I try to get out but they keep dragging me back in…

Pitt Coach Pat Narduzzi Announces Disciplinary Actions

    PITTSBURGH—Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi announced disciplinary actions for four players prior to the Panthers’ opening of training camp on August 1. 

Senior defensive end Rori Blair has been dismissed from the program for “conduct detrimental to the program.”

Junior offensive tackle Alex Bookser will be suspended for the season opener for his involvement in an offseason legal situation involving a motor vehicle.

Senior linebacker Quintin Wirginis and junior safety Jordan Whitehead will both be suspended for the opening three games of the season for violation of team policy.

    “Our program’s foundation will always be built on discipline and personal responsibility,” Narduzzi said. “These are highly disappointing situations but I am hopeful that each of these young men will be better, stronger and wiser after taking accountability for their actions.

    “Alex Bookser will sit out the season-opening game and has also been subject to internal disciplinary measures and accountability. I’m confident he will make better decisions moving forward.

    “In addition to sitting out multiple games, Quintin and Jordan will continue to be held accountable to internal standards of conduct.”

    The Panthers will open their 2017 season on Sept. 2 against Youngstown State at Heinz Field.

So – what exactly is there to say about this. Well, I can think of a few things with the first one being how bad must have Whitehead and Wirginis’ conduct been that their discipline eclipses Bookser’s, Boyd’s and Blair’s (1st) offenses?

This adds up to something but I’m not sure exactly what it is yet -but I have feelers out.

I will say that I like these moves from Narduzzi in the leadership arena.  Not many head coaches would sit down three sure starters (and Wirginis would have started) and dismiss a fourth with two of the toughest games on the schedule being missed – even if they are out of conference games.  Add to that out only returning DL starter Taleni’s earlier dismissal also.

Plus a bigger question in my mind at this point is if Bookser, Wirginis and Whitehead are going to be allowed to take part in fall camp. Remember that Tyler Boyd and Blair had to sit out some summer team drills and meetings, I believe a month or so two years ago – and that was even before their suspensions were made public.  If they miss fall camp that is a huge setback going into 2017’s schedule.

When Narduzzi says the quote below only three days before camp starts it means something;

““In addition to sitting out multiple games, Quintin and Jordan will continue to be held accountable to internal standards of conduct,” Narduzzi said.”

I have been saying all along that YSU was going to be a handful opponent in the opener – it looks even more of a hurdle now.  Perhaps the only silver lining here is that these personnel moves come before the actual games and not on the eve of the opener as was the case back when YSU beat us in Paul Chryst’s first game.

I can’t help but feel that because of the quick nature of theses disciplinary actions that this is the tip of the iceberg on some bigger issue(s).  There are no arrest records for Wirginis or Whitehead posted yet except for a two-year old traffic warrant of Whitehead’s.

That is of 8:00 am this morning, but given this is Saturday morning and the discipline was announced on a Friday evening something may be posted on the Docket over the weekend or early next week.

Blair hasn’t been arrested lately nor has Bookser – so Bookser aside, something transpired in these last couple of days for Narduzzi to drop Thor’s hammer on those three guys like he did.

I say stay tuned as this might not be the end of this story… Fingers crossed but I wonder.

As far as football goes this means we are going into the opener with only two starters back from last year’s horrid defense.  Given my lack of trust in Conklin’s ability to coach defense at any level I think we are in for a very rough ride.

No defensive line starters return – unless you want to call Hendricks a returning starter which I don’t. We will have an almost totally inexperienced linebacker corps for the first three games also which,  given how much experience counts at that position, is a big red flag.

And the only consistently decent player in our defensive backfield will be watching the games from the sidelines… expect to see All three QBs we face in the beginning of the season to be able to sit back on their heels and pick us completely apart with the passing game.

I don’t see an offense that we will put out on the field in these games that will score enough points to overcome our defensive deficiencies, especially because I had my doubts about our offensive line anyway.

With Bookser gone for the opener and with Conner Dintino and Jared Jones-Smith huge question marks in my mind anyway I think we’ll see flat-footed Max Browne on his back way more than any of our QBs going back to Sunseri’s Days.

