A shorter Mother’s Day podcast today – reviewed the last two articles about the RBs and QBs and threw out other assorted ramblings.
(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”
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.
We have talked many times about the need for highly rated recruits to build a high-quality nucleus for a successful team. There is no doubt that the longer a HC stays at a school, especially during his first contract, he gets better recruiting opportunities. We saw that with Dave Wannstedt when his recruiting took off after the 13-9 win in Morgantown during the 2007 season.
But recruiting young players isn’t enough and is truly just the beginning. With all the standards, rules and regulations, both internal of the university and external of the NCAA and ACC, it makes a college career into a minefield for a lot of student/athletes. Some thrive at Pitt to become the star players they were projected to be and some fall by the wayside due to either inattention to responsibilities, bad actions, injuries or by just plain being recruited over so they feel they must look for playing time elsewhere.
Just to show how this player attrition works let’s look at who of the 4* and 5* blue-chip players Pitt has landed over the years either left on their own accord or were forced out before their eligibility expired (those who departed the program are in bold):
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.
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.
Not even a transfer; Aaron Thomas is refusing to board the sinking ship.
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.
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.
I invited readers to send in their impressions of the Spring Game and Eric Wassel took advantage. I will put his article up under the Monday Morning QB piece that will be posted tomorrow morning.
Well, after all that talk from me about ‘if you are going to discuss the Pitt team in detail after the offseason then you really should get to the Spring Game so you know what you are talking about’… I missed the whole day even when I was up in Pittsburgh just this morning.
But we here at the POV had our “stringers” at the game so you know we’ll be getting detailed reports as soon as they put the beer cans down. Here is one group who showed up at the modified tailgate: see if you can guess who they are (I’ll answer in the comments section later):
Bunch of blood thirsty SOBs right there I tell you. BTW – I’m doing up a separate Golf Outing article today also – pretty interesting and fun as hell day for everyone – I’m really proud of the turnout at the golf club but also at the number of commenters who wrote me saying they wished they were there.
We’ll find something else to do during the season I’m sure.
Here are the Pitt’s detailed stats for the scrimmage this afternoon.
as provided by the Post-Gazette’s Craig Meyer on his Twitter feed.
Have to apologize for lack of articles lately – between going to Virginia for two days on Tuesday then having to drive up to PGH for two days for a funeral on Thursday I couldn’t find computer time to write anything.
BB News: Cam Johnson is indeed leaving the Pitt BB program as one of the many who have seen the handwriting on the wall with the Stallings hire. I think that Pitt BB fans are much like the Pitt FB fans in that they find it hard to point fingers at the coaching staffs when there are players to blame.
To me this mass exodus from the BB program is all on (dearly departed) ex-Pitt AD Barnes’ and BB Head Coach Stallings’ shoulders. From that initial press conference announcing the hire until now the Stallings era has been on a downward slope. Multiple players from a small roster don’t leave within months of each other unless there is great institutional instability.
This is NOT what you want a new AD to have to deal with in the first part of her time at your university. We saw a Pitt FB head coach leave Pitt when there was the same type of institutional instability back with Todd Graham.