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!!

59 thoughts on “Pitt’s All-Time Best Players Ever…Ever I Tell You!!

  1. John B is a terrific writer / research especially when it comes to Pitt and college FB. He obviously puts a lot of thought and study in his work.

    However, he also suffers a bit from Reed-it is when it comes on relying a bit too much on stats. While stats provide an easy measuring stick for evaluating players, it also can be very subjective since it doesn’t measure such things as (1) coaching styles, (2) quality of teammates (3) quality of opponents, etc. For example, Van Pelt and Palko benefitted greatly by playing for the coaches they did while Marino played in an era where there was much more emphasis on the run game. Look at Peterman … the first year he was at Pitt, he was above average at best, but in the 2nd year, playing for anew OC and protected by a geat OL, he excelled.

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  2. Marino split time with Rick Trocano in both his first 2 years.

    Marino in 1979 – 222 attempts Trocano – 128 attempts
    Marino in 1980 – 224 attempts Trocano – 165 attempts.

    This is quite interesting, Trocano actually had a better QB rating than Danny in 1980 as well
    as Yards per Attempt and Yards Per Completion.

    And I got scoffed at when I said Chad Voytik had a better sophomore year than Danny. lol

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    1. I’ll post the numbers, because actually it’s not even close.

      Marino – 1980 – 116 of 224 (51.8%) for 1609 yards. 15 TD’s 14 Int’s 7.2 YPA 121.7 rating

      Voytik – 2016 – 176 of 287 (61.3%) for 2233 yards. 16 TD’s 7 Int’s 7.8 YPA 140.2 rating

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  3. Now what Pitt had in both 1979 and 1980, was arguably the Nations Best Defense. Hugh Green & Ricky Jackson at the DE’s. Bill Neill & Greg Meisner on the line. Tim Lewis, Carlton Williamson, Tom Flynn in
    the secondary, among others.

    Allowing only 9.7 ppg in 1979 was 5th in the Nation and only 10.8 ppg which was 8th in the Nation

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  4. In fact all 4 years of Marino…. Pitt’s defense was more than stout. 19th in 1981 avg 13.3 ppg against
    And this is surprising in 1982, a team with a Senior Marino had the 2nd lowest ppg Defense at 10.8 ppg.

    I guess it was very fortunate we had a very stout defense, as like Reed says….for all the Interceptions
    Danny boy threw.

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  5. I just can’t come up with an all time list, with a few exceptions. I just wonder how good some of those old timers were, and they played both ways. Think it’s silly to try. Players before the 40s could have been the greatest ever, we’ll never know, especially the linemen. Playing both ways is mind boggling.

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  6. Pitt baseball had an up and down week by loosing to Kent State and then beating miami last night 2-1.

    My thoughts are that coach Jordano saves his best pitchers for ACC games.

    They are in action right now in miami.

    H2P!

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  7. Food for thought.

    Peterman in 2016: passing YPG.. 221 ranked 10th in the ACC –76 overall

    PITT’s Qb’s in 2017 passing YPG.218 ranked 10th in the ACC –73rd overall.

    Did I leave anything out of those numbers? Sure I did. It’s called other variables. NP had a one of the greatest seasons in PITT history at QB as his passing efficiency indicates. You just can’t look at numbers and come to a defined conclusions on these types of subjects. Did NP have 3 players on his team suspended with two others kicked off the team before the season even started. Schitt happens for a reason and may times it’s more than just one reason. Statistics suck.

    Despite all Marino’s interceptions he was still drafted in the first round. Why? Check the NFL history books.

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    1. Well, its the stats you left out like NP’s 1 TD pass every 11 attempts vs Brown’s 1 in every 27 attempt (Marino’s was 1 every 15 attempts).

      Brown was 2-4 as a starter and Peterman 15-10

      Stats don’t tell the whole story but they are used as a measuring stick for production and comparison.

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      1. Yes, that was my point Reed… also the measuring stick always leaves out certain points to frame ones point of view. you know POV 🙂

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    1. The baseball team just won the 2nd game of the series 3-0 over miami and thus won another series in the ACC. Pitt is now 21-15 and 10-10 in the ACC, I believe.

      Showing improvement as a northern school in an dominating baseball league that has traditional powers in the warmer southern states.

      H2P!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Mark Twain in the United States. said, among others elsewhere: “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.” As if to disprove or diminish the power of numbers to bolster another’s argument. For what it’s worth.

    Pitt’s great 1937 backfield was considered to be the greatest backfield in college football history, according to one of the great Four Horsemen of Notre Dame fame, even greater than those ND immortals. BTW, Pitt beat ND 5 times out of 7 games back then, causing ND to drop Pitt for a while. I was just reading some biographies of John Baines “Jock” Sutherland.)

