New WRs Coach for Pitt Football

Pitt was going to hold a press conference but when handed the microphone Marion dropped and broke it…

Brennan Marion Named Wide Receivers Coach at Pitt 

PITTSBURGH—Brennan Marion, considered one of college football’s top young assistants, has been named Pitt’s new wide receivers coach by Pat Narduzzi.

A graduate of nearby Greensburg Salem High School, Marion returns to his native Western Pennsylvania after spending the 2020 season as wide receivers coach at Hawaii. The 33-year-old Marion has coached three different positions on the offensive side of the ball and owns three years of coordinator experience.

“We went on a national search to find our new wide receivers coach and, boy, did we ever go national by finding him in Hawaii,” Narduzzi said. “We had a ton of interest in this position but Brennan Marion clearly rose to the top.

“It was important that we find a tremendous teacher and coach. Recruiting is very important, but your top priority is always having a coach who can develop his positional room. Brennan is a great hire because he truly checked every box—he’s a great teacher of wide receiver play and has outstanding recruiting ties in key geographical areas for us. He is a high-energy person who builds relationships and connects people. Brennan will be a great coach and mentor for our receivers.”

“Dreams really do come true,” Marion said. “I am extremely honored and thankful for the opportunity to return home and serve the football program at the University of Pittsburgh. Coach Narduzzi and his staff have been building something very special. I can’t wait to get back to Pittsburgh and work in our wide receivers room.”

At Hawaii, Marion oversaw the development of All-Mountain West Conference (MWC) receiver Calvin Turner, who was named the 2020 New Mexico Bowl’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player after compiling 252 all-purpose yards and scoring two touchdowns in the Rainbow Warriors’ 28-14 win over Houston.

In 2019, Marion was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at William & Mary, where he dramatically improved the Tribe’s production in every major statistical category. W&M nearly doubled its scoring average while its total offensive output improved by almost 100 yards per contest.

The Tribe’s improvement was even more impressive considering Marion’s starting quarterback, leading receiver and three of his top four rushers were true freshmen. QB Hollis Mathis, a product of Penn Hills, shattered W&M’s true freshman school records for total offense (1,522), passing yards (976) and rushing touchdowns (eight). Wide receiver Kane Everson drew national attention as a Phil Steele Freshman All-American.

Marion’s first Division I coaching appointment came at Howard University, where he enjoyed two exceptional seasons (2017-18) as the Bison’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Howard boasted a highly potent offense in 2018, ranking fourth nationally in yards per completion (17.27 avg.), 15th in total yards (470.8 avg.), 16th in passing offense (278.0 avg.) and 21st in scoring offense (33.6 avg.). The Bison led the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) in each of those categories as well as rushing yards per game (192.8).

The Bison had seven first-team All-MEAC performers on offense, including the league’s 2018 Offensive Player of the Year (quarterback Caylin Newton) and Rookie of the Year (running back Dedrick Parson). Wide receiver Jequez Ezzard was a BOXTOROW All-American after leading the country in yards per catch (26.3). Newton additionally was named to the HERO Sports FCS Sophomore All-America Team.

In 2017, Newton was named the MEAC Rookie of the Year after becoming the first freshman in the conference’s history to surpass 3,000 yards of total offense (3,185). Offensive lineman Gerald Wright earned All-America accolades, paving the way for a unit that ranked first in the MEAC and 13th nationally with an average of 446.0 yards per game.

Marion’s “Go-Go” offense sparked Howard to a 7-4 record in 2017, including a shocking 43-40 win at heavily favored UNLV in the opener (labeled by one observer as “the biggest upset in modern college football history”). The Bison had won just three games over the prior two years.

In 2016, Marion coached the running backs at Oklahoma Baptist University. Under his guidance, Isaiah Mallory rushed for a school-record 1,083 yards en route to first team All-National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) honors. During the 2015 season, Marion was an offensive quality control assistant at Arizona State.

During his college coaching career, he has earned prestigious invitations to the NFL Quarterback Coaching Summit and American Football Coaches Association’s (AFCA) 35 Under 35 Leadership Institute.

