Friday, November 30, 2007

Meet the New Boss Same As the Old Boss

Steve Pederson is going to be the New AD. Count me as ecstatic about this. I know some people who aren't going to be happy about it.

Pitt Brings Back Pederson as Athletic Director

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Some Rumblings

Well, I thought I'd share with you some info about Pitt that you probably won't read else where (for a while at least).

First off, on the recruiting front don't expect any type of flurry of activity for at least a couple of weeks. Right now we are in very good shape with Jonathan Baldwin which will help us out at the TE position to replace Strong.

Clemson is making a strong push for Averin Collier. Plans were for him to make an annoucement soon, but expect him to hold back to see if any major shake ups happen. If I were to bet, I'd still say that Averin is going to follow his brother to Pitt.

Pitt just offered Andrew Taglianetti. He doesn't have many "big" offers and really isn't rated high on any of the scouting services. He is considered to be a special teams demon though. He is the type of player that could make an impact for 4 years on special teams alone if he came to Pitt. Based upon the offer and the lack of others, there is a good chance he will take it and stay close to home.

The rumor mill is generating speculation that Dorin will be moving to tight end with a possible redshirt so that he can learn the position and not go through another wasteful year of learning on the go. I'd say right now that the chances of this happening are about 25%. It really depends on the development of our younger linebackers, how impressed the coaches are with the in coming linebacker recruits (Manny Williams and soon to be Steve Gardiner). Also the coaches are very happy with the running backs and want to make sure that whomever is quarterback next year has the best set of receiver options around him. So you can say it makes sense to put Dorin at TE to allow Nate to be used as a blocking TE when needed. It could also give Baldwin time to develop. If the younger/incoming linebackers struggle, don't expect to see Dorin moved.

Pitt is still looking for QB recruit for this class. Zach Stoudt and Tino Sunseri seem to be the most likely at this point. Sunseri has almost completely backed out of his Louisville commitment. Pitt wasn't involved early with Sunseri due to the Pryor situation, already having 4 qb's on the roster (Dexter Davidson included), and a false thought that he would be a Pitt lock if offered. One of the most likely situations to see Tino at Pitt is if John Fox and crew are fired from the Carolina Panthers. That would free up his father Sal Sunseri who is the DLine coach there. If for some reason Sal would come back to Pittsburgh (for employment or just to live) then I would expect Tino to be a Panther. One other prospect to keep your eye on is Josh Vick. He wasn't recruited too much at first, but interest started to pick up after our QB problems arose this season. If he gets an offer he will take it. If you remember the Luke Getsy recruiting situation from a few years back then this should remind you of the same thing.

Terrelle Pryor is still being heavily recruited by Pitt. Some say Pitt was really never eliminated while others say Pitt was never in it. He was quoted as saying he wants to play from day 1 and wants to play both sports at a big university. His future is at Qb and not in the NBA, and if he wants a team he could start at immediately then Pitt would be it. At WVU thoughts are Pat White will return next year which would leave Pryor on the bench, but they could use him in basketball. Texas and Ohio State are the other big 2 involved but they already have their quarterbacks of the future. While my bias says Pitt is the best fit, expect sweater-vest to shell out the money and land Pryor for OSU.

Next years camp will feature the current 3 quarterbacks plus which ever freshman we bring in a competition for the starting job. I really don't see the coaches picking anyone but Stull unless we get Pryor. In that case expect Bostick to redshirt and come back for the 2009 or 2010 season.

Kennard Cox will be starting at corner against WVU, but look for Pitt to pull him in favor of Jovanni and faster db's to try and offset the speed of WVU. As has been said here before, the coaches and the rest of us aren't too worried about getting beat through the air off of Pat White's arm.

Thats all for now.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Don't Root Against Pitt

On the surface a Big East team getting into the National Title game is great, it brings prestige and attention to the conference. If WVU beats Pitt by a significant margin on Saturday they will have a legitimate claim to one spot in the National Title game. Our season has been over since the phantom pass interference call against Rutgers; why do we need to ruin WVU chances to win the National Title?

Obviously, they are the main rivals that we have (actually the rival that we actually get to play). I think effects of WVU winning and getting the BCS National Title will be felt for years and years to come. WVU will get the boost in recruiting of being on TV and being in the discussion of the national sports media, something we never get in football other than to take swipes at our coaching staff or to laud the rare great player. Potential recruits are going to get to see pieces about Dick Rod turning around the WVU football program, making him look better in their eyes (many of whom we both go after). Wannstedt has done a terrific job of bringing in the top talent in the region but what happens if WVU gets even more of those kids? Wannstedt isn't Walt Harris he can't win games with second-rate recruits, in order to win games we need top recruits all over the field.

Do me a favor next time somebody tells you that WVU beating us is good for the Big East and therefore good for us, tell them to shut up. WVU winning and getting a shot at the National Title is going to be horrible for us and will continue to separate the two the programs. Right now WVU is light-years ahead of us in coaching. Position for position we probably have more talent but that means nothing to us because we don't have the expert coaching they have in Morgantown. I hate Dick Rod's arrogance but I really respect what he has done with what the reality is at WVU, he is a great college coach who is on the fast track to a marquee job.

If WVU dominates and puts a stamp on us to end their season I'm very concerned about what this means for WVU on signing day. Terrell Pryor is out there and he has WVU in the picture, if they can get him away from the bigger schools we are screwed. Pryor would basically be Pat White Version 2.0 and Noel Devine would be Steve Slaton 2.0. Do we get another win this decade against the Hoopies if they reload in such a big way?

So if you root for WVU on Saturday you might as well keep rooting for them over us for the foreseeable future. Screw the Big East we need to look out for Number 1.

