Sunday, January 27, 2008

It's a great day for hockey

Thats right folks, Andrew Taglianetti (the son of former penguin Peter Taglianetti) has committed to Pitt. This was no big surprise as Pitt was his biggest offer and everyone seemed to know from the beginning that he wanted to be a Panther.

Now you might be wondering why we offered someone like him who is only considered a special teams player. Well let me give you one word. Greyshirt. Basically he will enroll in Pitt a semester later than everyone else so he will not play until 2009. This allows us to have him not count for a scholarship this year.

We still have 2 ships left to give this season and we have about 6 or 7 offers out there right now. Now as was said in the comments section of the last post, "he" did not come on friday, but there is a rumor floating around that "he" did come down saturday morning.

With signing day coming very very soon, it will be great to see how the pieces fall into place.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

He's coming

"He" will be on a visit this weekend. Keep your fingers crossed.

We'll give you the news as it breaks.

~ DPJ ~

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Some Info on Tony Wise

As most everyone knows former NY Jets Offensive Line Coach Tony Wise has been hired. Wise had been an NFL Offensive Line coach for 18 years. In 1977 he was on the same Pitt staff that Dave Wannstedt got his coaching start on. By all indications Wise is a trusted friend of Wannstedt and has worked with him on several occasions in the NFL.

What does this all mean for the Panthers beleaguered O-Line? Well I think the main improvement to the O-Line is going to be technique. You don't work for 18 years in the NFL without knowing a thing or two about technique. Hopefully, Wise can bring some fire and enthusiasm to our talented albeit young offensive line. Guys like Lucas Nix and Chris Jacobsen have all the talent in the world to make it at this level and Wise is going to have to nurture them. I'm pretty excited about the change in coaching for the offensive line just because of the way that players seemed to regress under Paul Dunn. Also anybody who throws an injured player back into a game and cost him the rest of the season deserves to lose his job (Jason Pinkston playing at Michigan St with one arm).

Losing a projected first round pick in Jeff Otah is going to be the immediate task in spring. The obvious choice is to move Pinkston to left tackle but perhaps Wise goes another way. We have plenty of bodies now; barring catastrophic injury situations which seem to be a Pittsburgh disease over the past few months. We are going to be replacing two 5th year seniors at right guard and center. Center appears to in experienced hands with Rob Hauser the JUCO transfer. Guard is going to be a great battle going into spring ball with Joe Thomas and Chris Jacobsen the front runners. Also who is going to be the other tackle?

Wise is coming into a much improved situation over what Paul Dunn had to deal with last year. With the level of talent we currently have at O-Line he needs to have an immediate impact. Young players are going to need to be ready by the opener against Bowling Green. I don't see how anybody could do much worse than Dunn so Wise should be an improvement.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Some info on Alexander

Don't worry yet Panther fans, we are not out of the picture with AJ Alexander. He is going to look around some more before committing. One of the things many people fail to see is how dirty this whole recruiting process is. The whole reason for the decommitting was because of Coach Hill's departure to Miami. Once people found out about it, AJ had coaches calling him to try and sway him their way. Another big problem is that Terry Smith from Gateway is the front runner to replace Aubrey Hill. This wouldn't have been a big deal, but it is being used against us by others. How you ask? Well certain people (friends of an old man in central PA) are saying that with Cam Saddler coming in then AJ wouldn't see the field. This is all b.s. AJ should not worry about not being played because of where he went to school. Instead, he should worry more about Wannstedts blatant refusal to play the underclassmen.

It is tough to tell what will happen with AJ from here on out, but we are still in very good shape with him. The only problem is if we get a commit from elsewhere, he may have lost a chance to get a scholarship here.

We shall see.

~ DPJ ~

Friday, January 18, 2008

A story about Rich Rod

Well as most Panther fans know, the day after the Backyard Brawl (13-9), Rich Rodriguez went on a little recruiting trip to Monroeville, Pa to visit the then uncommitted Cameron Saddler. Much to the dismay of DickRod, Dave Wannstedt was already in the house having dinner with the Saddler family. While Dave and co. were enjoying a nice dinner, the slimy Rodriguez drove to a mini-mall near Saddler's house. He then texted Cam and asked him to let him know once Wannstedt had left. Wanny left and being true to his word, Saddler told DickRod that Dave had left (he left out the part that he verballed to Dave though). DickRod enters the Saddler household and the recruiting pitch begins.

