Is Pitt Building a Good & Solid Program?

Is Pitt Building a Good & Solid Program?

We talk a lot on here about recruiting, or perhaps the state of quality recruiting, and what it takes to build a successful college football program. There are obviously a lot of variables that go into creating a strong football team and roster – two different entities with the other two being the coaching staff and the athletic department support.

I’m a firm believer that you build from the ground up meaning that convincing the best HS recruits, wherever they reside, to come and play ball at Pitt is the necessary foundation for long-term success.

Image result for Nate Peterman pittNow, we have seen Pat Narduzzi supplement his recruiting with transfers, most notably QB Nate Peterman, to be able to win football games which we did in Narduzzi’s first two years. I’m not a big supporter of multiple transfers because I think that it is a patch job used by a head coach for immediate fixes and so The work of ghould be used judiciously.

Getting incoming transfers is hugely different than actually recruiting high school players and much, much easier.  In the first instance your HC is convincing a established to transfer in with at most just a few other schools pursuing the player.

In the second instance, recruiting players directly out of HS, the staff has to woo and win the player away from many different options offered to him.  It isn’t unusual for a highly thought of 3* or a 4* recruit to have 10 or more serious offers of a scholarship to play ball.  That is a huge difference from getting a transferring kid who has, in the vast majority of cases, failed to produce at his first stop.

So what has Pat Narduzzi done so far in his ability to get HS players to commit to Pitt and how well have they played for him?

There is an old question of is it the “Jimmys and the Joes” or is it the “Xs and the Os” which creates solid producing players in college.  I’ll add a third side to that and state that the coaching staff has a ton to do with it also.  It doesn’t do anyone any good if you land a talented player then have a staff full of position coaches who fail to teach him how to play successful football at the D1 Power 5 level of play.

The HS players who can come directly into D1 ball starting lineups and automatically succeed in a big way are few and far between – but Pitt certainly has had some of those players before. Guys like Dorsett, McCoy, Lewis, Fitzgerald, just to name a few, have done it and in a spectacular fashion.  Notice that when this does happens they are almost always on the offensive side of the ball where someone in a skill position – most notably Wide Receiver or Running Back – can impact the games right away.  Image result for jordan whitehead pittDefenders usually take longer to reach that stardom level although that has happened recently with players like Jordan Whitehead at defensive back.

But for me it begins and ends with actual HS recruiting and the ability to get good, hopefully great, seniors to commit to your program and that sometimes takes a full two or three years of hard work and effective lobbying while the kid is still a schoolboy. Because of that I believe the ‘commitment date’ is the key indicator of which HC is responsible for the player coming to play here.

Every so often you’ll see a mass exodus of committed recruits change their minds after a off-season head coaching change (as we saw at Pitt after Dave Wannstedt’s firing) but that was minimal back in 2015’s class.

This begs the question of which of Narduzzi commitments have reached past the normal and average level of play to become ‘stars’ in their own right.  Here is a list of Narduzzi’s ‘own’ recruits; 54 players who committed to play for him and Pitt in his truncated 2015 class and the 2016 & ’17 classes since those are the kids who have had a chance to actually suit up and play ball so far. I excluded the 2018 class.

Continue reading “Is Pitt Building a Good & Solid Program?”

PITT Extends AD Lyke’s Contract

PITT Extends AD Lyke’s Contract

April 27, 2018

Pitt Extends Contract of Director of Athletics Heather Lyke 

LINK: Pitt Extends Lyke Contract

PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh has signed Director of Athletics Heather Lyke to a new six-year contract, which will keep her at the university through at least 2024, Chancellor Patrick Gallagherannounced today. The move reflects the university’s long-term commitment to strengthening its athletics programs under Lyke, who has just wrapped up her first year at Pitt.

“Heather is leading an ambitious charge to transform Pitt Athletics, and her success here is just beginning,” said Chancellor Gallagher. “I am thrilled that she will continue to push our athletics programs to new heights—and spur positive change for our student-athletes and our university community—for years to come.”

“I am grateful to Chancellor Gallagher and our Board of Trustees for their belief in me, our team and what we are building in Pitt Athletics,” Lyke said. “Their support is invaluable and every member of our department knows our university is committed to helping us construct a championship culture with the right people. I want to thank our university leadership for their belief in our vision of what Pitt Athletics is capable of achieving—athletically, academically, within our campus community and in the City of Pittsburgh.”

