Monday, June 25, 2012

Chryst needs to step up recruiting

First of all, and this is important because I know fans tend to go into histrionics when one of their favorite teams is criticized, let me state for the record that I am not saying Paul Chryst will fail as the Panthers head coach, I'm not saying he won't be a great game coach and a great leader, and I'm not even saying that his recruiting won't be excellent in the future.  But what I am saying is that, in my opinion, the first six months of Chryst's tenure has not been exactly impressive when it comes to recruiting.

Let me first state the problems as I see them, and for those of you who still believe in Chryst, be patient because I will then show that there is still time to change things.

The most obvious problem facing Chryst is his recruiting, or lack thereof, of the top prospects in the WPIAL.  There are six players in the Pittsburgh area who stand out above the rest.  Those six are Robert Foster, Patrick Kugler, Dorian Johnson, Tyler Boyd, Scott Orndoff, and Chavas Rawlins.  Four of those players have committed to a school.  Orndoff chose Pitt, Kugler chose Michigan, Johnson chose Penn State, and Rawlins decided on West Virginia.  Of the two remaining, the Panthers have a chance with Foster, and probably a lesser chance with Boyd.  That means Pitt has already lost three of the six excellent players in the Pittsburgh area, and could conceivably lose five out of six.

We hear that the WPIAL coaches really appreciate Chryst's personality and his style, and I have no doubt that that's true.  But the bottom line is to get players, not accolades.  If Chryst loses five out of the six top players in the WPIAL, then that's a serious problem.  Even Todd Graham, who local coaches apparently disliked heavily, did better than that.

Of course there are people who say that Pitt's recent coaching fiascos have something to do with that, but that's ridiculous.  Dana Holgerson is a public relations nightmare as far as coaches go, and Penn State is in the middle of what could be the biggest sports scandal in this country's history.  And Pitt is losing local players to these two programs.

Then there is how Chryst and his staff attacked recruiting this season.  First he took weeks to fill out his staff while other programs were recruiting with all of their personnel.  Then he filled his staff with some curious choices.

I hate to continue to bash Inoke Breckterfield because he as is not the problem per se.  The problem is the choice to hire him in the first place, and that falls on Chryst.  I've ranted about this before but now that five months have passed since he was hired, it's looking more and more like it was a bad choice.

And why is that?  Breckterfield, who was fired after one season at UCLA, recruited for the Bruins in Bakersfield and Fresno in California, as well as Utah, Hawaii, Montana, and Idaho.  I'm not saying that Breckterfield won't be an excellent defensive line coach, and I'm not saying he may not end up as an excellent recruiter.  But there are many talented assistant coaches out there.  Are you telling me the best that Chryst can come up with is a guy with one year of major college experience before getting fired, and with no recruiting ties to anywhere remotely close to where Pitt will get their players?  Why not an assistant coach from Maryland, New Jersey, Florida, or even eastern PA, places where Pitt needs a presence?

Even having said that, if Chryst really had faith in Breckterfield's ability, why not put him in one of those places and let him develop ties?  Instead Breckterfield is recruiting in California and for some reason, Georgia.  Yes, you heard that right.  Pitt has offered at least fourteen players from Georgia.  And every one of them have major offers from southern powers. Pitt can't land Pittsburgh kids but they're wasting their time offering elite kids from Georgia?

And it doesn't end there, of course.  The staff also doesn't seem very aggressive or organized in recruiting either.  Some of the top players in PA didn't get offers for quite some time.  Linebacker Alex Anzalone, a national recruit from the eastern part of the state didn't get an offer from Pitt until two months into the recruiting season, and he had over 20 offers by then.  Aliquippa defensive back Dravon Henry, one of the state's top prospects for the 2014 class, has offers from West Virginia, Rutgers, Maryland, Michigan State, Cincinnati, and even Kent State, but Pitt hasn't offered him yet.  It's obvious they will but why not already?  Why not show him right away that you want him very much?  Especially when for the 2014 class, the staff has already offered two kids from South Carolina, as well as kids from Virginia, Wisconsin, and Detroit.

Showing even more lack of organization, at least two players who have committed to the Panthers, Scott Orndoff and Zach Challingsworth, had miscommunication problems with the staff.  "Maybe they assume I already have one (scholarship offer), but they haven't formally told me," Orndoff told Rivals.com.  Orndoff admitted that he wasn't concerned about it, but it's something you think Pitt would have made clear to a player they were trying to get a commitment from.  Especially when programs like Michigan and Virginia made it abundantly clear to Orndoff at that same moment.