This is the whole point of the story.

Dickrod told Cam on Dec. 2 that he was in fact considering the Michigan job. He didn't say to Cam that he should go to UM if he leaves, but recruited him for WVU only. That's a pretty interesting story that happened 1 day after the Brawl.

I still don't believe that Dickrod threw the game (as many hoopies are claiming) but I do believe that Dickrod was itching to get out of Morganhole. Michigan was probably the highest job he could ever be offered and took it. Despite all of this, Panther fans can be happy that on a cold December night, we were able to shatter the hopes, dreams, and possibly future of our most hated rival.

~ DPJ ~

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Rhoads replaced already?

This come as no surprise but Dave Wannstedt has been talking to Greg Gattuso about becoming the new defensive coordinator. Wanny knew that Rhoads would be leaving when the right opportunity presented itself, so luckily he was prepared. The one great thing about Dave Wannstedt is all of his contacts he has due to the many years he has spent in football. Luckily enough we were able to get Gattuso to come here from Duquesne and he hasn't disappointed. Our defensive line was probably the 2nd worst unit on our team (behind the OL) when he came in. After last year, I think we can all agree they were the deepest, most talented, and most impressive unit on the field.

Wanny may interview a few people as a formality, but it shouldn't take too long until Greg Gattuso is named defensive coordinator. If and when he is promoted, it will be interesting to see what changes will happen to the defense. With Rhoad's departure, that leaves us without a linebackers coach and the move up of Gattuso would leave us without a DLine coach. Gattuso could coach the DLine and be the defensive coordinator like Rhoads did last year. Now with Chris Ball and Paul Rhoads gone, we could see 3 new assistants on staff. Jeff Hafley was promoted to DB coach already, and it will be interesting to see if we stay within again to find a linebackers coach or if we go outside of the program.

Gattuso loves playing a high pressure, physical defense so it should be quite interesting to see if we stick with the "bend, don't break" style or if we stay with the 13-9 smashmouth style defense that I feel we should be employing. Maybe now we won't have to hand out any more "Still Running" awards.

~ DPJ ~

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ed Orgeron

Well, there ya have it. This will be most likely the second coaching change for the Panthers this off season as Paul Rhoads is 99% sure to leave. I didn't really believe the reports at first, but as the day progressed more news kept coming out that made it seem much more likely that we would soon be in need of a new defensive coordinator. Greg Gattuso is the obvious and early favorite to take over for Rhoads. He has done an amazing job and is by no means under-qualified. I believe it was Jason Jones earlier in the season who predicted that he would eventually be promoted.

The second name that keeps popping up is Sal Sunseri. This would make many Panther fans happy as we would bring back another "Pitt" guy. It makes sense too as he could join his son and who knows what the Carolina Panthers are going to do with their staff.

Someone keeps mentioning Tom Bradley. It won't happen, will never happen, move on.

The last one is a very dark horse candidate. Ed Orgeron has worked with Dave Wannstedt in the past and would make a good replacement for Rhoads. Orgeron was not successful at all during his time at head coach, but we all see what he was able to do for USC. He was highly thought of enough to be assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator. If we can some how bring him in and pair him up with Wannstedt and Gattuso, we just may see the biggest impact recruiting trio in the country.

Realistically, the job should be Gattuso's. He's done an incredible job with coaching and recruiting. He has the full support of the coaching staff and the fans. We will keep an eye on the situation and hopefully all bodes well for the Panthers.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Alexander a Panther

I wish the Pete would have let me take my computer to the Pitt / Georgetown basketball game tonight so that I could have posted at half time about AJ Alexander committing. But oh well, we all find out eventually. AJ adds more speed and versatility to an already dangerous team.

For those of you at the game, you all probably saw despite the efforts of the Zoo and Cam Saddler himself, Terrelle Pryor really showed no interest in Pitt. My best guess is that he wanted a free ticket to a big game. So if a great atmosphere is what he wanted that is what he got.

Also Joe Trebitz committed today. He along with Justin Virbitzky could represent the last of the class. I'm sure if Holley still wants to come we will find a spot for him, but with these two plus Alexander, we are one ship away from filling our limit.

