Another sterling article written by our resident football expert MajorMajors – this covers his outlook on our 2018 Defensive Back unit, a group who has played poorly over the last two years especially… Let’s keep our fingers crossed that changes this upcoming season.

2018 Pitt Defensive Backs – Is the arrow pointing upward?

Here are the DB’s two-deeps from the opener (left) and the last game of 2017 (right):


DBs Miami








This will be a look at Pitt’s defensive backs.  These guys pass the eye test in warm-ups; now can they begin to make more plays on the field.  We all know that Pitt’s defense against the pass has generally been lousy since Coach Narduzzi arrived.

We were warned by Michigan State fans that Coach Narduzzi’s defense would take 3 years to come around.  Now we get to see if they were correct and if the Pitt defense will finally start to roar under Coach Narduzzi’s scheme.

Let’s start off with a reminder of the DBs we lost from last season:

Jordan Whitehead left early for the NFL; Avonte Maddox graduated and is headed to the NFL, IMHO and Malik Henderson, who would have been a redshirt Junior, has left the team.

Here’s a list of our returning DBs:

  1. Damar Hamlin 6-1, 190#, Junior
  2. Therran Coleman 6-0, 195#, Redshirt Soph.
  3. Dane Jackson 6-0, 180#, Redshirt Junior
  4. Paris Ford 6-0, 175#, Redshirt Freshman
  5. Demarri Mathis 5-11, 185#, Sophomore
  6. Dennis Briggs 5-10, 195#, Redshirt Senior
  7. Kollin Smith 5-10, 170#    Redshirt Freshman, (walk-on)
  8. Phil Campbell 6-1, 195#, Redshirt Sophomore
  9. Bricen Garner 6-1, 180#, Redshirt Sophomore
  10. Phillipie Motley 5-10, 175#, Redshirt Senior
  11. Rob Boatright 5-10, 190#, Redshirt Senior, (walk-on)
  12. Jazzee Stocker 6-2, 190#, Redshirt Junior
  13. Jason Pinnock 6-0, 190#, Sophomore


3* Erick Hallett, 5-11, 175# Cypress TX

3* V’lique Carter, 5-10, 165#, West Palm Beach, FL

3* Marquis Williams, 5-9, 165#, Fort Lauderdale, FL

3* Judson Tallandier, 6-2, 180#, Hyattsville, MD


Looking at last year’s individual stats, the DBs recorded only eight interceptions (more than I would have guessed).  Maddox and Jackson had two each, then Hamlin, Briggs, Whitehead, and Garner each had one.  (Garner’s INT was in the end zone to end the YSU game.  Whew!)

For pass breakups, Maddox led with 11, Jackson had nine, Whitehead four, Briggs three and Garner two.  Pinnock, Mathis and Motley each had one.

Whitehead led the DBs with 60 tackles, followed by Hamlin with 41, Jackson with 40, Briggs with 33, Garner with 30 and Avonte with 27.

Tackles-for-loss saw Avonte lead with four (all sacks) while Jackson had two (one was a sack); Hamlin and Stocker each had one TFL.   Maddox was the only DB credited with forcing a fumble – he did it three times.

As a team, Pitt did poorly in pass defense, giving up an average of 254 yards per game, 7.8 yards per attempt, and a whopping 24 passing TDs (OUCH!).  These numbers had Pitt ranked at 106th in pass defense based on yards per game. Another telling ranking was our 88th place in Passing Efficiency Defense where opposing QBs had an average QB rating of 136.42 against us. For comparison our total offensive passing efficiency was 129.01

Check out these comparisons for Passing Defense stats from last season:

Majors Table 2

You can see from these team stats, that we have a long, long way to go on pass defense, especially on yards and TD passes given up.    Course pass defense depends on way more than the DB play, but I don’t see why we can’t get into the same area as the numbers for VT and Michigan State.

And just to show how even one game can affect a team’s stat rankings, wonder what happens if we remove the Oklahoma State game from Pitt’s stats.  Pitt gave up a whopping 572 passing yards in that game, a ridiculous 22 yards per completion, and 5 TD passes.  If you remove this game from Pitt’s stats, then Pitt’s average yards given up drops to 225 yards per game.  So, in other words, if we don’t play the top passing offense in the country, and instead play, say, Akron, our defensive passing rank goes from a little over 100 to something in the 60s.   Better, but still not so great.


The first thing that strikes me is that we have a ton of DBs on the team.  Eleven scholarship DBs return, plus two returning walk-ons, plus the four new recruits.  (And that’s not counting Maurice Ffrench – with all these DBs, I expect that Mr. Ffrench will be firmly entrenched with the WRs this season.)

With all these DBs, we can have a 3-deep for spring ball and a 4 deep for fall camp.  That’s numbers-wise, what about talent-wise?