Since joining Pitt in March 2017, Lyke has recruited six new head coaches. Last month, she appointed Jeff Capel—who owns a championship pedigree as a former Duke player and coach under the iconic Mike Krzyzewski—as the new leader of the Pitt men’s basketball program. She also named highly regarded Florida State associate head coach Lance White as Pitt’s new women’s coach.

In addition to Capel and White, Lyke hired four other coaches this past year: women’s soccer’s Randy Waldrum, a two-time College Cup champion while at Notre Dame; wrestling’s Keith Gavin, a former NCAA champion at Pitt; gymnastics’ Samantha Snider, who led the Panthers back to NCAA Regional Championship competition for the first time in five years; and diving’s Katie Hazelton, who previously distinguished herself in leading the Duke Diving Club to unprecedented success.

Beyond recruiting top coaching talents, Lyke has outlined an ambitious goal of achieving championship results in each of the Panthers’ 19 intercollegiate sports. Her top priorities include bolstering the student-athlete experience and a culture of comprehensive excellence throughout Pitt Athletics. She also solidified the future of Pitt’s ascending football program by extending the contract of head coach Pat Narduzzi, who has directed the Panthers to signature wins over Clemson, Miami and Penn State during the past two seasons.

“It has been a tremendously rewarding and fun first year at Pitt,” Lyke said. “But the best part is we are just getting started. As proud as we are about our history and tradition, Pitt’s future can be even greater. We are highly motivated to usher in a new Golden Era for Pitt Athletics.

Also this:

Bethany Wagner has been named Senior Associate Athletic Director for Sport Administration at the University of Pittsburgh, it was announced by Pitt Director of Athletics Heather Lyke.

Here is a P-G article about the sit-down Lyke had with local media members…

A Few Very Interesting bits of Info…

A Few Very Interesting bits of Info…

SaturdaysAreBetter’s John Baranowski just publish his list of Pitt’s Top Ten Games over the last 50 years.  We old timers remember each one I’m sure and he includes some heartbreakers also (you know which one, don’t you? )

Here it is and what a great bit of work – he’s top notch and and great commenter on the POV.

Chris Peak over at Rivals did an insightful podcast about Pitt’s recruiting the WPIAL over the past ten years. Basically he looked at Rivals’ Top Ten WPIAL recruits from 2010 until this 2018 class to see 1) how many of those 90 recruits Pitt offered scholarships to and 2) how many of them committed to play for us.

Pitt offered 70 of those 90 and right now readers take a second and try to guess how many of those 70 highly rated kids actually chose Pitt?

45? 50? 60?

27… and that’s it. We are talking about the highest rated local players and we end up getting just a few more than a third of them…38% to be precise.

Is there any wonder why we had only a 53% winning rate over those years?

Of course there are some valid reasons for that and mainly because of the Head Coaches’ turnovers we have had in those nine years. Wannstedt, Haywood, Graham, Chryst have come and gone save our current HC Pat Narduzzi

But take a listen to the podcast linked above where Chris really flushes out this recruiting issue with some insightful thoughts that I would not have considered, but do agree with.

His take on this, and again I urge you to listen to it because he has unique theories on why this happens (and why we get Southern kids more easily it seems), starts at the 16m 30s mark.

Up until then he is discussing the Pitt basketball situation and the anger that the players had when Kevin Stallings was fired. I didn’t realize just how much they cared about him as a head coach and of the rather strong very negative reaction they had towards the University of Pittsburgh for firing Stallings.

That is a very interesting listen also and that BB segment goes from the beginning of the podcast up until the 16m 30s mark.

Peak posts his podcasts bi-weekly on Mondays and Fridays and they are available to listen to for free…

OK, I’ll be back home on Friday afternoon and over the weekend I’ll try to finish that Ricky Town article. I think you’ll enjoy it as I’m trying to do more like a human interest type piece on him while I also talked about his football skills.

His talent may very well be the key to the season if Kenny Pickett goes down for any length of time. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that doesn’t happen but much like the offensive line I also have question marks about our backup quarterback situation.

