Retired Coast Guard Officer with a lot of time on his hands and working a hobby that he enjoys and is actually free - writing.... on all different sorts of things but mostly Pitt football. You can see my more public articles and essays at WWW.pittblather.com, reedkohberger.wordpress.com and the new Pitt football blog www.pittpov.com.
Lets do what we can – I’m going to tally up what it usually costs me to attend a couple of football games in a season with a bit extra so we can bribe a decent OC to come to Pitt.
I’ll leave this up or 24 hours or so but don’t forget about the great article by Richard just posted earlier this morning.
Along with that our HC just did a great thing for Pitt’s future football program needs…from a Pitt press release:
Narduzzi Family Makes Six-Figure Gift to Pitt Football Championship Fund
PITTSBURGH—CoachPat Narduzzi and his wife, Donna, have made a six-figure financial gift to the University of Pittsburgh’s Football Championship Fund, which serves the program in such key areas as student-athlete development, facility improvement, technology and recruiting.
“I take great pride in wearing that Pitt Script on my chest each day as the University of Pittsburgh’s head football coach,” Narduzzi said. “This is an outstanding place with so many amazing people. Donna and I feel incredibly blessed to call Pitt our home.
“This gift is an expression of our thankfulness for the people of Pitt, especially the student-athletes we get to work with each day. Our responsibility is to give them the finest experiences possible—academically, athletically and personally. Donna and I feel truly honored and fortunate to be able to provide support for that mission at Pitt.”
On October 15, 2018, a new era in college athletics began – the introduction of the NCAA approved and sanctioned Transfer Portal (TP). Prior to the TP, the student athlete was at the mercy of the head coach, the school and the athletic conference where his school resided. Restrictions were placed on future school destinations. Loss of current scholarship was threatened. Graduate transfers had another hurdle to jump as their post-graduate degree had to be in a field not offered by their current school. Once all these hoops were jumped thru, it was up to the transferee to initiate contact with approved schools.
The TP ended all that. The potential transferee now goes to the school’s compliance office and asks to be placed in the portal. Within 24- 48 hours the compliance office must place his/her name in the portal. All restrictions have been removed. I imagine a transferee can still initiate contact, but he can also sit back and wait for contact.
As we all know, the NCAA has granted an extra year of eligibility for those on the 2020 roster. In Pitt’s case, I believe 12 scholarship players will take advantage of the extra year. Those players will not count against the 85 man scholarship limit. Pitt can end up paying for 97 scholarships.
At this time, TP additions are subject to both old scholarship limits (85) and sit out rules. Marcus Minor, a grad transfer is immediately eligible but is included in the 85 roster cap. Devonshire as a non-graduate is included in the 85 limit, but he also has to sit one unless an appeal is made and granted for immediately eligibility. At this time, the NCAA has not passed the “first-time” transfer rule for immediate eligibility.
Both types of TP additions are also considered as a recruit. As a recruit, they are also included in the yearly 25 man cap on recruits. That cap is easily breached. You can backdate a 2021 recruit to the 2020 recruiting season as long as the school has room under the 25 cap in the prior year, the recruit(s) enters school in January and the school has available scholarships open from the prior year.
Speaking of early enrollment, that is another trend that has ballooned in the past few years. Pitt has nine early enrollees. Some of that is due to the year of the Covid. But the trend started earlier and IMO with the introduction of the early signing period. But I ramble.
The above is my understanding of the current TP. I do not have links to back up my thoughts. Just snippets of remembered info from reading articles. I can be wrong. If so, let me know.
I use 24/7 to gather my ACC TP activity. I find the Rivals TP activity lacking. I am not going to bore you with links and what I do. But basically, I gather what I need from 24/7 and use the Rivals recruiting ranking data. That way, I am always using Rivals as a common language.
24/7 has three years of data and some very limited data on prior years on FBS TP entries. The main time frames are: 2019 – 10/18/18 thru 7/31/19, 2020 – 8/1/19 thru 7/31/20, and 2021 – 8/1/20 thru /31/2021. IMO, 24/7 starts there new year count on 8/1 to coincide with a date that is approximately in line with the start of fall camp. By 8/1, a team roster is set for the upcoming season.