Well, the DBs certainly improved last season from what we had been seeing.  Prior to last season, Coach Narduzzi’s defense had seen the 50/50 balls going more like 90/10 to our opponents.  But the 50/50 balls actually seemed to swing a bit in our favor last season.   (Though I can’t get out of my head that high arcing floater of a TD pass that UNC completed to beat us.   Avonte fell down and we had no safety make a play on that ball even though it was in the air for a good 5 minutes.  At least it felt that way…)

But the Pitt defense needs to get more turnovers and the DBs will be looked at for more interceptions. You’d like to get at least one per game.  Last season Pitt got a total of nine team interceptions and Pitt was intercepted 8 times – (as Reed has pointed out, Coach Narduzzi is not a fan of taking risks with our own passing game…)

But for comparison, Josh Jackson had 8 interceptions for Iowa, Lukas Denis had 7 for BC, Mark Gilbert had 6 for Duke.   UVA had three safeties who each had 4 interceptions.  In fact, last season in college football, 23 DBs had 5 or more interceptions.  I’m not talking Bob Jury type numbers (Pitt’s all time interception leader who picked off 10 passes in 1976 and eight more in 1977), but Pitt certainly needs to pick it up in this area.

Even with the notable losses of Whitehead and Maddox, Pitt fans can take some comfort in a few things regarding the DBs.

–Dane Jackson returns as a redshirt junior.  Dane has certainly shown that he’s a player and will start at one corner spot.   Excellent in coverage, good height, and decent stats from last season with 40 tackles, 9 pass breakups and a couple of INTs.

–Damar Hamlin may be ready to bloom at safety.  He played well at times last season.  Pitt fans are hoping he will finally have a spring ball, fall camp and football season without his mysterious physical condition holding him back or keeping him off the field.  He’s already a Junior!  I was actually surprised to see that he had 41 tackles last season.  Should be a starter at safety.

–Paris Ford is expected to take the field.  After red-shirting last season, we finally get to see the gem of last year’s recruiting class.  Sounds like he will play safety.  I have some reservations, which I’ll explain later, but it will be exciting to see what kind of impact he can have.  His progress will be one of the big things to watch during spring ball.

–We appear to have some decent DB depth.  I remember looking at the younger DBs at last year’s spring game.  The general look of them is athletic, tall, skinny, and long armed.  They look a bit alien compared to the DBs we’re more used to seeing at Pitt.

For example, guys like Bricen Garner, Therran Coleman, and Phil Campbell just look like complete studs – now we need to see them make plays.    Garner recorded 24 solo tackles and 6 assists last season, with 2 pass breakups and an interception.  Looks like a good candidate for a safety spot.  Coleman played last season in the nickel package as the fifth DB – started against Syracuse.  Campbell had seven tackles against VT and started against Miami.

And continuing with the depth theme, we have Phillipie Motley battling for a corner spot.  This guy has already started – and he looks like one of the faster guys on the team.  But besides him, we have Mathis and Pinnock, who the coaches had enough confidence in as true freshmen to get them on the field.  And they seemed to hold their own, at least for true freshmen.


I’ll be honest, we have so many DBs, I’m not sure who the best candidates are to start.  I do think that Briggs (who was elected a captain last season and who started the first 3 games at safety) and Stocker will be providing depth but have likely been passed by the younger guys.

CORNER:  At one corner we have Dane Jackson; at the other corner we have a ton of competition.  Could be Motley (started 2 games last season; started 2 games in 2016 too), Mathis, Pinnock, or Coleman(?) or a true freshman?   (The freshmen DBs are supposed to be really quick, but seem to lack the body weight, with the exception of Tallander, to contend for a spot this season.)

My guess for the corner starters:  Dane Jackson and Phillipie Motley.

SAFETY:  At safety, you have Hamlin (started 4 games at safety last season), Garner (started 6 games at safety), Campbell (got the start against Miami), Ford, Coleman(?), Briggs and Stocker.  Again, a lot of good competition.

I imagine most Pitt fans have penciled in Paris Ford to start at safety.  May very well happen, but I have one precaution concerning the safeties.  From everything I’ve heard about Coach Narduzzi’s defense since he got here, the toughest position to play is safety.  The safeties have to make split second decisions on run versus pass, and if they even lean the wrong way reading run, our opponent is going to have a WR or TE running wide open down the field.

Question:  How many times have we seen this since Coach Narduzzi has been here.  Answer: Too many times.   So we need safeties who not only have good instincts/decision-making abilities, but who are excellent athletes.

So the guys we have competing for the safety spots have some experience, with the notable exception of Paris Ford.  So I caution Pitt fans that although Paris is an elite athlete, how quickly he can pick up the subtleties of the Narduzzi defense will determine how impactful Paris Ford can be.   I’ve seen it written that Ford has good “football instincts.”  We shall see.

My guess for starting safeties:  Damar Hamlin and Bricen Garner.

I think we will see a lot of Paris Ford, in the early part of the season, as the nickel back.  Hopefully he picks up the defense and can be a difference maker with time.

BTW, I do like the fact that we will now have a full-time safeties coach in Cory Sanders.  I think that decision reflects on the past problems we’ve had and the importance of the safeties in our defense.  (And as a side note, I find it interesting that when I talked to Defensive Coordinator Randy Bates at the LOI event, I asked him who was going to coach the safeties.  He said that he was.  I liked that answer, as it meant to me that someone was seeing the importance of the safeties being better coached.  Of course that was before Cory Sanders was added to the staff as the 10th coach.)


The bad news is that we haven’t been able to get the number of interceptions you’d like to see from our DBs.  This is an area where Pitt really needs to pick it up.

