Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Keeping my fingers crossed.

YES YES YES YES YES! Ok, it is no secret, I hated the idea of Mazzone as OC. I probably would have been off the Pitt football train had he been selected and approved as the new offensive coordinator.

Instead now we have a guy who meets some of the qualifications I, and most Pitt fans, have for our next coordinator.

1. Not an NFL retread - Check
2. Successful in the college game - Check
3. Innovative - Check
4. Wants control of the offense to run his game plan - Check
5. Runs a version of the spread - Check
6. Has Pitt ties - (well, not a requirement of mine but it will make some people happy s0) Check
7. Willing to use the spread - Check
8. Builds an offense around the talent he has instead of square peg/round hole - Check
9. Was recently promoted due to success - Check
10. Someone that will bring excitement back to Pitt football - CHECK CHECK CHECK!

Now here is the tricky part. He has to actually accept the job. I hope he isn't doing this only to get more money out of Cal. I think we do have a good shot of getting him though because at Cal he has to run Tedford's offense instead of his own. At Pitt, he would be playing under a defensive coach who apparently will give him full control of the offense. (Bostick as the qb perhaps?)

There is much to be excited about with this potential hire. He is really the shot of energy that Pitt needed if we want to take the next step and win the Big East. I think he is the guy to fully utilize our weapons like Nate, Dorin, and Baldwin.

By the way, did you know he's pretty good at developing quarterbacks?

If he is hired, I will become the flag carrier for promoting Pitt. I am still suprised that only a few days ago it looked like our stone aged offense was going to end up becoming a pre-stone age offense, but now we may have a modern college offense.

If this comes to fruition and we end up with Cignetti, this may be the biggest acquisition for Pitt football since JM1. Yes, that is a bold statement, but now our offense may just catch up and maybe even surpass our dominant defense as the better side of the ball.

This certainly is a great move in the right direction.


johnny said...

Let's hope this ends up well. Here's what I think we have going for us. The economy isn't exactly conducive to having an assistant use this kind of leverage to get a raise.

Consider how coaches at high profile programs at public universities like Dennis Erickson of ASU as well as staff from Clemson, Maryland, etc. are taking "voluntary furloughs" so that the schools can trim their budgets.

I also read some interesting numbers via the Scout board that Paul Zeise posted. Adjusting for cost of living, Cignetti's $350,000 base salary in "Pittsburgh dollars" translates to about 180 k in San Fran, and like 210 in Oakland (the crappy one in the Bay Area; not the glorious one we call home), and 220 in San Jose.

Point being that a reasonable offer and a title like "Associate Head Coach" may be enough to do the trick.

rkohberger said...

So - you'd demote Gattuso from his role as Asst Head Coach only to offer that position as an enticement to someone to come on staff? To do that would send a very large message to Gattuso - and a message that no one wants delivered.

I really think everyone needs to step back and take a realistic view of this situation. Even if we sign Cignetti - which BTW isn't a done deal yet - we need to ratchet our offensive expectations back a bit.

Any coaching change takes time to adjust to. A new OC rarely shows dramatic results in the first year - especially if he tries to take existing personnel and institute a different offensive philosophy.

While Cav was every one's favorite whipping boy, he did a couple things pretty well last season - one was score points. The second thing, and maybe more importantly he limited offensive turnovers. Not too many PITT fans recognized the importance of that - but I sure did. When you have such a low QB pass/int ratio (and Stull's was) DW's type of offense can be much more successful. Forget the Sun bowl folks - that was an aberration. Concentrate on how we actually won our Football games.

Don't be surprised if we get shocked offensively next season - we will be breaking in a new QB (I believe), a new set of RBs, basically a new WR also (Baldwin, and he had better have paid attention because he had a lot to learn) and at least two new OL.

I wouldn't be surprised at all if we see a lot more turnovers and less scoring in 2009. Now - if we can offset that with longer scoring drives (which were rather scarce) and some consistent QB play in the passing game we will be in good shape - again, if we can keep the other offense off the field.