According to 247 for the first year (2019), there was 1,720 portal entries. 2020 had 1,695 and almost seven months into the 2021 year another 1,719. The 2018 and 2019 numbers are usually in every article I read on TP entrees. Never thought about the numbers until the last few weeks when I started to read a third 24/7 article that gave a weekly 2020 update and that got me wondering.
If you divide 1,719 by 130 that is 13.2 PT entries for each FBS (P5 and G5) team. Then it dawned on me that includes walk-ons both preferred and regular. Then it made some sense. Those kids want to play, and someone may give them a scholarship at the FBS, FCS, or D2 levels. I almost went down a rabbit hole with a screed on 24/7 vs. Rivals recruiting rankings. You should be thankful.
The 24/7 site identifies a TP entrée as a “Grad”. I take them at their word. Then I got to wondering why some 2016 recruits were grads and others were not. I finally concluded that their status as a Grad depends on their status when they enter the TP. Some non-grads could be Grads by the time they physically enroll at their new destination. That means my data my understate the number of Grads transferring.
Now that I have over explained the TP, how has it changed recruiting? Here is a summary chart on 2021 (8/1/2020 – 7/31/2021) ACC TP activity. (Rivals ranking data.)
This chart my be out of date by the time this article is published. The TP is constantly adding new entrees and future destinations.
So far this year the ACC as a whole is averaging 8.8 TP entrees out. It is actually more but I do not include in my data any 24/7 name that is not a Rivals recruit.
How do I interpret this chart? First off, I have the advantage of knowing the underlying data. Basically, you have to know when a player enters the portal. As an example, let us look at Boston College (BC). None of the 7 TP entries were graduates. Three entered the TP before the 2020 season end. BC now know they have 3 2021 scholarships available and can increase their overall number 2021 of recruits (26 by the chart). They still have four slots to fill and they took in Three Grad transfers (the other TP entry in was a 5-star from FSU). BC is building by normal recruiting.
On the other hand, Georgia Tech (GT) is using the TP as a recruiting tool. Only 16 new recruits and seven TP ins. Only one of them was a Grad. GT is using the TP as a recruiting tool.
In Pitt’s case, I only have one TP entry – Michael Smith. He was not on the 2020 roster due to a medical exemption but was a prior recruit. I know his history as a Pitt fan, I added him as a TP entrant. Since I do not know the medical exemption of other ACC teams, I decided to add him to Pitt’s list to be consistent. Pitt uses the TP as both a perceived hole filler (Minor) and a recruiting tool (Devonshire).
If you look at Pitt’s 2021 24/7 TP page, you will find five names in total. Besides Smith, Minor and Devonshire, there is D.J. Turner and Paris Brown. Turner signed with Pitt on 9/1/2020, played during the 2020 season and is not returning for 2021. Brown was a 2019 walk-on. I exclude walk-ons from my data.
What do four of the five teams with double digit TP outs have in common? Florida State, Louisville, Georgia Tech and North Carolina all have had HC changes prior to the 2019 season. There is a chance BC will join them this year in the double club and probably in the 2022 TP year as rosters shake out. I have no clue on what is going on with Syracuse. All of the non-Grad TP adds may be good moves if the NCAA first-time immediate eligibility rule is passed this year.
A huge problem with recruiting and TP activity looms on the horizon. At this time (for all teams), the expanded roster for the additional year ends after the 2021 season. Currently, the roster cap and recruiting caps will return to 85 and 25 for the 2022 season.
How does the old roster/recruiting caps effect Pitt for the 2022 recruiting season? By my count, there will be 12 members of the 2017 (of the 24-man recruiting) class returning for the 2021 season. Only Kenny Pickett will have used all his eligibility including his “free” year at the end of the 2021 season.
Without the “free” year, it was going to be a small incoming class with normal attrition and prior years grad transfers using up the last of their eligibility. IMO probably no more than a 20. If 10 or 11 decide to stay, that would mean only single digit actual recruiting class, not only for 2022 but also thru the 2025 high school recruiting class. Does Pitt keep them all or push them into the TP or do they get on with their life.
