A Scorecard of Pitt Blather / Pitt POV Opinions

A Scorecard of Pitt Blather / Pitt POV Opinions

Here is a submission by longtime reader and commenter Wbb

Which has experienced the more turbulent decade …. the 1960s’ United States of America or 2010s’ University of Pittsburgh Athletics?  Yes, you can deem this as a ridiculous analogy but the point is that the current decade for Pitt football and men’s basketball has been a total train wreck – and especially when you realize that in the calendar year of 2009, the Panthers basketball team was just two points shy of reaching the Final 4 and the football team was a point away from a BCS Bowl.  And both were ranked in the Top 10 during the season.

Now that the possibility exists of yet another head coaching change which is almost universally endorsed by us experts here on PittPOV (me included), I thought maybe we should look in the mirror as to how we judged the multiple hiring / firings that have occurred this decade.    Note that I am including  Pitt Blather in this analysis since Reed began there and brought many of us posters here a couple of years ago.

The following is a chronological listing of the hirings and firings along with the general consensus of the Blather / POV posters:

2010 – Wannstedt fired:  largely approved

2011 –  Graham hired:  almost universally approved

2012 – Chryst hired:  mixed but mostly approved

2015 – Pederson fired: largely approved

2015 – Narduzzi hired:  mostly approved

2015 – Barnes hired:  mixed

2016 – Dixon fired:  mostly approved

2016 – Stallings hired:  largely disapproved

2017 – Lyke hired:  mixed but mostly disapproved

A few notes on the above:    

Our approval of Wanny’s firing listed above had very little to do with the off-field issues since nothing was known of the Sports Illustrated article at the time.   Instead his firing was endorsed by media members Starkey (then at the Trib) and Cook (PG) plus blogger Rich and Dokish, and it was mostly due to the failure of winning the Big East title outright and reaching a BCS Bowl.  And for the most part, Pitt Blatherites agreed.   

As such, Pederson was viewed upon then as very favorable, an opinion that of course would drastically change over the next two years.  I did not include the Haywood hiring / firing fiasco since it was just a two-week ordeal, but this event did begin the suspicion of Pederson of being a less than stellar AD.

The Chryst hiring was done by committee which was looked upon as favorable.  Also, despite the fact that he had no head coaching experience, he appeared to be the anti-Fraud … both in personality and the offensive style of football.  As such, he was looked upon as a stabilizer.  And when an opening at his alma mater came about after his first year,  it only enhanced the stabilizing image when the Wisconsin AD assured all that he would not consider PC for the opening.

Narduzzi came at a time of great hope.  A new chancellor had just arrived who gave the impression that he would upgrade the athletic department.  He was lauded for immediately dismissing the AD who appeared to put himself above the needs of the athletic department.  Like his predecessor, Narduzzi had no prior head coaching experience and was an accomplished coordinator.  And immediately winning eight regular season games after four straight six-win seasons would only enhance the optimism.

Barnes was not a splash hire but he did have an accomplished resume as an AD at Utah State.  Little did we know what was to come.

Dixon of course was the most accomplished coach in Pitt BB history and turned down a handful of job offers during his stay at Pitt (most notably Arizona State and Oregon.)   

Nonetheless, the transition from the Big East to the ACC had a negative effect on his program.  You may remember that he strongly advocated Pitt staying in the Big East back when Pitt was rumored as a candidate to join both the Big 10. And while he continued to produce winners (21-12 in his final year) which reached the NCAA tournament, it was obvious that his teams were trending downward.   Thus, the feeling became thank you for all that you have done but it’s time to move on.

The Stallings’ hiring was a disaster from Day One.   Not only did we feel that way, so did the local and national media.  Only the AD and a naïve, trusting chancellor approved of the hiring.   Yes, supportive sites such as PSN and Dokish twitter approved as they mostly do, but my bet is that they even disapproved but tried to make the best of it.   The sad fact is that the Pitt basketball head coaching position was so much more attractive then, just two short years ago, than it is now.

(For what it’s worth, I generally agreed with the consensus of all of the above except for Wanny’s firing and Graham’s hiring, and this is well documented in the Pitt Blather archives if you care to check.)

Summary

When I began this article I thought that with all of the pontificating on this site, I would prove that we really did not know anything more than the administrators who did the hiring and firing.  However, after review, maybe we do.   Of course, what we really do not know is what the financial restrictions are, and we also do not know for sure just how many and what candidates were interested when our openings for coaches and ADs became available.   

 

Something’s Semi-Rotten in the State of Oakland

Something’s Semi-Rotten in the State of Oakland

We all have opinions on how and why a University’s football program should exist and  how the employees of that University should conduct themselves.  I am not one who thinks that any sport, amature or professional, should be above adhering to basic ethical standards. Never, and I’m  worried about that now with Pitt football.  Allow me to explain why.