Then again most years we don’t see a backup quarterback having to play but as we know last year was an exception. So most probably we will have Pickett for the whole season and that’ll be a good thing.

 

 

POV’ers Panther’s NFL Draft Predictions & Draft Thread

POV’ers Panther’s NFL Draft Predictions & Draft Thread

Tomorrow is the 2018 NFL Draft.  Here is some draft order and team needs info.  Here are the prospective Pitt draftees…which round do you think they will go it?

I’ll start even though I have no idea what will happen or do I care all that much past seeing Pitt guys in the first two rounds. Maybe more draftees helps recruiting but I don’t see a real correlation (Hint: perfect subject for a reader to write an article about!).  Here goes:

OL Brian O’Neill – Late 2nd Round

DB Jordan Whitehead – 3rd Round

WR Quadree Henderson – 4th Round

WR Jester Weah – 5th Round

DB Avonte Maddox – 5th Round

P Ryan Winslow – 7th Round

OL Alex Officer – Undrafted

QB Max Browne – Undrafted

OL Jaryd Jones-Smith – Undrafted

Contact: Gus Mustakas (!!!) So that’s what he’s doing now.  Gus has the hippest mother ever…

TE Matt Flanagan – Undrafted

OL Brandon Hodges – Undrafted

Folks – I’ll be in North Carolina from this morning until Friday afternoon.  So I’ll not draft articles up in that period but will for this coming weekend.

Send me some article ideas for over the summer…or of course send me your own articles and I’ll publish those… Seriously don’t you want your words to be read by hundreds of thousands of readers in 102 countries?

How Badly Do We Need a Good Rushing Game?

How Badly Do We Need a Good Rushing Game?

We have been discussing our running backs and rushing offenses a lot lately so I decided to look back over the last 11 years to see what correlation, if any, there were between our rushing production and our W/L record.  This isn’t rocket science and I think any Pitt fan would be able to say “Of course we do…” but I wondered so I crunched some numbers.

x1x2That is what we have done from 2007 to 2017.  I’m not exactly sure what the above shows as definite, but certainly the better we rush the ball the more we win but even that has some exceptions such as:

in 2008, even with McCoy, we had a poor overall YPC at 3.7 but we had a defense that gave up only 21.5 PPG and we finished 9-4.

In 2013 we rushed for only 3.4 YPC but we had a strong passing offense with Tom Savage and finished 7-6.

Then in 2014 we had a great 5.3 team YPC but we had a poorer passing offense with Voytik behind Center in his first starting year and lost the heartbreaker to Houston in the bowl game and finished 6-7.

In 2015 even though we had less than a 5.0 YPC we had a pretty good passer with Nate Peterman’s first year (20 TDs vs 9 INTs), our defense held opponents to 26.1, and we won eight games.

In 2016 we had WR Q. Henderson’s 631 yards on a 10.5 YPC to supplement the RB’s yardage and Peterman’s great passing year to complement Conner and we won eight games.  That was in spite of our defense giving up an horrendous 35.2 ppg.

Last season we had a 17 point drop in offensive production from 40.9 ppg to 23.9 ppg and that killed us.  However, the good news is that we also limited our opponents to 8.6 ppg less than they scored in 2016. That was a drop from 35.2 ppg down to 26.6 ppg. Nice job doing that and let’s hope that becomes a trend.

But I really think we have to get into the 20-23 ppg allowed this coming season to cover what I think will be major shortcomings on offense.

HISTORICAL ADJUSTED YPC

Here is a look at something similar to what we have been (hotly) debating about lately regard taking two top runs away to show more consistency over the course of a RB’s season.

Now – I understand that Hall had only 128 carries last year and that those two monster runs against Duke (combined 167 yards!) were big outliers for him. But his consistency was lacking.

He’s not alone in that though.  Ray Graham’s 2010 season saw him with a big (-).9 ypc dip after his top two runs of 143 yards (big 79 and 64 yarders)  were removed.

Truth be told his 2nd biggest run was longer than most other Pitt RBs’ longest run from scrimmage.  So let’s take that into consideration when looking at this table below. I put it up not so much to show Hall’s dip in adjusted ypc but also to show what others have done in the past.