I do worry about what losing these integral players for games this year will do for the psyche of the rest of the team going into the game on Sept 2nd.   Right now there is no betting line put out for that game. Expect that to change and perhaps drastically when camp breaks.

I don’t buy the common belief among Pitt fans that Narduzzi is always a great motivator on gameday. Yes, I watched the PSU and Clemson games and he did a great job there, but I also watched the Miami and Northwestern games. There is a lot of inconsistency there so I believe come Sept 2 and then the next two weeks afterward will be a real test of his motivational skills… then again one week later with the Rambling Wrecks RBs from Georgia Tech down in Atlanta.

I always make my formal predictions for the upcoming season after fall camp breaks but if I had to bet right now I’d say it isn’t a stretch to see Pitt at 1-3 going into the Rice game.

Guys – these personnel losses are major setbacks to an already inexperienced and untested team. It is a Big Deal no matter how much wishful think you throw at the situation.




123 thoughts on “Care to Revise Those ’17 Predictions?

  1. I still say the over/under is seven and would probably take the under if I was a betting man.

    What is the cumulative effect of losing two senior starters on the D-line after losing three from last year?

    What is the impact of losing your best athlete for the first three games? A senior middle linebacker?

    Even more pressure on the transfers, and young guys to produce early. Counting on guys like Hamlin and Ford to make up for Whitehead is wishful thinking. Hamlin hasn’t stayed healthy and is at a new position. Ford isn’t in school yet and will have a big learning curve when and if he arrives. Brightwell is learning a new position and is lean. Who will call the defensive plays with Wirginis and Whitehead on the bench?

    We are going to take a physical beating vs PSU, how many guys will leave the field with injury?

    This team had way too many unknowns before this happened All of these guys should have been team leaders, who are the leaders now? Especially on defense.

    I don’t think Narduzzi gets a pass. Don’t know how much is his fault, but none of these are first time issues.

    Taleni, and Blair were seniors, as is Wirginis. Bookser and Whitehead could go pro after this year and just hurt their draft status. How do this many guys take their eye off the ball?

    No Aaron Donalds in this bunch.

    Thinking this is just a blip is wishful thinking. The best you can hope for is that it may pay dividends for next year getting the young guys experience early.


    1. gc – I’ll be paying attention to see if you use these player loses as an excuse if Pitt loses to psu.

      I vaguely remember you banging the drum for psu last year because their best LB was out for the Pitt game.


  2. I don’t know how you blame Narduzzi? He can’t sit and hold everyone’s hand 24/7. You can set an example and provide parameters for what you want your kids to do but eventually you have to get potty trained. My parents did a great job of raising our family and I still managed to have my share of “learning experiences” through no fault of theirs.


  3. Teds – I don’t see anyone blaming Narduzzi – if anything the article praised him. A comment did say ‘you can’t give him a pass’ and that is true also – any leader needs to be held accountable in part when his guys screw up.


  4. Rumor has it W&W failed a piss drug test…. 2nd time each. This is my 54th year of Pitt Football. Too many of them have started the season with “unpleasantries”. Can’t blame coach. At best 7 wins!


  5. Was JW suspended last year for the YSU game? If so, two suspensions indicate a deep problem that wont be solved anytime soon. Look for him to bolt no matter how this season unfolds.
    Blair was a consistent problem – speeding while stoned, held out of the bowl game, and now this. If the miracle of playing college football after a brain bleed wasnt enough of a wake up, then what is?
    And as for Wirginis, if playing second fiddle to lead-footed Matt Gallambos wasnt motivation enough, you go and get yourself tossed for a quarter of your senior season.
    Funny – we complained about losing the bowl games. Perhaps we wont even make a bowl this year. UGH!


  6. This is interesting in that all 4 are WPIAL products. That said, I don’t think this is a fatal blow to the TEAM. Reed, if you go back to the article of which starter was the most replaceable, there were opinions that Blair and Wirginis were easily replaceable and several on here, including me, indicated that Wirginis is injury prone and wouldn’t last in his position for more than 3-4 games because of injury/concussion concerns.