One idea being discussed, is a registry of players with a “free” year. My understanding is that all teams would submit a list of all players eligible for the free year to the NCAA. This list would allow that player to not count against roster/recruiting caps in their “free” year on whatever team they could be on. It seems a simple solution but may meet resistance from some FBS teams (think teams with consistently low ranked recruiting classes that have no problem with pulling scholarships) that see this as an opportunity to upgrade their rosters.
The NCAA created a problem with the “free” year. I believe they did it with good intentions but did not think it through. Now they have to solve the problem.
Here is a link to the 24/7 TP data. The opening page is a listing of all players in the TP. By using the dropdown tab “team”, you can find that individual team activity.
Folks – I mailed a copy of this with a cover letter to Executive Associate Athletic Director, Media Relations; E. J. Borghetti this morning. As you can see it is extensive and , I hope, well written enough to make good sense. Even though the headline mentions football – the suggestions encompass all sports as you will read.
I will say that from my years-long personal experience Assistant AD Borghetti that he will read this promptly and take it for what it is intended – a show of support from all of us Pitt fans to him and the athletic department. This list was edited by me for clarity, etc.
The Pitt POV’s Readers Ideas For the 2021 Football Season
Scheduling – we get our rivals back and it might be easier said for basketball though. Why can’t Pitt play UConn, Villanova, and Georgetown again in basketball and Navy (should be every year) and schools like Cincinnati, UCONN, and other old Big East teams?
Can the students bring in banners or flags to the stadium? Maybe have them drop them off the night before, have security bring them up to the entrance the players come out of, then the students go onto field, unfurl, and wave them before kickoff. Then security would take flags back and store them. Think about how the premier league soccer does it.
For boosting the alumni and fans, has the university ever recognized a game specific tailgate crew or fans and families? Put a spotlight on these groups and individuals each week at Heinz.
Have fans share their stories just like fans have on here (The POV). Questions like; what made you a Pitt fan? Which were your most memorable games? What schools are your personal rivals. Who is your favorite all time players? What was your best road trip to an away game? Which fans come in from the farthest for the game etc.
(Editor’s Note: I suggest you do a few of the above on the big scoreboard pre-game and during commercial breaks – might have to use a seven second delay or better yet record the bits as the fans cross the parking lot or at tailgates. But those TV timeouts are killers for keeping fans engagedand interested.)
Drop by the POV tailgate one day. Take the temperature of the fans and tailgaters and ask them serious questions where their own point of view is received. You will get honest feedback about how true fans see things.
Engage with fans, alumni etc. via directed email and social media. The POV has about 700 “followers” on email who signed up to a message every time a new article is posted. Pitt could build an email address base to pass out smaller bits along with big press releases – written towards fans and not the media. You have already built a great website for Pitt athletics but how many everyday fans go and into it, especially when football and basketball are not playing.
Make specific daily (better weekly maybe) type of video and thousands of fans would receive word that you posted it. Send the link to interesting stuff you have done and get it right to who needs to be informed
This way Pitt sports are in their face on a constant basis. Make the emails so they cannot reply!
Also, many have talked about those football chalkboard discussions. Open some up so to get some real and genuine meet and greets where reasonable questions get an honest answer. This does not have to be the head coach, but some football or basketball assistant coaches and/or staff members could answer questions about play calling offensive and defensive strategies and preparations.
In some spots the AD or one of the Assistant ADs could explain in-depth how things happened behind the department scenes, scheduling for instance… or anything which could open some eyes and get people thinking about the whole of the athletic department and not just the teams themselves. Pat Bostick would be great at this, describing on field scenarios, why specific plays were called and coaching decisions that worked, or even did not work, in detail.
Not sure what pre-game day or same game day traditions there really are. But reevaluate your songs, chants, and activities to get more people energized and involved. More than just Neil Diamond please… please!!
Have the students and the student/athletes personally interact more. Might be tough to do with football due to separate housing and cafeteria. Get athletes and students more involved in group community projects. It is far easier to attend matches and root for players when you know someone on the team. If these are already being done, then get the word out better. It is known that this already happens each normal year – this is where a dedicated fan email listing would be extremely helpful in getting the word of their good works out. Maybe a way to wrap fans into this for word-of-mouth advertising.