Monday, November 26, 2007

We appreciate defense.

It is true, as a city, we love the defensive side of the game. It is just a shame that we aren't where we should be defensively. Paul Rhoads in all likely scenarios has saved his job. Unless WVU puts up 60 points on us, I really believe that Wanny will keep him around since the defense did play better in the latter half of the season. The UConn and UVa losses put Rhoads in a tough spot but the opponents had a short field most of the time due to poor coaching decisions and because of turnovers. While the defense did improve, they did not come up big when we needed them to. The two freshest examples are Grothe's 80 yard td to start the 2nd half last week, and Louisville's late touchdown drive to put them ahead of Pitt late in the 4th quarter. There are only a handful of games I can remember since 2001 where the defense has held on tight to preserve a win. Usually the defense keeps us in games but the offense is so incompetent that we over look some of the defensive mistakes because of the poor play of the offense. Under Walt, Rhoads had a ton of talent. Claude Harriot, HB, Lewis Moore, Gerald Hayes, Torrie Cox, Shawnte Spencer, and Ramon Walker just to name a few. The defenses then were fine because most of those guys were NFL players. The funny thing is though, you do not need NFL caliber players to succeed as a team in college football. If you get guys who play well as a unit and have an effective scheme you can make up for those short comings. Now on this team we're finally starting to see some players who will be in the nfl. Outside of HB, Clint, and Revis last year not many of the players were seen as impact players at their position. This year, Romeus, Mustakas, Duhart, Clermond, McKillop JR, and Berry have all taken strides to be considered more than above average players. On the flip side of that we have McKillop Sr, Mick Williams, Adam Gunn, Jameel Brady, Mike Phillips, Eric Thatcher, and Kennard Cox who have all seen significant playing time. The problem with those guys is that they are well below average college players (except Mick) and they are taking away from guys that should be seeing the field more.

Next year at DLine we are in the best shape I have ever seen in my 7 years at Pitt. Romeus, Duhart, Malecki, Mustakas, Tucker, and Sheard will all be returning and should make up the best front four in the Big East. Hopefully we get the right players in there from the start. This year there is no reason why Romeus and Duhart should not be on the field to start the game and for every play they can possibly be out there. Those two are HUGE impact players and can really make a difference in a game.

At linebacker we are in the worst shape we have ever been in. Scott McKillop is the only one who has shown he deserves a scholarship on this team. Brady, Gunn, Dell, and Murray are all awful. They have been given significant playing time and continue to embarrass themselves week after week. I was one of the many that felt Dorin would be an impact player on defense. During the pre-season practices he looked amazing. He made solid wrap up tackles, was in position, and never avoided contact. However, during games it appears he makes too many mistakes. It could have been that our offense was so bad during practice that it made Dorin look great, or it could have been that Dorin was given so few opportunities that he never had a chance to prove himself. To me, it always looked like he would be in for one play then go out and get yelled at on the sidelines. I hope Dorin continues to work hard in the offseason and improves to earn a starting spot. He is big enough and strong enough that just based upon ability he should be able to play well in his last two years here. Nate Nix and Dan Loheyde were two of our most highly regarded freshman linebacker recruits last year but both ended up redshirting this year. Add into the mix Tristian Roberts and Max Gruder, that gives us hope that one of those 4 can step up to earn a starting spot alongside Scott McKillop. It is unfortunate to know that this staff will only play the upperclassmen so get ready for another year of Gunn, McKillop, and Murray at linebacker. To be honest, I really would like to see McKillop (obviously), with Nix and Dickerson filling up the other two spots. That would allow us to rotate Loheyde and the others to find out who really are the best linebackers on this team.

At defensive back we have seen the biggest mismanagement of the year. Cox, Phillips and Thatcher have been god awful. I was very disappointed in the season that Thatcher has produced because in the short amount of time he played in the 06 season, he really dominated. It looks like he lost some intensity when he was injured last year and that really is a shame. Dom Dicicco is a heavy hitter and is arguably the 2nd best safety on this team behind Elijah Fields. If Elijah can get his off the field problems solved then there will be no excuse for both of them to be starters next season. I am willing to bet that next years starters will be Fields and Thatcher at the safety spots.
At the beginning of the season I was ready to anoint Aaron Berry the best defensive player on the team without actually playing one game yet. I was really disappointed to see him not see much action early in the season due to his ankle injury and I questioned why Ricky Gary was in the game. In the time that Gary was on the field all he did was cover his receivers and play good solid football. His reward was to never see the field and when Cox was yanked later in the season he was replaced by Jovanni Chappel. Don't get me wrong, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Jovanni, but I really feel that Ricky earned that spot based upon his play early in the season. For next year we know Berry will be our #1 corner. It will be interesting to see what happens with the other spot. Chappel is now the most seasoned corner of those remaining. Ricky Gary played well and should be given a shot. We also have the lightning fast Buddy Jackson, as well as the Chris Ball stolen from Alabama redshirt freshman Sherod Murdoch. I expect Berry and Chappel only based upon experience but I think this is the only defensive position battle that the staff will objectively look at and actually pick the best player to start.

Rhoads has his strengths and his weaknesses. I really hate our bend don't break defense. It has cost us in the past, and will most likely cost us in the future. Paul Rhoads should be ashamed of his work with the linebackers this year. Outside of McKillop they have been by far the worst performing position on the field (and thats saying a lot with how bad the O-line was). The corners improved throughout the season and the DLine is amazing. I don't expect one single change on defense. I really would like to see a linebackers coach brought in and let Rhoads call the plays if he is going to stay. Greg Gattuso is an amazing coach and should be considered a top candidate to become a defensive coordinator very soon. Chris Ball has taken some criticism from us, but to me, I think he is worth keeping around. I just really hope we can get someone from outside to teach these linebackers how to play smart, how to play physical, and how to be complete players.