    Whitehead is a difference maker, but remember that we played without him for awhile when he broke his arm, right? Did we play better during his absence, probably not.

    Losing Bookser for one game was expected. There will be a slight decrease in talent, but nothing that should stop a victory against ysu.

    Blaming any loss on not having these players, for an athlete is “an excuse”. For fans, it’s easy. Every athlete worth anything prepares himself to the max for every play and expects his teammates to do the same thing. My expectation is that the next players up on defense will thrive.

    For me, the new front seven must play downhill on every play to have a chance at success. Stop the run and create pressure with zone blitzes. Maybe we see a more aggressive defense because of the new speed. Let’s get em!


  7. Well they blamed Wanny for his guys indiscretions.

    The problem is we really don’t know why. Failed drug tests could be a lot of things, Pot or performance enhancing substances, coke meth, pain meds. Could be consistently missing classes. (That’s a joke by the way)


  8. Remember that Whitehead has more than one bump in the road at Pitt- he was suspended for the Oct 1st game of last year, had a suspicious absence from practices last season and now this infraction.

    One point – these suspensions may have been in the works for longer than it first appears. But I also heard that some issue were pretty serious. One sportswriter at PSN stated that he thought that Wirginis’ suspension should have been more than 4 games.

    I heard the same thing from someone else. I will disagree with this guys statement that “look how far Pitt has come” – Pitt loses a great Safety and is possibly replaced by a true freshman 4* IF he can meet academics standards is not a great place to be. A great place to be would be that we already had an experienced decent safety to take Whitehead’s place – but rely on a fingers crossed freshman who hasn’t even suited up for Pitt yet.

    Now – something to understand – if these were drug offenses and the tests were NOT NCAA mandated then discipline is at Pitt’s discretion. Hell – Elijah Fields failed at least two of these Pitt tests then was kicked off for something else.

    What could have happened was that these kids may have failed a previous test been put on double secret probation then screwed up again – and the 2nd thing may not have been drugs.

    I’m not saying it is drugs – just giving some insight on how discipline at Pitt works sometimes.


  9. Disappointing. Especially with Penn State sitting there. Can’t imagine losing to them. Oh… guess I can. Don’t like the feeling at all. Sick stomach.


  10. However, Narduzzi is to be credited with his willingness to take decisive action. Others in Pitt’s past would not have done so.


  11. Man….it really hurts to know that Pitt’s NFL quality Guard is gonna miss a ton of time, and Quadree Henderson, Jester Weah and really important players are gonna miss time….

    Oh wait, not, sorry I knee-jerked for a second and got hyper overdramatic lol.

    So….Alex Bookser misses just one game against FCS Youngstown State…. AND Pitt got more O-line talent and depth in a 6’5”, 310 pound experienced lineman who started 9 full games at Texas last year to start that game one, then provide depth all season.

    ….Well — next that means one completely ineffective, zero-impact undersized D-end is gone. He is lighter and infinitely less-talented than RS Freshman Kazeon Pugh (already 250 pounds) so it’s better to get Pugh up in the lineup for experience as the #3 or 4 D-end over Rori Blair.

    Then — a Senior Backup linebacker / special teams guy misses the first 3 games. He never, ever could even start over a Matt Galambos obviously — but he also could never earn a spot over Matt Caprara + all of last year couldn’t even earn a spot at OLB over Idowu which = Coaches don’t think he’s all-that good.

    Plus he’s always hurt. Seriously??? Wirginis is a back-up, and he’ll be back anyways for ACC play to play special teams and give the starters breathers.

    Jordan Whitehead is the only real head-scratcher and is confusing for sure. But he’s not the Quarterback or the top receiver. He is not a difference making pass-rusher, nor frankly some Darrelle Revis level STUD D-back (not even close, at least as of his career so far) so Plug-‘N-Play

    Last season, Pitt finished the year relying on Terrish Webb and Reggie Mitchell as the two starting safeties to finish Clemson Win, then with Duke and Syracuse.Yeah, I’ll take my chances with this year’s superior talent at Safety no matter how inexperienced.