The good news (aside from the fact that Oklahoma State is not on the schedule) is that we should be able to go to 5 or even 6 DBs and put 5 or 6 really good athletes on the field.  And of course the DBs are an important element of the kick and punt coverage teams (e.g.  Rob Boatright, #35, a senior walk-on DB from Clairton, earned a letter last season playing special teams).

More good news, the only seniors among the scholarship DBs are Briggs and Motley.

I say, overall, the future of the defensive backfield looks bright.  Be interesting to see what spring ball brings.

NOTE: Here are The Pitt POV’s previous pre-Spring Drills unit reports:

Offensive Line


Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Tight Ends

Hail to Pitt!



116 thoughts on “POV’s Take: Pre-Spring Drills – Defensive Backs

  1. If true, Heather should have been in contact with Grant last week. Boy, for once I hope we get that right. I’ve never,at least to my recollection advocated for a coach, but in this case I will as I feel that strongly that he is the man.


  2. Truly an excellent job!

    This better be the year of the defensive backs. This group seems to be the area that Narduzzi has focused his recruiting on the most. It must pay dividends this year. We have heard so much about so many of these guys that it is time they show something. If Paris Ford does not win a starting job it will be very disappointing with all of the hype around him. We had high hopes to see him, Hamlin and Whitehead in the same backfield.
    Funny how things go, Whitehead is gone, Hamlin has been disappointing due to injury, and Ford was late to the game because of academics. Also gone is Henry Miller, another guy that was supposed to be a starter by now.

    But this is still the deepest position on the team, because of the recruiting focus of Narduzzi. This position should be comparable to Chryst’s O-line.

    The one thing that must be mentioned is the relationship with the front seven. It is pretty much impossible to get good D-back stats, if the front seven doesn’t do its job. With no pass rush and poor run defense, the d-backs are forced to do much more than they should have to.

    I think we all hope that our front seven will be better this year making it easier for our backs to succeed.

    The much maligned Maddox played an awful lot of very good football for Pitt. His career statsheet is impressive and done with an awful front seven, most of the time.


    1. gc —Excellent point.

      I think we won’t see our interception numbers rise until we get consistent pressure on the QB. The QBs have had way too much time against Pitt.

      The lack of a big-time DE pass rusher has been a big disappointment in Coach Duzz’s recruiting. As evidenced by him just bringing in 4 more DEs in this class…

      Where’s Wanny when you need him…:-)

      Go Pitt


  3. “Pretty work John” as the southern boys say. good article. Lot’s of young guys and it’s time to step up their game. I looked up o=our take-away ranking over the past 4 seasons. The only way to go is UP.

    2017 ranked 80th
    2016 – 78th
    2015 – 96th
    2014 -125th


  4. MajorMajors,
    Thank you for the great article!
    Pitt bio has Paris Ford at 6’
    …..that makes me about 6’3”
    Wow, that’s great!


  5. Sorry, should of first said that was a solid job MM. You’re right, they sure have the numbers, now we’ll see if they can play. The maturation of the d line, and hopefully the pressure they can apply should help.


  6. Yes another great article submitted this time by M&M and also a great idea by Reed. All these articles have been fun to revisit. more later…


  7. Very well done MM. We may have the numbers but replacing Whitehead and Maddox both of which should have NFL contracts next season may not that easy. Also IMO much of the reason for not getting the interceptions we expect is the lack of pressure on the opposition QB’s from our defensive front line and linebackers.


  8. MM, great job. I guess the good news is that OSU (last year’s NCAA pass leader) is indeed removed from this year’s schedule. Of course , the bad news the 10th ranked passing offense is replacing them.

    BTW, speaking of Pitt DBs … Maddox just ran a 4.40 at the ombine


  9. Yes posted the thinking Pitt would not pay the buyout due to the abysmal performance of the program. I do think 10 million was a non starter. Maddox ran a 4.39. He is so quick and quite frankly not sold on Hill as a coach in his time here. But good luck with the fish. Narduzzi came here as a noted DC especially as a secondary guru. Hope he can show that this year. I like the talent and the roster has far more physical ability that Pitt has had in years. Still hard to believe just how poor this secondary was the first two years. P Ford, a healthy Hamlin, Campbell, Garner all have Div 1 ability. Add in Coleman, Jackson, Mathis , Pinnock certainly offer depth needed. I also think the new coaches will bring a needed kick ass attitude that has been missing as well.


  10. I think the freshman DB to watch for is Marquis Williams. My guess is that the only reason that he was not a 4-star is the same that Q Henderson wasn’t … his size. He played against top competition is south Florida and one heck of an offer sheet.


  11. Not sold on Motley as a starter. He’s had 3 years to do something – and his time on the field he really hasn’t done much. I sure hope Hamlin’s career is not further hampered by his chronic groin issues. But groin/hernia can be as debilitating as back or knee issues to an athlete.


    1. BigB- that’s a great observation.

      Coach Narduzzi was praising the conditioning staff at the LOI. Even had them come up to be recognized. I was puzzled.

      Leaner and meaner!


  12. A follow-up for the “stars” folks.

    The article mentions 3 of the leading interceptors from last season:

    Josh Jackson – 8 INTs for Iowa -was a 2-Star from the class of 2014.

    Lukas Denis – 7 INTs for BC – was a 2-Star in class of 2015.

    Mark Gilbert – 6 INTs for Duke – was a 3-Star in class of 2016.