    Old Pitt players played in 8 or 9-game regular season schedules and played both defense as well as offense. Can someone interpolate Marshall Goldberg’s rushing totals to see how he would have done in a modern 12-game season format? 1000 yards used to signify what was achieved in a 10-game season of years past. Now it becomes a big deal for a 12-game season or 16 in the pros. Goldberg belongs among Pitt’s greatest ever. Dorsett and Conner played defense in high school and were very good at it, but how would their contribution on offense have fared if they were two-way players in college? When Goldberg played, Pitt’s defenses were spectacular and so were its offenses. Reed’s relatives knew what they were talking about regarding Goldberg and those Pitt teams of yore.

    Last but not least, rumors persisted back when Marino played that he was a drug user, of cocaine among other drugs, especially as a senior. Supposedly that was why the Steelers, among other teams, passed on drafting him. Was there any truth to those rumors?

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    1. If JC played defense in 1937 at 6 ft 2” and 235 lbs with his speed and preternatural strength we would not know the name Bronco Nagorski.

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  9. Nobody will say Palko was better than Marino, nor will I. But if Palko would have had an OLine for most of his tenure, his numbers might be even better. I seem to remember the guy running for his life all the time. He’s my favorite for one reason only: he trucked that Boston College linebacker along the sideline and knocked him halfway to Carrick.

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  10. Justin, the Hall of Fame says…. NO!

    Dr Tom………….. Only you can let the negative vibes penetrate the thick skin of the believers. We are the embodiment of the unwavering… ike*

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  11. Similarly, while you can’t compare anyone to Tony D., I’d at least argue that the player closest to him on the “electric” meter is Shady. Just saw the guy do some things that made him a very special college RB. He was the most talented Pitt RB I had a chance to really see. (I was 6 when TD won the Heisman). Although Ironhead was also a sight to see in the secondary at 230 pounds with 4.5 speed.

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    1. Missing – totally agree on Shady. So fun to watch him and hated to see him leave early. What if Tony D. Had left early????

      And it still bothers me that we haven’t had an elusive running back since the days of Shady, Dion, and Ray…

      Go Pitt.

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  12. Pitt has really underachieved with all these football greats. That’s a coaching problem. So why do we have a hall of shame for coaches? Well I’ll answer.

    Some because they weren’t head coaching material. Think fazio.

    Some because our administration didn’t agree with their methods. Think gottfried.

    Some is because our coaches were the wrong fit. Think Hackett.

    Some because we were cheap and desperate. Think majors 2.

    Some because we didn’t know what we wanted. Think Harris.

    Some because we wanted to reclaim our short glory years. Think wanny.

    Some because our AD was an idiot. Think Hayward.

    Some because we thought a gimmick might work. Think fraud.

    Some because we needed stability. Think chryst.

    Some because we needed just another coach…again. Thats you made Narduzzi.

    I’d rather win titles than have great players. A title is shared by everyone.

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  13. Can’t compare any of the stats historically guys, you just can’t.

    Rule changes, personnel changes, coaching changes (philosophies), etc., make the comparisons impossible. Opponents personnel, coaches, schedule are all factors. Individually, draft status helps the comparisons a little bit, but even that is flawed because a player could be drafted high in his position which just happens to be weak for that years draft.

    Makes for great arguments and such, but i prefer the wins vs. the losses. And I double secret prefer, a defensive player that actually hits hard. I hope we find one soon.

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  14. Van Pelt would have won many more game if he didn’t come at a time when the administration was flat-out stupid for tearing down football. Firing Gottfried killed what he was building roster wise and with a pretty good coaching staff that he had assembled.

    Hackett was perfect as Alex’s O.C. and in Van Pelt’s final three seasons he had terrific offensive lines to work behind.

    The skill talent was pretty good also and could have been even better if some kids never transferred or met NCAA requirements instead of not meeting “Pitt” requirements. The 90s were certainly a lost decade for the fans. What exactly was accomplished that was worth non-alum fans like myself to be treated to all those losses?

    I know what some will say, and the same happened at my alma mater, Ohio State, and has happened elsewhere across the country at other universities. OSU football took off starting in 1993 and hasn’t looked back since. Too bad Pitt doesn’t have the same vision.

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  15. I loved watching “The Hawk” run the football. I’ve never witnessed a college football running back that had a more effortless kick into his maximum acceleration gear than Dorsett. That’s why Tony D was a threat to take it the distance on every carry.