Like I said, it will take a 60 point performance by WVU to raise questions of Rhoads getting fired. He may find a job as a head coach else where and if he does, we really need to consider making Gattuso our DC. Congrats Paul Rhoads, these last few games have saved your job when I once considered you to be the first casualty of Pitt football this season. If you are back, please just play the best players. Please be aggressive when the time calls for it. Please call for some nickel and dime packages on 3rd and longs. And to satisfy the yinzer in me, please let me see some blitzing.


Sunday, November 25, 2007


It's officially over. 7 losses with the 8th only a few days ahead will end what has to be the most disappointing season in recent history for our Pitt Panthers. We've all had our expectations and opinions change throughout this season and it has been an interesting ride. After a 2-0 start and a close loss to MSU, I really thought this team was on the right track. Kevan Smith played an awful game and we all thought it was Bostick or Williams time. Bostick came in and didn't play all too poorly for a freshman. After last game, the same fans who turned on Smith have now turned on Bostick. It's a shame because Pat is only an 18 year old freshman who was expecting to redshirt this year. Instead he was thrown to the wolves on a team with a horrendous offensive line. I don't expect to see Pat play qb for another 2 years as he will most likely be redshirted next year and have Bill Stull be the qb until the end of the 09 season.
Shady McCoy was a very bright spot on this team. He, like Bostick, was allowed to play thanks to an injury to 2nd string running back Kevin Collier. Against MSU, Hot-Rod was hurt and Shady won the starting job. After some fumble-itis, a strong rumor went around that the coaching staff was going to bench him in favor of Hot-Rod. Next year will be interesting as all 3 running backs will return and all deserve some playing time. Along with the backs we will have an interesting situation with Conredge Collins and Henry Hynoski. Hynoski, as far as I know, should still be inline for a redshirt. Mix this in with Collins (hopefully) coming back for his senior season we may have a problem brewing. Collins should be seeing more time, but we go without a fullback on many plays. Next year we will have an outstanding core of running backs and fullbacks but who knows how it will be split up.
The wide receivers will get a major boost with Derek Kinder coming back for a senior season. TJ Porter will hopefully remain as the teams number 2 WR with Mo Williams and Aundre Wright battling it out for 3rd and 4th spots. Pestano and Turner have been major disappointments and I really can't see any reason that would justify either of them having a top spot on the team.
At TE, Nate Byham should be on the field for every play. This year he has had to take a backseat to lazy Darrell Strong. Strong has run poor routes, taken plays off, and been the reason why Nate was not allowed to go over the middle to catch passes since Strong's inadequate blocking made him very 1-dimensional. Nate, Pelusi, and hopefully a 3rd TE can be brought in (Mike Cruz, wanna come back?) to help the line with blocking as well as improving the offense with more passing options.
Our offensive line has killed us ever since I have been at Pitt. It seems like we always have one or two guys that are very good, but the other three just completely ruin the line. This year the combo of Otah, Davis, Vangas, Thomas/Bachman, and McGlynn have been awful. Otah is the only one with NFL hopes. Yes McGlynn, I am saying you will not be in the NFL, sorry. Next year, a healthy Jason Pinkston and Chris Jacobsen will return to help bolster the line. Lucas Nix should be a starter too, but I say SHOULD BE, not will be. We all know that Wannstedt loves to play the older, and in most cases, shittier players. Next year's line must be this going from left tackle to right tackle: Pinkston, Jacobsen, Davis, Thomas/Bachman, Nix.
If we go with that our offense should be good enough to win 6 games on talent alone regardless of poor play calling. Cavanaugh will most likely be in the NFL. If he can't find a job there, expect him to be back in the blue and gold calling more draws and bubble screens.
Hill, Walker, and Angelichio will all be fine and should keep their jobs. Paul Dunn is the only casualty that the offense will and needs to see. If Dunn is not fired at the end of this year then we have no one to blame other than Wanny himself. I do believe that Nordenberg will meet with Wanny to say something needs to happen, so Dunn will be what happens. We also need to have a quarterback coach that isn't also our offensive coordinator. If we keep Cavanaugh, bring in someone to work with Stull, Smith, and Bostick that way he can devote the required time to work with these guys and make the most prepared they can possibly be.

I will get to the defense and special teams later, as well as my thoughts for WVU.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Pitt-USF Game Recap

Not good times today at old Heinz Field. The outcome wasn't really all that unexpected but after how well we played in the first half it was disappointing. USF went into the locker room down at the half and made some adjustments, something we weren't prepared for. Grothe breaking that huge run on the first play of the second half really killed any chance we had to win today. Couple thoughts from the game:

1. Pat Bostick wasn't ready to play quarterback this season. In a perfect world Bill Stull doesn't go down and Bostick can be given a redshirt but that didn't happen. Before you jump to criticize me about waffling on Bostick he is the best option we have at this point. Kevan Smith played himself out of a job, we had no chance to win with him as quarterback. This position and the turmoil it has caused to the team is the on-field reason for our losses. I think we have to give Bostick some time because he is a true freshman who has lead us to wins in the Big East. He may be a bust but we aren't anywhere close to the point where we can give up on him.

2. There are two legitimate game-changing players on defense in Scott McKillop and Greg Romeus. McKillop has quietly had a fantastic season. It seems like he makes every tackle for our defense and is always a threat to strip the ball. I think he has to be mentioned as an All-American candidate. Romeus has given us a defensive end that can get to the quarterback and create havoc. He is doing a great job and has earned his playing time.