Congrats to the Panthers on a nice upset win today. That makes us 4-0 at home against top 5 teams at the Pete.

~ DPJ ~

Terrelle Pryor, Zeke Marshall, and Lamar Patterson

Well, this is a football blog, but tonight is huge as ESPN's Big Monday comes to Pitt. In addition to that, the #1 recruit in the country Terrelle Pryor has been confirmed (I spoke with the coaches) that he will be attending tonights game. In addition to Pryor, Zeke Marshall, a very good local kid who the coaches love will be here. Lastly Lamar Patterson who is already committed will be here.

The Oakland Zoo and THE REST OF THE FANS should do their part and help the team land these guys. If you think this really doesn't matter, just ask Shady McCoy. He said that the "Students reception blew him away and with out that he would probably be at UPS". He also talks about his visit all of the time, so with the right pitch, maybe we can land them.

~ DPJ ~

Sunday, January 13, 2008

History repeating itself.

Pitt will be trying to recapture some of the glory of the late WaHa era by starting a new initiative to make sure that Heinz Field is packed for every game. This is priority number 1 for Steve Peterson who wants to make sure we are able to reach attendance levels like we had in the 2003 season. In addition to this, look for Pitt to go back to a new "old" look. Don't worry older Panther fans, it won't be the script so you can keep complaining about that to the athletics department. The first change you will see with the logo will be with the football uniforms, specifically on the pants. This is just a small secondary change, not a change to the block Pitt.

~ DPJ ~

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Holley Watch Is On

While it is not known when exactly Jarred Holley will be committing, today is the earliest day that he would announce. It's been known for a long time that Holley really was favoring the Panthers and after a phone call with Dave Wannstedt recently he confirmed that as of right now, Pitt is where he will end up. He was quiet at the Offense-Defense all-star game in Miami Friday night but part of that reason was knowing that Hale was committing on saturday and wanted to let some time pass so that he could get the recognition he deserves when making his announcement.

While I would love for him to announce sometime today, I think that he will hold out for just a little while longer, but from everything we're hearing here, he wants to announce soon. This also doesn't look good for Al Groh and the Virginia Cavaliers as they they lose last of their top 3 wish list to Pitt (the other two being Saddler and Hale).

Once Holley commits we will be two scholarships over the limit. Add this in with us still heavily recruiting 3 or 4 more players, this gives us some choices to make when it comes to scholarships. Zach Stoudt is still looking at some other schools so don't be surprised if he chooses to go else where which will help out our situation. Also, as I'm sure you know as Panther fans is that the staff is usually pretty open when it comes to most things in house, however one thing that the staff remains tight lipped on is who will be asked to leave. This is something that the staff should be commended for. Instead of airing this laundry publically, Dave and staff keep this in house to respect the players and to allow them the best choice for their future.

~ DPJ ~

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Dunn fired, one more to come

Well, I was told earlier in the week that Paul Dunn was going to be relieved of his duties, but asked to keep it quiet until it was official. This morning, the Post Gazette has been informed that Dave Wannstedt has fired Paul Dunn. Dunn has had 3 disappointing seasons at Pitt. We all heard about how great he has been with working with the Oline, however the results were not seen on the field. Despite success at other schools, he never really seemed to help Pitt. There are specific names being mentioned for his replacement right now. Despite what you think or may read don't expect a coach to be named very soon. I believe that Dave Wannstedt will do what it takes to find a very successful OLine coach as this is the entire basis of his offense. Do not be surprised if he also looks closely at people with ties to either Pitt recruits (Lucas Nix) or at people with ties to other recruits (Josh Jenkins). Dave Wannstedt will ultimately hire the best man for the position, but if he can hire someone who he trusts and also has the respect of the players immediately he will move in that direction.

Expect one other assistant to be let go. The time table of these coaching changes is not known. Both Paul Dunn and the other coach (I'm sure we all know who it is) were not significant players in recruiting this year so this will not have any impact on recruiting.

This is a step in the right direction as the offensive line (outside of Jeff Otah) has been a huge problem for Pitt. With the right coaching we can heavily improve our offensive line play this season.