    Must be the coaching!!!

    Go Pitt


    1. Mark Gilbert is Sean Gilbert’s nephew … and there was hope that both he and Zach (Sean’s son) would commit to Pitt. However, while Mark supposedly had Pitt on his final list, he decided to stay close to home (Fayetteville NC)


  13. Can’t transform a bad knee. But no question Narduzzi had to do something as to the OL. I have some concerns on the S&C program when Office had a full off season last year and still was a overweight slow seemed out of shape. Hopefully the new coaching additions will demand their position players pay the price.


  14. A bunch of things:

    If Maddox had bee 6′ he would have been a 4* and probably never would have ended up at PITT to take all the abuse he did. I’ve been saying for years that this young man was and is very good. Another D-back from PITT that was crucified non-stop that makes the NFL. Hey… It’s a thankless job 75% of the time.

    Yes B, why is that players get serious when they are getting ready for the NFL? I’m not real happy with the strength coach at PITT for a few years now. Maybe more of the blame needs to be put on Peterson?

    Pinnock and Mathis played a lot last year as true freshmen, show the coaches have a lot of faith in these two. I have always liked garner from PCC, this kid is a ball-hawk. Keep your eye on him. Also Coleman, another good looking local young player.

    Interesting observation. Of the twelve players listed on the roster at D-Back, eight are from Pa. The four incoming freshman are all from out of state though. A subtle change in recruiting strategy maybe? Or is Narduzzi aware that different years bring strengths and weaknesses from his recruiting targets?

    The D-line can help make the D-Back unit look good as well as the LBer group can. It takes a whole team to make up a great unit. I’m hoping for improvement and I think the entire defense will be improved.. ike


  15. gc, your observation about the difficulty in getting all of the 4 stars including Whitehead on the field at the same time just points out how unreliable the recruiting process is, and shows that targeting a few 4 stars doesn’t always get the job done. There is still value in having good numbers at a position or category so that there will always be someone at least serviceable to step in when academics, injuries, arrests, transfers, NFL, etc. take their toll and deplete the ranks. Let’s take Ford, for example. Everyone on the POV (myself included) believes that he is a stud just waiting for stardom. What do you think the odds actually are that he will stay in school, play four years, stay relatively injury free, and become a top performer in the ACC?


    1. I don’t think that about Ford because I feel the defensive positions coaching staff Narduzzi had put together has been very weak on teaching these HS recruits how to play D1 Power Five level college ball their first couple of years here.

      Aside from Whitehead which Narduzzi recruit has played good solid D1 level ball as a FR or SO on defense? Maybe Weaver and his play was OK but not that great.

      4* Hamlin maybe? Yes, he was injured but when he played it was average ball.

      I’m not sold at all that this staff has been, or maybe not be even in the future, able to take recruits and make them into solid productive starters let alone star defensive players.

      Amir Watts has started all last season and some in 2016 and he’s played average ball – and he was a 4* recruit. Camp the same way – his play was decent but average.

      We need some real ballhawks in the DB unit; some guys who can bring heavy pressure on the QB on the DL and smart and fast LBs who can actually tackle going forward and not running backward… but in three full years now none of his kids fit that bill at all – save Whitehead. You’d think that out of 75+ recruits in those three years we’d have some stars show up but none who Narduzzi himself got to come to Pitt so far.


  16. I wanted to add but forgot like I do. I just can’t get into the habit of proof reading. So sorry about that. Hell, you all remember when I misspelled my 3 letter name..

    A letter came in the mail today. Something about tickets. Anyways the PITT script header emblem is definitely in the old color scheme like the late 70’s. I keep hearing that there will be a change in colors eventually and the new throwbacks could be just those colors. Also more PITT stuff around Heinz. Let’s see if this works out or not? ike


  17. I get the attempted linkage of stars to interceptions and I would argue that the front 7 seem to dictate how the back four do with interceptions. The most glaring example and one that was almost alluded to is that of our own all time leader in interceptions, Bob Jury. Jury lasted just one year in the nfl, where it was quickly realized that he was not the reason for the majority of his interceptions, although he did catch them). Jury played behind one of the best defensive fronts in Pitt history.

    He was the recipient of a front that gave him opportunities to intercept the ball. He did that, often. When he got put out on his own in the nfl, he was exposed. This isn’t a downer on Jury. I think he did well. Rather this goes to who gets the credit in these situations. One mentioned the 2 stars that had lots of interceptions last year and suggested coaching.

    It all goes together. Such a team game. Not just players, but coaches and schemes contribute. To say one is more important than the other is not being accurate in my estimation. The NFL goes to individuality. That is why some of these dudes shine when they didn’t in college. Kind of like Larry Bird in college. He was great and he made others look great. When it was time for the others to perform individually, it was not a good result.

    Sure do hope that Stallings is out. I would have an interim coach the tourney game.

    Also, mens wrastling finished last in ACC? Ugggh!


  18. Huff..great thought on having an interim coach the ACC game…would get the word out on TV that we are moving forward with our program and that could only be good PR. Let the healing begin !