3. The field at Heinz Field has gotten ridiculous, looking at the grass colored dirt that passes as a field is embarrassing. I know that the Steelers are priority number 1 but something has to be done about the field. It makes the program look bad when teams come in and they play on a strip of mud that goes up the length of the field.

Our season has been over for a while and today just kept piling on the garbage. Next week at WVU unless we pull a Miracle on Ice style performance we are going to lose and lose bad. I will say this right now if Wannstedt can go into Morgantown and deny them a BCS Championship bid I would give him a lifetime contract. That isn't going to happen but a man can dream can't he.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Turkey Day

From everyone here at The Cat Basket (Jason and I). We'd like to wish you a happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Some pre-turkey thoughts

Well with us getting ready for a day in which we all should be thankful for what we have, I thought I'd leave you some thoughts before the holiday about our Pitt football team.

At 4-6 we all know where this team stands. The last two games (USF and WVU) are what I consider to be our two toughest of the season. While USF doesn't have as great of a record as some other Big East schools, they are a team we match up very poorly against. WVU is also the same way. They have a dynamic offense and that crazy 3-3-5 defense that Wannstedt hasn't been able to figure out.

The good thing about the team is hardly anyone expects us to win either game which is taking away the false hope of going to a bowl game. Even if this team did beat USF and WVU, I highly doubt we would get a bowl game at 6-6.

Sadly, for most of the fans this season will start to get exciting at the end of the year with the recruiting battles as well as some personnel changes. The Panthers, somehow, are still in the running for many good prospects. Obviously for this class the team needs to sign a linebacker and an offensive lineman that can step up immediately. The Panthers could go the Jeff Otah route and sign a juco player, but when given the chance we have had some freshmen play well but lets not kid ourselves. Freshmen on this team will rarely see the field.

In terms of staffing changes this could be the make or break point for Wannstedt. We don't have a new AD in place yet so the main pressure he will be feeling is coming from Nordy and Cochran over at the Cathedral. The only guy who I feel for sure will be gone at the end of the season is Paul Dunn. I don't think that Wannstedt can keep him around under any circumstances. As for the big two, Matt Cavanaugh and Paul Rhoads, well............ Some of you may not like to hear this, but I would not be surprised to see them both back next year. Paul Rhoads has been here for a very long time but we continue to see the same story with him. We always let teams kill us on the ground and we can't figure out how to stop the spread offense. It's a shame we don't play teams like Syracuse every week because their offense plays perfectly into his scheme. On 3rd and long we never go into a nickel or dime package, we always stay in the base 4-3. We do have a top ranked defense this year, I will give him that. The stats, however, are an anomaly. In our two worst games of the season, UVa and UConn, they went up early on possessions where they had a short field to work with. Once they had such a commanding lead, they were able to run the ball and kill the clock. Our other games saw us keeping it closer which really helped us statistically. One of Paul Rhoads main down falls is that he can't stop a team when it matters. Against Louisville he let up a late touchdown drive which ultimately cost us the game. Against Syracuse the mighty Orange were setting the stage for a late comeback until Greg Romeus had seen enough and finished the game himself.

Do I think it's time for Rhoads to go? Yes I do, but I also feel that Wannstedt is very loyal and will have a hard time letting him go. That is why I believe there is a very good chance he will be back next year.

On to Matt Cavanaugh. Wanny and Cavvy are good friends, which never works out well when one is the boss and the other is the employee. Rumor is that Matt wants to go back to the NFL. The hard part about that is, there are only 32 teams in the league which means only 32 offensive coordinator jobs and 32 quarterback coaching jobs. After his performance here and with Baltimore, I highly doubt any team would be willing to hire him as offensive coordinator. Many people believe that Cavanaugh would be a great Qb coach in the NFL if he stuck with that full time. The question Cavanaugh has to ask himself is: Is it better to stay an offensive coordinator in college until something better pops up which isn't available right now, or is it better to leave now and take a chance somewhere else? Being a Pittsburgh guy, Cavanaugh is home right now. I could see him staying just out of the comfort of being here. It is nice to be able to get a job at home making 250k a year. I really don't see Wannstedt firing Cavanaugh if he was given the choice to do it or not do it.

If we are going to see changes in this staff, the University's higher ups will need to be the ones calling for it. Donna Sanft isn't in the position where she can tell Wanny what to do, and if the choice is left up to him, I think he will pick loyalty over necessary change.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Not Good

I'm going to come at this loss and writing about it a little differently than DPJ. I really lost hope in this season after the loss in Louisville. This season every break has gone against us and we aren't finding ways to win we are finding ways to lose. I can't believe the pass interference call against Turner was made at the end of the game, to take a game away from a team on a tic tac call is inexcusable. I'm glad that the team is staying competitive in these games but the constant waiting until next year sentiment is growing old. Coach Wannstedt has been given all the time any reasonably talented coach should receive in turning this program around and he hasn't done it. I hate to say turn the program around because we were in bowl games before him and now a winning season seems almost impossible.

I think next year is going to be a disaster unless something changes big time in the culture of Pitt football. When watching the game on TV I really notice how clueless Wannstedt looks on the sideline. He does trick plays at odd times and they never work. He plays the wrong players time and time again. I don't even know if changing assistant coaches is going to help this team. Wannstedt projects an image of losing and failure onto this program and we continue to live up to it. Either he needs to magically gain coaching talent or he needs to release control of the team to a new batch of assistants. As long as he is in charge we are going to continue to have sub-par seasons and bad losses. You are who your coaches are and our coaches are a bunch of losers.

