2017’s RBs; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw

2017’s RBs; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw

(This is the second of a longer series looking at our individual positions that need to be re-filled in 2017 and whether we will meet the PRODUCTION we had in those positions. We will not factor in true freshman at this point as we have no idea what they can and cannot do).

Much like in 2016 when we were faced with the prospect of having to put out a passing game without Tyler Boyd, we are revisiting that situation with this season’s loss of James Conner at running back.

At the risk of being unpopular (again) I’ll say this.  As I wrote many times during last year’s offseason that we wouldn’t miss Boyd much at all – and I took major heat, some of it from the more mainstream media, for saying that I’ll repeat that thought for this year’s running backs.

We won’t miss James Conner’s 2016 production as much as fans think. I love Conner, have had great personal conversations with him and feel that as a human being he’s one of the finest men I have ever met – and that is saying a lot given my professional career. Pitt and his peer players will miss his wonderful human traits and his friendship no doubt. Those are the intangibles James Conner brought to the Pitt football program and will continue to bring to any organization he is affiliated with for the rest of his life.

Unlike Tyler Boyd’s leaving, Conner’s departure is going to cost us big time in the leadership and role model areas. 

I truly wish he’d have stayed at Pitt for his 4th year of eligibility but understand completely why he declared – and what a grand decision that was given the relatively high round in which he was picked and by the Steelers to boot. Pittsburgh fans will have a lot more time to watch Conner play football I’m sure, just not in a Panther uniform.

But as a running back on our team last year, and the production he had out on the field, he’s replaceable and it will most likely be by committee.  Again I’m speaking of what he did out on the field production wise.

We’ll make up for Conner’s statistical production, especially rushing yards and TDs by this year’s batch of RBs, although his 20 TDs all told last season won’t be met by one player, that’s (maybe) for sure. Continue reading “2017’s RBs; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw”

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From the Vault: Why Pitt Is the Way it Is

From the Vault: Why Pitt Is the Way it Is

This is an article which entails some heavy lifting in the reading department so it may be best taken in chunks rather than sitting down for the whole shebang at one time. But do take a very close look at the Title Photo (Oakland in the 1930s) before you get into the linked articles.

For a weekend’s reading I have included two excellent and well-written Saturday Evening Post articles about the University of Pittsburgh and our football program’s history back in the 1930s and 1940s.  Before you click on those let me add a few things about why I did this and why I did it today.

I truly feel like Pitt is on the cusp of having to make some pretty hard and maybe unpopular decisions about just where the Football program fits in with the rest of the Athletic Department and even more importantly where it fits in relation to the rest of the University.

Why now you may ask?  Because this is the season where our won/loss record will determine if Pat Narduzzi restructures his contract to be Pitt’s HC for the long run or not. His existing contract is low for a continually winning Power Five school and can easily be bought out by any other program who wants him badly enough.

If he wins big this season, and by that I mean 9 or 10 wins including that elusive bowl win, then the rest of the nation is going to really sit up and take notice of what he and Pitt have done over the last three years.

I’ve written many times that last season’s bowl loss really hurt us in a lot of ways – mainly because it kept us from being listed in 2016’s  post-season Top 20. That would have been a real solid achievement for him on the national stage and made him more valuable to others than he actually might be to Pitt.

Instead the bold truth is that even as excited as Pitt fans are about the program and Narduzzi we are one win better that his predecessor’s best season – Paul Chryst’s 2013 year when he beat Notre Dame at home and won his bowl game.

Before you jump up and down in indignation please understand that I wholeheartedly believe Narduzzi’s 2016 season, with the wonderful wins over PSU and Clemson, was way better than 2013. It certainly was for us fans. But with only eight wins per year and no bowl game wins he hasn’t put all that much concrete distance between the program now and then.

Continue reading “From the Vault: Why Pitt Is the Way it Is”

The Rich Get Richer in Recruiting

The Rich Get Richer in Recruiting

Here is my take on the basics of college football recruiting – I’m not a professional on a recruiting website and so some of this may be off-base a bit, but I think it is in essence how things work…

We all know the recruiting sites’ star rating systems are somewhat suspect but they are the thing most regular football fans use as recruit comparisons and for a conversational baseline when discussing the recruiting game.  Which, as we are in the doldrums of college football until August, is a continuing main topic on here so let’s explore it a bit.

Recruiting stars awarded aren’t the only thing to look at when trying to decide how much you feel a recruit is going to contribute to your future teams.  Two other equally important issues are offers and official visits.  We’ll get to those in a minute but first the star system.

It is for the fans way more than for the actual decision makers. The recruiting sites live and die by the star system because it captures the fan’s interest and keeps them coming back to the sites to see how their school is doing in the star chasing game – which is also how the school’s recruiting classes are nationally ranked week to week.

Here is a very good USA Today piece on the ranked 2017 recruiting class as composed of all the recruiting sites.  It is explained as this:

The composite represents an average of the rankings by the four major recruiting services: 247Sports, ESPN, Rivals and Scout. All rankings went to Top 50, except ESPN, which is Top 40. Teams not ranked in ESPN’s Top 40 received a 41; teams not ranked in the other rankings received a 51.