Then it happened again with Challingsworth who committed to Toledo then immediately reversed course when, lo and behold, that school he wanted to go to didn't get around to telling him that they wanted him.  Said Challingsworth to Scout.com, "They were confused when I committed to Toledo, because they thought I knew they wanted me there."  Well, how could Challingsworth know that they wanted him there when they didn't even offer him?

It even happened a third time that we know of, this time with New Jersey running back Zaire Williams, who told Rivals.com, "I had an offer from Pitt a month ago, but I didn't know.  The running backs coach was there and he told my coach that I already had the offer, but I didn't know about it." Incredible.

Then there's the staff.  Joe Rudolph was brought in to be the ace recruiter but he hasn't drawn a single ace yet.  He couldn't even land Johnson, even though Rudolph was a Belle Vernon alum and Johnson was a lifelong Pitt fan.  Former Mt. Lebanon head coach Chris Haering was brought in for help in the WPIAL but his name is never mentioned by recruits.  Actually, there are only two names that do routinely come up when prospects talk about Pitt, and that's Matt House and Bobby Engram, who apparently are doing most of the recruiting while the rest of the staff seems confused or lackadaisical.  Except for Breckterfield who is no doubt deep in the heart of Georgia somewhere wondering how in the hell he can get a Georgian to come to Pittsburgh.

Lastly, let's about the quarterback and offensive line recruiting.  If there's two positions that you would think Chryst would nail, it would be these.  But so far he has yet to land his future star quarterback.  It looks like TraVon Chapman could be that player, and while he has potential, he mostly has potential because Chryst will be his mentor.  Many of the top programs did not foresee Chapman as a quarterback and were instead recruiting him at different positions.  In fact, Chapman was offered by the likes of Wisconsin, Arizona, Cincinnati, Illinois, and Boston College, as well as a few MAC schools.  With the great quarterback successes that Chryst has had, one would think that a big, strapping future NFL quarterback would want to play for him.

As for offensive linemen, the Panthers had two of the best in the country right in their backyard in Johnson and Kugler, but missed out on both. And promising local center Matt Barone was not even offered by the staff, presumably because he was not the size that Chryst covets. Chryst also had talented Indiana guard Dan Samuelson de-commit and pledge to Nebraska instead.  The program needed at least four linemen to strengthen the offense, but right now they've only got a commitment from one lightly recruited, albeit promising player.  As of now, the Panthers are not heavily involved with any elite linemen.

Like I said, I'm not discounting Chryst's entire regime, though I have little doubt that many Pitt fans will get themselves all worked up over this article, thinking I'm doing just that.  But there is definitely evidence that Chryst has not started out well in recruiting.  The fact that his reputation when he was hired at Pitt was that he wasn't good at recruiting, and didn't like it, shouldn't make one optimistic that things will change anytime soon.

Of Chryst's eight recruits this year, only two, Orndoff and Corey Clement, could be considered topnotch prospects.  Of the other six, all of them are worthy major college prospects, and any of them have the potential to be good college players.  But when you have eight commitments, and six of them are lightly recruited, it's not exactly a jackrabbit start.  Throw in the other problems I've mentioned and it becomes even more troubling.

Now the good news.  Chryst could still salvage this class.  He could still land Chapman, Foster, and Boyd to go with Orndoff and Clement.  That would be an excellent five, though all five would be an offense, at least it's impressive.  And I have no doubt that Chryst will still land some good players, and maybe even some excellent players.  We also know that the man is a true offensive wizard and there is some very good talent still in this program.

Ultimately, I really want Chryst to succeed.  He seems like a great guy and this fan base doesn't deserve anymore underachieving from this program.  And that in the long run is my biggest problem when it comes to Pitt.  I despise underachievement, lack of focus, and ineptitude, and the Pitt football program has given that to us in spades for three decades.  This program has too much damn potential to be this damn mediocre for this damn long.

