NOTE: this is an article I wrote back in the beginning of September of 2016 and never posted it but it’s something to read that it might be a bit timely now also

I like Chris Dokish’s work on The Panther’s Prey blog he writes. Aside from the fact that he’s pretty much an unmitigated homer it is enjoyable to read and I learn something every time I visit.

He puts a ton of research into what he does and because I don’t follow recruiting much I tend to use his info (attributed). Because of the ‘defection’ of DT Donovan Jeter, a HS star player who Pat Narduzzi had slobbered over for a year, and who spurned Pitt for a quick verbal to Notre Dame, Dokish felt it was time to post an article he had been working on for some time.

It is titled Why Pitt football recruits at the level they do and is very well written.  He mirrors what I have been saying for over five years now in that Pitt is not an “elite” football program.  That isn’t rocket science as anyone with half a football brain can see that we are presently a bit above average program at best. Notice we are talking about the football program here and not a specific team for any year.

We haven’t been in the upper echelons of college ball in over 44 years – since Dan Marino and his 1982 teammates played their way to #10 in the AP poll.

But looking at the future is where Dokish and I differ in our opinions.  Here is something he has been saying for a long time and I’m just not buying that with the right coach Pitt could be an annual Top 10 program. Sorry, but that’s like saying if I pick the exact six numbers the Lotto pulls out of the computer I’ll be a multi-millionaire.  It’s true but the odds of it happening are crazy long.

“In the second group we have very good programs that could flirt with top 10 status with the right coach. That group includes Louisville, Virginia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Stanford, Washington, Oregon, UCLA, Arizona State, Utah, and Texas A&M. None of these programs are always excellent, but they’ve proven that they are good enough programs that with an excellent coach they can be among the elite.

Again using Rivals, here are last year’s recruiting rankings for these seventeen programs- Louisville (36), Virginia Tech (42), Miami (21), North Carolina (24), Pittsburgh (26), ( West Virginia (38), Oklahoma State (48), Michigan State (18), Wisconsin (35), Iowa (42), Stanford (19), Washington (37), Oregon (28), UCLA (10), Arizona State (30), Utah (34), and Texas A&M (17).

Am I saying that Pat Narduzzi will definitely do that? No, I’m not. But it’s certainly possible. The level of Pitt’s program is such that a great coach could make Pitt a National Championship contender, if they have an excellent coach. Not every program can say that. The Panthers definitely have that possibility. And if Narduzzi turns into that coach, and if they want to keep the program at it’s newly elevated status, they will need to pay him. All of the coaches in the above programs got raises for their accomplishment. But we will worry about that when/if the time comes.

I have some problems with these thoughts above.  First off – Just WTH does he mean by “a great coach“. There have been two very good – you can call them great – coaches at Pitt in the modern era and they were here for nine years from 1973 to 1981.  As good as Majors, with his national championship team of 1976 and Jackie Sherrill’s three straight 11-1 teams were, in those nine years we ended up in the Top 10 five times.

I’ll say that part again – in the modern era since WWII, in essence the past 61 years,  we have been in the AP Top 5 at season’s end only six times… when you add Johnny Michelosen’s 9-1  1963 squad.

Forgive me if I remain skeptical that we are going to snag a “Great Coach” to take us to the promised land anytime soon – at least take us there and leave us there as perennial top 10 team.  Hell – let’s lower the bar a bit and make it even a constant Top 20 team.

We have a bit better past track record with that having made the Top 20 15 times in the last 61 years.  But really, does anyone really think that 1) we are getting to the Top 10 any time soon and 2) If Narduzzi does accomplish that he will stick around when bigger programs start throwing many millions per year to get him to leave.  Because that will happen.  If anything the one thing we can say about Pitt Head Coaches is that they either get itchy feet or get fired for cause after not too many years.

Here’s what we have in the longevity category as far as Pitt head coaches go:

Michelosen was here for 11 years but he sucked.  At 56-49 -7 he was finally fired.

Walt Harris stayed a full eight years, won a shared Big East Title and was pushed out (fired) to Stanford as soon as they showed any interest in him what so ever – he wasn’t a valued commodity at the end of his tenure here even though he was winning games.

Other than those two no other Pitt HCs stayed for more than six years and only one stayed for a full six; that was homeboy Dave Wannstedt who couldn’t get us into the Top 10 either.  His summit reached was in 2009 when we ended up #15 with a 10 win season.

So how sure we are that things are going to be different in the future? Pat Narduzzi is off to a good start having a record of 16-10 so far.  But I don’t see us getting into the Top 10 with him unless his recruiting, and his football coaching, take great leaps forward soon.  I’ll give us getting to the Top 25 a few times and maybe he’ll replicate DW and get up to #15 once or twice. Hey, at Pitt that is successful as hell and if it happens I’ll be the first to congratulate him!

