With Gratitude To All…

With Gratitude To All…

… our service members past present and those who will serve in the future.  Thank You, stay safe and come home soon.

As to football let’s remember that while we all use words like “war“, “battle” and “campaign” to describe it and the games played, and that’s fine in my eyes, but those same words hold a world of different meaning for those in our Armed Forces uniforms.

POV Reading List for today and let’s remember only 70 more days until the ‘real’ physical parts of Pitt football starts.  That is kind of depressing actually because we are all champing at the bit to see the new faces on the team wearing Pitt Script and showing us just how good they really are.

Here are some interesting bits that my friend Chris Lotz found and posted on his Facebook page. First off is Athlon magazine’s All-ACC conference pre-season picks for 2017.

On offense they  placed these Pitt players in 1st to 3rd string honors (they had a 4th string but that is sort of ridiculous):

1st string:  O’Neil at OL

2nd string:  Henderson at All Purpose and Officer at OL

3rd string: Ollison at RB; Weah at WR and Bookser at OL.

I’m sure Pitt fans will disagree with some of these choices – or rather which lineup they are in.  I’d have to Have Henderson at 1st string for sure even if no one can figure out what position he plays .

On defense Athlon  placed these Panthers in the 1st-3rd string honors:

2nd string: Whitehead at Safety

That’s it for defense and as hard as I try I can’t see any other Pitt players who would break in to these lineups save perhaps Avonte’ Maddox at the 3rd string level.  Now Special Teams is another matter:

1st string:  Henderson as a KR

2nd string:  Henderson as a PR

3rd string: Winslow as the Punter.

Still staying with Athlon’s rankings we see Pat Narduzzi listed at #9 out of 16 ACC head coaches:

Continue reading “With Gratitude To All…”

Recruiting (and Keeping) Prospective All-Americans

Recruiting (and Keeping) Prospective All-Americans

Much is talked about with the “star” rankings given high school recruits by the for-profit recruiting sites, like Rivals.com and Scouts, and what that means later on in college. I don’t believe anyone in their right mind wouldn’t want a roster full of 4* and 5* players… but then we’d be Alabama and that wouldn’t be any fun.  All they do is win all the time.

Well, we ain’t Alabama, OSU or even Penn State when it comes to recruiting. So Pitt has a lot less of the blue-chip recruits then some schools do.  I have written in the past that it isn’t recruiting those highly ranked players as it is to keep them on the roster for a full four years of eligibility.  Pitt has a real problem with that.

Just the other day Chris Peak of Rivals posted up a great article as he re-ranked Pitt’s 2013 recruiting class.  That was Paul Chryst’s first class and those kid are, or would be, rsJR or SRs this upcoming season.  What jumps out is 10 some of the best talent Pitt has seen in years and 2) the fact that almost half the class didn’t make it onto the field or finish a four-year stint.

Pitt has a poor track record of getting highly ranked kids and then getting the most out of them.  It is much like the chicken and the egg conundrum; are the recruits too highly ranked or were their coaching staffs not up to getting the best out of them?

Then of course there is the attitudinal side of things with recruits where for various reasons a player just can’t cut the mustard at this level and that doesn’t happen only on the athletics side.  Many can’t adjust to the harder academics or being away from home and some just can’t adjust to a lifestyle they weren’t accustom to prior to arriving at Pitt.

Some recruits come from a place where they were put on a pedestal and their younger transgressions were either overlooked or even allowed based on their status as football players. Those kids have the hardest times re-adjusting to the fact that they are now one of many and actually do have to do what others tell them to do.

Let’s take a look at some of the past recruiting classes and see what the Top 10 ranked kids did while here at Pitt.  First lets look at two Dave Wannstedt classes with  the 2007 and 2008 classes as ranked by Rivals.com:

Continue reading “Recruiting (and Keeping) Prospective All-Americans”

2017’s OL; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw

2017’s OL; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw

This is the fourth of a longer POV series looking at the individual positions which need to be re-filled in 2017 and whether we will meet the PRODUCTION we had in those positions. We will not factor in true freshman at this point.

Football people talk about an offense revolving around the quarterback because he’s the first player to get the ball and decides what to do with it; that it is his talents with the ball that will make the play successful or not.

