Thursday, December 29, 2011

Today's topics- Ryan Watson and Khem Birch **UPDATE**

Ryan Watson, the excellent DT from Maryland has committed to Purdue. Considered a strong Pitt lean as of a few weeks ago, Watson changed his mind while Paul Chryst was at the Rose Bowl. Did Chryst ever call him? If not, a major failure for him. Should know soon if Chryst talked to him at all.

Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports is reporting that Pitt thinks Missouri was tampering with their former enigmatic Canadian. Missouri, on the other hand, did not ask for a release for Birch because they were not comfortable with Birch's "handlers". Who is?

Lastly, (hey they may be right sometimes) is reporting that Wisconsin LB coach Dave Huxtable will be joining Chryst's staff. Another big coup if true because Huxtable is a big time coach.

**UPDATE**  Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema says that LB coach Dave Huxtable is staying at Wisconsin.


  1. Doke -
    What would have attracted Watson to Graham, but driven him from Chryst? And why would he schedule a visit to Ga Tech and then commit to Purdue days later. I hope this isn't the first indication of what Chryst-era recruiting looks like.

    On basketball, do you see Dixon righting the ship in the next year or two? Seems like our team is stocked with good, but not great, talent. Won't it take more than a one-and-done and a field general to make a final four run?

  2. A lot of kids were attracted to Graham. He was a good salesman until he got exposed. As for Chryst, he wasn't driven from him. He just never got a chance to be recruited by him.

    I think Dixon will right the ship. Steven Adams and James Robinson are not only big time talents, but they are at two very important positions.

  3. ok well idk what's up with Watson. scout just interviewed him yesterday and we was still undecided. what happened between last night and this morning? that's just weird.

  4. i saw jeff goodmans twitter and what he said about birch pretty disappointing to hear that...but who are these "handlers" like what are they telling him?

  5. His handlers had their hands out when Pitt was recruiting him but Pitt and Birch's AAU coach won him over. But now his entourage are back to giving him bad advice. The kid needs a backbone.

  6. Is Chryst even allowed to contact recruits now? I thought there was a dead period in effect through the beginning of January?

  7. He's allowed one call a week to each player. All he has to do is call and say "I know you're an excellent player and I'm very interested in you. Just hold off until we can talk more." That way the player isn't left twisting in the wind, and wondering if the new coach is even interested in him.

  8. Chris:

    When you (and others) write that the handlers "hand their hands out" and/or "were looking for other benefits", does that mean they were looking for money, jobs (with program), etc?

    Also, I like the sound of what James Robinson will bring to the table. From my perspective, so much of Pitt's success over the last decade has come from point/shooting guards that could both penetrate AND make the big three point shot (Knight, Krauser, Fields, Wannamaker, heck even Keith Benjamin and Antonio Graves sometimes). Gibbs can't penetrate, and while I could see Woodall eventually developing into that player it would be nice to have it early on in a kid's college career.

  9. I understand that this is a "dead" period but, it was also dead for Purdue - what changed his mind NOW?

    Other than Penn State, Pitt is probably the most unstable FB program in the country right now.

    I can understand the kid's concern IF that's what was the deciding factor in his decision.

    Still, it's Chryst's job to put those concerns to rest - apparently he didn't or couldn't - disappointing.

  10. I don't know exactly what some around him were asking for but I know when Pitt was trying to close the deal, I was told by somebody who would know that Birch had two people around him who were looking for a little something to get Birch to a certain school and that school was all for it. But his prep school coach and Pitt got together and told him to do the right thing. I said before that it was his AAU coach who got him to do the right thing. Big mistake. I meant his prep school coach.

  11. Maybe what changed his mind is that Purdue made their weekly phone call to him count. Maybe last night they called and put the pressure on him to commit, and he did.

  12. is one of his "advisors" named ryan sweeney?

  13. Chris...feel free to respond to any of these points:

    1 - I heard a rumor last week that Chryst is seriously considering calling his own plays at Pitt. To me, that would be a major mistake for a first time head coach when there is an entire other side of the ball to worry about. He also has to make in-game decisions on various personnel and packages and special teams decisions. I don't like this idea one single bit. It also I think goes to say maybe he doesnt trust the people he is hiring. Either way, its not good. I'd rather Chryst not call plays.

    2 - If Mizzou isn't requesting a release, how does the tampering charge work? I admit, I know nothing about these rules.

    3 - Pitt was in a real predicament with the way Graham left that they allowed Chryst to coach the Rose Bowl because of how it would look if he bailed on his team like Graham did. I know its a tough situation, but if Chryst isn't calling the recruits like he is allowed to do, this is already a major mistake on his part and the university's part. If he didn't call this Purdue commit, who else didn't he call?

    4 - I've hard James Robinson is more of a distributor and not a "take the game over" type of player. In as much as that might be true, I don't see how his impact will be that high in year one since the other weapons he will be distributing to stink.

    5 - Can you explain this one to me. Why would the offensive line coach come to Pitt to be the offensive coordinator over staying at Wisky and getting a promotion to OC? Think about that. If he is so good at what he does, why wouldn't Wisconsin offer him the job and the promotion? Don't tell me he is loyal to Chyrst. Anyone with half a brain knows that the OC position at Wisky is better than the one at Pitt. So, whats the reasoning here?

  14. 1. While I would normally agree with you, Chryst is so good at calling plays that it could only benefit the team if he were doing so. Maybe eventually he can groom his heir apparent, but initially I would prefer he called plays.

    2. There's nothing Pitt can do as far as tampering charges since Missouri didn't ask for a release. But that doesn't mean they can't let it be known that they are unhappy with Missouri.

    3. Personally, I think Chryst should have called each of the top prospects. It's not the end of the world and I'm not going to crucify him for it, but he should have called.