But if PITT Fans expect a 'wide open offense' next year - expect to get the bad with the good along with the growing pains.

johnny said...


Read over what I wrote again. I carefully chose the word "associate head coach." The semantics of it may not mean much to you, but the title makes a world of difference. In fact, there is nothing novel in what I suggested.

For example, Florida State has 4 different coaches with permutations of the same title.

Defensive Coordinator Mickey Andrews is "Executive Head Coach."

O-Line Coach Rick Trickett, formerly of WVU, is "Assistant Head Coach."

Defensive Coordinator Mickey Andrews is "Associate Head Coach."

And OC Jimbo Fisher is "Head Coach in Waiting."

So, it may seem trivial, but my point is that in this economy and in general, Pitt may not be able to offer the most lucrative base salary. However, ways to offset that include a bonus structure for reaching certain goals, the economic benefits of Pittsburgh's cost of living, and non-economic benefits such as the prestige of a title like "Associate Head Coach."

Clearly, it would be foolish to suggest that the new OC would be the new messiah. However, how did DW smooth over Gattuso after naming Bennett as the new DC? He gave Gattuso a raise as well as the title "Assistant Head Coach."

johnny said...

*I meant to write linebackers coach Chuck Amato is Executive Head Coach, but the point still remains.

rkohberger said...

I figured PITT had only one "Asst Head Coach" and that to promote one would me a demotion to another - and as of now I believe that's the case. I suppose DW could do what you say - it's a small point anyway.

I posted this elsewhere, but will repeat it here...

"Folks - this may be a great hire for 2010 and beyond, but I’ll caution that we may not see an increase at all in our offense for 2009, and should prepare ourselves for a rocky season offensively next year.

I don’t see one thing in his resume’ that jumps out and tells me he’s at a level above the OC we just got rid of. We’re going to run the exact same offense as Cav would have, he’ll have the exact same personnel, and work for the same HC - the only difference is he won’t have LeSean McCoy or Javious Best to carry the load.

We better hope Chris Burns is the real deal and Wise can do wonders for the OL because I can’t see any indication that we’ll progress more in any area under Cignetti than we would have under Cavanaugh - in the short term.

Perhaps his “QB development” skills are as good as advertised and he can make an impact with Sunseri or Gray in 2010 and beyond. Let’s hope anyway - that’s an area we really need an improvement.

I think this is a good hire for PITT, probably better than Mazzone - and certainly better than Harris with all things considered with that situation - but I’m taking a stance that it can go either way and that patience with him is needed."

...And I'm sorry - but out of those ten points listed in your column today, I think you reached a long way on half of them. Cignetti certainly is a "NFL Retread" (you words not mine - I actually think NFL experience is a plus). Matter of fact all the 'QB development" experience people are touting is from his time in the NFL. Actually I'm kind of puzzled about this "He can develop QBs" mantra but I'll take that on faith. Hell, Cal had a similar (maybe even worse) passing game to PITT last season - just a slightly better efficiency rating and TDs, because where we gave the ball to McCoy in the redzone - Cal passed. Someone enlighten me on this great upgrade please.

Cignetti won't run the spread here - and went to great lengths yesterday to reiterate he'll follow DW's lead with the power running WCO. here's a quote from Gorman: "Their philosophies are similarly rooted in the West Coast offense, with an emphasis on minimizing turnovers while employing a power-run game complemented by play-action passes." Sound familiar?

Again - I like this hire, but do think PITT fans are expecting too much for 2009.

DPJ said...

He chose to leave the 49ers to go to Cal, so that is why I'm not considering him a retread.

To me a retread is a guy who was fired from the NFL and couldn't get a job anywhere else so he had to come to the college game.

Guys I would consider to be retreads are:


Those guys lost their job in the NFL and would have had to take a lower job to stay in the NFL even if there was some type of offer available, which for most.....there doesn't seem to be.

Quinn Callahan said...

R Dude,

I try to avoid posting in comments sections but reading through these recent threads, man are you a downer. You just come around to rain on everyone's parade?