But where and when is the “Great Coach” going to get here and why would he come here to this particular program? Or is he here and hasn’t hit his full stride yet? Is Narduzzi the coach to get us to the higher levels year-in and year-out?

Let’s hear our readers’ views on this…



160 thoughts on “Getting to the Top…

  1. posted earlier today on PSN:

    Pat Narduzzi doesn’t come to me for advice but if he did I’d suggest to him to find a way to get Jeff Hafley on staff. The 37-year old was on Chip Kelly’s staff with the 49ers before being fired a couple days ago.

    If that name sounds familiar it should. Hafley was an assistant coach with Dave Wannstedt from 2006-2010 and is one of the top recruiters in the country. Hafley was a main reason why Wannstedt continually landed 4-star recruits, especially from New Jersey.

    Adding a guy like Hafley to Narduzzi’s current group of assistants like Josh Conklin, Tim Salem, Rob Harley, Andre Powell, etc and those are serious, serious recruiters.


  2. Western Kentucky: Boise State passing game coordinator / WRs coach Junior Adams has now officially been announced as the new offensive coordinator / wide receivers coach at WKU.


  3. off the top of my head .. Hafley was responsible for Dion Lewis, Kwuan Williams and TJ Clemmings coming to Pitt. But he has been in NFL (Bucs, Browns and 49ers) over the past 5 years


  4. Dokish is ok.

    His weakness is his insecurity which makes him always feel he has to try to make himself look right even when he is wrong.

    And also the fact that he guaranteed a Hillary Clinton win.


  5. Dokish bleeds Pitt. I may not agree with some things he says but we need more supporters out there. He’s one of the very best.


  6. And will Pitt ever consistently be top 10 in football or basketball…NO. And you don’t want to be. It will mean selling your soul and having to raise vast sums of money. Can Pitt be top 25 each year in both…YES. And only about 4-5 schools each year are. That’s sayin something!!

    But, But, it will take the right AD and a BOT that gives a shit.


  7. Being stuck in between two football cult like programs that are among the football programs that rake in the most money $$$. Only way in this day and age of boocoo million$ being spent in football, for Pitt to ‘be a player’ again… to spend money. And that is no guarantee.

    But we only need to look at our bball program and what it was and what it became (at least for a decade) after Pitt ponied up a couple Hundred Mil and built a first rate basketball arena. (unfortunately at the expense of our OCS) But nonetheless does anyone believe Pitt has a decade of sustained success in the best bball conference in America if Pitt doesn’t build the Pete and make the couple hundred mil investment.

    The last time Pitt was a Player in Football, was pre-cable TV, pre-ESPN, pre-the Gazillions of loot now in the college game. You want to win…..quit being cheap.

    We already failed the first big test with not ponying up for Canada. When was the last time Pitt avg’g over 42 ppg.

    Answer………….NEVER !


  8. I’ve known a few vacuum salesmen that have gotten laid. They are not all stiffs. In fact the women like the stiffness if you know what I mean.


  9. I could write a novel about this subject…..

    I suppose hypothetically we could return to top 10 or top 5 status every year if we threw millions of dollars at the program, hired Nick Saban, cheated, etc…. But the reality is that we aren’t going to do any of those things. I like Pat Narduzzi. I think he is a good fit for our program. But he has an uphill climb. He has strong support from the administration, but that support will only go so far financially. His biggest challenge will be convincing the 4 and 5 star recruits that playing in front of 40,000 fans in the mustard bowl is a better choice than playing in front of 100k in Columbus, State College, Ann Arbor, etc.

    Much the same way that Coach Dixon’s poor recruiting will handicap Coach Stallings for years to come, Coach Narduzzi was left with limited talent on the defensive side of the ball by Paul Chryst. I don’t care how good of a coach you are, you aren’t going to compete regularly for ACC or National Championships without better players. Until Pitt fans start showing up in greater numbers for games, this situation won’t change. It was an embarrassment that after beating Clemson and also having the opportunity to see James Conner (along with our large group of Seniors) play his final game, our fans pooped the bed in failing to fill the seats for the Duke and Syracuse games. It was embarrassing. Looked like less than 30k in the seats for each.

    By the time the Syracuse game ended, there were less than 15k left. The game set back defense 100 years, but it was truly historic. Why leave? Even in the years of Majors I and Sherrill, we would draw big for better opponents, but would get underwhelming crowds for the likes of Syracuse, BC, Army, etc. We have a nice combination of administrative support, facilities and coaches right now. But I’m afraid that the most that we can expect for now is 8 and 9 win seasons. Not bad, but not top 5 material. We need better recruits. Period.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Better recruits, better coaches and yes better facilities. All that takes money. Pitt just doesn’t have the support from enough big time boosters or the BOT. And Gallagher is more window dressing about that front porch of his. It needs more than just touch-up painting.