The Pitt administration claims they want a great football program, and fires any coach that doesn't give them that greatness, but unfortunately their desire ends there.  They have not made it a priority to be a major football power, even though the makings of a major football power are there.  All they do is make excuses and too many fans follow suit.  "We don't have 100,000 people or are in the Big 10 like Penn State."  "Nobody comes to the games."  "We need our own stadium." "The Big East sucks."  "The ACC sucks."  Blah, blah, blah.  Enough of the whining about how Pitt isn't great because, because, because.  For a program to be great, people have to demand it, work at it, and don't stop until it's done.  No great college football power was born a great college football power.  There aren't a lot of great high school players in Nebraska, or Oklahoma, or Boise, but that sure as hell didn't stop them from being powers.  They became powers because their fans demanded it and their administrations listened.

Bottom line, if Pitt wants to be a major football power, then they can be.  That means getting proven head coaches, proven assistants, and having a big recruiting budget.  And if the school decides it doesn't want to be a major player on the national scene, that it will have to do things that they don't feel like doing, then don't do it.  But quit jerking us around.  And enough of firing nine win coaches just to replace them with more nine win coaches.  All that's doing is making the program tread water in an ocean of mediocrity. Good, but not great head coaches, with good, but not great staffs, and good, but not great budgets.  All that gets you is good, but not great teams.

That. more than anything, is why I'm hard on Chryst's early recruiting.  I want him to succeed but to do that his great offensive mind probably won't be enough.  He's going to need players.  He's going to need a staff.  He's going to need a budget.  And if all of that doesn't happen then he could be the next nine win coach to be fired.  And I for one don't want to see that happen at Pitt anytime soon.






88 comments:

  1. Chris:

    Your last two paragraphs hit the nail on the head. For too long Pitt has not walked the walk. Pitt could not get Graham at first and had to settle for an obvious bad choice of the wife beater. Never mind how Graham situation turned out, Pitt never should have to settle for a a guy with one winning season from BG as their head coach because they can't close a deal with their preferred choice over a $250-350k difference. Penny wise, pound foolish. In hindsight Majors 2 was the wrong hire. But if you are paying position coaches at the time $50k you will get what you pay for. Salaries may not be the issue today, recruiting budgets likely are more problematic but Pitt does not have to reveal that.
    Ultimately Pitt may win a lot more games with Chryst and have bigger seasons with less talent than anyone else.

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  2. Spot the F on Chris - agree with everything you just wrote - I WANT Chryst to succeed - not because I like HIM...because I LOVE Pitt.

    Made me LOL thinking about Brekterfield driving around in Georgia...GEORGIA?????

    Three words...W-T-F???

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  3. Hi Chris. I generally like your articles, but you and those on other blogs who are continually questionning Chryst on recruiting need to chill. The most important job Chryst and his staff have are not on winning over the 15, 16, and 17 year old players of the future. The most important job has is making the most of the 18, 19, 20, and 21 year olds that are on scholarship at Pitt. If those players succeed individully and as a team, the winning over of 15, 16, and 17 year olds will become much easier. Chryst may not have the "charisma" of his predecessor, but we all saw that said charisma was actually a lot of smoke and mirrors. While I agree that it would be nice to land most, if not all, of the top local recruits to build for the future, the key for Chryst and Pitt is to make the most out of the present, as in the 85 players he has under scholarship now. We will all know better 6 months from now how Chryst will play long-term. Let's all sit back and let it play out.

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    1. You are clueless as to what it takes to win games...
      Players...
      Let me say that 3 times...
      Players, Players, Players....

      And Chris is spot on with this article...
      Pederson and Chryst and Pederson need a KICK in the A$$.

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    2. Wanny won the recruiting battle for players...
      Let me say that 3 times...
      Players, Players, Players....

      every single year. What trophies do we have to show for it?
      Let the man COACH a SINGLE GAME OF FOOTBALL before you call for his head on a silver platter. Jesus man.

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    3. Great response Who?

      We all need to CHILL THE EFF OUT! Let the man coach a game first.

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  4. I read your twitter feed Chris...
    Zeise is a total moron with his comments... that is not the first time I've said that.
    All he does is write what Borghetti tells him to write.
    He is positive putting spin to this because Borghetti told him to!!
    To compare football recruiting to basketball recruiting is ridiculous... not to mention 22 starters verus 5 starters... among other things.

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  5. Chris,

    How does Pitt's recruiting budget compare to the other schools in the ACC?

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  6. Tossing ThabeetsJune 25, 2012 at 9:00 AM

    I completely understand your frustration but when Pitt decided to hire a first time head coach with a questionable recruiting past, expectations should have been tempered. Hell, word on the street is that Cristobal was the top choice but boosters intervened. Therefore, this hire is as much on the fanbase as the administration - Pederson didn't exactly put himself in a position to tell the alumni to F off.