Remember the benchmark for good and effective RBs is a 5.0 ypc average, so when an adjusted ypc drop of over .5 ypc happens that is a big decline. You want your RBs to get  at least 4.5 – 5.0 ypc on a consistent basis.

x2x2

Please understand that I’m not saying those runs never really happened and I sure do give credit to the RBs for breaking off two big plays. I acknowledge those runs especially because they probably won games for us just like Hall’s two did against Duke last year. Without his plays that game  we would have finished 4-8 on the season…so Yeah! for him there.

But what I’m really concerned about is what a RB does in the vast majority of his carries. For example Hall’s adjusted YPC reflects 97.5% of his carries.  That percentage gets even bigger with our past RBs who carried more times.

For instance in Conner’s great 2014 year he had 298 carries and with those two carries removed that leaves 99.3% of his carries left to show his consistency of 5.5 ypc over them, which is huge.  In comparision to Tony Dorsett who’s career ypc was 5.6 ypc over four years.  That is pretty much the same with all our RBs who had more than 200 carries.

Every team needs some big hitters at RB but you have a better chance at winning seasons when you get more consistent yardage from your RBs over the course of 12 or 13 games.

NOTE: Off to NC tomorrow morning.  If I can I’ll try to post something but help out if you can.

One last thought – I know I use stats a lot in my writings.  But when you have written 601 articles in 676 days you basically have to find things to write about and in my case stats help provide content for you all to read.  Otherwise I’d be dropping to probably only one or two articles per week like the other Pitt blogs do – if even that.

POV’s View From the Endzone Podcast: 4/22/18

POV’s View From the Endzone Podcast: 4/22/18

Here are some thoughts on a Sunday morning –

Statistics and the fun you can have with them… All-Time Pitt players and why we think they way we do about them… All-ACC members and why we’ll miss them… How our four ‘best’ players in 2017 let us down… Why I’m right and Ike is wrong… and having to see Dorsett play to believe the stories we old-timers tell about him.

Here is my Aunt’s abbreviated obit – my mistake – her grad degree was from Carnegie Tech and she was a LCDR in the Navy (obit is wrong)…but this photo was taken last year when she was 101…

And here is some Veteran’s Benefits info…

smalldrc

If your service-connected condition has gotten worse and you’re planning to file an increased disability claim for that condition, there’s a better way to file. Get the fastest decision on your claim for an increase by filing it as a Decision Ready Claim (DRC). Filing as a DRC means you can get a decision within 30 days after your claim is submitted.

Work with an accredited Veterans Service Organization (VSO) or other accredited representative to determine if the DRC program is right for you and your claim for an increase. Your VSO can then help you gather and submit all relevant and required evidence so your claim is ready for VA to make a decision when you submit it.

Don’t need to file a claim for an increase? You can also file these other types of compensation claims through the DRC program:

  • Direct Service Connection Claims
  • Presumptive Service Connection Claims
  • Secondary Service Connection Claims
  • Dependency and Indemnity Compensation for surviving spouses

Learn more about the DRC program, including eligibility requirements, what medical evidence you need to submit, and how to find an accredited VSO at www.benefits.va.gov/drc.

Thank you for your service!

Veterans Benefits Administration 

Pitt’s All-Time Best Players Ever…Ever I Tell You!!

Pitt’s All-Time Best Players Ever…Ever I Tell You!!

I’m sticking with the SaturdaysAreBetter website for inspiration here.

John Baranowski has hit another home run article with his Feb 13th piece on Pitt’s All-Time Football Team.  I strongly suggest not only do you read this article but to also put John’s website in your morning “have to read” links to stay on top of the college football world.

John doesn’t just write about Pitt football but spreads his wings over the whole CFB landscape – for instance his latest article is about how many national titles might have Bear Bryant won if he was coaching under a college football playoff system.  Very interesting.

In his Pitt All-Timers piece he lists some of the players I wrote about yesterday when we discussed what makes a die-hard Pitt fan do what he does.  I said it couldn’t be the won-loss record as that has been pedestrian over the last 30 years, so the amount and quality of star players who have passed through the program has to have something to do with our love of Pitt football – and boy, we sure had a lot of them…

Of course all football team discussions start with the QB and John has this to say about Pitt’s best:

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 at: 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.”