    When he changed direction & squirted through a hole I witnessed, more times than I can remember, LBs & DBs grabbing for air when, just a second prior, they had the confidence thier line was right to light up the skinny kid from Pitt up with a slobber knocker tackle.
    Never seen anybody like TD Dorsett, & that includes the likes of Archie Griffin, Herschel Walker, Gale Sayers or Barry Sanders for comparisions.

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    1. Sanders maybe but if I remember correctly Tom, Sanders led college football for being tackled behind the LOS the most times.

      But Dorsett was amazing, you held your breath every time he got the ball.

      Stats are the skeleton of a conversation…the muscles and skin are the varibles and circumstances you discuss to make valid points.

      For example Browne had 181 ypg and a TD per game.

      But take away his 410 yard 4 TD showing against the 129th pass defense of Rice and he had 131 yards per game and .20 TDs (1/5th) against decent competition…he didn’t throw one TD against a P5 school.

      Not one.

      That is why you can look at his numbers and be compltely mislead as to how good or effective he was.

      So yeah, stats can mislead as someone wants but without them in sports you have no measuring stick or any common comparisons at all.

      The reason I use stats so much is because what I do with these articles is I put information out and then I let you guys discuss that information as you will. If all I did was throw out nothing but my own opinions it would be completely one-sided and you would have no measuring stick for your discussions about things that we all want to discuss.

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  16. I don’t know Missingwlat, both great running backs no doubt about that. Shady could hit a hole or dance to find one that may not have been there first off. Dorsett didn’t need to have a hole. zip bye see u later……….in the end-zone. No one like the Hawk! ike

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  17. Reed, I get stats and the way you use them is just fine by me. I get the barometer take you use with them. It’s when you say if your take out those 5 runs or the 31 sacks it looks this way or that? Do we need stats to tell us that Nate was better than Max despite their almost identical stats on passing YPG nationally and ACC stat wise? Alex Van Pelt better than Marino? Different times different teams. The stats don’t add up….. ike

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  18. here is another stat. PSU reportedly got 71,000 for the spring game today … which is higher than any sporting event ever in Pittsburgh (college or pro) Pitt-PSU — 69,983 in 2016

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And the vast majority still worship Paterno as a Saint. The Joe Who Knew. The Joe Who Looked Away. The Patron Saint of Pedophile Protectors. Those who think this way can Burn in Hell with Him.

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  19. How lucky were Pitt fans to be able to see Dorsett and Green both play. They rank as the two best ever on O and D in my opinion. Both were robbed of the H trophy once.

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  20. Not to be morbid…. I have a friend who had a grandmother who lived to be over 100 years old. She told me how scared and afraid her grandmother was of passing away. The poor old woman was obsessed with the fright of dying. I will never be able to tell you all how that terrifies me still today.

    Death only frightens the living so live well all………….

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  21. The 1980 team beat all others in the modern era. Whoever played on it benefited. Marino fit in it well. I went to see them as often as I could.

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  22. Tom – I remember how opponents just couldn’t appreciate how fast TD was. Early in the game, they would underestimate him and he’d take the pitch and, seemingly no matter how wide they aligned themselves, TD would turn on the jets and beat them to the outside.

    Once they “adjusted”, of course, TD would start to the outside and then cut it up inside and be gone in a flash…

    Tony D. truly was amazing to watch.

    Go Pitt.

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  23. missing Walt, Not only did palko knock that linebacker halfway to carrick, the team and the fans seemed rather listless up to that point.

    then everyone went crazy and I had no doubt we would win that game. that was one of my 2 favorite pitt plays that i watched in person. the other was tony d. breaking the collegiate record at navy-marine corps stadium. the navy fans were very excited and loud when navy stopped him for very short gains on a couple of plays early in the game.

    when he broke that play for 30 some yards and the whole pitt team charged onto the field and piled on him in the end zone, the navy players were very classy and respectful and congratulated him enthusiastically. those plays show why i and probably most of you like college football so much, dare i say even more than the steelers and i really like the steelers.

    as a side note it shows why i would like pitt to play navy more often in spite of that damnable triple option offense-that and the fact that they draw a good crowd in the burg, especially when they bring the corps of midshipmen (who always look classy marching into the stadium). i dare anyone to find anything in this comment that can be measured by statistics. damn, those were 2 fun experiences! H2P, dirty rich

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    1. Dirty Rich: Unfortunately all of the videos of Palko trucking the BC linebacker are pretty grainy. But I remember it the same as you. That hit lit a fire under the whole team.