    Zero need for any disappointment or any drama — only one single real Starter in Whitehead is gone (for 3 games) and there is talent to replace him.


  12. I don’t think we know enough to give Narduzzi credit for anything. If these guys are consistently breaking stated rules, there is no choice. It is like mandatory sentencing. It looks to me like he let Bookser off easy.


    1. Let’s just say JW and QW won’t be and probably weren’t going to anyways – they can call the plays for the scout team D 🙂

      My bet is Brightwell is the main man in the middle. Briggs has been in this system for all three years as well – if two are needed.

      To finish my thoughts on the scout team – JW can now play the role of S.Barkley and Wirginis can mimic the psu MLB in our 1st teams prep for the creepy valley showdown.


  13. Highly disappointing that these guys are given an opportunity to lead and instead they now become an example of what not to do. Whitehead has gone from sure first round NFL to maybe the Bengals or Raiders will take a flier. Narduzzi has no choice but to lay down the law on these guys and if it means we start 2-2 or 1-3 then so be it-those guys have to own it and man up. If the team starts 3-1 then they will have to earn their way back which to me is the better punishment and scenario because the team will realize they are not needed-plus it could knock down their highly inflated entitled egos.


  14. On the plus side, these guys will hopefully learn a valuable lesson. And, Whitehead and Wirginis will have fresh legs when conference play starts after game 3. Some young guys will get more 1st team reps in camp and subsequent practices as well. This will strengthen us down the stretch

    It’s not like this team was a 10 win team to start with.

    We are in good shape… for the shape we are in…


  15. The rest of the players will think that, “I better stay clean or Coach will … ” It also gives the other kids a chance to step up and it could bring an even better player to the forefront.


  16. On the positive side of the PITT calamity the next men up are being schooled in the classroom and will get all the
    reps in fall camp and during the 1st 3 weeks of the season. It’s what it is and will grow this team for the future. Any game could be won or lost and there are no gimmes on the schedule.
    Here’s a big what if… we enter week 4 with a 3-0 record….would you start W &W.
    I wonder about Whitehead… suspended against Marshall last year……


  17. Those who are glad Narduzzi/the school dropped the hammer will the first ones complaining if Pitt starts 1-3 or finishes 6-6 and will want coach on the hot seat. That you can take to the bank. I think Pitt can start 2-1 and get W & W back for the trip to Georgia Tech.

    I’ll be curious how many coaches are suspending important pieces to their respective team. I know it isn’t a Pitt issue, but every year Pitt guys are getting suspended. I always remember Dixon not happy with Durand Johnson’s year-long suspension, so I’m thinking it is a school punishment and not Narduzzi. Pitt has always thought of itself as being different than the rest of college football when handling issues, thus your 35 years of mediocrity.


  18. Obviously, the big difference between the indiscretions of 2010 and those at the beginning of 2012 and this year is that those of 2010 were public arrests and were well publicized. I take no issue with Pitt, or any other school, for not making public the internal rules that were broken .. and like 2012 and Taleni, we will likely never know what happened.

    I certainly don’t blame PC or PN …. these guys have been around the program for a while and none of them seem like bad characters (unlike in 2010 when Wanny took a chance on Peeler and Knox who already had baggage, and it blew up in his face.)

    IMO the players are to blame. These guys all have been with the program at least 3 years and should be responsible. 3 and 4 year players need to be leaders …. and while I personally don’t know any of them, my perception of the guys who were drafted this past spring is that they were all leaders .


  19. Can you believe I really can’t think of anything to say about all this. I would normally just use a few swear words and try and put a positive spin on this but I just can’t. It sucks but before we start pointing fingers we should know exactly what each infraction was or is…. and to blame Narduzzi are people who complain about anything and everything constantly and all the time. It’s gets old.


  20. Only Whitehead is significant and all the suspended players are back for ACC play. This is the most level-headed read on the situation …


    Ultimately, recruiting and depth have given Narduzzi the leverage to make this kind of statement. The replacement players are unknowns to us but not to the coaching staff. I’m, honestly, not too worried.