The powers that be that forced Wannstedt onto the Athletic Department need to take a look into what they have done to our football program. Every idea of what Pitt football should be and whats important in a face of the program you have is wrong. Our football program is basically ruined by tired thinking and uninspired hiring. I hope somebody in power here, perhaps a new AD, brings a new thinking and a new attitude to football.

It's only going to get much worse if Wannstedt and the program don't change. Color me completely disappointed and dissatisfied with this whole situation and this year.

You Play To NOT Win the Game!

So here's my in game update. This team just wants to lose. Those qb sneaks on the first few plays of our goal line set were crazy. It didn't work once, so fuck it, we'll do it again.

Good McKillop is playing very well. However, the rest of the defense is playing too hit or miss. Williams and Bad McKillop should not be starting in favor of Romeus and Duhart. It just doesn't make any sense.

Kennard should never see the field again. He is awful.

Phillips is the worst safety in the big east. Give us Dicicco.

The pass interference call against Jovanni was bullshit. They should have never gotten that call and that would have stopped Rice's long TD run.

Bostick is not playing well. A lot of bad choices and problems with his mechanics are really hurting this team.

I love having false hope for this team only to have them break our heart each and every saturday. As Jones just said "Watching Pitt play is like getting raped".

Oh yeah, offensive line, way to keep sucking.

Ray Rice, enjoy your 2nd Paul Rhoads still running club award.

Paul Rhoads, i hope you get fired and never spend another day in football again.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Pitt will win tomorrow

Yeah you heard me. This team will upset those guido douchebags from jersey. I hope that their fans start some stuff with Pitt like they did against Navy and get our team all fired up. I can't stomach another big time rushing performance against our defense, so Paul Rhoads, WAKE UP AND STOP THE RUN FOR ONCE!




It's not that hard.

Cavanaugh, listen up.




We need a couple of wins to get to a bowl game. We can do this, we have the talent. Rutgers aren't all they are cracked up to be. USF is playing poorly. AND FOR GOD SAKES BEAT THE HOOPIES. I don't care what happens this season. The coaches are setting us up for more disappointment but c'mon, don't let the hoopies get a bcs game or god forbid, the national championship.

Dave, Matt, Paul. This game is on your shoulders. You have the players. You wanted time, you got your time. Put a W on the board. Enough screwing around.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

What Jones Is Thinking: Week Who Gives A F

I thought I would bring back a pre-hiatus column this week and give my thoughts on our chances to finally win another game. Just for the record Eric Thatcher just stared at me in the computer lab and now I'm intimidated, although most everything intimidates me now. Let's get on to the meaningless percentages.

at Rutgers (35%): Rutgers is not good this year but we are just as bad if not worse. In the end I think the home field advantage leads Rutgers to a closer than expected win. On the other hand they could just completely blow us out but I don't think they are good enough.

vs South Florida (10%): I thought this game was a complete impossibility a couple weeks ago but guess what, South Florida isn't all that great either. I there are 58 WPIAL games at Heinz Field on Friday night, then it snows and hails Friday night, and then on Saturday the temperature is in the low teens. USF is definitely beatable now but I still don't think we get it done.

at West Virginia (1%): If Coach Wannstedt ever wanted to do something to make me a fan of his, he could win this game. How great would it be if we beat WVU with like two seconds on a fluke play and shut them out of the BCS? This football season has pretty much been a waste in terms of actual winning but if we could shut WVU out of a big time bowl its all been worth it. In the end though we will play to lose and guess what in the end we are going to lose.

I hope that we can get another win this season but it probably isn't going to happen. Just enjoy the last couple games of Shady's freshman season and more importantly Mike Phillips' illustrious career. Retire that mans number Athletic Department.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Random Thoughts

My thoughts about the football team have been very scarce over the bye weeks. Basketball season has started, couple of tough finals, blah blah blah. I thought I through out some ideas before we gear for Rutgers this weekend.

1. Greg Romeus has really been the biggest shock on the team. You can look back into the archives we saw Shady coming, as did most of the informed fans of the Panthers. The way Romeus has rushed the passer and created turnovers is a great feat in a defense that doesn't create much pressure.

2. The right side of the line has finally stabilized itself after playing as badly as possible in the early weeks of the season. Bachman has proved to be a serviceable player and McGlynn has gone back to just being subpar and not outright terrible.

3. Aaron Berry is starting to show some of the signs of greatness that came along with his hype. The past three games he has looked like a different player, what has triggered this is a mystery to me. If next year the defense is going to improve Berry needs to develop into a steady number 1 corner. I don't think he needs to be Revis but he needs to be prepared to stop every teams best receiver.

4. If the rumors are true about the new AD being Georgia Tech AD Dan Radakovitch let's hope that the good old get a Pittsburgh guy system doesn't fail us again. I have no real knowledge of his work at Georgia Tech so I'll give him the benefit of a doubt. Whoever is the new AD is going to have some big decisions to make about the football program immediately. Here is a suggestion for free, FIRE PAUL RHOADS AND PAUL DUNN.

I'll be back tomorrow with my thoughts about our chances to win another game this season. Keep your eyes open for more activity on the site now that we are gearing to the end of another wonderful year under Coach Wannstedt. Your doing a great job Dave. Big thumbs up

Monday, November 12, 2007

Clint, what a controversy

In case you missed it last night on Sunday Night Football, during the defensive introductions Clint Session decided to say what high school he was from instead of saying he was from Pitt.

Big freakin deal.

I don't get why people are so pissed off about Clint not saying how much he loves Pitt and instead honoring his high school. I think the players should say what college they are from, but they have a choice to pick what they want to say. When people ask me where I go/went to school I say Pitt. I don't think the Butler High alumni would be pissed if I refused to talk about Butler.

