Have to apologize for lack of articles lately – between going to Virginia for two days on Tuesday then having to drive up to PGH for two days for a funeral on Thursday I couldn’t find computer time to write anything.
BB News: Cam Johnson is indeed leaving the Pitt BB program as one of the many who have seen the handwriting on the wall with the Stallings hire. I think that Pitt BB fans are much like the Pitt FB fans in that they find it hard to point fingers at the coaching staffs when there are players to blame.
To me this mass exodus from the BB program is all on (dearly departed) ex-Pitt AD Barnes’ and BB Head Coach Stallings’ shoulders. From that initial press conference announcing the hire until now the Stallings era has been on a downward slope. Multiple players from a small roster don’t leave within months of each other unless there is great institutional instability.
This is NOT what you want a new AD to have to deal with in the first part of her time at your university. We saw a Pitt FB head coach leave Pitt when there was the same type of institutional instability back with Todd Graham.
Say what you will about him and there are many negative things to say – but the one thing I believed in 100% was his stating that he left Pitt “because there are problems there I can’t talk about“. Of course he was talking about Steve Pederson and the fall-out from the last year of the Wannstedt regime.
But that also parallels what we are seeing now – maybe not exactly or of the same magnitude as with Graham – but things are roiling behind the scenes in the Athletic Department and it centers around the atmosphere Stallings created for Pitt’s BB players.
The Stallings hire was suspect; the AD directing that hire was suspect (and then that AD carpetbagged his way to a higher paying gig) and Stallings’ attitude in blaming his players for his lack of empathy and leadership is suspect writ large. Plus the BB pass defense sucked also.
It was plain to see that Stallings’ was unprepared for what he was coming into with the departure of a beloved coach in Jamie Dixon. Instead of addressing it head on and trying to work within that reality he tried to impose his mark on “his” program by peeing on center court and daring his players with a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude.
Hell, he may as well just handed out PA Turnpike Toll gift cards when he first got here.
It just never ends for the Pitt athletic department and their media arm does it? I’ll bet a warm beer that E.J. Borghetti would sell his antique Danny Marino-signed condom dispenser that was on the bathroom wall in Chief’s Cafe for just one month of not having to report negative news.
On To Football:
The Tribune-Review’s Jerry DiPaola had an interesting bit in his blog “Pitt locker Room” regarding some players and whether or not they are actually injured. We all know that Pat Narduzzi is as tight-lipped as can be with his player’s physical statuses. He just doesn’t like to talk about it and we’re not sure why.
I don’t think it is his safeguarding any privacy issues. If an injury or illness was serious enough, Conner’s cancer for example, then that would be up to the player and his family to make public. But the training camp minor injuries (or even more serious such as Hamlin’s) are something that I feel should be discussed in a bit more detail.
This is for no other reason than to stop speculation in the media and among fans as to if a player is doing well or not in these camps. We have seen in the past that when one kid’s name gets mentioned often for a week and another at the same position’s isn’t then being mentioned at all wonderment about the pecking order at that position starts. Sometimes the second kid isn’t mentioned much because he’s nursing an injury but the public doesn’t know that.
Trying to be as diplomatic as I could, I said, “A lot of people, fans, writers, are talking about Hamlin and Clark. Can you shed any light on those two guys.”
Narduzzi: “In what regards, being banged up?
Me: The I word, yeah.”
Narduzzi: “That’s good. You didn’t say injuries. Good. I like that. (Smiling, fist bump.) They’re both going to be fine. It’s spring ball. We’ve got no game to play tomorrow. Both are things they will be back from easily, easily.”
Follow up question from Chris Peak of Panther-Lair.com: “But not (able to practice) the rest of spring, though?”
Narduzzi: “Maybe, maybe.”
You know when the coaching staff starts talking up true freshmen and walk-ons in spring drills there are problems. we are seeing that right now with the effusive praise given to the toddlers on the offensive line.
“Say hello to Jerry Drake, Jimmy Morrissey, Tony Pilato, Brandon Ford and Justin Morgan. “
Uhh… say ‘hello” to an inexperienced and not all that talented OL two-deep, at least in my opinion. I’ve felt for some time the OL is going to be a problem in ’17 and this just reinforces my concerns. We have been extremely spoiled by Paul Chryst’s recruitment of offensive lineman and looking at what we have gotten from Pat Narduzzi on this count isn’t replicating that (so far).
From Jerry D at the Trib:
Even more intriguing is walk-on Morrissey, a redshirt freshman who is getting first and second-team opportunities at center and guard.
A year ago, he was recruited by Lehigh, Bucknell, Colgate, Dartmouth and Penn, who were attracted as much by his 3.8 grade-point average as his athletic ability. He could have received more playing time and scholarship help at those schools, but he chose to pay his way into Pitt for the chance to test himself.