One POV reader wrote: “When I studied at the University of Richmond, defensive back Mike London was a dormitory hallmate, along with a few other football players. When you live near them, they become fellow students with you, and you see firsthand how much work they have on their plates. It makes you want to go to watch and support them.” Surely if you talk to alumni who were at Pitt before the players and students were in separated living, they will have stories like this of their own.
How about the idea of a ‘Panthers Rewards Card’ to bribe the students to attend games? Once they earn enough attendance points, they can spend it on Pitt stuff at the University Store or the PITT Store. Once students attend an Olympic sport game, they could become hooked and tell others about the fun they had. That will give them a discount and sell more Pitt stuff. Once students see other students using their rewards cards word will spread.
Along those lines Create and pass out T-shirts to first time student attendees at our Olympic and minor sports matches captioned with something like “I finally went to a Pitt wrestling match and loved it!” They wear it around campus, and you get good advertising for about a couple of bucks a shirt.
Name a formal “Fan of the Game” at the home games. Get the cheerleaders to give him or her a Pitt gear gift bag, put them up on the Jumbotron and then ask a few questions on why they think “Pitt is It!” It can be hilarious and focused acknowledgement on them being a great Pitt fan.
To get seats in the student section for basketball at the University of Virginia students must attend other school sporting events, excluding football games. The athletic department then gives points for that and one needs to hit a certain point level to get into the student section. That might be tough with the Oakland Zoo being so popular… and now a business of its own.
At each home game have a drawing for a random student, who has remained until the fourth quarter, to have a semester’s tuition waived. Not only might this attract more students but have them stay past halftime. Might have to have late busses from Heinz Field to the campus for this.
To drum up fan support (and hopefully donations) Pitt should work with a hotel in Oakland and a hotel in Downtown to reserve a block of rooms and host mixers in the ballrooms etc. Get preferred pricing and develop packages with transportation local and national.
Tie in tours of the campus and other entertainment. Market this to Pitt Clubs and other individual alumni and groups. If it is fun and affordable, people will come year after year. How many groups are out there that would love to see old friends? Phi Epsilon Pi, a defunct fraternity had a reunion a few years back, they did it on their own. If Pitt would market and support these types of events they would happen more often. Do this for the closer away games also. Could these be done at a reasonable cost to the attendees?
Possibly reach out to local/state business who employ a good number of Pitt alumni and fans and draw them into attending the above annual events.
Ohio State used to have Archie Griffin speak last at graduation imploring the grads to join the alumni association and to support Pitt athletics…but mainly the Alumni Association. We have many football stars that have played at Pitt who may consider it an honor to be asked. Using a captive audience seems a great way to lead students to remain involved with the alma mater.
Bring a feeling and practice of real sportsmanship back to Heinz and Pitt fans. As it is if one acknowledges a great play by an opponent, he gets screamed at by other Pitt fans. Perhaps a small pregame video about civility/sportsmanship would be a constant reminder and have them stress that “Just like Pitt fans want to have a great time and cheer on the Panthers when we travel to other school to play ball We welcome (name team) fans at Heinz today to have the same thing. Whatever happens on the field today let us all win the day with civility and respect! Thank you and Let’s Go PITT!!” I bet some of the less publicly know kids on the team’s roster would love to tape something like this – and all the other PSAs mentioned here.
Maybe a football alumnus in a Public Service type video could say something like “I much as I wanted to beat the Hell out of Notre Dame every time, we played I still loved reading and learning about their long football tradition. When we played our away games at their stadium we were playing in “The House that Rock Built” that had some of college football’s biggest stars since 1930.” Every opponent has something of interest to tie into
How about a 60 second video about Pitt’s football or basketball history with the opponent? Something to acknowledge our football past with other school – Notre Dame, Penn State, Navy, WVU, etc. but also all opponents.
Since the stadium is a public facility and Pitt plays there too, how about a Hall of Honor for past Pitt greats too like the Steelers have! Maybe we could erect a statue or two of past Pitt Greats outside near the gates. We do have a Panther statue outside, but we should have more. Perhaps a better, less costly idea would be to have replicas of Pitt’s College Hall of Fame players’ bronze plaques set near the gates of Heinz – there are always walkers and joggers using that area plus Steeler fans waiting to go in will see them. If any Pitt players do not want to do it or want a big paycheck then develop plaques that are targeting points in our grand football tradition. Plus, these are easy to remove to a new stadium or such.