I have been associated with the University of Pittsburgh in various ways since my birth 62 years ago.  I’ve written before on here how Pitt has been a part and parcel of my very extended family’s life since my grandfather, Dr. Henry Kohberger, received his Medical Degree in 1899, then as a faculty member taught at The University of Pittsburgh’s  School of Medicine when it changed over in 1910.

Dr KohbergerMy father, Dr. Paul Kohberger was graduated from Pitt in 1939 then after the war came back as a Grad student, was made a tenured Full Professor and finally Dean of the Graduate School of Business Administration at Pitt.  My mother graduated from Pitt and  then was the Assistant Dean of Women for the university in addition to being President of Pitt’s Alumni Association in a few successive terms and stayed involved with Pitt until her death.

My brother Paul is now the Assistant Librarian for the University’s library system. That’s the Executive Officer in military terms.  He started shelving books part-time at Hillman Library as a freshman at age 18 and has been walking into that same building to work for 47 years – which freaks me out, but different strokes for different folks I suppose.

There have been multiple Kohberger’s and extended family members at Pitt ever since… uncles, aunts, brothers, cousins, etc… it’s like Pitt’s blue and old gold runs in our familial bloodline.

The reason I mention all this in so much detail is to provide some verifiable background for what goes into formulating my opinions on the issues that take place within the university, and in turn as we read on The Pitt POV,  the school’s football program. I am opinionated and that doesn’t just spin out of thin air but comes from 55+ years of immersion.

Continue reading “Something’s Semi-Rotten in the State of Oakland”

Updating the Pittsburgh Panthers All-Time Football Team

Here is an article by reader John Baranowski, enjoy!

Back in 2011, after trying unsuccessfully to find a recent article regarding an All-Time Pitt Panthers football team, I wrote the following article that can be found here:  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/789636-announcing-the-pittsburgh-panthers-all-time-football-team.

The past six years has allowed us sufficient time to revisit the subject and to see what players may have earned their way on to Pitt’s all-time team.

Pitt’s all-time team would rank among the best that have ever played college football. Presenting the updated University of Pittsburgh’s All-Time team:

At quarterback, who else could it be but No. 13, Dan Marino? Marino will forever be the benchmark for future Pitt quarterbacks and what Sparky Anderson said about Johnny Bench can be applied to Dan Marino and to Pitt quarterbacks before and after Marino, “Don’t embarrass anyone by comparing them to Dan Marino.”

Continue reading “Updating the Pittsburgh Panthers All-Time Football Team”

Some National Recruiting Insights

Some National Recruiting Insights

First off I cannot stress enough how well this podcast I am linking describes the overall recruiting game. This podcast on SBNation is an interesting listen – they discuss “how the nuts and bolts of college football recruiting come together in the days, weeks, months, and really, years before National Signing Day.

I have written many times that star ratings are given tons of weight by everyone involved in college football recruiting – including the college coaching staffs – even when they say it doesn’t matter.  Now you’ll hear about how coaching salary contracts are starting to include recruiting class ratings (based of recruits’ stars awarded)  involved as bonus items… something that I knew had happened at Maryland.

This podcast is detailed and covers recruiting just the way I have come to understand it after talking with player’s and recruit’s parents over the last eight years.  Two years ago I sat with TE Scott Orndoff (class of 2013) and OL Brandon Ford’s (class of 2016) fathers at the hotel bar before the Pinstripe Bowl and talked for a couple of hours about their son’s recruiting experiences… it was eyeopening and very entertaining to say the least – two wonderful men and very open and honest.  Their thoughts as told to me are  mirrored in the podcast’s recruit’s father’s descriptions of his son’s experience before committing to USC.

Please listen to it folks- I found it to be 100% accurate and really very informative.

I have mentioned before on here my reasoning for the thought and practice of picking one college football recruiting website and sticking with it.  When we do that on the POV, and on here that is Rivals.com’s Pitt site, it adds consistency and a common baseline to our recruiting discussions.

So, with that I wondered if a little behind the scenes look at Rivals.com is in order.  I have written many times that I think Rivals’ Pitt beat writer Chris Peak is the best local media type around Pitt football.  My opinion of him is formed from many things; he’s a helpful guy for one.

When I started writing for The Pitt Blather way back in Dave Wannstedt’s tenure I used to data mine all four websites; Rivals, Scout, ESPN and then later 247 Sports (they started in 2010) for interesting Pitt info and then also began to notice which sites were the most accurate in their individual and class recruit ratings and Rivals constantly came out on top.