The best part is people find it completely reasonable for Willie Parker to say he's from Clinton instead of UNC only because his coach didn't play him. UNC is getting much more coverage about the announcers talking of how Willie never played and the Rooney's found him and helped him earn what he has today.

Maybe Clint hates Paul Rhoads and that is his way of getting back. Maybe Clint refuses to acknowledge he is from Pitt until we bring back the script.

Either way, it was a one second shot on NBC at 8:30 at night. I'm sure the rest of America doesn't care that Clint didn't say he was from Pitt. They're probably talking about Vinitieri missing the chip shot field goal.

It would have been nice if Clint said he was from Pitt, but he chose not to. We just need to man up and stop doing what we do best, bitching.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Panthers in the NFL

Well, there has been quite a bit of talk this week about the Panther's success in the NFL and I thought it would be interesting to take a look at this team and see who all will go from playing on saturdays to playing on sundays. I'm only going to look at the starters since it would be unfair to judge players with a lot of potential who just aren't getting any playing time.

Pat Bostick - Right now, Pat is on the path to the NFL. If he remains the starter for the next 3 years then I think he will make it on to a roster. He may not start and he may even bounce back between an active roster and the practice squad. With the right coaching this summer and over the rest of his career, his throwing motion, footwork, and overall strength should be able to improve enough to match his natural football IQ.

Shady McCoy - NFL 1st round pick. Easy enough.

Conredge Collins - He will be the first fullback selected in the 2009 draft. He may not get used much as standard fullbacks like himself are not being featured as often, but he will still see significant playing time in the nfl.

Oderick Turner - Will not make the nfl.

TJ Porter - Still seems a bit too early too tell. He has NFL caliber potential, but at this juncture he hasn't shown enough yet to warrant being drafted.

Darrell Strong - He might not be able to block well and he may drop some passes you expect him to catch, but his athleticism will make him an early day 2 pick.

Jeff Otah - I'm saying right now he will be a 2nd round pick. He's a huge left tackle who has done everything expected of him from the moment he has stepped on Pitt's campus. He will be our biggest loss this year, but someone in the nfl is going to get a good player out of our loss.

CJ Davis - I don't think right now that he has played well enough to earn a spot in the draft. He still has another year to prove himself though.

Chris Vangas - He has a very small shot at making an nfl team. Most likely he will be an undrafted free agent. I just don't see him playing on sundays.

John Bachman - Nope

Mike McGlynn - Despite what his dad would have you think, he will not be in the nfl.

Joe Clermond - He really has had a strong season this year and is a huge part of why the defensive line is the best in the Big East. He's not going to be a guy that all teams fall in love with, but I could see him being a Sessions type of player where a team believes he has "it" and uses a later day 2 pick on him.

Mick Williams - The sophomore has a couple of years left to work his way into the NFL, but I would say right now the odds are stacked against him.

Chris McKillop - He will not be in the nfl. His primary back up, Greg Romeus though, is on pace to be a solid day 1 pick.

Rashad Duncan - Duncan is a solid player, but the problem is there are many players out there who are almost identical to him. He has to do something to set himself apart with his time left here at Pitt. If he doesn't, well, at least he will have a degree from Pitt.

Shane Murray and Adam Gunn will be lumped together - 0%

Scott McKillop - He has been having a very solid season and really deserves some recognition. If he keeps up this high level of play, someone will give him a chance.

Kennard Cox - Put that Pitt degree to good use because you sir are no Torri Cox.

Aaron Berry - Aaron has really stepped it up these last few games and is becoming the player we all expected him to be. With solid progression, someone will give a corner with decent size and speed from a big (albeit poor) major d1 school.

Mike Phillips - No

Eric Thatcher - Probably not

Conor Lee - He is a very good kicker, but his kickoff ability really needs to improve if he wants a shot. I am going to say no only because there are only 32 jobs available as place kickers in the NFL which really puts the odds against him.

Dave Brytus - He will be a professional. Except it will be in MMA or UFC, not as a punter.

Matt Cavanaugh - 100% Matt will be picked up by someone at the end of this year. I really think we should send him to Indy to be Peyton Manning's QB coach, agreed?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Some Perspective On Shady

Sorry for the lack of posts again this week I have been insanely busy but I'm back and ready to get thinking about the home stretch of the season. Joe Starkey today in the Trib wrote an article about Shady's amazing start to his career comparing his young career to that of Tony Dorsett. I'll link to the article at the bottom but I'm going to come at the idea of where Shady stands in a different way.

This season Shady McCoy is performing to his potential in the hardest situation he could be in. When looking at his numbers remember that he didn't get the job as the "starting" running back until the Michigan St. game. So thats one obstacle for him to overcome winning a starting job from an established starter who was certainly a favorite of the coaching staff.

After getting the starting job through injury Shady went to Michigan St. and recorded 172 yards off of 25 carries. Then the team goes on the game losing streak where two of the games Shady didn't get over 100 yards. The play-calling during those games was very basic while the coaching staff kept the handcuffs tight on Bostick. All of these things have kept Shady from having even more gaudy stats and as a result a diminished presence for him in the national media. Imagine the hype around him by EPSN if we were 7-2 instead of 4-5.

Another thing that Shady has had to deal with is having the hopes of an entire program on his back. The team while getting better has played poorly much of this season but Shady hasn't at all. Expectations from everyone are extremely high and perhaps unfair. Our offensive line has been ravaged by injuries and inexperience to say the least (a distinct lack of talent on one side to say the worst). No vertical passing game, no offensive line, no problem; Shady still goes out and makes big plays.