    4. There are different kinds of taking over types. Robinson is like Jaron Brown in that he could have 10 points and completely dominate the game. Having a point guard with his unique floor leader skills benefits a team way beyond the stats.

    5. Chryst and Bostad are best friends and were always looked at as a team. That's why he followed Chryst.

  15. do we know that Chryst hasn't called these guys or are assuming he didn't. I find it hard to believe that he hasn't called them. Aldo, we know that he has at least called Chad voytik. it's on rivals

  16. The only one I know he talked to was Voytik and I think that was yesterday. I don't believe he talked to Watson.

  17. Chris, Pitt blather is reporting that the 49ers d line coach Jim tomsula will be Pitts new defensive coordinator. have u heard the same?

  18. I know I'm in the distinct minority, but I'm already disappointed in Chryst.

    This (not touching base with recruits) would never happen if we'd hired a coach who understood that in CFB recruiting is paramount. At Wiscy, all he had to do was coach up the recruits that others brought him. He won't have that luxury at Pitt as the head guy -- think he knows that?

    If not, he'll be off to the NFL (where he prolly belongs) in 3-4 years. Because X&O guys are dime-a-dozen in college.

  19. Tomsula would be great. I just find it hard to believe he would leave SF for Pitt. He's kind of a rising star in the NFL ranks after this season. He could be an NFL DC very soon. I hope it does turn out to be true, though.

  20. Why did Pitt's administration let him coach in the Rose Bowl? It seems like we are going to cripple our recruiting for yet another year. And how is it possible that Chryst can't carve out a few hours to talk to some of the key guys that are on the fence?

  21. Let's hope Chryst makes up for this loss by getting the WPIAL studs still left on the board. Time to seal the deal after the Rose.

    Missouri is just doing what all SEC teams do...cheat!

  22. Chris, to your knowledge is there any correlation between some of the suspensions earlier in the year (Patterson and Cam Wright) and Birch leaving?

  23. Thanks for the clarification on the dead period Doke. I hope he did call every recruit. Hopefully we'll find out soon if he did. We'll have to see how Watson turns out. Like you said that could be a bad first blunder, but no one recruit will define Chryst as a coach

  24. PK - That Blather article states that Tomsula is coming to PITT to be a ass't coach - it speculated that he might be hired as DC. To quote:

    "I would think that would be as a DC but I’m not sure on that count at all."

    The headline is a bit misleading and should have been phrased differently.

    Anonymous - The $250,000 bonus for staying through a bowl game written into Chryst's contract has a lot to do with it also.

  25. Yeah..who wouldn't want to throw a quarter mil in the toilet so ya can talk to high school kids on the phone for one week...

    IMO Dixon needs to get over his propensity to pound a square peg in a round in point:

    Blair as a center instead of PF
    Sam Young as a PF instead of SF
    Taylor as a center instead of PF
    Birch as a center instead of PF

    A college or university is there to best prepare young men and women for their professional lives, not to stroke the ego of their coaches/teachers. Dixon will get few top 40-50 players if he isn't going to best prepare these guys for the NBA. These kids aren't stupid...and if they are, their handlers will school them in plenty of time before signing day.

    Thank God Adams is too tall to play guard (just kiddin'....I think)

    I have to wonder how much these 4-5 star players are lied to by recruiters and coaches...surely these recruits ask at what position they are going to play before committing. Right?

    I would figure that Blair was told he was going to play center since Dixon forgot to recruit any for a couple years...(pounding head on table) The others, I'm not sure...

  26. Just a question: What's going to happen to Dixon and this lethargic basketball team of his to turn the corner? Fans write as though some magic spell will be cast and the 2009 squad will run out on to the court. It ain't happening unless something really changes. What will that change be? What sparks this boring team?

  27. The only thing that will spark this team is next years team replacing them.

    I wonder what they'll do with Birch's scholarship? Might as well send Epps packing too...

  28. Pitt fans, get off the ledge. They'be been hurt by a couple important front court guys leaving unexpectedly this year, which is tough to deal with in the short term. The team played well in the first half of December, and they only really shit the bed for two games. I know there are problems, and it does look like this will be a bit of a down year, but that isn't written in stone. And with the recruits they have in the pipeline, I'm not worried long term.

    A healthy Woodall is going to do a lot for the team, specifically for Gibbs. He can only get open jump shots with a good point guard to drive and get him the ball. And I really think Zanna will continue to get better this year if he stays healthy.

  29. Pitt played well in the first half of December because they were playing they're playing in the BE.

    Of course Gibbs should be able to find the basket again, but with Pitt having no inside presence and little else on the offensive side, teams will hound Gibbs...not good...

    The players in the pipeline are the only reason to get excited....Adams & Robinson and whoever else Dixon brings in with Birch's scolie.

    But if Dixon screws up his handling of Adams next year, I suggest you find another team to root for...he'll never see another top 40 pick come here IMO.

  30. Doke:

    I am wondering if there may still be hope that Watson will come to Pitt. In making phone calls, Chryst may be making it his first priority to hold together the recruits that have already verballed. Starting tomorrow (once he is finished with Wisconsin), he may begin to call recruits who have not committed. If this is how he is going about it, Watson may still get a call and even a visit. Watson may have committed to Purdue because they were putting pressure on him and he wanted to make sure he got a scholarship somewhere. But if, as you say, he was a Pitt lean, he could reneg on his Purdue commitment and verbal for Pitt once he hears from Chryst. This is probably wishful thinking, but we can always hope.

  31. It's always a possibility that he could give him a call.

  32. It is rumored that Khem Birch's "handlers" may "allegedly" be the Nigerian spam con artists known for coming inot large sums of government money, and they will share it with YOU if you can send them some money to get theirs released from a bank in South Africa or Zimbabwe. :) :) :)