The Rich Get Richer in Recruiting

Here is my take on the basics of college football recruiting – I’m not a professional on a recruiting website and so some of this may be off-base a bit, but I think it is in essence how things work…

We all know the recruiting sites’ star rating systems are somewhat suspect but they are the thing most regular football fans use as recruit comparisons and for a conversational baseline when discussing the recruiting game.  Which, as we are in the doldrums of college football until August, is a continuing main topic on here so let’s explore it a bit.

Recruiting stars awarded aren’t the only thing to look at when trying to decide how much you feel a recruit is going to contribute to your future teams.  Two other equally important issues are offers and official visits.  We’ll get to those in a minute but first the star system.

It is for the fans way more than for the actual decision makers. The recruiting sites live and die by the star system because it captures the fan’s interest and keeps them coming back to the sites to see how their school is doing in the star chasing game – which is also how the school’s recruiting classes are nationally ranked week to week.

Here is a very good USA Today piece on the ranked 2017 recruiting class as composed of all the recruiting sites.  It is explained as this:

The composite represents an average of the rankings by the four major recruiting services: 247Sports, ESPN, Rivals and Scout. All rankings went to Top 50, except ESPN, which is Top 40. Teams not ranked in ESPN’s Top 40 received a 41; teams not ranked in the other rankings received a 51.

Rank Team 247 ESPN Rivals Scout Avg.
34 Pittsburgh 33 31 34 42 35
35 TCU 31 37 39 37 36
T36 Baylor 39 39 32 36 36.5
T36 Oklahoma State 38 35 34 41 37

Here you see how the variables are at work between the four major recruiting sites.  If you follow (who are the most stingy in awarding stars to recruits) you see we are ranked 41st.  Then again ESPN has us almost in the top 30.

School’s football staffs don’t pay much attention to the star rating system at all. But to say they absolutely disregard it is incorrect.   When it comes to players they have 1) extensively scouted already and/or 2) had the players in question in their camps (or other schools camps) they couldn’t care less what a for-profit website says.

All that said – Wannstedt used to publicly refer to his player’s star rankings all the time. He once said that Dickerson was ‘a 4* talent that we need to get on the field‘ among other things.  So the star system isn’t completely ignored by the coaches.

One way they use it is to try to find diamonds in the rough outside of their local recruiting areas.  For example in Pitt’s case when we offer 5* kids on the West Coast and in the deep South  sometimes the first they have seen those players names and info has been on recruiting sites. 

Schools like Pitt – those around the middle of the Power Five schools pack – have to sometimes take long shot chances to get true star quality talent onboard. To do that they will send out offers to kids they know they have about  1% chance of landing.  It’s like buying a lottery ticket.  That’s when things like sending players from a school into the NFL (or being All-Americans, College HoF and/or NFL HoF)  comes in.

If a talent lives somewhere where there is a sparsity of schools that do the above they might want to travel a farther distance to get to a school that does.  Thus Pitt dangles all that glorifying info in front of the recruit’s nose via letters, calls, texts, etc…and offers camps or an official visit to the kid to get them interested and then on site to close the deal.

This happens because we are always actively recruiting against nearer, bigger and better football schools like PSU, Ohio State, Michigan and ND who come into WPA and steal local talent on a regular basis. To make up for that we’ll cast a wider net (now it is Florida and the SE coastal states) and try to get far-away kids interested in Pitt.  That cast is done by offering anyone we think can help us.

For instance take a look at Pitt’s 2018 offer list and see what competition we have for the out-of-state 5* kids on it.  We know we have a minuscule chance at these top shelf kids but what we want is to get a foot in the door.  Now – how do we get them even more interested in what Pitt has to offer?  Well, we beg, borrow and steal to get them on official visits to Pittsburgh and try to close the deal then.

The NCAA now allows a recruit five official visits a year; that is when the school pays for all expenses (with restrictions):

Any visit to a college campus by you and your parents paid for by the college. The college may pay all or some of the following expenses:

Your transportation to and from the college. Room and meals (three per day) while you are visiting the college; and reasonable entertainment expenses, including three complimentary admissions to a home athletics contest.

You must have a Certification Account with the NCAA Eligibility Center before you can go on an official visit.  

This is how recruiting money comes into play. Schools with very rich football recruiting budgets can entice many, many recruits to take official visits to them because they have the jack to pay for all of it.  Pitt – not so much.

Fans think of recruiting budgets as the means of  having our recruiters go to the kids’ home and that is a big part of it… but the real kicker is to get the kids who live far away on campus for an official visit and that is expensive also.  Preferably many at one time if Pitt can afford it.

Gus Mustakas is a good case in point here – we found him down in Florida when almost all other schools had ignored him.  Even though he was a 2* recruit we got him to come here on an official visit and sealed the deal.  If you notice Mustakas’s other two official visits were local USF and Florida Atlantic.

Now there was a small Pittsburgh family connection there with Gus but for Pitt to pony up budgeted recruiting money for a Florida kid to come north for an official visit means they wanted him pretty badly.  This was back in 2005 when our recruiting budget was a lot less than it is now with the ACC money coming in.