    Attendance is impacted by wins and losses but also about the game day experience. How does Pitt improve the experience to draw fans in for fun and entertainment. No easy answer but I have a few ideas….


  11. Just pay Pat Narduzzi top-$$$ (after next year it’s gonna take 4-5 Mil/Year) …. and let him keep growing into Pitt and bringing in 22-25 of ‘His Guys’ every year, and Pitt will become a Powerhouse.

    ^^^^ Pitt beat Clemson at-Clemson — dunno if most guys missed that game it seems-so based on some of the commentary lol.


  12. Pitt’s facilities in the South Side are Top Class and Totally Equal with if not even more quality than the Steelers facilites —- which are considered elite quality in the NFL.

    Pitt just offered 1+ mil to retain an offensive coordinator, and just wait to see how much Chancellor Patrick Gallagher is gonna wrap-up Pat Narduzzi for (+ a Crazy-Buyout).

    —– Pitt has way, way more money available than Yokel-Schools and LSU, Alabama — it’s a matter of Priorities, Period. — It is basically ‘Selling-Out’ and making a new Mission / Perception Statement to start paying crazy money for Football.


  13. Years ago I was sitting at PITT’s first game that year and sitting along side me was Mr and Mrs Jeff Hafley Sr. Dion Lewis had enrolled in January and had a leg up on the other recruits and got off to a fast start that game. Mr Hafley lean into to me and whispered, “wait until you see the other running back my son got from New Jersey” Ray Ray Graham. Dad told me how much his son loved coaching at PITT and really impressed me with his knowledge of his son’s work. Meantime behind me was Graham’s mother and sister. Man was she a wild one.

    I would love to see JH come on back to PITT. Seems as if he’s broadened his coaching skills over the years and could make a big impact in most phases of coaching…

    BTW Emel, looking back on Mangino, he really upset the apple-cart in a lot of places he’s gone in the past. My kind of guy.


  14. ^^^ @Upittbaseball When Pat Narduzzi wins 9+ regular season games next year, plus the bowl game with a Ridiculously Faster and improved Defense and a Two-Headed Monster QB attack with Thomas MacVittie and “Silverback” Max Browne… —-> is he gonna be worth “James Franklin Money” then???


  15. Ryan Luther is a waste of a scholarship. The great white joke. Kid is sloooow, worst lateral movement ever, awful d, but he does get garbage points. And does this coach EVER call time out??


  16. How,how, could you let a kid get a three ?? I’m speechless. How could you not have him foul or be in his face. They deserve to lose this game. This coach will choke all year long.


  17. Stallings was a bum and is a bum. UVA sucks this year. When he beats Duke wake me up. Loses only talent he has on roster next year.


  18. Nice BB win last night. We almost let another one slip away, but instead we won in OT vs the #11 ranked team in the polls.

    Returning to FB – The best thing that will happen for next year’s D is that Miami QB Brad Kaaya, unc QB Mitch Trubisky, WR Bug Howard, WR Ryan Switzer and VATech QB Evans, WR Ford, TE Hodges left for the NFL. Those three teams beat Pitt in 2016 and were losses specifically tied to those players.

    OC Joe Moorehead from psu is a leading candidate for the HC job at Minnesota. PJ Fleck is probably the top choice, imo.


  19. I agree about Stallings. The last 15 seconds of regulation was as bad as a coaching job that I ever seen. 2nd game in a row where they had an important shot but they didn’t see to run a play. Then not to advise the team to pick up on defense by half court was inexcusable.

    But on the plus side … this team seems to shoot much more in rhythm and with more confidence than any Pitt team in recent history. And of course, this was the by far the best offensive showing vs UVA we have seen. Pitt just has to play smarter/better at the end of close games … something they very rarely do (Dixon or Stallings.)


  20. If Dixon were still the coach – Pitt wouldn’t have scored 50 points and would have lost! So Stallings takes the #24 team to OT and loses by a point – takes the #11 team to OT and spanks them all with recruits from the the previous HC. The bench is weak and not deep (thanks to JD). That was probably their best and most complete game so far…Louisville next – not an easy conference schedule.


  21. If you read the write up on Pittsburgh Sports Now – Stallings took blame for not telling the team to foul earlier…the game also featured the 2nd largest attendance by the Zoo…but still didn’t sell out as the ‘fans’ didn’t attend.


  22. This comment is for Emel, but some others may have interest:

    24 ND beat the Pitt BB team and moved up one spot in the polls to #23.

    22 psu beat a weak Purdue FB team and moved up ten spots in the polls to #12.