My thoughts are that if the offensive line isn’t doing its job correctly the QB is screwed any way you look at it.  This year in particular that may be true and we’ll discuss that in more detail later in this article.

When we look at any college football team in its transition from year to year we first have to recognize what the unit was like the previous year and what players we lost from it.  Aside from the singular person at QB our OL is, in my opinion, having to rebuild more than another unit.

You might say that the linebackers over on defense would be the unit doing that and that would be a valid point – but they had more in-game substitutions at those three positions than the OL did in it’s five so the LBs are re-loading with rather experienced players whereas the OL has to replace two positions completely.

That isn’t to say that we’ll have to have football virgins walk up and start playing for the first time – but we’ll see a big drop in how many starting games the OL has under its belt as compared to last season. 

That in itself is worrying and opens up a lot of questions about the 2017 unit as a whole.OL 16.png

Here is who we saw on the OL at the beginning of last season.  The two personnel losses that jump out at us right away are the departing left side tandem of All-American Dorian Johnson at Left Guard and All-ACC Adam Bisnowaty at the all important Left Tackle position.

Bisnowaty racked up awards during his career at Pitt:
2016 First Team All-ACC (Coaches)
2016 Second Team All-ACC (Media)
2015 First Team All-ACC (Coaches)
2015 Second Team All-ACC (Media)
Four-time All-ACC Academic Team

and in doing so was a stalwart on the line for four years.  His 45 starts and his superb play will be hard to replace.

Continue reading “2017’s OL; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw”

POV Lunchtime Reading Library; 5/26/17

POV Lunchtime Reading Library; 5/26/17

Happy Friday – here are some articles written about our favorite subjects for your reading pleasureduring your lunch hour.

My favorite coach of all-time, Dave Wannstedt, decides to finally say yes to Pitt:

“I don’t think a national championship is anything to be unrealistic about,” Wannstedt said. “You win the Big East and you have a chance, if things fall right, to compete for the championship.”

Wannstedt is replacing Walt Harris, who will leave for Stanford after coaching the Panthers (8-3) against Utah (11-0) in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1. Harris had a 53-42 record in eight seasons, but his job was tenuous. Pitt lost to Connecticut and needed late comebacks to defeat Temple and Furman.

Early this season, Harris’s agent, Bob LaMonte, chastised the university’s administration for not extending Harris’s contract.

Ahhh, the good old days.  Back When Dave W. could mention winning the Big East without everyone around him falling out with laughter.

As to Coach Harris; well, Mr. LaMonte – if you could have convinced ol’ Walt to keep zipped up that wouldn’t have been a problem.

Continue reading “POV Lunchtime Reading Library; 5/26/17”

POV Roundtable Call-in; May 24th, 2017

POV Roundtable Call-in; May 24th, 2017

 

Speaking of Todd Sibley – Rivals.com has an excellent series going with some of the incoming freshman who will be arriving on the Southside in August.  This one is about our (semi-) transfer from OSU’s class of 2017.

Here are two quotes from that article – one is rather funny and the second is very serious.  Here is the first:

What was the craziest thing a coach said to you?

“I don’t know if this is crazy or not, but it’s coach Harbaugh. He said that I looked just like Frank Gore. I still don’t know how I feel about that [laughter]. He said I looked like Frank Gore and I didn’t know what to say after he said that. It’s just that my friends had told me previously that I look like Frank Gore and I run like Frank Gore. When he told me that, I instantly told my friends ‘Yo, you won’t believe what he just told me.’”

Well, Gore is 5’9″ and 217 – Sibley is 5′ 10″ and 211 so there is a similarity there.  let’s hope this is the case because with him and A. J. Davis I think we have a bright future at RB.

And this next issue is one we talk about a lot on The POV. I have written before and maintain that what the recruits and their parents (and grandparents in some cases) weigh just as heavily, if not more in some cases, are the positives of a university external to the football program when deciding on a school…

What shocked you most in the process?

“I guess how serious it is. For a young kid, it’s something that you’re not really used to. You don’t really understand the value of the decision you’re going to make – I didn’t really understand the value of it. You know, this is where you’re going to spend the next three to four years at and possibly where you find your wife at and develop into a man and achieve your dream, so this is a really tough decision. Once it sets in for all of the kids, they’ll understand it too.”