Of course the recruits can take as many unofficial visits as they want to – that is why we see local recruits and their parents at things Pitt does for free like the Spring Game and spring practices… or during the season we’ll see them at actual games – as long as the school isn’t paying for it.

Football camps are big business now also and Pitt holds some of our own. The thing here is that the kids and parents have to pay out-of-pocket to attend those (transportation, fees, sometimes lodging, etc…) so the recruits have to be careful of which to attend. These are considered unofficial visits by the NCAA I believe and can be great recruiting tools for both parties. 

For Pitt the key is to get staff out to as many of the summer camps as possible to be able to watch these far-away kids in action in person then talk to them about Pitt. Some camps are run by recruiting businesses and are open for everyone to send observers, some are closed by the school hosting it.  Again – it takes lots of recruiting money to send staff all over the country and the big richer schools can do it easily year in and year out.

I know it bothers Pitt fans when a school like Penn State and their fans say they don’t concentrate on PA like we do but “recruit nationally”.  But what they mean when they say that is what I explained above – they truly do have the money and resources (charter jets on call for example) to do that whereas Pitt has to really hone down far away targets due to lack of money.

Penn State has almost a full quarter of their listed roster with scholarship kids from over 300 miles from their campus – FL, GA (lots), CA, TX, MI, IL, NC, WI and Canada.  Pitt’s scholarship HS recruits on the other hand are almost all in the tri-state area and Florida, where we have been heavily concentrating.

Why Florida?  Well, it is a target rich state and one of the least expensive places to use the shotgun recruiting effect to visit as many schools and kids’ homes as they can in a limited number of trips.  Big schools will fly out to the West Coast to woo one player even if that recruit is a long shot – Pitt just can’t do that. 

For instance newly-departed Jeremiah Taleni was recruited when Breckterfield was back in Hawaii on a vacation – so no Pitt recruiting money went into that except for an official visit he took to Pitt four days before he verballed his commitment.  Pitt paid for that.

DB Ryan Lewis was from WA State but he was the nephew of Pitt alumni football player Tim Lewis so there was a pre-existing connection between Pitt and Lewis.  Very rarely do we get kids from far distances unless there was something already extent between the two principals.

What I look at first when determining how valuable a recruit was on the national scene is how many official visits to good football programs they made.  Not his offers or his stars but which big schools were willing to pay good recruiting money to get the kid and his parents on campus for three days.

If we get a recruit who officially visited Ohio State, Penn State or ND, etc. and still chose Pitt then that is a big deal and I think he’s a good one (time will always tell though).

The second thing I look at is their offer sheet – with certain caveats. 

Offers are many times only in the eyes of the beholder because these ‘offers’ we see listed next to a recruit’s name on the websites is provided to the recruiting services by the players themselves or their parents/coaches.

The bottom line is that a school is not permitted to discuss any recruits by name in public. 

Offers come in many different shapes and sizes – most commonly verbal and written. Obviously the written offer is more valid.  But even then there is the initial letter a school sends out en masse…  here is my favorite:


Now either that is a note to a recruit’s sister asking for a date or Michigan needs to find a TE coach who can recruit better than that. 

Here is a better one “Official Offer” from Florida (with a small threat implied):

That is the Golden ticket for a recruit, and that usually doesn’t go out until the school has had that kid on campus for an official visit – until they actually get that letter in the mail from a school I take every other ‘offer’ on their list with a grain of salt.

Many times a recruit will have the name brand schools listed as offering and then it turns out the school never really did offer, or offered and rescinded – which happens all the time with powerhouse programs but the recruit still keeps that school on his offer list.  That school might have shown a bit of interest via phone calls, texts and maybe a camp visit but never really offered.

Again – that school will not discuss who they offered and who they didn’t – at least the NCAA doesn’t allow them to.

Another thing is that a football staff will never come out publicly and say they pulled a kid’s offer when it happens because it makes that school look bad in the public eye.  What they will do is if they really don’t want the kid – (personal issues, already filled that position, etc…) the school will call and tell them to look elsewhere.  If ND tells a kid that do you think he’s going to call Rivals and say ‘take ND off my offer list’?

Now I do think that the local recruiting sites editors do bust ass trying to make sure the info up on their site is correct, but at the same time you can be sure there is a reason offers to a recruit differ from site to site.  If Alabama offers a HS SO a scholarship for three years in the future then in his JR that recruit gets Alabama next to his recruiting profile. But by that time Alabama may well have forgotten who that kid is altogether.

The dirty not-so-little secret is that the Big Dog schools do this all the time.  Alabama sends out between 150-200 ‘offers’ every year and they already know they can’t take more than 25 per year by NCAA rules. And verbal offers are worth the paper they are written on.

So that is what I mean when I write ‘if you can trust those offers’ when talking about Pitt’s recruits (or any school’s recruits). Offers come in all different sizes and degrees of honesty.  But that official offer letter to the kid is the key that the big schools really do want that player on their roster.

A good example is Tom MacVitte’s experience with LSU.  Below is his 24/ website page.

