We had an abbreviated Call-in show last evening due to 1) being on a bye weekend and 2) there’s only so much to discuss at this point that hasn’t been covered in other Roundtables. We even dragged out recruiting which is, let’s be honest, so highly subjective that discussions about it don’t really get anywhere.
But even with that we had a good time last night bouncing thoughts around between Matt, Richard and myself.
Recruiting is a funny business
Much has been said about Narduzzi and staff’s recruiting over the last three years. A commenter posted up Chris Dokish’s latest article about this subject – a response to Pitt fan’s disappointment over missing out on Kwantel Raines and the shortage (void actually) of 4* recruits in our 2018 class. Here it is and it is a good read.
I’ll post the summation because that is the heart of these discussions:
1. Yes, it’s great to have a roster filled with 4 and 5 star prospects if you want to win a national championship, but there’s only about a dozen programs that can do that. Pitt isn’t one of them.
2. Pitt, however, is in the next group of programs, and that group can win with a roster filled with mostly 3 star prospects, as long as they identify the right players, and put them in a position to succeed. In other words, recruiting and coaching.
3. Recruiting websites are a great resource, but they should not be taken as gospel. Five star prospects often do nothing, two star prospects often do a lot, and three and four star prospects are the same level of player.
4. Like Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma State, Pitt is capable of getting into the top 15, too, because they are all recruiting similarly. And getting into the top 25 is even more possible because at worse, they recruit as well, and in a handful of cases they recruit significantly better.
5. It’s still an unknown if Pat Narduzzi is one of those coaches, like Mike Gundy, Paul Chryst, and Justin Fuente, that can identify talent, then put them in the best position to win, but if he isn’t one of those coaches, we know that that it is possible that Pitt can be just as successful as Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, and Oklahoma State with the right coach.
In a nutshell Chris is saying that if you can’t get top shelf 4* or 5* kids you have to rely on coaching… well that certainly makes sense. But it still does not mitigate the need to still get the best possible HS players possible for your program to overcome any shortcomings you may have on your coaching staff.
It is kind of silly to honestly look at this issue and think that it is OK for our high school recruiting to be average because we have the coaching chops on the staff to turn lower ranked kids into highly productive or star players en masse. You just cannot do that at this point in time.
Just because that does happen sometimes doesn’t mean that it will do so all or even most of the time. I believe everyone and his brother would say that you want to stockpile the best and most talented kids you can on your roster to ensure your talent level is high enough to win games on a consistent basis.
Sure, some 4* kids don’t pan out – but a hell of a lot of 3* kids don’t pan out either. I’ll take a majority of the higher ranked kids in that case. Isn’t that just logical as hell? To want your across the board talent level to be as high as possible to account for the cases where the other players don’t make the grade?
I think this article was a lengthy excuse making attempt for this staff and their rather tepid recruiting so far. Sure you can cherry pick other schools and say “since they did this well Pitt can also‘ but that is kind of pie in the sky thinking especially when you are pointing to only three out of 128 D1 schools?
And please read that #5 paragraph again and let me know what he’s trying to say here. I think it is that if Narduzzi isn’t as smart as those other three HC’s when it comes to both targeting talent and getting the most out of those average players (BTW fans – the dreaded Paul Chryst is named as one of these can-do coaches)… then if Pitt gets another coach who is that way… we can succeed.
That is obvious – if a coach fails then replace him with someone who doesn’t. In other words can Narduzzi and get someone else who does overcome poor recruiting with brilliant coaching.
I’ll address this and keep it strictly to the University of Pittsburgh’s football program. Our best years in the modern post-WWII era have been Dave Wannstedt’s 2008, ’09 and ’10 seasons when we had 27 wins, averaging 9 wins per year.
In the years leading up to that, 2006, ’07 and ’08, Wannstedt recruited 16 4* and one 5* player.
Is there anyone out there who cannot see the cause and effect here? That the better, more highly rated recruits he brought in directly accounted for better play on the field and thus more wins than we had in 30+ years?
We can parse this subject until the cows come home but I’ll say this again – if you have a roster populated by 3* recruits you are going to see 3* play out of that team… unless as Dokish says you have an unusually adept coaching staff.
If you feel comfortable watching 4* kids turn their backs on Pitt on a regular basis as we have seen over the last two years (with only three 4* recruits out of 37 combined commitments in both 2017 and so far this year ) then good for you. Since Narduzzi got here he’s landed 10 4* players out of 76 total recruits counting those 2018 kids. That is 13% folks, not good and is dwindling each year.
2015 – we landed two 4* recruits
2016 – five 4*
2017 – three 4* and
2018 – zero (0) so far
Spin this anyway you or Chris Dokish want to, and bamboozle with numbers, but our recruiting hasn’t been anything like we fans and the media expected when we hired Pat Narduzzi – especially after two eight win seasons to start off. Can you honestly say that you didn’t think our recruiting was going to really take off with the reputation, energy and personality Pat Narduzzi brought to Pitt back in 2015?
But not only didn’t the recruiting get better but after his first two years it has been dwindling. I think it shows a real lack of recruiting prowess in the case of this staff and it will bite us in the ass in the long run.
We’ll find out next year and the year after just how effective he has been overall in his recruiting efforts – but I read 100+ times over the offseason how this season was going to be special because Narduzzi finally had his own recruits in the starting lineups. Then after the season started and we faltered I read that it isn’t the talent level of these players but their inexperience that is holding us back.
Part of that is true of course and part of it may well be that the recruits he has been landing are your basic and average 3* recruits who are playing at a basic and average 3* level. At this point I keep my fingers crossed that we’ll defy the belief that you must have a superb coaching staff to win with those type of recruits (as Dokish and many of you have said over and over) because I do not think Narduzzi and staff are up to that level of competency.
What would help immediately is to get a real Director of Recruiting instead of someone who has been learning on the job for the last five years at Pitt – Mark Diethorn has not shown anything at all in his three years with Narduzzi in that position in my opinion. He was involved in Pitt’s recruiting for two years under Chryst before Narduzzi came on board and our recruiting wasn’t all that great then either. His track record is… blah.
That might mean twisting an arm or two for some extra money to pay someone capable of succeeding in that position – but something has to change on the staff. Is Charlie Partridge the answer? Fans seem to think so but I’d rather see him in the DC job as his sole responsibility and a good and dedicated Recruiting Director hired to facilitate what is in essence the lifeblood of any college program.
But let’s do stop making excuses for an area of Narduzzi’s coaching responsibilities that really hasn’t lived up to what he said he’d do and what we expected him to do. Is our recruiting terrible – no, not really. Is it good? No, not really also.
And there are young players on this team, 3* kids, who I am really looking forward to watching grow into good, solid players for us in the next few seasons. But I also look at the starting lineups we have now, as young as it is, and don’t really see any players I can point to as game changing contributors. That is also subjective but is how I feel at this point.
So our recruiting is what it is… but it has to be a hell of a lot better if we want to even sniff division, conference or national championships.