Many times I have spoken to current and alumni players and their parents and have been impressed with how level-headed their decision to come to Pitt was – focusing on the off-field and external issues from football.

Players may dream about the NFL and some have a better shot at it going in, but the majority of them realize that Pitt is going to be the school where they grow from an 18-year-old into mature into a young man.  That getting ready ‘for the rest of their lives‘ is paramount in a lot of cases.

I’ll have another article tomorrow then I’ll do a Sunday Podcast  but will take a longer break afterward for a family vacation.

POV Bits & Pieces & Call-In; 5/24/17

POV Bits & Pieces & Call-In; 5/24/17

Some semi-interesting news lately:

In football, as was talked about but I wasn’t sure if it had been etched in stone yet, – it looks like PSU is taking a hard line against really renewing the football rivalry.

There are a lot of terrible outcomes from the mass realignment of the earliest part of this decade, but this is by far the worst: the breakup of longtime rivalries.

Pitt and Penn State — or is it Penn State and Pitt? — are in the midst of a 4-year reunion, and it’s been great so far. The Panthers’ 42-39 win over the Nittany Lions in Pittsburgh last season was not only a thrilling game, but it kept Penn State out of the College Football Playoff. This is what college football rivalries are all about, no? Who wouldn’t want to make this an annual thing again?

Penn State, that’s who.

Speaking at a coaches’ caravan event last week, Penn State AD Sandy Barbour told Nittany Lions fans that the earliest their team would start playing their rivals to the west again after the current agreement expires in 2019 would be 2026.

You know what?  Any school that makes over $125+M off its football program as Penn State does can buy out games which have already been scheduled… and make it worthwhile for three different schools.  The smaller schools who get bumped will receive a greater paycheck – which is why they play schools like PSU in the first place. 

Then Pitt and PSU can reap the rewards of a long term series.

Here is something that is selfish and I think going in completely the wrong direction.  Apparently there is a rule proposal on the table to allow true freshmen to play up to four games their freshman year and still have a full four years eligibility left afterward.

But a new college football rule could allow redshirt freshmen to participate in four games during their first year on campus without surrendering a year of eligibility.

Coaches in the Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference are in favor of the rule, first proposed by the American Football Coaches Association in Phoenix in early May. The rule might not go into effect until early 2018, but coaches see many significant benefits to the idea.

Fisher, who was the ACC football coaches’ chairman during this week’s ACC spring meetings, believes amending the redshirt rule to allow players to compete in four games can help improve player safety.

With now-NFL first round draft picks Leonard Fournette from LSU and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey deciding to skip their bowl games last season to preserve their health, coaches feel players who decide to go that route can be replaced by younger teammates instead of giving another player a greater workload.

This topic has been in discussion for some time but it always was about the situation above – letting freshman play in a bowl game with penalty (loss of one year as a redshirt)

Student athletes become redshirts for many reasons. One reason is that the athlete may not be ready to balance the demands of academic requirements with athletic requirements. Redshirting provides the opportunity, with tutoring, to take some classes and get accustomed to the academic demands.

In 2016, a new status can apply called the academic redshirt. In 2016, the NCAA starts enforcing new, stricter admissions requirements for incoming freshman athletes. Under these new rules, a student-athlete who meets the school’s own academic admission requirements, but does not meet the NCAA’s new requirements (primarily a 2.3 GPA in 4 years) can enter school as an academic redshirt. This student can receive an athletic scholarship and practice with the team, but may not participate in competition. An academic redshirt does not lose a year of eligibility, but can take a later injury redshirt. Academic redshirts must complete nine credit hours in their first semester and can participate fully in the second year.[1]

Continue reading “POV Bits & Pieces & Call-In; 5/24/17”

POV: Sunday Podcast; May 21, 2017

POV: Sunday Podcast; May 21, 2017

The image below was first found on a Facebook thread…

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http://pittsburghsportsnow.com/2017/05/01/pitt-players-got-drafted-players-signed-undrafted-free-agents/

http://www.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/news/2015/09/01/uc-players-get-largest-stipend-in-ncaa-football.html

http://www.cbssports.com/college-football/news/2015-16-cbs-sports-fbs-college-football-cost-of-attendance-database/