In it you can see that this site doesn’t believe a phone call is a “formal” offer and so doesn’t list him as having an offer from LSU. Now, if you look at MacVitte’s page they do list LSU as having offered.

MacVitte’s three formal offers were from  Miami (OH), Cincinnati, Toledo, Ohio and Pitt. MacVitte Visits.png

LSU didn’t pursue MacVitte until two weeks before LOI Day in 2015 when Jim Chaney left Pitt. That created uncertainty in the Pitt program that Miles jumped on.  Miles had an extra scholarship to use and decided to call the MacVitte household to test the waters. Here is a good article about how that went down.’s Chris Peak is the author.

Dwayne Haskins was a top target for LSU, but the Tigers were hardly the only school in pursuit. So Miles and Cameron offered MacVittie a scholarship and worked to turn it into more.

“Throughout the whole thing, I was like, ‘Listen, Pitt’s my choice and there’s a really low chance of anything changing there,’” MacVittie said. “They were always really respectful of Pitt and just said, ‘Let’s have a visit, come see your folks and get you down to Louisiana to check it out.’ I actually used to live in Louisiana so that was kind of interesting, but I never decided if I would visit.”

Miles wanted MacVitte to come to LSU on an official visit so there was certainly interest there – but that really isn’t the same at all like LSU offering a scholarship in the player’s JR or SR HS year and then sticking with him up to LOI Day to commit.  That is when the player is really considered valuable to the school.

So to say that MacVitte had an offer from LSU is technically true, but to say he was recruited by him is not truly the case or at least the interest wasn’t at the level some fans think it was. Where does that leave MacVitte now?  Well,  it is up to him to show LSU should have offered way earlier I guess!  Throwing 30 TDs in a season for us would do that I think. 

Now if MacVitte doesn’t land the #2 QB job this season keep an eye out for Matt Canada trying to get him to transfer to LSU.  If that happens then MacVitte is very much wanted by LSU and Pitt loses out. I do doubt we’ll see that but stranger things do happen in college ball.

The upshot of all this is that if you as a fan are going to be really trying to parse what sort of interest a recruit has from those Power Five conference schools, especially the bigger more successful programs, then don’t just look at offers – dig around and read the stories on where the kid took his official visits, which camps he attended (especially if far away from his hometown)  and when the recruit actually commit to a school.

If he committed to a school early and the big programs kept on him then that is a sign that he’s one who was worth the effort and the money to try to land.

If all others offers dried up after his commitment, or were lackluster at best and no official visits were offered , then that recruit wasn’t valued as highly as his offer sheet might imply.

Of course these are broad stroke examples but that’s what I use when looking at recruits.




79 thoughts on “The Rich Get Richer in Recruiting

  1. We just have to hope we have found more diamonds in the ruff over the many schools ranked above us. A couple additions like JC and QH each year would help a great deal in moving up the in “season” rankings as opposed to the recruiting rankings.


  2. jrn – that is the thing and I know there is a tom of impatience among Pitt fans – my self included. But we really just have to wait and see how the kids actually do out on the field to see whether they were good recruits or not – but it is fun to project and predict what they will do.


    1. I do believe we have found a couple of those underrated recruits this year. The QB that impressed many who saw him in the spring game, and that WR from Florida(name escapes me) highlight film really impressed me just to name a couple.


  3. Interesting article and I guess at least a little part of it is about how little we actually know with college football recruiting. Reed, no mentions of Escalades, paid trips and bags of cash at the back doors of the elite of the elite?

    One point stood out to me was, just how many offers the really bigger (cheaters) football schools send out. I think when we all get so impatient for recruit commitments when we see the hot shots racking them up we need to realize these scholarships can and do go away. Not such a huge problem for PITT as others. I’m sure it happens though.

    Another part of the star rating system we have begun seeing is the actual score of players. 5.4 compared to a 5.7. Now to me, this seems really difficult for scouting services to break a young player down to this degree but at the same time, it’s more of what I’m judging Narduzzi’s recruiting classes on.

    I have no worries with PITT’s recruiting moving forward. It seems to me that the last two classes are a little notch above what Chryst was pulling in. Well, at least as far as athletes go. I understand HCPC recruited good offensive lineman to a degree, I’m talking over-all.

    I think Narduzzi is doing a good job with the parents as well, convincing them that he will take care of the young men and be there to guide them through their college careers.

    BTW, I think those two letters are two different types of communications. The first one was just dropping a line to a recruit and also dropping his Dad’s name to impress the young lad, second is a formal letter of an offer.



  4. I guess it should not bother me that we have only 1 recruit so far this year. But looking at the big schools and their verbal offer numbers is disconcerting. I know HCPN is doing his best and funds are not unlimited, but maybe we need to start going after kids in 9th and 10th grades in school or promoting many more game day activities with them. An early start and more are activities might help.


  5. Funny thing there frank, PITT did offer a freshman from out east in PA this past week. You’re on the beam friend.


  6. Here’s some info on the freshman. RB/athlete 5’10” 180 lbs out of Laural Maryland.


  7. One thing that I have notced through the years of following Pitt recruiting …. a 3-star from Flroida is generally better than a 3-star from other areas.