    I wasn't a fan of the hire originally but Chryst has won me over. I get the vibe that he is trying to build the program for the long haul rather than a quick fix and get the hell out of dodge. In our instant gratification world that we live in I can completely understand the frustration with this approach but patience is a virtue.

    Regarding WVU and the PSU scandal, the difference is that they didn't piss off WPIAL coaches. There are certainly things you can recruit against but they didn't burn any bridges in regards to Pittsburg recruiting. Pitt on the other hand, fired a popular coach (Wanny)and replaced him with a complete A-hole. There is going to be a little warming up period to make sure the new coach is legit. To me, it sounds like he is off to a good start. Remember, Graham did well towards the end of recruiting when he got the last people standing.

    Another thing that makes me a little more comfortable with the OL recruiting is that he's had proven success in the past with lesser talent than Pitt already has. Not only does Chryst adjust his offense to the talent on hand, it's almost like the spread offense where he seems to recruit for his system. If you're recruiting for a system, star power isn't a necessity. Does it help? Absolutely. It's not as important though. WR/RB/QB - I think he still needs star power and we'll see what happens there. Defense is another area where you need athletes and star power. Losing a premium OL sucks but I'm not going to worry about it too much. Foster, to me, is a bigger concern but it's year one and I'll give him 3 years to show me what he's got.

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    1. You are in denial...

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    2. and you are still a loser

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    3. Excuses excuses excuses….how about just getting good players?

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    4. No, I've just looked at Chryst's track record at Wisconsin in regards to talent level and performance/execution. The Big Ten is overrated but it's still head and shoulders above the Big East. He has to start landing these WPIAL recruits eventually but it's not going to be over night and he still may land up to 3 for this class.

      There are going to be growing pains with a new head coach with no experience and hopefully he learns from his mistakes. Right now he's making inroads instead of burning bridges so I'll be patient. If he does learn from his mistakes, the future is bright. If he doesn't, we'll have a new coach in 3 or 4 years. Like Dokish said, Pitt has to take football seriously to be a power and until that happens it won't matter who the coach is.

      Let Chryst get his feet under him and hope the University backs him because otherwise it will be a lost cause.

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    5. Do you think PSU is giving Obrien time for growing pains? Or OSU Meyer? PSU has a huge scandal and OSU can't even play in a bowl game.

      Get most of the very best in WPIAL every year. End of story.

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    6. You forget something about those two programs....they've won games recently and they play in front of sellout crowds of 100K+.

      Win games=full stands=recruits.

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    7. The old 'stands are empty we can't recruit' excuse.

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    8. Meyer has rings, is not a first time head coach and coaches at a flagship college football program. Penn State will always be a force to reckon with for Pitt. Pitt fans greatly exagerated the impact the Sandusky scandal would affect recruiting. Penn State, as of yet, has zero violations in the eyes of the NCAA and are unlikely to face any penalties. Pitt losing a recruit to Penn State or Ohio State may sting but it's certainly not a slap in the face either. They have football history and a lot to sell to a kid. I do agree that Pitt seems unorganized and that must change but the sky isn't falling.

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    9. I'd agree with you if Pitt didn't go toe to toe with Penn State and Ohio State in the past. Ever since Mike Gottfried was fired, the school has erred on the side of caution, and that's why they've been mostly mediocre.

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    10. Tossing ThabeetsJune 25, 2012 at 7:35 PM

      I didn't mean to imply Pitt couldn't compete with them. Ohio State and Penn State will be in Pitt's backyard though and Pitt will lose recruits to them. Losing a recruit to Ohio St or Penn State isn't necessarily the end of the world because they are big time destination football schools. It's going to happen from time to time.

      I think it's going to take a while for Pitt to win back some trust. As I mentioned, Ohio St and Penn St have their problems but they didn't alienate any particular coaches in the WPIAL. Pitt did. First Walt Harris left a sour mark. Wanny made some inroads but that was thrown out the door with is firing (which I was 100% for) and finally the Todd Graham fiasco. Pitt has work to do there. Essentially, PItt has had an up and down relationship with the most fertile football ground in PA for the last 15+ years. Pitt dominating Western PA won't happen over night. I agree that the lack of organization is frustrating and really unacceptable but I'll chalk that up to being a rookie coach. It also means that he better show improvement in that area moving forward.