“I personally believe I can play at this level,” Morrissey said. “I wanted to prove it to myself.” He’s proven it to people more important: the coaches.
Here are the Narduzzi OL recruits from Rivals.com:
|Brandon Ford||OL||Pittsburgh, PA||6’5″||304||***||5.5||3/22/15|
|Zack Williams||OL||Citra, FL||6’5″||265||***||5.5||12/13/15|
|Justin Morgan||OL||Brooklyn, NY||6’7″||335||***||5.5||12/15/15|
|Carson Van Lynn||OL||Worth’on, OH||6’6″||235||***||5.5||6/22/16|
|Gabe Houy||OL||Pittsburgh, PA||6’6″||270||***||5.5||8/1/16|
|Carter Warren||OL||Wayne, NJ||6’6″||320||***||5.7||10/8/16|
|Jerry Drake||OL||Palm Beach Gardens, FL||6’7″||300||***||5.5||12/15/16|
|Owen Drexel||OL||Montclair, NJ||6’4″||280||**||5.4||6/15/16|
Folks that is a far cry from one five * and three four * OL we recruited in 2013 and 2014. To put it another way our past HC’s OL recruits averaged 3.33 stars; Narduzzi’s averages 2.87. A difference of half a star across the board is pretty big.
Of course one never knows about recruits and how well they will turn out, especially with offensive lineman who really do have to spend a year or two in a college level strength and conditioning program before they can get out there and match up with opponent’s DL who are already fit to compete.
I think we have some good ones in that group – Ford I like and Drake looks like he could really develop but this is a unit we all should keep a weather eye on in the fall camp. If we are still hearing those names above… Jerry Drake, Jimmy Morrissey, Tony Pilato, Brandon Ford and Justin Morgan… when the two-deep is being finalized then it’s time to really worry.
Speaking of blocking on offense here are two articles about our TE situation. First is the report that Pitt landed a TE from NJ, Rutgers to be exact, to spend his grad transfer year with our Panthers. That would be Matt Flanagan.
During his SR year in HS he was looking at both RU and Northwestern (the bastards!) to attend as a preferred walk-on. he chose RU obviously and in his four years there he did this:
Don’t let anyone tell you he was only brought in as a back-up TE behind Chris Clark. He’ll be right in the thick of competition for the starting role when fall camp rolls around. Why? Because he was a blocking TE for the last three years (from the Trib):
On the football field, Flanagan will provide depth behind assumed starting tight end Chris Clark, a transfer from UCLA. Pitt also has used defensive end Devon Edwards at tight end this spring.
Flanagan played in 33 games at Rutgers, recording 18 receptions for 145 yards. He scored all three of his touchdowns in 2015. He was used primarily as a blocking tight end, entrusted with calling out assignments for the offensive linemen.
As for our Romani Traveler Chris Clark he’s going to be in the mix obviously and he’ll get a lot of playing time in the two-deep, and maybe as a starter. Apparently he’s finally found his ‘fit’ at Pitt. Narduzzi does feel blocking is a problem…
Narduzzi, however, is getting tired — if not annoyed — with answering questions about Clark’s blocking ability.
“I didn’t have any question about him blocking, period,” Narduzzi said Tuesday. “It seems like there’s a lot of questions about his blocking. He’s a big, strong, physical tight end who can block and run.”
Since I was the only person that I could find who even mentioned Clark’s blocking I find that interesting. But I didn’t say he wasn’t a good blocker. I said that he seems to me to be a bit on the thin side for a blocking TE. Big difference there.
Why am I so adamant that Flanagan will be a major player this season? Because Pat Narduzzi doesn’t give scholarships to experienced transfer students unless he’s going to play them. We have seen it hold true with QB Peterman, QB Browne, DE Hendrix (would have started last season), and DE Allen Edwards (11 games, four starts).
The same will hold true for Flanagan.
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Stand by for Sunday’s regular Podcast then we’ll do the Roundtable Call-in either Wednesday or Thursday because I have to go into Washington, DC for that Library of Prior to his installation at Pitt in 2014, Gallagher spent more than two decades in public service. In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed him to direct the National Institute of Standards and Technology. While in this role, Gallagher also served as acting deputy secretary of commerce until leaving for Pitt in the summer of 2014. interview on Tuesday night… I’ll let you all know how that goes when finished.
I am having a bunch more Pitt POV magnets made up – if anyone wants one do like we did for the car decals – send me an email with your info – address and phone # if you would. Please put “Magnets” or “Decals” or “Magnets and Decals” or “Everything you have in your wallet you miserable SOB!” in the subject line in the subject line so that I know what to mail out.
Remember – we’ll tailgate in the Gold lots a few hours before the Spring Game. Look for the flagpole with the POV and Pitt script flags flying.
Here is what the guys did in last season’s spring game. You can use it to check your hopes based on a Spring Game vs reality of their season. Actually this one pretty much mirrors the 2016 season.