  8. Thanks, Reed. I always thought the deep pockets got your coaches out further and faster. I never thought about the ability to use dollars to offer more official visits to more kids.



  9. Reed

    If you are looking for ideas for future posts, I have a suggestion. Explain how the money works that we get from the ACC. How much do we get? How is our portion calculated? Is it available for us to spend in any way want for any sport we want? Do we ever need to give money to the ACC?



  10. Frank re: lack of commits this early. Someone else mentioned this the other day, too, and I don’t get too into recruiting at this stage. There are so many commits that get wooed and flip schools throughout the recruiting season. It almost seems that it costs as much to hold onto a blue chipper who commits early as it does to recruit one up to LOI day. PN seems to get quite a few to flip close to LOI Day – and those he gets seem to be of good ability.

    Reed – do you have any info on PN’s late “Flips”, and how they have turned out for us??


    1. Not Reed but I’m not sure we’ve attracted as many “late flips” as you or I might like…

      Narduzzi got Dinucci to flip from Penn late in the 2015 class

      In 2016 he picked up Weaver late after he got dropped by Mich, got Matthews to flip. Both are expected to contribute

      The last “flip” in 2017 was Pinnock (BC), Mathis, who jumped from South Carolina and Alexandre who jumped from NC St in December.

      Earlier in those classes he convinced Sear and Carrigan to flip from Temple, and Sibley and George Hill left Ohio St.

      We’ve also lost Hornibrook, Givens, Bowers, Petrishen?, Butler, Loe and probably some others I can’t remember.


  11. Pitt’s advantage if you want to call it that is that all of the BIG NAMED programs have scholarship limits just like Pitt. Where I’m coming from is if Narduzzi and his coaching staff can “woo” them enough Pitt will be in the mix when the Bigs fill up their scholarship quota’s. So I guess you can say we are hoping to be in line for the elite leftovers.


  12. Recruiting is tough today as young men love to say “I’m blessed to receive my 25 th offer today” yet they keep talking and today I cut it down to my top 10. I’m an old high school coach of over 25 years you win with studs but give me kids who are good kids and work hard and appreciate what they have earned any day. I like the type of players Pitt has recruited recently. Not trouble makers and work hard. I’ll take that anytime and be in the hunt than root for tha arrogant cult to the east with homer Pyle as head coach. Good job Reed and I’m still interested in pop magnet for car for games and to park at church for my obnoxious psu worshippers to admire since they feel they have won the big ten and national championship this year already H2P BEAT PENN STATE


  13. Speaking of late commits, a freshman coming in named Jalen Twyman. This young man (D-Line) could see some playing time, he’s that good.


  14. The rich get the title..surprised this hasn’t taking a side-jog to discuss the Nick Saban sweet deal ……….$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$…MONEY (Pink Floyd)


  15. It seems to me that the marketing gurus tell us the cheap route of sending out letters and trying to sweep them into a camp would make most sense for Pitt. Why not send out 1000 letters to kids all over the country and maybe pick up a kid with a tie to Pitt that no one knew about. Maybe a family member took a job in Pittsburgh and they might come for a visit. Who knows, but if this type of letter campaign were used, and it produced one significant recruit no one planned for, then it would be worth it. Think of how many letters can be sent out to Sophs, Jrs. and Seniors with the price of just one plane ticket. They should also publicize their camps more, and send notices along with those letters.


  16. Ike, this season a recruit doesn’t have to be that good to play on our severely depleted and inexperienced defense… More like walk and talk and throw him in.


  17. Reed,
    Interesting article that included some very helpful information to those of us not as familiar with the “ins and outs” of recruiting like what is meant regarding the recruiting sites, offers, official visits, recruiting budget spending etc.

    I think we can all complain about reality but have to learn to deal with it. Pitt is not a destination football program for the typical 5* and 4* athlete which means that its a pipe dream to expect any of them to “accept” an offer verbally with about 10 months of butt-kissing by grown men remaining.

    However, I do think that HCPN has the right strategy which is to use as much technology and social media as possible to express interest and gain the attention of these types of HS players in hopes that the destination football programs (1) drop the ball with the kid (2) get their allotment of players at the position and withdraw the offer (3) lose a coach who the kid had the relationship with or (4) the young man does something relatively minor which causes his 1st choice program to waiver in their interest.

    When any of the above occurs hopefully the HS player remembers that “hey that coach at Pitt was a really nice guy and more importantly it looks like I’m a more highly rated player at my position than anyone else that has verbally accepted so maybe I should re-consider Pitt”.

    Again, I hate that this is our reality, but that will only change if Pitt reclaims what it once was in the late ’70’s and early ’80’s. For us loyal Pitt fans we have no choice but to sit back and wait until December and January when the better players begin to actually find out how much their dream programs really want them before we can see what we realistically have a shot at getting into our program.

    However, I continue to be frustrated by how difficult it is for Pitt to get the better WPIAL players to commit, given that its budget limitations are not as much of an issue for these recruits.


  18. Unless a kid grows up loving Pitt, its tough to get an early commit. These kids like being recruited. And there is allure playing for a big time program away from home. There is also the allure of being the home town hero. Cuts both ways.