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    11. Dude, OSU can't even play in a bowl and PSU had the biggest scandal in college football history. What trust? Coaches don't get to choose where their players go. Stop with the excuses. This is D-1 football.

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    12. Tossing ThabeetsJune 25, 2012 at 9:07 PM

      Ohio St misses one bowl game and Penn State is in the clear. These recruits and their families obviously don't care what happened 10 years ago with a retired assistant coach. Hell, one even chose Penn St over Pitt the weekend the verdict was handed down.

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    13. Soo...Then why do recruits care if Pitt has had a lot of coaches in a short period of time then?

      Pitt and Pitt fans need to quit accepting half assed excuses of why they can't be good.

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    14. Tossing ThabeetsJune 26, 2012 at 1:31 PM

      What are you talking about? My point is that Pitt will lose recruits to big time schools from time to time and that it's not the end of the world. I also stated that some Pitt fans overexagerated the effects the scandals would have on the respective Universities. Ohio St made up for it by hiring arguably the best college coach in america and Penn St has relied on it's deep roots and fan base in PA. I also stated that WPIAL coaches have not been happy with Pitt so the recruiting is more open than it probably should be. Pitt's on their 7th coach in 20+ years while Ohio St is on their 3rd and Penn State on their 2nd. I was implying that Pitt has some inroads to make before they can expect to just lock up the stars of the WPIAL...and if you don't think coaches have any sway in where a kid goes, you really don't know much about recruiting. There's a reason why coaches make relationships with the local high schools. And I never said Pitt can't be good. I said that with a 1st time head coach who was not known as an even a good recruiter, expectations should have been realistic. It's not making excuses, it's being realistic. Pitt should have gone with their first choice, Cristobal, if they wanted instant gratification. Chryst's approach is a slow burn but I think he's building the program right - from the foundation up. You may disagree but to jume ship already is a bit irrational.

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    15. Not jumping ship at all.

      Just can't stand all this 'first year coach give him time', 'the stands are empty', 'no on campus stadium', 'coaching turnover' excuses.

      And you're way off on high school football coaches deciding where a kid goes.....that's way down on the priorities list of the student athlete. Think B-V coaches don't know Rudolph, how'd that work out for Pitt?

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    16. Tossing ThabeetsJune 26, 2012 at 3:31 PM

      I don't like excuses either but sometimes you have to accept the reality of the situation. The reality is that Pitt hired a first time head coach with limited recruiting abilities. Do you disagree with that? The reality of the situation is that Pitt's football program is in complete disarray from the disaster of the Wanny firing, Haywood hiring, Graham quitting fiasco. Do you disagree with that?

      Like it or not, there will be a learning curve and it's going to take time to build the program back up. In a situation like this, I like the approach of building Pitt back up at the foundation level. A couple of years ago, with the Wanny firing, Pitt should have/could have built on top of what they already had. Unfortunately, that's all been knocked to the ground and it's time start over. It's not and excuse, just where the program happens to be. Pitt is not in a quick fix type of situation - It's time tear it all down and start over. That will take time and I'm not going to get my panties in bunch over losing a kid to a school like Ohio State or Penn St. That's not going to happen until Pitt puts their fence back up and proves they are a legit program.

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    17. The reality of the situation is that the college football world is not going to wait for Pitt to lick their wounds. Yes, it's hard under these conditions but nobody cares, including the people at Pitt who caused this mess in the first place. That's the cold, hard truth. Even Chryst will not make excuses because nobody wants to hear it. You either produce quickly at this level of they will find somebody who will. That's just how it goes.

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    18. Tossing ThabeetsJune 26, 2012 at 4:59 PM

      I get that, I really do, but Pitt didn't make that type of hire. I don't know what happened with Cristobal but that was the guy to hire if they wanted to generate buzz and jumpstart the program. The boosters forced Pederson's hand and we got Chryst. He doesn't have the experience or background to expect a quick fix...and we've seen that on the recruiting trail. I'm just not surprised or shocked to see Pitt lose some big names to big named schools because it's what I expected. Blame the boosters for this but not Chryst. He's coming in and doing what he said he would and I'm sure what he told the administration during interviews. He's always said that they will take a cautious approach and build their recruiting through camps and develop relationships with the WPIAL coaches. It's what he's doing, you just disagree. That's on the boosters because it was Pederson's second choice too. I'm fine with the approach, it's just going to take longer to build. If Pitt's taught me one life lesson, it's patience.