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  24. I’m not that intrigued by trying to compare QB’s or other players against each other from different generations personally, but one thing I love that the stats pointed out is how misleading stats can be and how silly the all-time qb ranking would be if based strictly on stats. Just food for thought, since we are often comparing stats and sometimes in misleading ways (and I’m a stats guy, don’t get me wrong).

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  25. But Ike, you are contradicting yourself a bit.

    When I take Browne’s Rice game out…or Hall’s two Duke runs… it paints a better more accurate picture of their overall capabilities and not just what they did purely statistically.

    On the face of it you’d look at Browne’s overall numbers and think he did well for but it was so skewed by that game against the worse pass defense in the country that creates a completely false impression.

    The fact that aside from the Rice game he didn’t throw one single TD in regulation play is important nor did he throw a single TD against a Power 5 team…

    Same I believe with Hall to a lesser extent but especially because of the number of carries he got. There is a huge difference between his 4.9 ypc total and his adjusted 3.6 ypc without those two runs.

    I wouldn’t do that with backs that broke 50+ yard runs regularly like Dorsett, Lewis or McCoy but with a back that only does it twice so far in a careerI will.

    4.9 ypg is good. 3.6 on 126 carries is poor and that is what he averaged on literally 97.5% of his carries. 1.3 ypc difference is huge for RBs.

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  26. What ever happened to Randy Reutershan, used to love it when the announcer called out that name, and he did it a lot. That the guy from the Meadows really made it fun to attend those games. Always emphasized the second name except for HUGH Green.

    I have stated my opinion before that the greatest of the great are on great teams and the best lead their teams to Championships. Individual accolades are in Halls of Fame but Statues are erected for the Best guy on the Best team. Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Bill Mazeroski, Mario Lemieux. Too many Steelers for statues, but Joe Greene deserves one.

    There should be statues of Marshall Goldberg and Tony Dorsett in Oakland, Jock Sutherland and Pop Warner too. Marino and Green come close but no championships.

    Sidney Crosby will have one someday.

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  27. Randy Reutershan lives on today the same age as Reed and I and many more at the 62 years old. I believe he was one of those old man Art Rooney picks when he was given the last pick by the Steelers to pick whoever he wanted. Reutershan’s nickname was “The Rat” he may have also been called the Kamikaze kid?

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  28. Reed, I rib you a little on Hall’s runs as I get the fact he he needed those two runs to bolster his average for sure. I see Hall running much better this coming year though. Hopefully he’s learned a few new moves to go with his size, speed and athleticism. My other point is, Max screwed up the whole team last year by under-performing. Not to be too harsh on Max, he seems like a good young man. His lower level of play at the QB position had an impact on the whole teams stats that don’t necessarily show up in the stat books under HIS name. ike

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  29. I think we are in trouble if Hall is still the feature back by the middle of the season. He has no elusiveness and hasn’t shown he can break a tackle. If none of the young guys can show more than that we are in for a long season. Linemen may get it when they are in their third fourth or fifth years but good running backs show it when they are freshmen. The first time you saw TD, Shady, Deon, Ray, Conner you knew they were special.

    The only guy I remember who showed it later was Martin and he admits he was holding back and only played for money not for the love and glory of the game.

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    1. Barry Sanders was tackled a lot behind the LOS in the NFL, but I’d be shocked if he set any kind of record in college for the same. Those poor college kids weren’t good enough to tackle him being the LOS. Too bad the Steelers weren’t bad enough to pick third to draft him instead of ending up with Tim Worley.

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  30. ike – I think it was not just Max, but a combination of factors that screwed up last season. Since Canada’s offense had been so successful, it made sense for Watson to keep the same offense, but then it didn’t make sense at all if MB was to be the QB. Canada’s offense needed the QB to be at least a small threat to run – MB posed zero threat to run.

    Another factor was MB coming in new, with his historical baggage, and trying to quickly become the “leader” of a prolific offense which he had not been a part of…

    Then there was the regression of the Oline…

    Anyway, I’m hoping that Watson has now been able to reconcile his own offense with the leftovers of Canada’s offense. And with KP well entrenched as the new leader – which he earned the title to by beating Miami – I’m expecting that Pitt can do significantly better on offense this season.

    Go Pitt.

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  31. Pitt’s offense is going to be very limited unless the O-line somehow gets magically transformed by Ming.
    Or Houdini comes in and is a Ray Ray type who can create his own yardage with his elusiveness.

    The current crop of Pitt RB’s are not going to cut it behind his O-line in this type of offense. imo

    Pitt needs to Spread the field and let Pickett wing it in 3 seconds before he gets sunseri-ized by the opposing D.

    Has Doc Watson ever run a Spread offense ? Louisville ? Anywhere ?