    Pitt is in the better conference. I love the ACC. The Nitters will always be the bitch for Big Blue and the Buckeyes. I’d much rather spend my November playing in Carolina or Florida than some cornfield in Iowa or Nebraska.


  19. This article made me think about the recruitment of my second favorite
    Pitt player ever: Larry Fitzgerald. 4 star receiver from Minnesota. Someone try and explain to me how Walt Harris convinced him to come to Pitt. (BTW, James Conner has moved to the top of my list). Nice work Reed.


  20. Wlat, can’t put my finger on it right now but I think there was another PITT/Fitz connection. Maybe something with his dad? LF was into PITT for awhile beforehand.


  21. A Pitt low point in recruiting — remember when Wanny had to send out letters trying to find a QB interested in Pitt?

    I like the job Coach Duzz is doing – best overall roster we’ve had in a long time…

    Go Pitt.


    1. Interesting enough … that was after the 2008 season and right before Pitt’s most successful season in recent history (2009). They got Kolby Gray from Texas who redshirted in 09, was switched to DB in 010, transferred to Baylor in 011 … and ended up pursuing a career in country music. There has to be a country song here


    2. All it took was finding one guy earlier on in his tenure to snowball his recruiting at the position. When Wannstedt missed on Thaddeus Lewis, Dave had a chance for a four-year starter (2007-10) and Pitt would have won more games than it did in that timeframe. Lewis is still collecting NFL paychecks and the Panthers would have been dangerous on offense with the talent that surrounded him.

      I think Cignetti would have done well recruiting the position but just didn’t have enough time to show it. I’m not going to grill him for recruiting Nova because he easily could have been recruited over.

      Thank God Narduzzi is showing he understands the importance of the position.


  22. Severely depleted defense?

    Pitt has like 12 defensive linemen and 12 defensive backs to find a starting unit and some depth. Player losses from 2016 will be addition by subtraction in the secondary.


  23. Again, September is going to be rough …. but after that, the schedule should get easier and and the inexperienced defense should get better.


  24. There was a time when schollies were essentially unlimited and Pitt won its most recent N.C. Majors and Sherrill had unequaled success during those years. Then the NCAA limited schollies to 85. I smell a conspiracy against Pitt to keep them from winning another one.


  25. Moss started last year on a high note but seemed to fall off quite a bit. Maybe he had some bumps and bruises that slowed him down. I believe Moss also came to Pitt in January of last year and had the benefit of the 2016 spring practice under his belt.


  26. Funny that Ollison is not mentioned in the article. I just don’t get it. The Rodney Dangerfield of Pitt. How does a guy who runs over 1000, is an ACC rookie of the year get “No Respect”

    Reed, excellent article as usual. Last year it seemed that Narduzzi really ramped up the number of offers to elite players, with little result. As you say getting them on campus is a big deal, means you are in their top five. So you need the cash to offer a visit, but you also need them to say yes.

    I agree wholeheartedly when a kid chooses Pitt over the perennial elite teams that is when you are playing in the big leagues, no matter the rating. So far that has not happened often enough, but the trend is still positive. Hopefully this year some of Narduzzi’s recruits will overachieve like Henderson. A few guys reaching that level of production on defense would make a huge difference. We need multiple guys having breakout years.


    1. Ollisonnnn gets “No Respect” because last year he showed up fat and out of shape and consequently sat on the bench. Apologies for the spelling, autocorrect was determined to spell it Allison.


  27. In one of Peak’s podcasts Moss essentially admitted that he was exhausted midway through the season. He mentioned how long the college season is in comparison to the high school season especially with him coming in early.

    I expect him to be more explosive this coming year.


    1. Well if that’s the case then Pitt should have a running back by committee in place for this season. That said how do you take a James Conner or a Tony Dorsett clone(if that turns out with the freshman coming in) out of the lineup and run your offense by committee?


  28. Ehhh……

    I find this a bit too intense really, kind of “Sensationalist”, and not getting what really creates a great program.

    …. let’s simmer-down the intensity here because I have the answers…

    College Football success:

    Numba One: — Have a good, solid, truly NFL level starting Quarterback. Acutally, this is: Number One, Number Two, and Number Three.

    — For the ‘Stiller’ fans, obviously: Ben Roethlisberger made Miami of (NOT South Florida) a National Power, and must-watch TV. They were nothing of impact before him, and returned to Zero-Relevance right to that after him.
    ——-> Remember (ALWAYS REMEMBER!!! 😦 ) Pitt had Joe Flacco in-the-building, ready-to-go, fighting each day in the South Side in front of Dave Wannstedt hoping to lead Pitt to Greatness (and the Head Ball Coach instead hands ‘another guy who is not a Superbowl Champ’ the job) — think of what ‘Could have — SHOULD HAVE BEEN there my-goodness.

    Deshaun Watson for his program — this is very recent news so we all know.