  19. Chet, We have been seeing way too much blubber with PITT OL and DL over the years- just go back and watch film. I highly recommend the Military Bowl from 3 years ago with the smaller Middies killing our white clad DL fatties/fannies…if Jared could do that in a couple of months- get leaner, faster and reduce the stress not only on the bad knee but his whole body.. why isn’t the conditioning coach doing this at PITT ? I think there is a problem with the SC program. I sure wouldn’t want my product to be the Before pic. Would you ?

    Remember this- every time you take a step 2x’s your body weight goes through your lower extremity joints and it increases if your run and jump. Players are way to big and adversely affecting their future physical health but good for business…Right PittPT !!!


  20. Above at 1:17, I meant individuality for the nfl combine. The scheme and teammates etc., is still the difficult piece to evaluate. Did your teammates enhance your cornerback abilities (ie cover for 3 seconds) or worsen it (have to cover for 5 seconds while a slow fat DL applies pressure to opponents qb). You can have a real good corner that is in a system that doesn’t pressure the ball and he will get eaten alive.

    BigB, it also allows you to get a jump on the replacement. Look at Thad Matta and ole miss. They may be close to signing the dude. Think about that from a buyout perspective. We would get a credit if Stallings lands a job quickly. Let him go get hired early rather than later when most positions are already filled and take the credit against the settlement.

    Also, it allows the kids to perhaps catch lightning in a bottle. Not probable, but it has happened in the past.


  21. I don’t think that about Ford because I feel the defensive positions coaching staff Narduzzi had put together has been very weak on teaching these HS recruits how to play D1 Power Five level college ball their first couple of years here.

    Aside from Whitehead which Narduzzi recruit has played good solid D1 level ball as a FR or SO on defense? Maybe Weaver and his play was OK but not that great.

    4* Hamlin maybe? Yes, he was injured but when he played it was average ball.

    I’m not sold at all that this staff has been, or maybe not be even in the future, able to take recruits and make them into solid productive starters let alone star defensive players.

    Amir Watts has started all last season and some in 2016 and he’s played average ball – and he was a 4* recruit. Camp the same way – his play was decent but average.

    We need some real ballhawks in the DB unit; some guys who can bring heavy pressure on the QB on the DL and smart and fast LBs who can actually tackle going forward and not running backward… but in three full years now none of his kids fit that bill at all – save Whitehead. You’d think that out of 75+ recruits in those three years we’d have some stars show up but none who Narduzzi himself got to come to Pitt so far.


  22. Huff, Go thru the ACC standings in all sports. Where we stand in each sport should send shivers down your spine. Last or next to last in most, with exception of women’s VB. I would say that football has been one of our more successful programs in the conference, and that should scare the crap out of anyone who is remotely a competitive person!


  23. So ya, Heather has a HUGE job in front of her. If the Stallings buyout is true, this will be a test, and a indication if she’s up to the mess that is Pitt athletics.


  24. On the subject of conditioning the BUCK stops at Narduzzi’s desk. It may not be his job but he sees either the progress or lack there of on an almost daily basis. Did he fire the conditioning coach? So far we have to assume he’s satisfied with the job he’s doing.


  25. MM – read your article at lunch, but ran out of time to post a comment. Very nice write up.

    Besides concern over the OLine, I’m concerned about the Safety positions due to the loss of Whitehead and the fact the Pitt coaching staff hadn’t put a complimentary player next to Whitehead in the past three seasons.

    I lyke Ford, but because we haven’t seen him on the field yet in a Pitt uniform, it is hard to say he will step in and fill the void of JW. You can say it, but do you believe it…

    I’ll stop right there as I’m frustrated with Pitt basketball, which is clouding my Pitt thoughts right now.


  26. I was shocked at the post by JoeKnew concerning the low performance of all Pitt sports. This is a very big worry since it tends to show the little regard that is attached to athletics at Pitt. It is easy to understand when one sport performs badly. But I think with the budget cuts caused by the lack of state funding, they may be sending a message that sports no longer matter… I hope this is not true.


    1. The ACC is known as a sports league. If Pitt doesnt make an effort to improve their level of competitiveness, the ACC will be giving Pitt the boot. We’ll at least be put on notice like the Big East did with Temple.

      To suck pretty much across all sport’s programs really takes a severe lack of caring and fundamental misunderstanding of sports in the collegiate realm.

      The ACC didnt invite Pitt to solely join because of our academic prowess. They invited Pitt due to recent basketball success and our football tradition.


  27. VOR, the shambles that the over-all PITT athletics is in right now has been a work in progress for years. Interesting that Heather addressed this giant issue first thing. Let’s hope things will change but like I’ve said before. Problems didn’t start over night and they won’t go away overnight. << It’s why I contend my POV is the only realistic hope for the future. Trust the process. ike


  28. Pitt isnt playing small Catholic schools in the Big East anymore. This is a far more impressive league across all programs. And Pitt was never able to excel in the Big East so its no surprise that Pitt is the donkey in the ACC.

    Right now womans volleyball, mens soccer and football are Pitt’s top sports. Wrestling has potential.

    Look at our historical rankings in the Directors Cup. Always at the bottom 20%. Pitt doesnt care about sports…period.

    But they do care about losing millions in basketball and erasing that nice $27M dollar check they receive from the ACC each year. They will be making a hiring decision within the next 2-3 weeks regarding the new basketball coach.