Here is the Gameday Thread for PITT Basketball as we play the Clemson Tigers at home at 4:30 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll try to fix it as soon as possible.
I”ll open with the last comment I made on the game blog. Pitt doesn’t have a single player that could make the starting five for Florida State.! Not Champ…no one. Florida State was the much better team size and ability wise.
I thought Pitt played fairly well considering their disadvantages in size and ability. Champ is definitely playing hurt.
I liked the guard oriented offense (without Toney) and thought Sibande played a very good game. Pitt lead 6-4 and that was it. All Florida State after. Once Pitt got within three points but mostly it was a 6-10 point Seminole lead.
I could nit –pick and talk about Pitt’s dribbling contest while the offense stood around and lack of rebounding out of the zone defense but over all I think Pitt played about as good as they could.
Here is the Gameday Thread for PITT Basketball as we play the Florida State Seminolesat home at 4:00 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.
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 email@example.com and I’ll try to fix it as soon as possible.
EDITORS NOTE: Please watch this video posted below – I volunteer with this hospice doing end-of-life ‘Salutes to Veterans’ to acknowledge to the veteran and their families their past military service and accomplishments. This is a powerful time and it is important to all who partake.
This particular video invites all Vietnam Era veterans to celebrate with us. Normally this is done in person at a big conference hall with food, speeches, music and museum exhibits and gets over 700 attendees each year – due to Covid this year’s will be virtual. I will remind all again as the date gets closer...
What I need from you is some more concrete, perhaps step-by-step, ways on doing what the subject implies – boosting school spirit and all that comes with it. Below is what I have now drafted as an addendum to the letter. Note that I kept any references to Penn State out of it because I want Pitt to concentrate on issues and answers they can put into effect for Pitt itself:
For alumni and fans; has the university ever recognized a tailgate crew or fan? Have them put a spotlight on these groups and individuals each week. Name a formal “fan of the game” at the home games. Get the cheerleaders to give him a gift bag of Pitt gear, put them on the Jumbotron and ask then a few questions on why they think “Pitt is It!”. It can be hilarious and a focus effort on being a great fan.
Have fans share their stories. Like What made you a Pitt fan? What were your most memorable games? What schools are your rivals? Who are your favorite all time players? What was your best road trip to a game? Which fan came in the farthest for this game. Etc. (Editor’s Note: I suggest you do a few of these on the big scoreboard during commercial breaks – might have to use a seven second delay or better yet record the bits as the fans cross the parking lot or at tailgates.
Also, many have talked about those football chalkboard discussions. Even some real and genuine meet and greets where your question gets an honest answer. Enough with the pre-canned questions and generic sanitized answers.
Engage with fans via email and social media on a scheduled basis. Drop by the POV tailgate one day and ask questions. (Editor’s Note:I suggest that you create something, a newsletter or website where the fans can register their email address and get all of the news you all put out on a regular basis.
Not sure what pre-gameday or same gameday traditions there really are. But reevaluate your songs, chants, and activities to get more people energized and involved. More than just Neil Diamond please.
Have the students and athletes interact more. Might be tough to do with football due to separate housing and cafeteria. Get athletes and students involved in group community projects. It’s far easier to root and attend when you know someone on the team.
A great point about the student/athletes co-mingling and/or living with the rest of the students; when you live near them, they become fellow students to you and you see firsthand how much they have on their plates. Makes you want to go and support them on the field of play.
If these are already being done then get the word out better.
How about the idea of a rewards card to entice the students to attend games. Once they earn enough points, they can spend it. Once students attend an Olympic sport match they could become hooked and this then could rise attendance across the board..
In order to get seats in the student section for basketball at the University of Virginia students must attend the other school athletic teams’ events (excluding football games). The athletic department then gives points for that and one needs to hit a certain point level to get into the student section.
At each home game have a drawing for a random student, who has remained until the end, to have a semester’s tuition waived. Not only might this attract more students but have them stay past halftime. Might have to have late busses from Heinz Field to the campus for this.
That is what I have so far. It’s a lot but I say let’s give solid feedback to Pitt from some of the university’s most ardent fans. Let’s hear what else I can add.