I don't think Shady at this point is better than Tony Dorsett but I think he is right there with him. Now can Shady come through the next year or two he will be at this university and play at the same level is unknown. If this team improves just a little bit Shady is going to become unstoppable.

A little something to think about before I finish this column. What happens if Kevin Collier stays healthy? That would have been another player on the depth chart in front of Shady in the camp; Shady was definitely listed at 3rd in all the reports I saw. It makes my head explode trying to think of the ways that Wannstedt would have botched this situation, remember it took about 4 weeks for them to figure out how to use LSH and Shady in the same series.

Wow I was trying to write a positive column about Shady and now I'm angry about the hoops he had to jump through this season just to play.

Pitt's McCoy deserves 'Tony' Award

Zoo Reminder

Hey all you Panther faithful. We just wanted to remind you that tomorrow is the Oakland Zoo's pre-season student event. Make sure you check it out. This year will probably be the best one yet so make sure you check it out.

Also, I will be back shortly with a post regarding our Panthers and the NFL. This week has been pretty hectic for both Jones and myself but we are here to get you through the bye week.

~ DPJ ~

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Talent and Talent alone won this game.

While Jason Jones is on his hiatus, I thought I would say a few things about the game and about our future.

We'll start with the most current item, our 3 point win over perennial powerhouse Syracuse. Looking at 'Cuse, they are a lot like us in terms of coaching. On the field however, we are light years ahead of them in terms of talent. If you were at the game or watched the game on TV, i'm sure you agree that the game was a very boring one. Two similiar pro-style offenses with defenses that play to lose rather than playing to impact the game. The result of that was a big pile of garbage with one bad team with bad play calling philosophies losing to a team with above average talent and terrible play calling philosophies.

Shady didn't have any overly impressive game for his standards, but how nice is it to know that in every game he should be able to give you at least 100 yards and 1 td despite the fact that our OLine is awful. Speaking of which, I am glad Wannstedt chose to run the ball on 4th down both times. What I do not like is having Shady line up 7 yards deep. In a goal line/short yardage set, you need to get the ball to your player as soon as possible. You can not wait too long because the line will most likely break down. The second problem I have is running the ball to the right side on those plays. Why would you run the ball behind Bachman and McGlynn when you have NFL caliber Jeff Otah, and Pitt's second best offensive lineman C.J. Davis on the left side who can blow people off of the ball. Thirdly, I thought for sure we would see Bostick sneak the ball on one of those plays. It was such a short yardage play Vangas just needed to fall forward and let Bostick fall on top of him. Either way, it didn't pan out for us and hopefully (but not likely) a lesson learned.

The defensive line played great. Our down linemen where creating pressure and getting to the quarterback quite easily. However, late in the game when it mattered the most, we went into prevent style defense. If you're unaware of what a prevent defense does.........well, all it does is prevent you from winning.

Following this win many people believe we can take out a faltering USF team as well as a weaker than expected Rutgers team. I am not yet on board with that. One common theme for our Panthers is that we really play to the level of our competition. If we would have played Cuse the way we played Cincy we would have won by 3 touchdowns. Instead we played to the much lower level of Cuse. If you look at other examples, our loss to Ohio we played down, at MSU we played at higher level and going back even farther last year against Louisville and WVU we played to their level (until the 2nd half started). This team needs to create a new mentality if they want to be come a top tier program. They should expect to execute their game plan without any flaws and to expect that they will win every game by a significant margin.

So, is there hope? Sure there is. Rutgers is looking very average and we are going to get USF at the perfect time. The Bulls are not the same team that looked so impressive a few weeks ago against WVU. They are more like the Bulls that started off hot in 2004 but thanks to a hurricane pushed our game back to december when they started their slide allowing us to seal the deal on the Fiesta Bowl. That game was in Tampa, this time it will be in Pittsburgh on a cold November night. Because it is a home game against a struggling team, I think we have our greatest shot at our next win against USF. Rutgers still has a strong running game and the game is in Jersey which will make it tougher. Against WVU...........well, it will take a miracle but hopefully the team gets up for this rivalry game and brings us home a win.

This team will most likely end up 4-8 which is much better than the 2-10 we all thought might happen after the UConn and UVa games. If the play calling does not change we will not win the remaining games. We have the talent, we just don't have the coaching. I still hope that Rhoads and Cavanaugh are gone after this season. We need two guys to come in and tell Wanny that we are going to base our game designs on exploiting weaknesses and playing to our strengths. We can't have a cookie cutter nfl offense and defense in the college level. Spread the field, you may have let Bostick throw 30 times but 20 of those passes seemed like they were bubble screens and quick outs. That will also push the defense back allowing Shady to run. Greg Romeus is a best but as more people find out about him he's going to get double teamed. Williams, Duhart, and Clermond make great additions to that line. If we show some pressure like we did earlier in the game, we can have a solid rushing defense that gets a ton of pressure on the quarterback. We need to be more gutsy, but do it in the right situations. Don't do it just for the sake of doing it. Be strong, be confident, but in the end, be smart.

~ The One and Only ~

Friday, November 2, 2007

Legends of the Athletics Department

Well folks, it's time for another installment.

I planned on going in a different direction with this, but after reading the men's and women's media guide, there is only one choice for our next focus.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please give a loud round of applause for Greg Hotchkiss.

In case you do not know about Greg, here is his bio from

"Greg Hotchkiss begins his sixth year at the University of Pittsburgh as its associate athletic media relations director and men's basketball contact. During that period, the Pitt men's basketball team has compiled a 133-35 record, earned national rankings in 90 of the 97 polls, appeared on television an average of 27 times per season (135 total and 71 national TV games) and opened the brand new sold-out Petersen Events Center.