Image result for dan marino pittFunny but I both agree and disagree about this pick.  I am one who doesn’t think Marino was all that fantastic in college – mainly because of the horrendous amounts of interceptions he threw… and that fact that his surrounding cast, as you’ll read in John’s article populated by many other Pitt All-Timers off those teams, covered up so many of those errors.

I’ve a feeling that if Marino wasn’t surrounded by that team he had in 1979-1981 he’d have had more season like his SR year where he played rather poorly. Here are his Pitt stats:

DMQB

Don’t get me wrong Marino was a superb passer but I tend to think he was in the exact right place at the exact right time.  But if not Marino them whom?

Here is the latest Pitt rankings at QB. 

Pitt QBs

BTW – they transposed the Att/Comps in Van Pelt’s listing here – it was really 1503 Image result for alex van pelt pittattempts with 865 completions…which gives him almost the same career QB rating as Marino with 127.03.

So you can see that there is a case to be made for Alex Van Pelt to be sitting on the throne also. But his HC Paul Hackett was so inept that AVP’s great QB play didn’t translate into many wins – not like Marino’s did anyway.

Or maybe fan favorite Tyler Palko with his 66 TDs to only 25 INTs for a superb QB rating of 140.80.  He was certainly one of the most vocal and talented team leaders Pitt has had in our history.  Misused (IM think) by Wannstedt in a completely different offense from Walt Harris’ Palko’s numbers dropped but his efficiency went up.  Had Harris been his coach for a full four years Palko’s numbers would up with Marino and Alex Van Pelt I bet.

Personally I believe had Nate Peterman played a full four years at Pitt he’d sit on top of the leader board based on his excellent  career 151.1 QB rating and TD to INT ratio (which I think is very important).  From what I can figure Peterman’s single 2016 season was the best we have ever had as far as QB efficiency rating goes at 163.4 which is truly outstanding and 47 TDs in only 23 full games against only 15 TDs is a hell of a show.

NPQB

But I’ll capitulate and say let’s give it to Marino anyway because, well – a 42-6 W/L record is almost unbelievable in modern college ball. Plus he grew up on campus which makes for a great story.

This is fun.

One of the problems that John points out with this listing is that we have so many great football players that some very, very good ones have to be left of the list.  Case in point:

Some may want to list James Conner in Pitt’s all-time backfield to join Dorsett. Conner did finish with 3,733 yards rushing and 56 touchdowns in his college career. Pitt had quite a few other outstanding running backs over the years as well: Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, Randy McMillan, Curtis Martin, Curvin Richards, LeSean McCoy, and Dion Lewis, just to name a few, and some would argue that one of them should be Dorsett’s backfield mate on Pitt’s all-time team, but the choice here is Marshall Goldberg.  None of the others has their number retired nor led their team to two national championships like Goldberg did.Image result for marshall goldberg pitt

For that matter, how many players finish in the top three in Heisman Trophy voting two years in a row? Goldberg, a two-time All-American, finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1937, was the Heisman runner-up in 1938, and held the Pitt career rushing mark for nearly 40 years until Dorsett came along. When you finish in the top three for the Heisman Trophy twice and your jersey number is retired, there is no doubt you were a great player.

Isn’t that strange in a way – a guy that beats Dorsett’s almost untouchable TD record at Pitt can’t break into the Top Two RBs over our history of play.  Of course none of us watched Goldberg play but as I wrote before on here my parents, aunts and uncles all went to Pitt in the late ’30s and every friday night cocktail party in my youth I heard about Marshall Goldberg and how great those old Pitt teams were – and the were without a doubt the best in the country for many years.Image result for james conner pitt

So I agree with this choice – although with a caveat.  If you were to list either the “Most Loved Panther” or the “Most Inspirational Panther” who still kicked major ass on the football field then James Conner would win those awards hands-down.  So for just that reason let’s go to a three running back offense for the Pitt All-Time team, OK?

Read John’s piece and let us know if you agree, disagree or have some others you would put on the list… and how about this… are there any players on this roster today may be up with the greats when they are done here?

BTW – this website that Pitt put up, “Pitt Through The Years”,  is great for us fans – have fun reading it…

HTP!!