    Matta, Crean, Hurley and yes I’ll concede the Grant guy


  29. Does anyone else get the feeling that the POV will be bombarded by cynicism the moment a new BB head coach is hired? I’d brace myself but I have become immune to it by now.. incoming….

    Point is, many good names and candidates mentioned and some really strike my interest. The chances one of the names some of you have researched being hired? Same as Tressel. Haven’t heard the end of that one yet… ike


    1. Ike – for me, ridding Pitt of KS will rival the exit of Stevie Pete.

      I will savor the moment and welcome in the new hire. I gave my top ten list of replacements last week. I’m sure Pitt will find a way to disappoint me, but I’m hoping that it’s not cause they kept KS.

      Just being honest…


      1. To me it would rival Bozik leaving. He did more to ruin Pitt football than anyone. Cornhole Part 1 was good. Part 2 not so much. Barnes ruined Pitt basketball. I dont blame KS for taking the job. But he now knows he’s not a good fit and by every indication he is happy given he has $6.5M reasons.


  30. Special thanks to all the POV guest correspondents, wbb, EE, and MM on jobs well done! On an unrelated note, I was told by what should be a fairly reliable source that there is NO love lost between AD HL and Mbb coach KS. Maybe he saw the writing on on the wall and started to mail it in weeks ago. I have never before seen a team coached to not challenge for rebounds on offense


  31. EE and PittPT, I think just about every single PITT fan would love, no demand, that KS be gone. I just know from past experience’s that when I have thought a certain coach would fit the bill or others have and our wishes weren’t fulfilled. The actual coach that was subsequently hired was already out of favor before their first day on the job. Sound familiar?


    1. Narduzzi wasn’t on my list because I felt strongly that a HC with successful experience was needed. We did the coordinator deal with Chryst and it was blah.

      But, I was a Narduzzi supporter once the hire was made. He’s a lykeable, high character guy IMO. I couldn’t do the same with KS due to his smugness. I blame the hire on Barnes, and they both snubbed the fans in my opinion. Two low character guys that don’t fit in the city of Pittsburgh, let alone Pitt.


  32. Off subject… checked out Stubhub prices for the Nit game… Club 210 seats usually go for $100-120 but for the PennState game $799.99 Would like to come back for the game if I can find a pair reasonably priced tickets. Should be a great game.

    Only time I ever saw Pitt- PSU was the snow game with the failed 2 pt conversion at PITT Stadium.


  33. Ike, don’t know if you have ever been on the Pitt Fan Fanatics Facebook page, but there are still some diehards there lobbying for KS to be retained. Takes all kinds I guess. If any of the top 4 candidates are hired I will be satisfied. (Hurley, Matta, Grant or Crean), maybe even Janz (sp?) at New Mexico.


    1. maybe it should start to embrace the controversial and take some risks.
      its in this position for a reason
      other schools are in theres for their own reasons
      i’ll take their reasons


  34. True Reed but there are still many right here on the POV that holds the not hiring of Tressel against Lyke.

    Oh I get that PT, I’m told that’s what makes blogs and message boards fun.. 🙂 Good name for them though… speaking of diehard PITT fans. All the POVers that show up for Fran’s tailgates to begin with. Here’s a short story of one of the biggest…

    EE and I with our wives met up at the fire-pit at a close-by hotel for a nightcap after a game. Matt in Louisville was there and we had a nice time getting to know all. A few weeks later, I think it was the UNC game, I asked anyone if they may be up to meeting up again. EE eagerly said he would be on one condition.. If PITT won! He said if not he didn’t want to talk to or be around anyone and we didn’t… << That’s a true PITT I can relate to… See you all at the fire-pit.. ike


  35. There is no proof Tressel would be a good AD at Pitt. He is at YSU for God’s sake.

    Hurley, Matta, Crean etc. Will not be hired by Pitt. Lower the expectations to realistic levels.


    1. Not everyone wants these three at Pitt. I could get excited about Hurley, but the other two would not draw me to The Pete.

      Earl Grant – yes. Sign me up for tickets the next day. I would even consider going to the intro presser to make some “noise” in support of this hire.


  36. I’m surprised tickets are available on Stubhub, season ticket renewals just getting started and I thought other tickets wouldn’t go on sale until April.


  37. I just want someone that is on a list of coveted coaches. Can’t remember seeing KS on any potential hire lists during the last go around…


  38. Back to FB –

    My starting four DB’s:
    Damar Hamlin 6-1, 190#, Junior – S
    Therran Coleman 6-0, 195#, Redshirt Soph. – CB
    Dane Jackson 6-0, 180#, Redshirt Junior – CB
    Dennis Briggs 5-10, 195#, Redshirt Senior – S and Captain

    Paris Ford 6-0, 175#, Redshirt Freshman – Nickel back and soon to be starter

    Two 4* players of the five.

    Lots of athleticism amongst this group. They do need the DLine to be impact players this year.

    With that, we win some games with our D.

    The nitters lose 9 on D and 5 on O from 2017. McSwirley loses key weapons in Barkley, Gesicki, WR Hamilton and Blacknall.

    Early prediction from Central PA – Pitt beats the nits again in front of a record, Fanta guzzling crowd at Heinz Field.



    1. EE those DB’s you predicted to start next season would IMO be a downgrade from the group we had ending the season. As I previously posted replacing Whitehead and Maddox may not be that easy and to expect any upgrade from the two that replace them is wishful thinking.