    Pitt played 4 1/2 games without Whitehead last season and only lost once. Marshall, 1/2 Clemson, DUKE, CUSE and Northwestern.

    This isn’t the NFL. Talent outshines experience in CFB. The backups may be more raw but they also have more talent. You also have to remember this is a system defense. Plug and play. All the kids stepping into the suspended player’s shoes will have been recruited for this system and practice and played in it for 1-2 years.

    The suspensions sting but they’re hardly the end of the world. Let’s not resort to PSU’s levels and start blaming losses on players not being there. It’s football … next man up. You play with you who you have and outside of Whitehead, the backups have more upside.


  21. Ike – I’d rather not know what the kids did. It’s private. They aren’t paid. They have no representation. What happened, happened. They aren’t there now. Time to move on. Knowing what happened won’t change that.


  22. Looking thru the blue and mustard yellow glasses …. this will make the Nitters all the more self-confident especially if Pitt is sluggish vs YSU … and maybe complacency takes over for resolve. Hey, I’m trying to see something, anything here that will provide any hope


  23. Narduzzi’s isn’t to blame.

    Dark, you are correct that we won those last few game but again like every win we had, it was the offense.

    Take Whitehead out and we give up 61 points to SYR and 258 yards rushing to NW. ..

    Anyway fans want to spin this it is bad for the team.


  24. Reed, why did I ever question you? Bo Peking must be salivating with anticipation of beating this depleted Pitt football team to a pulp come Sept. 2nd.

    Narduzzi has lost this team, there is no leadership and I suspect multiple transfers in the very near future.

    Can you imagine the number of injuries that will occur after we get humbled by YSU when we go into Beaver Stadium flat. Then whoever is left has to go against the aerial bombardment of OK St. The following week! That’s when the defections begin. The only possible game we could have won now is in jeopardy too when we only have 60 or so scholarship players left on the roster by then.

    We should have gone down to FCS when we had the chance but nooooo, Steve Pederson screws us again by allowing us to be duped into accepting an ACC birth. Now we’re nothing more than a doormat for the likes of blue blood programs like Duke & UNC to wipe their feet on.

    Where is Upittbaseball with his well placed insults and disparaging comments when you need them?

    My new prediction, 0-11. And yes I can count, it’s just that I’m anticipating the football program will be disbanded before the Miami game so that we can avoid that embarrassment.



  25. Reed – I’m not saying that it’s not bad. I’m only saying that’s it’s not as bad as some say it is. I’m not a fan of Wriggins or Blair. I think their losses are negligible. Losing an OL for YSU won’t even be noticed. I’m excited to see who steps up.


  26. Reed,
    To answer the question of your title: “Care to Revise Those 17′ Predictions?”
    Sure! I had us winning 8 games this year and now I have us winning 7 or 8.
    So am I saying this situation is not a big deal? NOT AT ALL!!!!
    Our D was shallow to begin with and Reed is absolutely correct in stating that we now have only TWO starters coming back on a pathetic D to start the year! Hey, guys often get hurt during fall camp for goodness sake and a few injuries, which are the NORM in football will cripple us!
    These players have really let down their team, their coach, themselves, and their fans!!!! We need all the depth we can get on D and now for 1/4th of the year it is gone. Heck, we may need the band’s tuba player to suit up and take the field. Yes, I’m exaggerating, but for the guys who think it’s no big deal – give the rest of us whatever it is you’re smoking and making you ignore reality. Maybe you’re even smoking the same thing our suspended players are!!! :>)
    Here’s the Deal – Get Real!


  27. @Dark – we agreed on something and now I am afraid! lol.

    Look, the kids embarrassed themselves and let down their teammates, no matter what transpired. Unreliable is not a good term when describing a teammate. Selfish is another. The NFL wants leaders, not followers.

    This isn’t drama or the end of the season. Need to focus on YSU first. Most think we were going to lose to Dairy and OSU, right? Now, the coaching staff can use this to help recruit and gain momentum that way. “Look recruit, we were 1-3 during our suspensions. We finished 6-2 when we got our players back and we are on a roll. We need your help”.