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    19. A cautious recruiter is not going to get Pitt anywhere. If it's one thing they need right now, it's a balls out recruiter.

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  7. The recruiting so far is a disgrace, and I don't care how good of a "coach" Chryst is, he sucks at recruiting. If you can't recruit, you lose. Pitt will be losing for a long, long time with the chumps currently on the team and in the pipeline.

    Dull Chryst, recruiter extraordinaire. What an effed up football program, led by Pederson.

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    1. It's a disgrace if anyone considered you a Pitt fan... Go root for WVU or something

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  8. All let's chill out. It is disappointing Chryst has not closed on the top local prospects. A lot has happened over the past 24 months to lower Pitt's credibility. I'd like to see these top stars at Pitt certainly. But I could probably fill a two-deep of elite Pitt recruits over the past 30 years that did not make it for a variety of different reasons. Anybody remember Joe Felitsky, Matt Stennet, Marlon McIntyre, Bob Schilken? All these guys would have been 4-5 stars. Chris has raised the one issue that is most disturbing and that is the Breckterfeld hire. I'm more concerned about what that portends than Chryst's slow start on recruiting.

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  9. A very well written tirade Chris... except for your obvious feelings regardig the firing of a certain "nine win coach."

    I'm going to give you a benefit of a doubt and believe your tirade is not pent up anger over that firing.

    You do make some critical points that on their face seem to have some validity.

    However, as I mentioned last week... it's probably wise to hold off on the pitch forks until everyone has the chance to see what kind of product Paul Chryst and Company put on the field come fall.

    Yes, losing Johnson is a big disappointment.

    But, I'm betting on the long run and believe when the dust settles and the wins and losses begin to matter, it'll be Chryst and not O'Brien recruting the next big-name lineman out of the WPIAL.

    PittofDreams

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    1. So you think Pitt will win more than PSU and WPIAL lineman will go to Pitt because of that? What give you the impression that PSU won't win more than Pitt like they have for a long time now? Chryst has to go be agressive. PSU was visiting Johnson weekly, calling him as much as possible, and pressing him to keep visiting.. What was Chryst doing? Sitting back, thinking the home field advantage had this wrapped up.

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    2. Write it down, O'Brien is going to be a failure as Penn State's HC.

      On the other hand, the TRUE Pitt fans on this Blog who are in a panic at this point will soon see that Pitt really did get lucky with Chryst.

      He's here for the long haul.

      And yes... winning will make Pitt the choice in PA... at least for those who PC really covets.

      Despite the Sandusky scandal, today's Penn State is still being confused with the one Paterno built over four decades.

      The luster will soon wear off as reality sets in.

      PittofDreams

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    3. Why do you think O'Brien will fail? They've been winning without a coach (who's been aware of what's going on) for 10 years. Now that they actually have a coach, it can only help. And now they're recruiting better than ever. If Chryst doesn't step his game up, and soon, Pitt football will be left in the dust. And you can write that down.

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    4. OK I am writing it down right next to Anonymous.

      O'Brien... next Paterno. Chryst... left in dust... June 26, 2012.

      Signed PittofDreams

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  10. Pittikrit is the new Joe D...

    Obviously losing DJ hurts but isn't it fair to say that o-line is one of the positions that can be coached up and projects turned into solid starters easier than other positions? We have a track record of coaching up the o-line and an nfl coach overseeing the o-line so im not too worried yet. Its nice to get 4/5* players but there are still a lot of lower ranked o-linemen with an interest in pitt, and perhaps this will increase their interest. All I care about is that we sign 5 or so o-lineman that fit chryst's mold when it is all said and done.

    Uncomitted o-lineman with interest in pitt:

    Dorian Miller 6'3 285 ****
    Kyle Meadows 6'6 275 ***
    Jaryd Jones-Smith 6'7 290 ***
    Hunter Knighton 6'6 265 ***
    Sam Zeff 6'5 275 ***
    Na'Ty Rodgers 6'5 280 ***
    Alex Officer 6'4 310 ***
    Xzavier McAllister 6'5 310 **
    Carson Baker 6'5 270 **
    Marquis Wallace 6'5 302 JC
    Deya Mhiesen 6'7 275 JC

    Sign 4 of these and our o-line should be fine.