    Two different sports, but the poll madness is everywhere.


  23. No question whatsoever of the B1G influence on the Selection Committee … and probably much of it has to do with how many people the B1G bring to the TV sets and games. They have the most lucrative TV deals and anyone who doesn’t think this matters is only fooling himself.


  24. and …. despite the B1G once again looking bad when matched up with goods from other conferences, I will guarantee you that the pre-season Top 25 will have at least 5 B1G teams listed .. and probably more. It happens every year


  25. Way to throw a wet blanket on Stallings’ 1st signature win at Pitt, Upitt. You did call this win but to discount it because of the quality of the opponent is so typical of your routine critical nature to be ludicrous. Are you ever happy about anything?


  26. I don’t get the continuous bashing of Stallings. Why? I don’t want to hear about how he got hired and all of that because it has nothing to do with him as a coach. He has amassed more praise from his players and opposing coaches than Dixon ever did. The guy knows what he is doing. This whole ACC thing has to be a huge adaptation for him as this is way different than SEC basketball. Give him time. There’s going to be some major downs over the next year or so. But that’s because Dixon left a couple steaks in the fridge and nothing else when he left.


  27. Like any coach, Stallings needs a few years before an honest evaluation. Overall, I really like this current team so far .. but will criticize specific strategic decisions, like the endings of the last 2 games in regulation time.


  28. @rkb or any POVert with a law degree -a legal question …If The NCAA or conferences got together a decided to set limits on compensation for all coaches to control costs -are they breaking any laws


  29. Not my area of expertise but it would probably violate the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution. It would probably go back to the Curt Flood Supreme Court case allowing free agency. I doubt, if they had any desire, that it would work. But a nice thought. Certainly the Bama, Pedders etc would have no interest but it is ridiculous with no end in sight and it does create unfair advantages. NCAA is pretty much a toothless tiger on many issue.


  30. Stallings is a good solid coach. Will do fine here if he can recruit ACC quality players.

    Much more fun ball to watch, let’s his players play, don’t miss the micromanagement at all.

    If he can’t recruit her, not sure who can. He is a player’s coach.


  31. Haters want to and will hate, alway’s. It’s their nature and they are happy that way.

    Stallings is the victim of bald discrimination. Where is the outcry? (no I’m not bald)

    Clemson D-End “CHRISTIAN” Wilkins apologizes for groping Ohio State WR Curtis Samuel. << what?

    Golf Digest names Oakmont Country Club the fifth best gold course in America for years 17/18

    J T Barrett coming back for his 12th year of eligibility. With Beck leaving maybe he’ll learn the art of the forward pass by now?

    Grayson Allen ends the indefinite suspension (1 game) comes back to score 15 pts but had zero tripping infractions. So he’s not quite back up to speed yet I take it?

    Jung Ho Kang kicked off his South Korean baseball team for not hiding the fact that he drinks too much. Shame on him.

    The AD and OC hires by PITT will make a few people very unhappy…..and this goes no matter who they hire!!

    You can book it Dano…….ike


  32. As I stated over on the Pitt Blather, we should appreciate this win b cause with our ACC schedule this season, ACC wins need to be cherished. We get to see both UNC & Louisville twice, & Duke is also on the docket. If we don’t own our two games over Syracuse this season like we usually do, then I could easily imagine us no better than .500 in our ACC schedule by Conference tourney time. Not a good look.


  33. I like the new look Panthers and their style of play. Two very exciting games in a row against ranked ACC teams. If Stallings can recruit we’ll be set….if he can’t we’ll be middle of the road in the ACC. But players like his style of play so I’m guess when he gets his feet set here the recruiting will open up. Making the Tournament this year would be huge….

    He has a couple 4* playing coming in…..and he’ll need them. Thanks God one’s a PG.


  34. —– 2017 Season —- 9-3 Regular Season, top-15 Finish, and a Major-Bowl Resounding Victory. 😉

    — The Young-Gun Defense is Blazingly fast and explosive and knocks Trace McSorley out of the game and totally neutralizes Saquan Barkley. Thomas MacVittie (Samurai Lightning) Slashes huge runs and Max (We All Deserve A Second Chance) Browne Crush It at the two headed monster QB attack all season.

    Pat Narduzzi gets a raise making him Higher-Paid than $chlub Franklin.

    Pitt’s next 10 win season commences in a few months in the 2017 season 🙂 (First of MANY ACC great seasons).


  35. ^^ Everyone kept mentioning James Conner moving to defense for his NFL career….. imagine George Aston as a Linebacker (inside OR outside) for Pitt with his strength in Narduzzi’s defense???


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