      1. jrnpitt – I re-read my comment and did not see where I mentioned this group as an upgrade from last season.

        I did predict Pitt to beat the nits though. I’ll stand by that comment.


  39. As an example Larry. My club tickets section 209 are already bought and paid for. Not in hand yet but they are mine to do what I want. $799… hmmm I’m not missing that game if I can help it.

    EE, Ford is special he’ll be seeing the field often and early. Better than JW!


  40. I got an email from Pitt athletic department stating that I had unsubscribed from their emails (I did not). The link they included to renew my season tickets was for some other person’s account. Who the he** is running that place? What a mess. No wonder I wasn’t getting the information that someone you were mentioning on here. I did reply about the wrong account link, but have not heard back from them. I guess I better make sure someone else didn’t get my link and cancel my seats!


      1. There are Nitters around every corner at Pitt. They are like KGB spies. And Pitt doesnt care.
        Does one really think a Penn State alum has the best interests for Pitt at heart
        Look at the senior leadership team at Pitt advising Gallagher.


  41. Annie, call this number, Nick is a Pitt ticket executive and he will help you. Lot’s of people know who he is. 412-648-8308. tell him what’s up. If he doesn’t answer, email me and I’ll get in touch with him by his cell # for you.


  42. BTW, I also got a letter today asking me to order my season tickets even though I already have. Make sure all you guys cover your butts…


  43. Thanks for all of the ongoing articles Reed and everyone else contributing. It’s really a blessing to be able to enjoy Pitt all year round.


  44. Not preciselyly fitting the subject matter of MM’s very well done article, but does anyone know what happened that caused Maddox to get beat so bad on the first half Miami TD?


    1. A good run fake froze the safety. So Maddox was all alone with (and a step or two off of) the big receiver. It looked like Maddox stumbled a bit as well. Maddox then knocked the reciever out of bounds but the receiver was able to reach for the end one market and score.

      It was 2nd and 10, so the safety should have known that it was likely going to be a pass play.


      1. After further review Maddox was left completely on and island with no safety within 15 yards. Maddox got burnt and perhaps he bit on the play action fake.


          1. I noticed that Pitt played both man and zone in the Miami game. Both zone and man resulted in good and bad plays. Miami’s quick pass play TD in the second half was against our zone, I believe. To Baret (sp?). He was wide open.

            I agree with you though, Reed, that generally speaking we haven’t had CBs with skill enough to put on an island. And teams like Miami have physical and fast receivers so it doesn’t usually make sense to put them on an island.


        1. Again with the Anonymous. Its 6&34 thanking you. And I really do appreciate your explanation. Been wondering about that for months.


          1. Maybe some people wondered why I have always put my name at the end of my comments. When I first came to the POV I had the same anonymous problems thus the 3 letter name at the end.. ike


  45. Pitt needs to begin taking some risks and begin paying market dollar. Its in this position for a reason.
    Will the BoT admit this or call it Fake News
    They should not concern themselves over some ‘controversial’ figure. There is always a faction of people that dont like you…for right or wrong.
    They should hire the most qualified and the best fit. Its winning that matters and not GPA awards.
    That goes for all coaches
    You arent going to find the perfect coach so the search is fruitless
    Heather alone needs to make the call and not hide for cover behind some ‘search’ committee
    If Pitt values experience, top level recruiting, is willing to take a risk and pay top dollar, Matta is your guy
    But we know this is Pitt and many of us accept that…I dont know why. We need to demand more of our leaders
    So Heather and Gallagher, you have a glorious opportunity to show us how much the university values its basketball program
    Will you make a safe and non-controversial pick
    or will you shoot for the Moon


  46. EE – I’ll be surprised if Briggs starts. He should have the experience edge, but honestly that didn’t seem to help him last season. And I think the younger guys are more athletic.

    But with the new DC and new DB coaches, maybe we see some different play from some of these guys this season…

    Go Pitt.


  47. Pitt will never hire a “name” coach for basketball, especially after the current scandals with Sean Miller and Pitino. I don’t think HL would feel like she could control someone like that. This Pitt administration does not want to put someone in as head coach who would upstage the administration or get too much attention, with the possible exception of someone who was a Pitt alum like Wannstedt. Face it, we will get a young inexperienced head coach from a middle of the road program. It’s the Pitt way..


  48. Compared to bball coaches, Tressel isn’t that bad Reed. A few tattoos and a little loss of institutional control. Easy to fix.

    His success in all he has done leads to instant credibility. He has more contacts in Ohio than the leading optometrist. He is revered.


    1. Still, I doubt Pitt will go for him…or any other person who has had a “Show Cause” ruling against them by the NCAA …Pitt is all about perception.

      Again, Pitt fired our two most successful FB HCs for off feld issues…why in the world would Pitt then hire someone with same set of baggage?