Prior to joining the collegiate ranks, Marion orchestrated two impressive turnarounds as a high school head coach. In 2014, he led Pennsylvania’s Waynesboro Area—which went 0-10 the year before—to the Mid-Penn Colonial Division title and its first winning season in 22 years. In 2013, Marion guided St. Patrick-St. Vincent (Calif.) to the North Coast Section Division IV playoffs following a 1-9 season prior to his arrival.

Marion was a record-setting receiver at Tulsa. In two seasons with the Golden Hurricane (2007-08), he compiled 2,356 yards on 82 receptions with 19 touchdowns. He was a two-time All-Conference USA selection and the 2007 C-USA Newcomer of the Year. Marion set NCAA records for yards per catch in a season (31.9 in 2007) and career (28.7).

Prior to Tulsa, he was a standout at De Anza College. In 2006, he led California’s junior colleges with 1,196 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns on 60 receptions.

Following his accomplished collegiate playing career, Marion signed free agent contracts with the Miami Dolphins as well as the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes.

Marion was a four-year letterman in three different sports (football, basketball and track) at Greensburg Salem. He played receiver and defensive back under Golden Lions head coach George Kermer and was an All-Keystone Conference honoree.

Marion is a 2009 graduate of Tulsa with a bachelor’s degree in organizational studies. He has two children, Mariah and Brennan.

Xavier Johnson Has Left the Building…

XMan Johnson, our too flashy basketball Guard has opted for the Transfer Portal. Expect to see hin on the Robert Morris team next season.


From ESPN:

“PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Panthers junior point guard Xavier Johnson is transferring.

The school made the surprise announcement Wednesday. Head men’s basketball coach Jeff Capel said in a statement “it was in everyone’s best interests that we part ways.”

Johnson will enter the transfer portal immediately. The move ends an eventful three-year run with the Panthers for Johnson, who averaged 14.2 points in 81 career games, 78 starts.

Johnson, from Woodbridge, Virginia, arrived shortly after Capel was hired in the spring of 2018 and made the All-Atlantic Coast Conference freshman team in 2018-19. He leaves ranked 30th on the school’s career points list (1,152).

Johnson has been one of the program’s few constants during Capel’s tenure as he attempts to rebuild the Panthers after a difficult run under Kevin Stallings. Although it’s unclear what led to the decision, Johnson was asked to come off the bench rather than start twice this month, including a 32-point performance as a reserve in an upset victory over Virginia Tech on Feb. 3.

The Panthers (9-9 overall, 5-8 ACC) have struggled of late, dropping seven of eight after a win over Duke on Jan. 19. Pitt will visit NC State on Sunday.”

Pitt at Virginia Cavaliers; 2/24/21

Here is the Gameday Thread for PITT Basketball as we play the Virginia Cavaliers at home at 6:00 pm. Following are some websites that might help you all get ready to cheer the team onto a win.  These can be used for in-game commenting research also.

Pitt Basketball Homepage

Pitt Basketball 2020-21 Schedule

Pitt Basketball 2020-21 Stats

Pitt Basketball 2020-21 Roster

Here are some sites for info on our opponents:

ACC Basketball 2020-21 Standings (w/ links to team pages)

Virginia Sports Reference Homepage (current & historical info)

I’ll try to keep these threads correctly updated because actual days and opponents are being jerked around due to C-19 rescheduling.  If you see something wrong with any posts just email me at and I’ll try to fix it as soon as possible.


WBB’s View of College FB & BB

College Football vs College Basketball

As you are well aware, college basketball has had a Final Four for decades since 1939.  College football finally followed and started a final four (Semifinals) format in 2014.

Here are just some of the basketball Final Four participants over the past decade:  Butler (2), VCU, Wichita State, Gonzaga, South Carolina, Oregon, Loyola-Chicago, Texas Tech. 

Here are all of the football Final Four participants since 2014:  Alabama (6), Clemson (6), Ohio State (4), Oklahoma (4), Notre Dame (2), Georgia, LSU, Florida State, Oregon, Michigan State

I believe you know where I am going with this article.  The interesting part of this is that the basketball Final four participants qualified for the Semifinals after winning four NCAA tourney games.   On the other hand, football teams like Notre Dame (2018), Michigan St (2016), Florida St (2014) and even Oklahoma (2019) and Ohio St (2016) looked like they didn’t even belong in the football Semifinals based on the way they performed.