    P

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    1. Honestly, I think our recruiting class looks pretty solid at every other position with the exception of LB and DL which still need work (Assuming we are able to land Chapman and Foster).

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    2. When almost every major local recruit goes elsewhere, it's not only a blow to the talent pool, it's an enormous blow to perception and credibility.

      Get this: the top players want to play with other top players, not schmoes who will take 3 years to develop and MAY be decent.

      Perception is reality. Perception is that Pitt isn't worth it (and who could argue at this point) and that Paul Chryst is a dud. He's a confused, disorganized recruiter with no clear strategy.

      Pitt football is a colostomy bag.

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    3. Pittikrit, yesterday you said this among some other lamebrained comments:

      "It's time to just give up on Pitt football, because Pitt football is hopeless. Chryst sucks. Period. Horrible recruiter." -Pittikrit

      "What a joke. Is there even a point in following Pitt football anymore? What a sorry-ass program." -Pittikrit

      Why are you still here??? Seriously, get lost. Give it up. Good riddance.

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  11. The Pitt administration hasn't taken the football program seriously since John Bowman tried to play grab-ass with the Ivy League and Big Ten and ran Jock Sutherland off. We see now how that worked out. They struck lightning in a bottle with Johnny Majors and Jackie Sherrill, and then bungled that away too. The program has grossly underachieved for about 65 of the last 75 years. So really, what is a Pitt fan supposed to expect?

    I don't want to take anything away from the fantastic academic strides the university made under Bowman, or any other chancellor for that matter. But there appears to have been a pervasive disconnect between the academic and athletic ambitions within the administration for most of the university's history; regardless of what Nordy & company like to trumpet in front of fans and boosters. The evidence doesn't lie. Following the Bowman model, they have repeatedly rejected the notion that you can have excellent academics AND athletics (ala Michigan, Notre Dame, USC, etc.).

    I don't believe Paul Chryst will be the next 9-win coach to be fired. I believe he will be the next 3-win coach to be fired - in 3 years. And it's not all his fault. Perceptions of Pitt as a bungling mediocre program are pervasive and justified. And again, he's receiving limited support in terms of recruiting and assistant coaching budgets. Nick Saban couldn't win big with that.

    As a Pitt fan, my biggest fear is that the Pitt job has become toxic and undesirable among high-level coaches. The last time we made a good hire, it was Iowa State's coach (Jackie was built-in and doesn't count). Iowa State was in the Big 8, with full access to the Orange Bowl (provided they win enough). Do you think Pitt could get Paul Rhoads right now? Given that he's an alumnus of his current job, this may not be a good analogy. How about Art Briles of Baylor or Jim Grobe of Wake Forest? James Franklin of Vanderbilt or, dare we suggest, Dan Mullen of Mississippi State? Isn't Pitt a better job than what they would have at THOSE schools?

    Instead, Pitt has taken the lower road and gone after assistants. This isn't to suggest that it's not possible to find a good coach that way. But it's extremely risky. And Pitt isn't even going after the most highly-sought after assistants. Remember, Chryst couldn't sniff a head coaching job until Barry Alvarez and boosters got involved with Pitt. What if Pitt had gone after Brent Venables? Think he'd touch the Pitt job? No chance because he knows he's going to get a better offer somewhere else, very soon. The Pitt job isn't good enough for him.

    Also, Pitt has no precedent to suggest that it would work out, other than Jackie Sherrill; who again, had built-in advantages in taking over a national championship team with a staff largely intact. Pop Warner was a head coach when he came to Pitt. Jock Sutherland was a head coach prior to coming to Pitt. The game may have changed, but at one time, Pitt at least tried to stay on top of it.

    Until the university commits more than mediocre resources into the program, it'll continue to wallow in mediocrity, with a little bit of "worse" sprinkled in.

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  12. Excellent presentation of the facts leading to the conclusion: "Bottom line, if Pitt wants to be a major football power, then they can be." For that to happen Chryst and his staff are going to have to get organized and aggressive. Everyone is going to have to pitch in to make it happen including the administration, the athletic department and the fan base.

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  13. It is interesting to see how fixated many of you are with the future instead of the present. The Pitt football program starts first and foremost with the coaches and players on the today, not "prospects" who will not be setting foot on campus until a year from now. I am amused about how narrow the so-called "pundits" on this board view recruiting, as if it was the only on which to judge the new coach. Let's give him the chance to coach his current players and build relationships with local coaches before we (Joe D., Pittkrit) pronounce him a failure.