      Not saying I agree here but believe this is the way the Pitt admin thinks…


  49. They better be talking to Grant now. They won again and are in conference championship. If they win and go to the dance they might do some damage, and his stock will skyrocket. Look, one final plea:
    1) Assistant 6 yrs at Witchita St.
    2) time as assistant at Clemson, recruited directly 10 of the 15 kids on team.
    3) took over program in Sept. when CoC had a real mess. Quickly built them into best team in that league. Guy is a stud recruiter.
    4) team was #8 in country in defense last year. Now with more talent can play uptempo also.
    5) specifically deals with the point guards. Team also rebounds.
    6) has recruited ACC footprint successfully.
    7) not afraid to play the big boys. Always competitive.
    8) will be one of the hottest young coaches in the nation.
    9) he is a perfect fit for Pitt and vice versa.
    10) we can CURRENTLY afford him. We will not get another chance at this guy. He is not a retread, he is not an assistant, he is not about to get fired. He can flat out coach. I almost hope they lose that championship game so someone else won’t swoop him up.

     If this guy is clean ( remember, he did coach at  Clemson) he should be our guy. Relates well with fans, everyone seems to love this guy. He will make mistakes, he will struggle with this team for a year, but we will be competitive. He will not be available next year. Price is right, get the young guy with the upside. I will not plead again, I promise.


  50. Joe, I like Grant but please, don’t get your hopes too high and do not put all your eggs into the Grant basket. Fingers and toes crossed won’t hurt.

    Huff, I wouldn’t have minded Tressel at all. I think he is a mover and shaker. He wasn’t hired and the I hate Heather drum beat started…. and I’ll add unfairly at that.


  51. Well, Ike, you know some of the powers that be read this blog. Putting a buzz in their ear wouldn’t hurt, nudging them in the right direction. His name should be on anyone’s short list. I’d be happy to know they talked to him!


  52. Let’s see what Heather’s got. I like that she really does seem to be trying to make improvements . If she gets this hire right , she will be the Maggie Thatcher of Pitt athetics!


  53. If I were Heather and was going to fire KS, I would already have contacted 2-5 other coaches. Pitt needs a Head Coach. Not an assistant. I really don’t care for Heather so far but if she pulls this off and saves Pitt Basketball, I will never say another bad word about her.


  54. No unfairness towards Lyke, Ike. She didn’t have the pedigree of P5 experience. Not her fault. She has been here for nearly a year and has nothing to show for it except a lot of Pitt programs at the bottom of the ACC standings. She oversees all sport programs and we can’t get any worse. Here is the difference.

    Tressel would have brought an immediate swagger to all coaches. That rubs off on a department. You don’t have that with Lyke, not even close. She brought her own people from a non power 5 program. They had no power 5 experience. Not their fault. I would take the job if offered too. Doubling salaries is hard to do, so yes, they aren’t complete idiots.

    She is a typical Pitt hire and can be controlled from below and above. A strong P5 AD is not afraid of the coaches below them or the Administrators above. The great news for her is that she can’t take the programs any lower. We have achieved this record under her leadership and she allowed it to happen. Not sure what is unfair about that. Presence is so critical in athletics.

    People will do cartwheels when a couple of teams don’t finish in their respective basement of the ACC and we can spin it so it looks like we are getting better. Truth is, we will luck our way out eventually. It won’t be because of the AD. That ship has sailed. Diversity and Inclusion was more important than the best person for the job. Welcome to higher ed. Water under the bridge.

    Where is Upitt? I havent been here as often, so if i missed something, let me know.


  55. Annie, I stopped getting emails a while ago and I have had tickets since the late 70’s…when my hard copy invoice came in the mail I noticed my old email is on the invoice. An email I have not used for over 10 years. I might need to call Nick too. Been busy at work but wanted to give a shout out to all that have been writing articles. Excellent work by all. Hey Iek, you need to refer to the post tailgate meetings as the Fire- Pitt. Looking forward to seeing the diehards at the spring game tailgate.


  56. I have an easy fix for Pitt athletics tear the pitt down build an on campus stadium. Fitzgerald Field House can hold 3500 people a night, ask Stallings to come back but cut his pay. FOOTBALL is the bell cow of college athletics. I want Pitt to be a football school first all the other sports are second fiddle!!! Peterson and Nordy believed Pitt was making more money by selling out the pete 16 times than it was than it was getting 35k at heinz 6 times and they were right. I feel you cannot have both sports to be successful without first investing in football than hope basketball follows this philosophy changed when Nordy and Peterson left that’s why Dixon bolted. Count me as a Stallings supporter lol.


  57. When your paying a bball coach 3.5 mill a year like pitt was paying dixon you are a basketball school folks. When u pay a football coach 3 mill and year and 800,000 to a bball coach ur a football school. PITT CANNOT make up their minds. I’ve made up mine FOOTBALL FOOTBALL FOOTBALL!!!!


  58. Pitt has a complex when it comes to football. The powers that be can never make up their mind what their goal is. That is why in the past we lost top coaches like Jock Sutherland and pop Warner after they put Pitt football on the map. That is why we built a 60,000 seat football stadium that could have an upper deck and 30,000 more seats added only to tear it down to build a BB dome and leave the football program to pick up Steeler scraps. That is also why coaches like Majors I, Sherrill, Gottfried and yes Harris( who beat PS in their last game at 3 Rivers)etc were lost just as they got something going here.All the wrong priorities for a winning program,lack of affirmative direction from the top. How about a UPMC stadium since they can build field houses for Robert Morris. My fond memories of Pitt are about students the teams and what I accomplished as a student.The adm. never has done a lot to make me a faithful alum except create frustration!


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