPaola of the Tribune-Review all took part in it and what followed was a very long and detailed interview, more like an overview type discussion, regarding the ‘momentum’ Pitt is carrying now that we have had personnel switches at the University’s administrative leadership positions.
Those personnel would be Pat Gallagher replacing Chancellor Mark Nordenberg; Scott Barnes replacing AD Steve Pederson and at the more grass roots level Pat Narduzzi replacing head football. So far it looks that has come rolling it and made positive changes to both the Athletic Department and in how that Department interacts with the fans, alumni and students… and media.
That is why we have commissioned these memorial sculptures for the three new guys. It was best to do them early and all the at once because we had to use a 45% off coupon at Joanne’s sculpture department before it expired.
The Rooney’s won’t let us show them off in Heinz Field so we put them in Hillman Library where it is guaranteed no students will see them.
Here is a Q&A from the interview that addresses the bottom line as far as growing the football program:
Q: Will recruiting budgets be increased for certain sports?
SB: Absolutely. They already have been.
Q: Including football?
SB: Yeah. We need to be more nimble in how we recruit. There needs to be an opportunity…as an example, in basketball, where a coach has the full week of practice, but he can go see somebody play. Well, private airline opportunities to get there and back is really important and in football, as well. Those things have been addressed and will continue to be bolstered as examples of increased recruiting.
As we hire new coaches who look beyond the region…and, in some cases, Europe. We’ll be spending time in Europe and overseas as we hire coaches with an aggressive, next-level gameplan for recruiting. Those dollars are being put in place to fund that.
Mentioning private airlines and recruiting in the same breath is something we haven’t herd in the history of Pitt football, at least to my recollection. That is how the Big Boys do their recruiting and if we do indeed want to get the best kids we can on a national stage then this is the way it has to be done.
And you can pat yourself on the back for buying the Club Section seats and ‘donating’ $500 – that donation will go directly to flying that private recruiting aircraft for 10 minutes. Of course that same amount of money would have bough one of Walt Harris staff coaches a year pass on his Trailways Bus recruiting vehicle…
Another interesting subject brought to light during this round-table interview was the subject of scheduling and specifically scheduling FBS non-conference games:
Q: Is there anything as an AD you could see that could change the culture of these games being scheduled so far out?
SB: That’s a really great question. You’ve got to watch the landscape. The FCS thing really continues to be one we have to watch. Is that going to be something we’re going to continue to play? We’ve already talked about our commitment to try to play FBS games at home against Group of Five schools. The question we’ll continue to monitor is whether FCS games still have a part in our long-term strategy. At the end of the day, it’s about the fan experience and the resume for a playoff. If there are strong signals out there from the playoff committee that FCS games aren’t the best use for your schedule, we’ll look at that.
This next point is an good one and something that I was led to understand was a bit of a problem between Steve Pederson and Dave Wannstedt…
Q: Do the head coaches like to have a seat at the table in terms of scheduling?
SB: Yeah. Typically, as an athletic director, you’re very involved in the football schedule and you sort of own that because of the magnitude, there aren’t very many games and the revenue. For basketball, I’ve always inserted myself and kept communication open, but I let the coaches do their schedule.
Yesterday Guy Junker, or whoever it is, and Jerry DiPaola (busy guy him) recorded this Trib-Review podcast that addresses a bunch of nothing except beer in the press box which is a huge deal for me so that I can argue like an ass with other media types then blame it on the booze.
Have to say that all their voices put me on edge a bit… it would be nice if we listeners could at least hear something of value if we also have to hear them talk about Mama’s someone pizza. At least DiPaola can say “Pitt stinks” after a 8-5 season – although I think he was referring to years past.
Here is a feature I really like doing when I was writing my first articles when I started to cover Pitt football. It is called “Name the Author” and you’ll see why. I take a piece of literature and put a Pitt spin on it – then you guess who wrote it originally. The prize? You get to share it with friends and brag that I couldn’t fool you. To my Blather friends – you have already read these five years ago but I’ll do some new ones soon.
Name the Author
“While Todd Graham laughs. Rocking farther and farther backward against the player’s bench, spreading his laugh out across the field—laughing at the cheerleaders, the players, at Tino, at me sucking my bleeding thumb, at the offensive coordinator up in the box and the referee and the equipment guys and the thirty five thousand empty seats and the Big Nurse and all of it. Because he knows you have to laugh at the things that hurt you just to keep yourself in balance, just to keep the world from running you plumb crazy.”
Note: I try to get something up in the workday’s morning hours so you all have something to do at work. But, I’m still typing away at my dusty novel and so sometimes I’ll be posting at odder hours – but I will always try to get something up between 9-5 on weekdays.
Also – don’t hesitate to share this site with someone you know who likes reading/talking about Pitt football. I’ll be traveling up to all the home game, have arranged to go to two away games and as always I’ll get up to the Fall Camp practices and scrimmages as much as I can.
If one didn’t know I actually live in Columbia, MD and each visit is a 9 hour round trip drive with hotel costs thrown in about half the time. So that’s one reason I have made this a revenue-producing site (keep your fingers crossed on that please.) Those expenses came out of my pocket when I was an unpaid writer on The Pitt blather and they aren’t minimal.
Thus I hope to make enough to cover my travel and associated blog costs then at least 50% of what is left over in advertising pay per month will go to those two charities listed.
I think, if we asked my readers over the last five years, getting the content I have put out is a pretty good deal. One thing though – I will never, ever make this a pay-by-viewer site. That is exactly the opposite of what I want this Pitt football blog to be.