Before you watch this I have to add that Ike and I are old friends so the argument about Josh Conklin and how Pitt has played so far (one-sided as I was sort of excited) isn’t anything to worry about. Ike knows his stuff – we just differ 180° on certain issues.
Here is a Q&A with Josh Conklin regarding the OSU game.
Q: This is a young defense, do you think you guys are going to kind of progress as the season goes along just as you gain more knowledge?
A: “I do. I think Pat [Narduzzi] said it best today. He said he doesn’t wanna hear about how young we are all the time…
Good – neither do I. We have players who are in their 3rd year under Narduzzi and Conklin now and that’s long enough to be in his defensive ‘system’ to play well. As we talked about in the Roundtable above – is it the lack of talent onboard or the lack of coaching? My point is that we
ve heard Pitt fans sing Narduzzi’s praises when it comes to recruit “better” 3* players so then it must be coaching. Which I firmly believe it is. Hence my feelings about Conklin – he’s the boss of the defense and as such the boss of all the position coaches on the defensive side of the ball. If those coaches are not getting the players to execute properly – and they haven’t for over two years now, then the problem rests on Conklin’s shoulders.
I think Pitt fans don’t sometimes get the whole of what the Coordinator actually does… but this is why he’s called the “coordinator” – because he coordinates all the aspects of the defense and then formulates systems and tactics to fit the HC’s defensive vision by developing and executing individual game plans… but it is the non-gameday coordination that is the majority of his job. Most fans I talk to think the DC does only the game planning part and that is really but a small piece of it.
The DC is ‘in charge of managing all defensive players and assistant coaches, of developing a general defensive game plan, and of calling the plays for the defense during the game’. For instance it isn’t the DC who determines which players are going to be in the two deep or who is going to play on defense during each games – that is the individual position coach’s job – Conklin’s work is a level above all that. He has final approval but seldom overturns his positon coaches.
But he’s still responsible for all the aspects of the defense so when that defense tanks, as we have seen dramatically at Pitt, he’s responsible.
Pat Narduzzi does tell Conklin what general defense he wants the team to have – that is the real ‘big picture’ stuff – but Narduzzi isn’t nearly involved with our actual defense as fans think. In reality he’s very hands off if what we hear from the Southside is to be believed.
Here is a Starkey piece about… I’m not sure but you can read it yourself… It is pretty much filler between games. I hated this quote when it was first uttered and hate it now…
It was Dr. Randy Juhl — a key member of the committee that hired Narduzzi — who put it so memorably after Narduzzi’s introductory news conference. Building on the fact that Pitt folks invented CPR and revolutionized organ transplantation, Juhl said, “If the university can do that, we can sure as hell win 10 football games.”
Surprised we don’t just throw Salk and his Polio vaccine in there and while we are at it toss in Gene Kelly. Of course the reasons Pitt made those great strides mentioned was 1) because they are life and death issues and 2) not only was the University 100% behind those efforts, the whole of the nation benefited from that essential work – and that is also why Pitt is still concentrating on academic and research issues that are 1000 times more important than football is. The BoT wants it that way and will keep it that way.
Bottom line folks: The powers-who-be (and were) at Pitt are content to have an average D1 football program because well, every major school has to have one or be labelled an outsider… but that’s really all they want. Status Quo without any negative issues associated with it is fine. Win more than lose and don’t rock the boat…give Pitt that and they will be happy forever.
Anyway – right now is kind of a tough time for our program and team – we just had two straight losses where we were badly outplayed in almost all aspects of the game and narrowly avoided a third loss in the opener against YSU when that game went into overtime. But I believe this season is far from over and still might, might mind you, be a surprise at the end of the season. By that I mean either win the same amount (not betting on that) or lose just one or two more… I do not see a collapse of the team into a tanked season.
But I’m reading Pitt fans calling for Narduzzi’s head after this last loss and them saying the ‘season is over’ and the kids stink – one fan on a message board even said he thought the players had given up on the season – that post was quickly deleted by the author but still – how weird is that?
Well, I’m not giving up on the players or Narduzzi at this point and won’t even if the season goes south. I’ve already given up on Conklin but that happened over the offseason. I think if our defense is going to play better and actually help win a game for a change it will be 100% on individual defensive player efforts – the kids making timely sacks and creating turnovers – things that a DC really has no control over.
But isn’t all this why we are Pitt fans guys? Because with Pitt there is always something interesting happening and it is never, ever boring. Stomach churning – yes; boring – no.
We have a tough game ahead of us this Saturday and we’ll see how that goes, but even if we lose that one, and we may well as GT is a great running team, we still have eight more to win on the schedule… HTP!!