Rank Team 247 ESPN Rivals Scout Avg.
34 Pittsburgh 33 31 34 42 35
35 TCU 31 37 39 37 36
T36 Baylor 39 39 32 36 36.5
T36 Oklahoma State 38 35 34 41 37

Continue reading “The Rich Get Richer in Recruiting”

POV Sunday Podcast; April 30, 2017

POV Sunday Podcast; April 30, 2017

I have a few Pitt POV car magnets left – the big ones like this:

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Let me know if you are interested – send an email to me with your contact info (address & phone) and I’ll get one out to you if I have enough.  Please put “Car Magnet” in the subject line.

Don’t forget Tuesday night’s POV Roundtable Call-In show. It has been a resounding success and growing by leaps and bounds.  Here is last’s weeks recording if anyone missed it – we cracked ourselves up until Ike peed his pants.

I’ll post up the participant particulars in Tuesday’s article. I start a meet around 7:45 or so then start recording when everyone is set and ready around 8:00.

News for the uncaring: Rushel Shell was chosen by the Steelers as an undrafted Free Agent… now it gets even more interesting.on the Southside in May – July before they leave for training camp.  BTW – Shell and Conner didn’t overlap on the Pitt roster.

RS:  Hi, I’m running back Rushel Shell. I went to Pitt too.

JC:  Hey, I’m James Conner – you know, the guy who made you an answer to a trivia question.

Also – The Doctors and I are talking about back surgery, up until now they have been giving me the 50/50 walk again line, which I told them to cram where the sun don’t shine.  I kind of hope we can do it but if so I’ll be calling for more donations for booze and earplug money if I’m to be trapped in the house for weeks with my wife.

Correction: Staunton, VA to Blacksburg, VA is actually 117 miles so it would be a ‘going to or from’ stop.

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POV Bits & Pieces and Roundtable Night; 4/25/17

POV Bits & Pieces and Roundtable Night; 4/25/17

First off, as promised, here is the donation of your golfing money to the Grassroots of Howard County Day Resource Center.

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It was a check for $300, was well received and is needed – as you can see by the missing drywall in the ceiling of the rooms behind us.

I can’t thank you guys enough for chipping in the way you all did and I will say that I made sure your donated fees are being expressly used to support the homeless services in our county. Not only did we all have a great time – you probably put some new boots on, or food in the stomach of, someone living out in the woods.

Continue reading “POV Bits & Pieces and Roundtable Night; 4/25/17”

POV Sunday Podcast; April 23rd

POV Sunday Podcast; April 23rd

Because I felt left out and had to hold down the Quicksilver bar all by myself when others were out having fun golfing, I went out yesterday and bought myself a complete set (used of course) of Jack Nicklaus’ Golden Bear Tranzition clubs.

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So, after this podcast I’m off to a driving range to see if my lower back will actually explode  if I hit a bucket or two.  Get this – I bought them used at a local Play It Again store and they asked $90 as is.  The bag was crappy and the club’s grips were in bad shape also.  I told them I’d come back last evening to pick them up.  They re-gripped all the clubs and gave me a very nice new (used) bag… and gave me 20% off for a military discount.

My daughter had said she’d pay half as a small present and so Ta Da! – These clubs cost me $39 total.

Pitt BB:

Not even a transfer; Aaron Thomas is refusing to board the sinking ship.

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Here is the competition RB Dion Lewis faced in his freshman year at Pitt.  If you remember LeSean McCoy had declared early for the NFL draft after only two years at Pitt (2007-08) so he was gone by Lewis and Graham’s first year.

Dion Lewis

Not a whole lot to worry about there but the other, more highly ranked, Ray Graham.  Lewis was a 3*, Graham was a 4* and returning RB Chris Burns was a 4* also.  Lewis blew their socks off that year.

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Who are the Guttmans and where did that $$$ come from?

Who are the Guttmans and where did that $$$ come from?

We Pitt people, and especially us Pitt football fans, just became familiar with a Pitt alumni name when Steve and Kathy Guttman casually dropped a cool $2,000,000 into the Pitt Football Championship Fund. 

“Finally!” we all cried “here is a donation that will start the financial donation ball rolling”.  And it well might do so, or at least let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Steve Guttman was a 1968 graduate of Pitt and then went on to complete his law degree at George Washington.  He wasn’t raised in one of Pittsburgh’s arty families, of which there were many back in the ’60s:

Steven Guttman fell in love with art at the heels of a hound. “I grew up in Pittsburgh, in a modest family, and we had no art in our house,” says the 68-year-old collector at his Greenwich Village town house.

The founder of Storage Deluxe Management Corp. and former CEO of the Federal Realty Investment Trust, Guttman is surrounded by hundreds of paintings, sculptures and furniture created by some of the world’s most desired artists. Along with his wife, Kathy, he has amassed one of the nation’s foremost collections of American folk and contemporary art, but he still remembers when he was a blank canvas.

“No one in my family had ever really been exposed to art,” Guttman says.

steve2020kathy20guttmanWe’ll get back to the Guttmans in a moment but I think it is safe to say most Pitt fans had never heard of or knew Steve Guttman before yesterday unless you may have been a childhood friend or attended Pitt in the same years he did.

But very few of us also had even heard of the Pitt Football Championship Fund or “The Quest For Ten” as it is known in the athletic department.

Continue reading “Who are the Guttmans and where did that $$$ come from?”