Revisionist History – POV Style – The 2015 Class

Revisionist History – POV Style – The 2015 Class

Chris Peak has recently put up a couple of nice 3-2-1 columns where he looks back at a recruiting class and recaps that classes success (or lack thereof).  I figured I’d do the same but with my own spin to get some discussion going.  We’ll start with the 2015 class because there are still some 2015 players on the roster.  Peak calls 2015 a “Transition Class”, meaning that it was a class that was recruited through a coaching transition.  Peak also points out that Transition Classes are generally a little bit less productive after it’s all said and done, for obvious reasons.  If you were to look at the class below, I think you would agree.

Still, there are a few players that have made it through to year five, and I’ll highlight them below.  Continue reading “Revisionist History – POV Style – The 2015 Class”

Time to Believe

Time to Believe

Disclaimer – This article will make some people very happy.  It will also likely piss some people off.  That is fine.  If you are part of the small population of Pitt fans that are pissed off, well that’s too bad.  It is not meant as a personal slight, and I am simply harnessing your energy to further prove my point.   Despite my opposition to your views, I continue value your perspective. 

My first year at Pitt was 1997.  When I stepped onto campus, Pitt football was on the brink of extinction.  The team had averaged three wins over the previous five seasons under Paul Hackett and Johnny Majors II.   Steve Pederson had just dropped the Script in favor of the Dinocat.   New head coach Walt Harris had won just 11 games over three years at his previous head coaching job (University of the Pacific from 1989 to 1991).  Indeed these were dark days for Pitt football.

And yet the team slogan was “We believe”.  Perhaps that it was minted partway through the season, because after wining just three games the year before, Harris’ Panthers were starting to give the fans something to believe in.

In the first game, Pitt beat the Southwestern Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns 45-13.  Pitt then lost to #1 Penn State in Happy Valley, but not nearly as badly as everyone expected (17 – 34).  In game three, Pitt downed Houston on the road, scoring 35 points in the process.  Lo and behold Pitt was 2 – 1 heading into a nationally televised Thursday night matchup with Miami.  Continue reading “Time to Believe”

Bits and Pieces, and another Big Recruiting Weekend

Been on vacation this week on beautiful Seabrook Island, South Carolina, and so you’d think I’d have written more. But with a two year old and a four month old on hand, well if you have kids you understand.

Fortunately everyone is napping at the moment so I’ve snuck away to sit by the ocean and catch up on the really important things…

Continue reading “Bits and Pieces, and another Big Recruiting Weekend”

Five Pat Signals

Five Pat Signals

Pitt’s first big official visit weekend is over, and head coach Pat Narduzzi has landed some commitments.  He sent up five “Pat Signals” between Saturday afternoon and Sunday night.  That’s about one commit every six hours, which is not too shabby.

Four of the five commits have revealed themselves so far.  All are three-stars.  One is from Florida.  One is from Georgia.  One is from Ohio, and One is from New Jersey.  None of this should come as a surprise.  Pitt has clearly worked to diversify itself out of Pennsylvania and into the South.  When the right coaches are in place, New Jersey has always been a fertile recruiting ground, and Ohio has traditionally been a Pitt recruiting stronghold (although oddly enough last year’s class did not contain a single Ohio native).

As for landing three-three stars, well, that should not be a surprise either.  Since 2016 82% of Pat Narduzzi’s recruting classes have been three-star players.  Like it or not, these are Pitt’s bread-and-butter.

Lets talk through the four commits that we know about.   Follow link to access their Rivals profile. Continue reading “Five Pat Signals”

Pitt Lands a Transfer Tight End

Pitt Lands a Transfer Tight End

Pitt nabbed their third graduate transfer tight end in three seasons today.  Two of the three have come from Rutgers.  Matt Flanagan was the first Rutgers grad transfer TE back in 2017, and Nakia Griffin-Stewart, who announced his commitment today, is the second.

First of all, congratulations to Mr. Griffin-Stewart.  He’s instantly upgraded his playing situation and moved from a perennial division bottom-feeder (Rutgers) into a division championship contender (Pitt).  That in-and-of-itself speaks to the intelligence of the man, and his ability to diagnose a situation.  Secondly, Griffin-Stewart has moved from a situation where his receiving skills were likely under utilized, to a situation where he receiving skills will likely be highlighted.  While it’s tough to comment on exactly how good of a receiver Griffin-Stewart actually is, these two highlight-reel catches should be tantalizing enough for certain elements of the Pitt fanbase to anoint the new guy as the next Dorin Dickerson.  I don’t know if I want to go that far, but what I see is certainly promising, and Griffin-Stewart is most likely a receiving upgrade over Carson Van Lynn (no offense to Mr. Van Lynn).

Continue reading “Pitt Lands a Transfer Tight End”

Narduzzi is Actually Better Than Dabo…Kind Of

Narduzzi is Actually Better Than Dabo…Kind Of

Signing day has come and gone, without the fanfare of yesteryear where expectant Pitt fans sat by the computer watching the commitments roll in.  The fan base has early signing day to thank for that, and this past Wednesday was a quiet one day because of it.

You could argue that the two biggest commits that Pitt trotted out for the media were new Offensive Coordinator Mark Whipple and new Wide Receivers Coach Chris Beatty. Both of the new coaches were at the LOI event on Wednesday, and both DiPaola and Batko have done a nice job of writing up the Whipple interview.

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A few POV’ers not interviewing Beatty or Whipple

One of the more interesting quotes to emerge Whipple was the “What’s it going to take to beat Clemson?” question that he asked the quarterbacks.  It is a question that is dripping with insinuation, especially during an offseason filled with so much angst and so much promise.

First, Whipple was insinuating that Narduzzi wants to beat Clemson.  Well the truth is that everybody wants to beat Clemson, but on the other hand, Pitt does not play Clemson in 2019.  So if we read between the lines, we can infer that Pat Narduzzi believes that the team can repeat as Coastal Division champions.   And why not?  The coastal is shaping up no better in 2019 than it was in 2018.  Here is a quick look at the teams: Continue reading “Narduzzi is Actually Better Than Dabo…Kind Of”

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.