    Pitt, with tons of great NFL talent, goes in the dumps with a junky QB under Dave Wannstedt, and he is fired. Make no mistake — if Pitt had even a Nathan Peterman or Tom Savage level QB (i.e. not STARS, but 4th-5th round draft pick quality players) during those last four seasons at Pitt — Wannstedt has Pitt as a top-10, ten win team each year no doubt.

    Imagine those two Bill Stull years (disappointing 9-3 regular seasons), and that last Tino Year (HORRIBLE, 7-5) with Dion Lewis, and Jon Baldwin with a High Character Quality QB….my goodness it would have been FUN!

    —- NEXT :

    It’s about a Program having recruiting classes that build depth at every position. Another poster said this already so kudos to you sir , and it can never be said enough (this is FACT) :

    Pitt — or more-so Steve Pederson, in essence gave Pitt Football a self-Inflicted “Death Penalty” with the humilating, horric botchery of the Head Coaching position after firing Dave Wannstedt in 2011. PERIOD.

    So many players left in those horrible, patched-up classes. It was statistically noted many times that Pitt actually had more Attrition than freakin’ penn state (!!!!) in that horrifying 4 year stretch.

    Those recruiting classes the moment Dave Wannstedt was fired, until after Paul Chryst had been at Pitt a year, were completely gutted and jury-rigged recruiting classes where half the kids left anyway. Wanny—–> Haywood!!!! urg!!! —> Todd Graham —> Finally Paul Chryst. = Self-Inflicted Program “Death Penalty” .

    Pitt was a National Story with that, don’t forget — it was an unprecedented disaster at the Head Coaching position. It was Insane.


  29. for a brief period under Walt Harris … Pitt appeared to have a QB stable of Palko, Getsy, Flacco and Morelli
    but Morelli flipped, Getsy transferred in 04, and Flacco transferred in 05 a few months after Wanny took over. These guys wanted to play … and it is what happens when you have talented back-ups. (Max Browne, anyone?)


    1. But that is what eventually showed that Dave Wannstedt just had zero clue whatsoever about the most important aspect of High-Level Football: QB Play.

      Dave Wannstedt could have come into a Pitt Program — A la how Pat Narduzzi did! — and diagnosed that the QB position is Imperative, and made the decision to start the 6’6”, Rocket-Armed Joe Flacco.

      Joe Flacco starts at Pitt Dave Wannstedt’s first year??? Instead of those terrible first seasons Pitt would have been exciting.

      Narduzzi sees and comprehends that clearly. Wanny would have just totally comfortably rolled with a Chad Voytik and not even thought twice about it. Narduzzi has been the experience of having one not good QB sandwiched in-between two NFL players and he said, “No Way!” — ‘Duzz goes at and fights to get NFL QB’s.

      Man —- I just so-hope Max Browne goes All-Out this Summer, and plays like a MAN this Fall like he needs to!


      1. Flacco didn’t stay around to see if he would have started Wanny’s first year. Flacco transferred in May 05, Wanny’s 1st game was Sept, 05.

        But you are correct .. his QBs left something to be desired. He was interviewed a handful of times when he opined that the tailback was the centerpiece of his offense.


        1. But Joe Flacco’s Dad (Joe Flacco himself just refused to ever comment except to say, “The Coach chose the Other-Guy”) really talked about it before their SuperBowl win. Flacco’s dad said that of course he wanted to start for Pitt, but the Head Coach (one Mr. Wannstedt) made it clear after the Spring that the other QB was going to be the Starter. Well —– the other QB had 2 full years of eligibility remaining — meaning that Joe Flacco would never, ever get any chance to play unless that QB got hurt. So, **rest is history and Flacco transferred to FCS / D-IAA so he could make sure he could play. 😦 😦 **


    2. All Wannstedt had to do was say all positions are open, including the QB spot, and Flacco may have stayed. Of course Wanny couldn’t even do that to a team that lost a BCS bowl game by 28 points.

      Palko was awful versus Ohio and was banged up by that Rutgers game. Flacco may have seen some action.


  30. ……I honestly have watched the footage Ad nauseam (haha after the NFL draft, SO tired of people saying, ‘watched tape’ lol) of Max Browne vs. Alabama and Stanford last year —- and frankly he’s got the Goodness-Given size, Arm-Talent, and then Straight-Up Moxy to be a First Round Pick in next season’s draft….

    Max Browne honestly just did not FIT at USC. He’s a working-class Washington State guy, and Pitt and Pittsburgh really is such a better fit for him all-around. Max Browne’s head wasn’t quite right you could tell last year at USC (too much pressure as well), and frankly the offensive weapons just were not gelling with him. Juju Smith Shuster, the Steeler’s 2nd round pick, dropped a perfect TD pass in tight coverage against Stanford for example, and you could just tell Browne and him just didn’t “gel”.

    I want Max Browne at Pitt to go Get-It — and also go get Jester Weah in the NFL with him. He’s got Jester Weah (Who says he’s been using Grip Strengtheners all off season to make his hands stronger) and Quadree Henderson, plus a primo O-line….so….



  31. Hey DK, you make a great point concerning Browne and fitting into a certain type of school or scheme. We sometimes see a five star or elite player not thrive at a particular school. This is very much a part of the recruiting process.