I’m not exactly sure what all the other sites do to get their content but Chris Peak just had an interesting Q&A article asking about the business side of Rivals.com and I find it interesting.  Basically Chris wrote this when asked how his employment works:

I’m an independent contractor, contracted by Rivals/Yahoo to operate this site. There are contractual obligations regarding what’s expected in terms of content, message boards, coverage, etc. But there is a lot of autonomy: if what I’m doing keeps the site moving forward in terms of subscriptions, then I’m free to operate the site as I see fit. It’s a pretty good setup and I think that Rivals understands that the individual site publishers often know their market best, so rather than force pubs to do this or do that, they let us do what our market needs, what our readership and audience need, in order to make the site as effective as it can be.

Huh, I wonder if he’s actually the guy who keeps the actual website up and running, does the graphics and all the behind the screen’s stuff that is the nuts and bolts of the website itself.  If so that is a hell of a lot of work.

Continue reading “Some National Recruiting Insights”

Ready for Another Dose of Realism?

Ready for Another Dose of Realism?

A reader sent me an email today and in it was a link to a very interesting article titled “How to Win in Recruiting” and the fascinating information found in it.

The simple upshot of the article is that many factors go into making a college’s ‘brand’ and the better the brand the better chance that school has of landing the better recruits.  That makes perfect sense.  Here is that phrased in a bit more detail:

College athletics provide a unique, albeit contentious, dynamic in which players base their college decisions on a radically different criteria than professional players, who often opt to play for whichever franchise will pay the most.  Stadium size, uniforms (read our article Fashion Wars on the influences of uniforms and apparel companies in recruiting), program prestige, coach prestige, coach persona, location, media exposure, fan sentiment, playing style, and academics are only a handful of the endless factors that play a role in an athlete’s decision.  The net sum of all these influences becomes the program’s brand, which is then evaluated by millions of high school athletes.

The chart below shows what and which schools’ were the winners in this issue and which were the schools dragging ass.  It is built to show:

We wanted to find out exactly how high school football players perceive the Power 5 schools, so we asked 224 recruits to grade their interest and desire in each program as if they were the number one recruit in the country (i.e. they had offers from every school).  This process gave us a peek into the minds of the most important demographic: teenage football players. 

Guess where Pitt falls in line? That’s right, 54th out of the 65 Power Five schools.  My lord look at the company we keep… Minnesota, Missouri, Baylor, Colorado and Wake Forest to name a few.

brand-rankings-2_1

Thirty years ago I think we’d be right up in at least the Top 20 or so – but that is what winning seasons do for you. The way we have played in the last decade – 10 wins being our best but averaging only 7.3 wins per season?  Averaging only less than seven over the last five years?  No wonder we are where we are on that list.

Now – we have seen this chart below before in different iterations but the article includes it to show, basically, how the rich get richer.  This is from schools’ 2015-2016 financial disclosures. (Private schools don’t have to do so).

Where is Pitt on this chart you may ask? Nowhere would be the answer as we didn’t have a revenue of at least $50M during that time period (or any other time period but it would sure be nice!) which was the lowest starting amount shown on there.

The article also addresses another interesting question…

How about the schools with financial resources and solid brand recognition, yet relatively poor recruiting results?  Wisconsin can barely land a single 4 star recruit yet appears in the top 16 of both our brand rankings and revenue rankings.  Darlow described an issue he frequently sees, stating: “Too many schools are leading with the same three or four recruiting pitches; things like playing time, head coach prowess, facilities…and every program is a “family” these days. As is the case in any industry, when you go blow for blow with your competition, you’ll eventually lose to the bigger, stronger opponent.”  

Which is basically what we seen happen with Pitt’s recruiting efforts in the past and recently. All the above is nothing new to Pitt fans.  We are well versed in the limitations Pitt has in its football program; no on-campus stadium, situated in a professional sports town, surrounded by bigger and more successful football schools, etc…

All is not lost though – in a lesson that Pitt and especially Heather Lyke need to take to heart the authors say this about branding…

Brand perception is not only one of the most important assets to an athletic department, but it is one of the easiest assets to change as well.  Darlow describes in his book that perception, recruiting, winning, and money make up the four phases of an Athletic Program Life Cycle, in that order.  

All four phases are interrelated, yet the ability to affect the different phases is not equal.  It is difficult for an athletic director to wake up and say, “I want to make 20% more money this year.”  It is more realistic for an athletic director to say, “I want to improve my brand perception.”  Perception in turn affects recruiting, which affects winning, which affects revenue.  Each phase is most greatly influenced by the preceding phase.

Look, I understand that all the above – the four phases of the cycle – and they are more easier talked about than done, but Pitt has to start somewhere.  And I’ll say this – even though the article linked above is about college football programs – our Administration and our AD better take a long and hard look at what Pitt’s train-wreck of a basketball program is doing to the overall athletic image of the University in its current state.  If they don’t believe that the extremely negative play on the court and the ensuing  negative local and national press we are getting on that front bleeds over and impacts the football program also… then I think they are fooling themselves.

They are part and parcel of one athletic department.