Hotchkiss owns 11 years of athletic media relations experience including stints at the University of Florida (2000-02), Duke University (1999-00) and Texas Tech University (1997-99). Prior to Pittsburgh, Hotchkiss worked two years at Florida as an assistant SID where he served as contact for the nationally ranked Gator baseball team, assisted with publicity for the Gator football team and oversaw aspects of the office including UF's SID internship program. At Duke, he assisted with publicity for the No. 1 ranked and eventual 2001 national champion Blue Devil men's basketball team and handled SID duties for 10 sports and 250 student-athletes. At Texas Tech, Hotchkiss was responsible for the publicity and promotion of the nationally ranked baseball and volleyball teams and assisted with publicity for the Red Raider football team.

A Franklin College (Ind.) graduate, Hotchkiss worked the 1996-97 year in the Florida SID Office where he worked closely with the 1996 national champion/SEC champion Florida football squad and assisted in the day-to-day publicity of 1996 Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel. As an undergrad, he lettered four years in soccer, earned a National Pulliam Journalism Scholarship and completed internships with the Indianapolis Colts, Indiana Pacers and at the University of Michigan.

Hotchkiss has earned a total of 15 national publication awards at four different schools and has managed and hosted a variety of NCAA championship events."

I first met Greg a few years ago when I had the opportunity to become a leader of the Zoo. It is very easy to see who are the passionate workers in the athletics department and folks let me tell you, Greg Hotchkiss cares. Greg can talk to you about all of our sports and I guarantee you that he knows 10 times as much about you in any Pitt sport.

Greg was also in charge of creating the media guides for the men's and women's basketball teams. In case you have not seen them, invest the small amount of money. They are very informative and complete. I am a proud owner of both the men's and women's basketball media guides. Greg may be the best at his job compared to anyone else in the athletics department.

This sounds like a very kiss ass column, but it is supposed to be one. Greg really is one of the guys that is over-looked in this department because he is not the face off the program, he doesn't get a ton of phone calls. He just goes in to work every day doing what he is supposed to do and he does it well.

Greg, we here at the Cat Basket love you. We hope you are here for a very long time and we look forward to working (and drinking) with you well in to the future.

Keep up the great work and I hope we can continue to have this great working relationship.

~ The One and Only ~

Both teams are focused.

Both teams are focused and that is the important thing because lets face it, this game means nothing. The two bottom feeders of the Big East square off in what should becalled the Irrelevant Bowl. Sorry to start this off on such a negative note, but despite all of this "improvement" we have seen from the team (the players, not coaches), we still have to face the fact that the team will not make a bowl game for the 3rd consecutive year. Before I break this thing down, ask yourself a question. If you died and went to hell and your job was to give interviews for an eternity, who would you rather give them to, Wannstedt or Syracuse Head Coach Greg Robinson?

On to the game! Gone are the days of our favorite Cuse player, Diamond Ferry. The man who singlehandedly got Pitt to the fiesta bowl isn't around to help Pitt anymore. Instead we have to rely upon ourselves which has gotten us to a solid 3-5 record. Don't think it's all that bad folks. Powerhouse Syracuse is 2-6 this year.

Looking at our team, you basically know who needs to be where and who needs to do what. However, the coaching staff won't let that happen. Cuse will put 8-9 guys in the box, and instead of lining up 4 wides to counteract that, we will see Shady and Hot-Rod running dives up the middle for a solid 1-2 yards. Nate Byham should be seeing the ball, instead he'll be picking up blitzing linebackers.

On defense, Ricky Gary should be starting over Kennard Cox, Dom DiCicco should be replacing Mike Phillips, and Greg Romeus should be in on every play. We know this won't happen because Wanny and Rhoads are trying to sabotage our chances of winning by not playing our best players and not calling effective defensive game plays.

The big thing about Syracuse is, they just don't have that WOW factor in any part of their game. We have a solid D-Line and Shady, but what does Cuse have? Otto the Orange? Syracuse's starting running back, Doug Hogue, is the backup for their currently injured starter, Curtis Brinkley. Hogue holds an impressive resume. He's a guy that was barely recruited. His best day ever in college was 24 carries for 84 yards. All of this leads me to believe that he is most likely the next inductee into the Paul Rhoads "Still Running Club". Now that's not really fair since we do still play USF, but WVU and Rutgers still have 2 current members in the "Still Running Club", so Hogue, get ready, tomorrow is your chance to shine.

Their defense is piss poor. They shut out the mighty Buffalo Bulls of the MAC. They held Louisville under 30 points, but other than that, they have nothing notable to talk about. Shady should be able to put up 150 and 2 tds easily. Bostick SHOULD be able to have a 300 yard passing day with 3 td's but won't since the coaches won't let him throw and mix in the fact his two starting receivers will be Turner and Pestano. Tell ya what Cavanaugh, we'll play a game. Let Bostick throw the ball down field (no screens included in this 20) but let Porter, Williams, Strong, Byham, and Shady be his targets. I know for a fact on those 20 passes he would get at least 200 yards passing and 2 tds. Realistically, Bostick will have about 10 passes in the first half and 8 of them will be screens/shovel passes to the running backs. I just don't see why we wouldn't take advantage of throwing against Donovan a.k.a. Joe Fields McNabb in the secondary.

I really can't see how this team can lost tomorrow based upon talent alone. You could let the players call the plays tomorrow and we would still win. Shady is your offensive MVP tomorrow, Bostick will be criticized for having poor mobility, we will scream about how Nate didn't get the ball enough, and our fans will say we still stand a chance since we beat Syracuse. I say, enjoy the game, this is our last win of the season. Pitt 31 (should be about 60) - Syracuse 10.

~ The One and Only ~