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  32. Listening to your podcast Reed.

    It was Bob Smizik I believe he said he didn’t vote for Larry Fitzgerald for the Heisman. And I believe
    Graucho Marx Smizik went to Pitt. Oy Vey !

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  33. On the bball front, Capel and O’Toole made a trip to NYC to visit with some top tier talent,

    4/19/2018 – 2018 PG Xavier Johnson (6-3, 165, 4★) has received an offer from Pittsburgh. – Per Link
    4/18/2018 – 2019 C Kofi Cockburn (6-11, 248, 4★) | Overall Rank: 38 | Position Rank: /player_rankings/2019/position/5 has received an offer from Pittsburgh. – Per Link
    4/17/2018 – 2019 PG Trey McGowens (6-4, 185, 2★) has received an offer from Pittsburgh. – Per Link
    4/17/2018 – 2019 SG Josh Green (6-4, 180, 4★) has received an offer from Pittsburgh. – Per Link

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  34. Reed, thank you for the kind words, coming from someone I respect as much as you, I truly appreciate that.

    Thank you for the kind words also anonymous, but if I solely went by statistics, Goldberg and Ditka would not be on the all-time team because their statistics for when they played pale in comparison to modern players. How else would one compare a punter or kicker without statistics?

    As for selecting Pitt’s all-time quarterback, that was one position I did not look at the statistics of former Pitt quarterbacks for several reasons and I’ll explain why. There’s no doubt the cast around Marino was better than other Pitt quarterbacks had. Imagine Marino throwing to Fitzgerald though! Football is the ultimate team game and how many of Marino’s wide receivers at Pitt went on to great NFL careers? Wide receivers help make quarterbacks look good and vice versa, and it helps having a great offensive line to make any offense productive as football is the ultimate team sport. God keep Kenny Pickett healthy!

    When Reed originally published my all-time Pitt article a while back, he mentioned Van Pelt’s statistics. I knew Van Pelt was Pitt’s career passing yardage leader but did not realize how similar his statistics were to Marino’s.

    As for why I think Marino is the pick, Pitt had only two All-American quarterbacks in the last 50 years, Matt Cavanaugh in 1977 and Dan Marino in 1981. That’s it, two. Not Peterman, Palko, Rutherford or Van Pelt.

    When you are selected as an All-American you truly were amongst the very best at that position in the country for when you played. There is simply no debate when it comes to that. Marino also finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy balloting in 1981. I don’t recall any other Pitt quarterback coming close to that.

    Marino’s jersey was retired in 1982 and if you watch the 1983 Cotton Bowl broadcast on Youtube,
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijhW9GY29xw&t=2790s on Pitt’s first possession a graphic was shown that Marino’s jersey was only the third jersey Pitt had retired to that point. When you retire a player’s jersey before his playing days are actually over, what does that say about that player? I never recall hearing anyone talk about retiring Van Pelt, Palko or Peterman’s jersey number. That’s why Marino is my pick.

    I have been watching some old Pitt games on Youtube lately as I’m going through football withdrawal. If you watch the 1983 Cotton Bowl, Marino’s last game as a Panther, he was pretty nimble. Certainly not a fleet of foot as Lamar Jackson, but pretty nimble. When did his knee injuries occur?

    I’m sure many of you have seen those old grainy black-and-white football highlights of a player running much faster than everyone else, come to think of it, that always reminds me of Marshall Goldberg. For those that did not see Tony Dorsett play, all you have to watch are Pitt’s first two possessions against 9th-ranked Notre Dame in 1975, and it’s much like watching the same thing one player so much faster than everyone else. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88BA9s6QiZg&t=2091s

    For my money, Dorsett’s 303-yards gained that day against Notre Dame, we’re not talking facing Toledo here, but rather Notre Dame when Notre Dame was very good having won national championships in ’73 and ’77. For my money, Dorsett’s 303 yards that day against Notre Dame is the finest individual performance by a Pitt player on the gridiron ever.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. I agree w/ saturdays… Marino had an AWFUL receiving corp. Tony Dungy in his book “Quiet Strength” mentions the “try-out” Marino gave to the Steelers coaching staff where he brought along his starting WR’s from Pitt and NONE of them could catch the ball. The coaching staff left the session bewildered and he claims this was the reason for his falling draft stock.

    Watch the ’83 cotton bowl… or the ’80 FSU loss on youtube. He had so many passes dropped by inept receivers. Face it… Jackie Sherill was old-school and couldn’t keep up w/ the times and never recruited 5-star WR’s to go along w/ his star QB instead relying on converted RB’s… a fatal flaw continued by Foge.

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