Perspective Please

Perspective Please

This article was sent to me by Bill Aloe, whom many of you know as WWB, on January 17th.  I told him I’d hold it until the appropriate time and Bill was good enough to make some edits last night.  Enjoy…or not!

 

PITT POV Perspective, Please

After Alabama’s loss to Clemson a couple last month, I couldn’t wait to turn on Paul Finebaum’s call-in show the following day on the ESPN SEC network.   As some of you may know, Finebaum is an ardent Bama fan as are many of his callers. And I was not disappointed …..

Saban is too old …. Saban is over-the-hill …. Saban needs to be replaced before it gets any worse …. (and my favorite) we need to hire Dabo even if it takes 25 million to do so.

Yes, the man who brought Bama five national titles over the past eight years definitely needs to go.

Isn’t it fun to look at people who lose perspective because they are so wrapped up in something they are so passionate about?   But the fact is that we all do it …. whether it is a sports team, a political candidate, or a girlfriend. (There is indeed many fish is the sea, by the way.)   When things don’t turn out as we hoped that we really care about, we all tend to take this myopic view of the situation without stepping back and getting a general perspective.

This is what I perceived when I read the comments after Pitt’s loss in the Sun Bowl and then when MJ Devonshire chose to go elsewhere.   Passionate fans venting out their frustrations. Now I don’t mean to compare Narduzzi to Saban or Pitt to Alabama, but that’s the issue!  Fans have far too high expectation on the teams they follow … whether it has won 5 national titles in the last 8 years or it has one double digit winning season in the last 35 years.

I noted the disappointment here with Pitt finishing 7 and 7, which is only natural after they lost the final three games.  But I was caught a bit surprised by the furor it caused, especially when so many predicted doom and gloom before the season.  And of course, the angry ones continue to forget that five of the opponents this season finished in the Top 20 …. that’s over 33% of the schedule.   And by the way, let me be the first to mention that of the 14 games played, only six were played in the (quasi) friendly Heinz confines.  Lastly, I got a kick by the POVers who predicted a minimum two TD Stanford win but took the coaches to task for the one point loss.

Long-time Post-Gazette high school editor, Mike White, wrote two articles over the last few years about how the number of Western PA FBS recruits are dwindling in an alarming fashion.  Note that he was not only referring to 4-stars, but also 2 and 3 stars. Not only are there only 5 players in the WPIAL / City this year that have been recruited by Power 5 teams, there were only 14 being recruited by all of the FBS teams.   That’s out of a total of well over a hundred schools. Like it or not, Western PA has become a barren waste land when it comes to high school football talent. No wonder the coaching staff has all but ignored the immediate area for recruiting.  

There is recent local news about Penn Hills School District being in dire condition financially.  It wasn’t that long ago that the school was the area’s largest, providing Pitt with Fralic, Flynn and Donald, to name a few.  Now, apparently the story that it was unable to fund its football team’s trip to the state finals without Bill Fralic’s help was quite accurate.

The Pittsburgh city schools provide very few recruits these days.  They all play their league games on one field, and the practice fields are deplorable.   The coaches are to be commended for their efforts but the days of Pete Dimperio are long gone.  Also are the Morningside Bulldogs for that matter. Even Franklinstein himself only recruited one Western PA player (a Rivals 3-star) this year.

From 1995 through 2011, Woodland Hills has graduated a dozen players that has made it to the NFL.  This includes Lousaka Polite, Shantae Spencer, Lafayette Pitts and Ejuan Price. However, Price was its last graduate to become a pro, and WHHS hasn’t even produced a 4-star recruit in the last 5 years or so.

No doubt, Coach Narduzzi’s recruiting of offensive linemen / tight ends leave much to be desired.  (He is literally the anti-Chryst in that his classes are very defensive oriented.) But anyone who thinks Pitt belongs in the Top 25 of recruiting rankings are guilty of the myopic view that was described above.  Yes, the focus of the recruiting has been re-directed to where the quantity and quality prospects are (New Jersey and southeast US) but Pitt is just another school to many of them, let alone the fact that most of them have not heard of Tony Dorsett or Hugh Green.  To them, Pitt is just another decent program that plays in front of a half-empty stadium. It should not come as a surprise that Pitt is willing to take a chance on a lower level recruit who is deemed to have potential.

I was also alarmed by the negativity of many of the posts in the blog article about the 2019 schedule last month.   It is one thing to be sarcastic as Michaelangelo was in his article, but once again, we have to read in the comments of  how pathetic the coaching staff is and there is little chance of success this coming season.

The fact is that Coach Narduzzi is 20 and 12 in the ACC, and those 20 wins rank 3rd in the league in that time period behind only Clemson and Miami.  Not bad for a program that for the last 30 plus seasons has had one 10-win season, one division title and two share league titles.   And for those who think Paul Chryst would have done the same or better, maybe so but remember it would have been Chad Voytik or Adam Bertke handing off the ball for 30 plus times per game for the first two years.  How did that work out in 2014 against a schedule when Pitt played only one team that finished ranked? Even with Conner running for 1700 yards? Would Henderson be running all those varieties of the jet sweep, or Aston catching all those shuttle passes, or Weah having a break-out year?  I highly doubt it.

Before you tell me that Narduzzi should be winning 9 and 10 games in his 3rd and 4th years, tell me who has done this at Pitt since Jackie Sherill?  Foge didn’t, Gottfried didn’t, Hackett didn’t, Majors II didn’t, Walt had a banner year in 2002 with 9 wins but only 6 his last two years.  Even Wanny went from 10 wins to 8 in his final season. Chryst had 6 wins in his 3rd year, again playing a very easy schedule.

And anyone who thinks these other guys played harder schedules than what Narduzzi has faced since he began is out of his/her mind.    You should know all of the data by now of how many Top 15 teams and 10 plus win teams Pitt has played the last four years.

Lastly, Narduzzi is taking a big hit because of the ranking of his latest recruiting class.   Narduzzi’s current class is ranked 49th made up of only 19 total recruits due to scholarship limits.  Well, did you know that Chryst’s 2013 class was ranked 47th … and that class was made up of 27 total recruits?   And that was before Franklin was at PSU, and the Nits were being sanctioned.

Yes, I was disappointed by the final three games this year.  I also very much think that Narduzzi needs to recruit better, improve the passing attack and beat UNC.   But I am not going to put down a coach who has done as good or better than any other of the eight coaches this program  has had over the past 35 years, and under harder conditions.

Perspective please!  And now time to get off of the soapbox.

 

Signing Day Thread

Signing Day Thread

Editor’s Note: turns out I’m day early on this – signing day is Wednesday – but better early than late. My wife delivered our second child (young Raphael Monteleone!) on Saturday morning and things have been a blur since then. Thanks for the understanding and I’ll try to post a pic once I can get the script onesie on him.

Michaelangelo

Most of the recruits are in the fold thanks to early signing day, but four-star Aliquippa talent MJ Devonshire sits out there like a glittering prize. Can Narduzzi win the sweepstakes and finish the 2019 class off with a WPIAL-grown crown jewel?

Every true Pitt fan hopes so.

In other news a number of readers will be attending the Pitt Signing Day event. I expect full reports and lots of inside information. Enjoy event and the day folks.

Michaelangelo Monteleone