    When a player is hell bent on that certain dream school, somethings can become lost on the young man. This is why it’s important to give the players the time they need to make the right decision with their parents. Ejuan Price might be a good example.


  32. DK didn’t you have MacVittie starting this year for Pitt before Browne transferred in? Now MacVittie may be QB #4 on the roster this coming season. That is if the freshman doesn’t red shirt. The only reason I ask the question is there may be some doubt on your ability to evaluate the QB talent position given from what’s played out to this point.


    1. Thomas MacVittie is a 19 year old child and a Redshirt Freshman (4 full years of College Eligibility left) —– I know if needed to he will rise-up to the occasion — but I’ve said 1,000X that Max Browne will be the starter, and MacVittie to come-in as an option-rusher and also maybe have some sneaky-passes for First Downs and TD’s.

      Thomas MacVittie is a true-talent — And fantastically he at freakin’ 19-20 doesn’t have to be the Full-Time starter….. this year he’s gonna be called upon big-time especially for read-option, Triple-Option runs (I see at least 500 rushing yards, YES, and 5+ rushing Td’s for MacVittie while Browne gets 25+ passing TD’s )—> Thomas MacVittie is 6’5”, 230 ( a 1% human in general) and he’s got a great arm, and 4.5 speed —> he’s gonna contribute.


  33. Wait, Roethlisberger made Miami of Ohio a national power and must see TV. Browne is a first round pick? What?


    1. ……… you know who Ben Roethlisberger was in college? ….

      Max Browne is 6’5” , 220, was the #1 QB out of High School (not that it matters now — but shows he at the very least showed all those scouts some potential even when he was 18) —– What is the GLITCH here with the comments???


  34. **…Trying not to get irritated…..okay — just like this year in the drat it was Trubisky, Mahomes, and Watson — all shorter or at most 6’2”, all maybe 220 if they chugged water before their weigh-in… Roethlisberger got chosen 11 by the Steelers (6’5”, 230) and was considered the #1 QB vs. freakin’ Eli Manning (6’4”, 225, led Ole Miss to strong records with no talent in SEC), and Phillip Rivers (6’5”, 230, ROCKET ARM). ——

    Roethlisberger went like 13-1 as a Starter as the #11 pick with the Steelers then won the SB the next year…….. I just…..


    1. ^^^ Narduzzi KNOWS Quarterbacks are the KEY — and I think if he STEPS UP HIS GAME, BIG-TIME Max Browne can be the MAN this year.


      1. If Browne ends up being classified as a “statue” at QB for Pitt this year, he might be lucky if even gets a free agent offer in next years draft.


  35. Atlanta Panther, I found that article to be pretty interesting … thanks. Since Pitt was meeting its expectations, then we should expect to be finishing around 30th in the country in future years but hopefully we can exceed that.


  36. for all you Pitt baseball fans .. they are on Root Sports on Sunday 6pm and ESPNU on Monday (7 pm)


  37. JayPa elected to BOT.
    The twisted tragedy plays on.
    First order of business: time to build a few more statues.


  38. jrnPitt LOL on DK evaluations of QBs. Maybe he was Wannys QB guru. 🙂 Gosh it hurts to be reminded of what we once thought on any topic.


  39. Believe me, his sole goal is to restore his fathers legacy. His father can rot in HELL.


  40. Maybe there’s a spot for his fat brother on the Board.
    And let’s not forget about Sue.
    I’d like to see a statue on every corner of University Park.
    Perhaps mini-statues could be given out at games and with completed applications for enrollment.
    We Are…in Denial!


  41. I have to agree with DK that Wannstadt’s lack of awareness as to the importance of the QB position was his Achilles heel. Both Chryst and Narduzzi seemed to understand that if what you have at QB ain’t gonna cut it, you’d better get a good stopgap. Now whether Wannstadt’s was aware of his roster’s QB deficiencies, wasn’t sufficiently motivated to upgrade the position, or felt compelled to play a certain deficient QB, I guess we’ll never know for sure…


    1. and just what QB did PC contribute? Yes, he was lucky to get the transfer Savage for a year … but Bertick, Chapman .. anyone else?


  42. The point about bringing in recruits costing money – what about the two million large just donated? Wonder if this makes a few more big time kids come on campus. Pitt is a cool place to go to school. Not many Cathedrals of Learning.


  43. ….Just……

    How does Dave Wannstedt Fu** Up so bad and not start this dude???

    Just how Dave Wannstedt only had Bill Stull to play QB when Pitt had LeSean McCoy + multiple NFL defensive players, and then TINY TINO just that guy….. Quarterbacks are a big deal…he never ‘got it’.

    My Prediction: Max Browne plays like a stud and Pitt gets 9 Regular Season Wins. 🙂 🙂


  44. PS — though he was never a Hot-Shot Candidate —- I think Kevin Stallings leads Pitt to top 3 ACC quality.

    I just feel it —- and I think Vanderbilt WILTS after he’s gone.