There is no question that college football has become an elitist enterprise.   Note that of the names listed above of recent participants, Florida State and Michigan State no longer are considered a threat to crack the final four playoff teams.   On the other hand, Gonzaga and Baylor are currently ranked #1 and #2 in college basketball while blue bloods Kentucky, Duke, UNC, Michigan State and Kansas are unranked.  This would never happen in football.

I believe the reason for this is that college players cannot be drafted into the NFL until three years after leaving high school whereas they can be drafted into the NBA after just one year.  Thus, most of the basketball blue bloods have to restock year after year. 

Football programs like Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson continue to amass the best football talent around year after year.   And since these players are around for a minimum of three years, the rich are only getting richer exponentially… so the chasm between the Haves and the Have Nots just continues to widen.  Yes, the transfer portal has become popular in college sports, but it seems that best talent available are just traded among the elites.  Ohio St QB Justin Fields began at Georgia, QB Jalen Hurts moved from Alabama to Oklahoma, and Joe Burrows went from Ohio St to LSU.   In fact, three of the last four Heisman winners are QB transfers …. and the fourth (this year’s winner) is a three-year WR at Alabama.

And what is even more puzzling is how schools like Michigan, Miami, USC and Texas can continue to recruit so well but seems to be on the outside looking in.  Michigan just had two more four-star QBs transfer out of its program, the 7th and 8th in the Harbaugh era.   And in this era where offensive football rules the day, Michigan continues to struggle against the really good offenses despite being loaded with great defensive talent.  Its offense just cannot keep pace despite its talent.

I am sure the previous two sentences resonated with you POVers.   Pitt indeed looked bad against the two elite (Final 4) teams it played this past season, no doubt!  But despite these two blowouts, it finished 2nd in the ACC in total defense this year … – 2020 Atlantic Coast Conference Team Leaders  … and   third in scoring defense … – 2020 Atlantic Coast Conference Team Leaders .   When Clemson and Notre Dame are not playing each other, they rarely lose to ACC teams.  In fact, neither teamlost to another ACC team in 2020.

When Clemson and Notre Dame are not playing each other, they rarely lose to ACC teams.  In fact, neither have not lost to another ACC team since 2017 – four years ago.  (note that Notre Dame plays five ACC games per season, 2020 notwithstanding).  Just more evidence of the elite football teams separating themselves from the pack.

Otherwise, Pitt continues to be competitive in the ACC.  The issue is that it continues to lose close games as it has for quite a long time.   This can be improved upon whether it be by the current staff or another, but the chance Pitt football can ever become a national player is extremely unlikely.

That is not the case for Pitt basketball

Gonzaga has been a basketball power for some time.  And while it recruits well these days, it still doesn’t get the top players like Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, etc. does.   But their players are getting to mature, becoming better players and better teammates over a 3 to 4 year process.  And when the seniors (or juniors) leave, you have people who have already been part of the program just step right in. 

I believe this is how Pitt prospered for much of the Dixon era.  Yes, they never made the Final Four but being an annual Top 20 program, and having two No. 1 seeds in a three-year period is certainly nothing to scoff at.  This doesn’t happen overnight and you need to bring in the players that fits your style of play …. At least that is how I believe Pitt did it 10-15 years ago.   Maybe part of the current problem is that Pitt has yet to develop any type of identity or style.  The current coach still may be swayed by the way his recent employer (and alma mater) does it.

Nonetheless, there is a decent chance that Pitt will once again become a well-respected basketball program whether it be with the current staff or another one.  It plays in one of the most respected basketball conferences, it has great student involvement and support, and the NYC/NJ area is arguably the best recruiting area, a place where Pitt has proven to be successful. 

I guess I am just trying to reinforce something that many of you all know.  Pitt can become what it once was just 10 years ago in basketball, but in football … it has a chance to be right there with the top teams in the ACC …. not named Clemson.  

This is not meant to be an endorsement or criticism of the current Pitt coaches.  Whether the current staffs should be retained is another issue that will always be debated.