    I am disappointed in the WPIAL guys, regardless of issue!


    1. I’ve seen the light at the end of the tunnel and just realized this morning that is an oncoming train.

      This program is doomed. Earlier today Upittbaseball typed out “Pitt is It”! What other sign do you need to see confirming the impending apocalypse?

      We just don’t deserve to ever have anything nice happen. Losers, we’re all a bunch of losers. Go ask Upittbaseball, he’ll tell ya.


  28. I posted on the last chain but I always seem to be the last one! So reposting on the new chain:
    I think the major concern here is the numbers….4 players. Not 1 or 2, but 4. Football of course uses way more than 22 players on O and D. Heck we won Clemson with plenty of non-starters making key plays. Many above analyze this development one player at a time, and by doing so, sure it can be seen as not that bad. I would argue it hurts collectively…If each of those players make just 1 or 2 really important plays in a game, it very likely turns a W into a L without them. They don’t need to be superstars for this to hurt when we lose all 4 at once.


  29. I thought we were headed for a 6 and 6 season with losses to PSU and OS. So now those 2 losses are more likely. That’s not a big deal. What matters is how the team (and by that I mean all the players) react to the suspensions. That’s an unknown. But what we do know is that a young safety and linebacker are going to undergo trial by fire. Trials are not losses. They are tests. And a test is an opportunity to succeed.


  30. Tossing, Thanks for bringing needed logic into the discussion as always. As far as player losses go, Whitehead stands out as significant (though we did beat Clemson without him), the others not so much, though I fear we’ll miss Wirginis a little too. More importantly, I hope those young men get it together, for their own sakes. And yes, we do know enough to give Narduzzi credit, even starters/stars are not above discipline, and no one game YSU suspension either. Building a program is more important. And frankly, Pitt’s not there yet anyway, the defense is not put together yet, and we are still waiting for a talented young qb to take the reigns.


  31. BTW Reed, FWIW I continually enjoy your pairing of the blog article headlines with the pictures. Often amusing and always apropos.

    Nietzche — “That does not kill us makes us stronger” We Pitt fans must be some of the strongest people on earth; although I fear Pitt sports will eventually be the end of me.


  32. Bring Cancers in like Kam Carter then don’t complain when cancer spreads.

    Narduzzi has had these kids 3 years to teach and mold. This many suspensions tells me then tune him out.

    Doc – Good to see you as usual know everything and we should be happy to breath your air. There is a pattern here and sorry we won’t go 12-0 like you thought. Be happy we have Heather Luke as an AD or Narduzzi might actually have to explain himself but not with compliance puppet as an AD.


    1. I know this, when you’re right, you’re right. And you’re right Upitt. Narduzzi never feels the need to explain himself & as you’ve previously alluded to Heather Lyke is nothing more than a cheap MAC make believe AD, a Narduzzi hand puppet.

      As always the SOP Pitt administration is hopeless. And of course you know that you’re always welcomed to use my air when I’m done with it.


  33. Nard and the university did they felt was required. Hopefully, the players realize they are accountable as adults off the field as well as football players it. Whatever happened, it’s done, over move on. Next man up will have more talent than years past. On a limb, this team goes 9-4, and a few stars are born (and no one jumps overboard).


  34. Watching the Clemscum vs Pitt game on ESPNU – it figures that JW and QW are in on almost every tackle in the first qtr. And the last play shown was JW’s 100 yards fumble return.

    I guess we will miss them both – it is what it is…


  35. Upitt, what you thinking man? These problems with these men festered before Cam set for on campus. Further, I don’t care about his past right now, just what kind of a character he is now. Better know someone really well before making those comments. At the very least, the young man deserves a chance.


    1. Kam Carter got his chance at penn state. Now this bitter reject via Laat Chance U gets to crawl into Pittsburgh to inflect his Netflix malignancy in the Panther roster where it will metastasize throughout the team.
      It will only be a matter of time before Max Browne gets busted selling crack out of his car down on Bigalow Blvd.
      I’m with Upitt on this one.


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