    I don’t think Scott Barnes wanted anything but the best for Pitt. He is not a ‘Dissonant Dude’ , like Steve Pederson was (i.e. not doing ALL BAD yet just frankly sabotaging their programs). Steve Pederson, just the type of AD he was: Ruined the Football Program of his beloved Alma Mater Nebraska, though MEANING WELL, as-well not just the Pitt Panthers lol.

    Barnes truly believed that Kevin Stallings was going to lead Pitt to Final Four level and beyond. His anger at that press conference made it clear he really was upset that people doubted what Stallings would do at Pitt.

    I see NCAA Playoff-Contention in Pitt’s near-future in Football — and I also see the BBall program being Dynamic Soon in coordinance with Vanderbilt totally sinking —- kinda validating Stallings’ abilty while he takes Pitt up.

    Gotta remember Jamie Dixon just BURNED OUT at Pitt, PERIOD. It was frankly bizarre —- he just maybe got too, honestly, Fat, and Lazy at Pitt. His recruiting was terrible!! He left Pitt with NOTHING! — Who can argue against that????

    So — Jamie Dixon gets his Alma Mater Texas Christian into actual semi-decency pretty-quickly —> That’s his absolute, Peter-Principle, Ceiling, Max-Capability Level!. I get that Pitt knows more is necessary, especially having an unquestioned top-10 Basketball Venue in all of College Bball.


  45. Scratch one QB off the Pitt recruit list as PSN reported last yesterday that Chase Wolf from Cincinnati committed to Wi and Paul Chryst for next season.


  46. you guys can cut up Wanny all you want .. and he indeed had his faults. But you continue to forget that he produced (1) 3 of the 4 best attendance years …. but even more .. (2) the best 3 year run that Pitt had since the early 80s. THAT’S THE BOTTOM LINE …. FELLAS!


    1. he was the lowest paid coach in the BE (that’s the Big East, not the ACC)
      he gave up some of his salary for his assistants
      and right when his program was on the rise, he had his recruiting budget slashed
      and yet he produced really good attendance figures (per Pitt standards)
      and he did it when winning was obviously downplayed by the chancellor

      so criticize him all you want


  47. Wwb, in my case I am indeed referring to Chryst picking up Savage. I can’t recall any instances of Wanny going out and getting a transfer QB who was better than anyone already on the roster.. On the flip side one(Flacco)’ maybe two (Getsy) QBs transferred out who were likely better than those they were passed over for..


    1. grad transfer were not legal then … and certainly transfer back then were not nearly as numerous as they are the past few years. He did bring in an athletic QB transfer who made on key play in Pitt’s win vs Iowa in 08 (can’t remember his name)


  48. Are we sure that Facco actually transferred out while Wanny was here or before he got here?

    DW did have his serious flaws, especially first off. Apparently he didn’t need a 5 star QB to lead PITT to it’s best 3 year record since the early 80’s. I never understood the disdain for the guy. (rumors excluded)

    …and that said… How and why did one bad rumor/possible truth, make DW a horrible coach the entire time he was here?


  49. ike – it was because he coached college football like it was the NFL. They are two different sports. The college game had passed Wanny by. The best record since the 80’s was more a result of Wanny being forced to fire Cavanaugh and his hiring of Frank Cignetti. Cignetti ran a pro-style offense with a college personality. Wanny’s mentality to keep the game close and win in the 4th quarter is a product of a by-gone era. College football, even then, had already evolved to the point where you had to keep attacking on offense. It also helped that it was in a weakened Big East; several years after VT and Miami had already bolted and just a few years from Pitt and CUSE exiting.

    He also didn’t help his cause with the rapid fall from that 10 win mark piggy backing the epic meltdown against Cincy. He was a better recruiter than a head coach. He represented Pitt with class and truly loved Pitt, so I’ll always respect him but he wasn’t going to take Pitt to any great heights.

    To give you an example of how bad the Big East was, in Wanny’s final season, they went 7-5/5-2 and were tied for 1st. In 6 season under Wanny, they finished in the top 25 once at #15 in the 10 win season.

    Wanny’s Pitt coaching record (42-31/24-18):




  50. Oops, re-reading a previous post, looks like Getsy transferred out under Harris…. If so, my bad, wbb.


  51. Regarding those previous threads on Pitt recruiting, two things no one has mentioned is one, Pitt’s academic support services, which are very good, two, the urban setting of the University being situated in the City of Pittsburgh.

    Pitt’s location is a very attractive recruiting feature. Not only does it provide all of the benefits of major league football, baseball & hockey sports entertainment but when you consider young millennial hotspots that have evolved in areas like Lawrenceville, East Liberty and the Carson St. Strip on the Southside, they all create an urban environment that many a recruit would find appealing. Throw in on top of that the cultural events that regularly are scheduled in the city throughout the calander year and you have a leg up on what Pitt can offer recruits who desire a more urban environment for their college experience.

    When you also consider the opportunities available in such a metropolitan area to form relationships with those in business, medicine, finance and the service industries which can directly lead to future internships & employment after graduation, then Pitt’s location becomes a major component in promoting our University during the recruiting process.

    Don’t sell Pitt short in this regard. It’s an advantage that many other institutions, PSU for instance, can’t offer due to their rural settings in the middle of nowhere.


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