~ DPJ ~

Friday, January 4, 2008

Mike Cruz commits.......again

In case you missed what happened, back in August Mike Cruz committed to Pitt. A few days after the announcement Mike and his mom said that Pitt was not good enough for Mike and that he wanted to go to a bigger school with more tradition and more pride. The end result? Mike comes back to Pitt. There was never any confirmed reason why Cruz committed and then backed out immediately but some of the coaches felt that it was because a certain coach (not wanny) told him that he would be moved to defensive line. Cruz wants to stay at TE and given the fact that we only have Nate and Pelusi plus Dorin switching over, we really needed a tight end in this class. Everyone feels (except me) that Jonathan Baldwin should stay at WR so that really meant Pitt needed a tight end for this class. Luckily for us Dave Wannstedt is a forgiving guy. If I had been the coach and Cruz made the comments while I was in charge, I would have pulled the scholarship offer and never returned it. That is part of the game though folks, recruiting is a nasty business and you need to get your hands dirty if you want to win.

For tomorrow, no surprise as Shayne Hale will be committing to Pitt. Jarred Holley should also be making an announcement that he will be coming to Pitt as well.

~ DPJ ~

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Maybe this hoopie will stick around.

The hoopies down in Morganhole announced today that assistant coach and interim head coach Bill Stewart will become the next head coach of the University of Michigan at Morgantown Mountaineers.

To me this is pretty surprising as I thought for sure Terry Bowden would make enough noise in the news and on his website to get the job, but WVU went in a different direction. We all had to realize that Nick Saban was NEVER going to consider the WVU job and anyone who thought that he actually would is delusional. Jimbo Fisher has a nice job lined up once Bowden retires which also hurt the hoopies. So in the end it is Bill Stewart. I guess WVU fans will never have to worry about him leaving WVU since he was born in West Virginia.

Time will tell how Bill Stewart does as a coach, but do you Pitt fans out there remember when Mr. Hackett had the interim title removed and what he accomplished for us? Well, if the hoopies go down that road, I can live with that.

Stewart used to be the coach at VMI for 3 seasons where he led the Keydets to a solid 8-25 record. If you want more information on Mr. Stewart feel free to check out his Wikipedia page which is full of.......well, actually it's pretty empty at the moment but I'm sure we'll see some additions very soon.

~ DPJ ~

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The U.S. Army All American Bowl is almost here

There are several reasons why this game should be on the "to watch" list of Pitt fans. First off, as a Pitt fan you probably enjoy watching football, so why not watch the future stars of collegiate football before they make the jump to the next level. Secondly Jonathan Baldwin and Lucas Nix will be playing and are also featured on the main roster page. The page also features every person's dream quarterback Terrelle Pryor and former WVU commit Josh Jenkins. Pryor's chances of coming to Pitt are very slim and Jenkins appears to be headed towards tOSU or FSU. Like we've always said before though, do not count out Dave Wannstedt's ability to recruit. Jenkins has schedule a few more visits and Pitt will be his last visit. This could help or hurt the Panthers. If he likes what he sees elsewhere then that will take away the chance we could have had to "WOW" him if he had visited early. If he visits late (like Shayne Hale) and hasn't been too impressed, we would be very lucky. The last reason to watch the AA game is to see what choice Shayne Hale makes. It is basically down to Pitt and tOSU. In case you haven't heard his tOSU visit was awful. They took him to a restaurant and he sat around all weekend watching tv with the players.

To those who laugh at my inside information, this comes directly from a coach "Shayne Hale never had any interest in Pitt, then with the win in West Virginia and Cam Saddler choosing Pitt, Hale couldn't wait to take his visit". Also his visit to tOSU was bad enough that he called Dave Wannstedt during his official visit to see if he could move his official Pitt visit up to that same day. Lucky for us Wannstedt told him to stay in Ohio and not to rush anything so that he could get the full experience of both schools before making up his mind. When Shayne Hale announces where he will be playing in the future, do not be surprised if Lucas and Jonathan stand with him as he puts on a Pitt hat. If Shayne does not pick Pitt, I will be highly surprised.

There has also been high interest recently regarding Central defensive lineman Dan Vaughn. Vaughn also looks like a Pitt lean and has Tino pulling for him to be a Panther. This is when things start to get interesting as only a few spots remain for each team and you never ever know what will happen on signing day.

Happy 2008 everyone!

~ DPJ ~