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    1. A voice of reason... Thank you

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  14. It is irrational to place the recruiting situation all on Chryst and Co. Its not like Pitt is a must go to football program. Now a days players want the hype which comes with a high profile program. I got news for you.....PITT IS NOT A HIGH PROFILE FOOTBALL PROGRAM.

    Last I checked we could not even win an outright championship in the weakest BCS conference. How many of the cream of the crop Wipal players have come to Pitt in the last 14 years? Oh that is right not many.

    To put such pressure on a new HC who has never ran the whole show is irrational due to his circumstance and Pitt's onging circumstances. Reading some of your replies you would think the last 30 years, paricularly the last 3, never happend...

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    1. Actually, over the last 14 years Pitt has done very well in the WPIAL.

      As for Pitt not being a high profile program, saying they're not a high profile program and leaving it at that is what's wrong with too much of this fan base. It's the defeatist attitude. Pitt has everything it takes to be a high profile football program, but they just don't want to put in the effort. They want to luck in to it instead of making it happen. A school like Boise State went and made it happen and they have nowhere near as much going for them as Pitt does.

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    2. I am not irrational in my expectations, nor have I recruited. But I have been in sales which is what recruiting is all about.

      Strategically, Chryst and Co are going in the right direction. My concern is their tactical implementation.

      Positives:
      1) Small camps - Gives players a chance to connect with coaches in a less factory like manner. Build by adding Sophomore camps too
      2) Build bridges with backyard HS coaches. Expand the back yard to NJ, MD and Ohio.
      3) Coach up current players to play better and win this year and the next.
      4) Find replacement for Tino. Tom Salvage may be that savior.
      5) Show elite quarterback that your can provide an OL that will not yield 60 sacks.

      Concerns:
      1) "Just Offer" This is fine, but if player are not even sure that you offered this is a large issue. Corrective action: Get back with everyone on your offer sheet and make sure the know that they are wanted at PITT and have a full ship.

      2) Land and expand. Pick region to recruit and fortify the region, then expand. They seem to be everywhere. If there is an under recruited area like New England, expand to this area once you have exhausted your drivable regions. What is someone doing in Ca/Ga/NE/Indy/FLA when you are losing kids in your back yard. Corrective action: Focus early and often in your back yard, then expand to the under recruited areas to back fill.

      3) Future backyard stars are not getting offers, or maybe they are and just do not know. Corrective action: Reread #1.

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  15. Stevie P is still the AD. What do u expect? My god.

    He's a total a$$clown who can't raise donations, improve attendance or improve winning.

    Pitt has only won 3 TOTAL Big East crowns (for all sports). 3?? Are you freakin kidding me? Louisville has won like 50 crowns. And I believe all 3 were in Men's hoops.

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    1. Exactly. Pitt isn't very good at ALL sports. The entire athletic departement is average. Men's B-ball is the only sport to be above average.

      Don't get me started on the wrestling team....

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    2. The wrestling team did win a few crowns but they don't count as "Big East" titles. They are in the EWL. As far as BE action goes, we have only won 3 measely titles. I seriously can't think of worse performance as an AD than Stevie P.

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    3. The wrestling team should be 1st or 2nd every single year. NOTHING LESS. They sit in the best recruiting spot in the entire country. 2 of the 7 olympic wrestlers are from WPIAL.

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    4. Pitt will never be a power in wrestling.

      We should focus on sports Pitt has a chance in.. like Ultimate Frisbee! REIGNING NATIONAL CHAMPS, BAYBEE!

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    5. good point...they never will be a power, they are ewl champs! take that clarion and lock haven.

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  16. Chis I know exactly what your talking about. It is my belief the powers that be at Pitt have lucked into a football HC just like they did with Jamie D. Everything HCPC and staff have done has been on the fly due to Fraud's sudden departure. They were behind the proverbial 8 ball to begin with. For Pitt's mediocrity to cease Pitt has to win the games they should along with upsets here or there. We actually have a coach who makes adjustments and plays the best prepared players.......no favorites or putting a square peg in a round whole.

    Chris am fully aware your specialty is recruiting and you are one of the best at that for sure. All I'm really saying is it unrealistic to expect a novice HC to come here and get the best recruits. I do not even care about LOI day 2013 because if HCPC cannot show promise this year why should recruits want to come here. Let's see what Pitt's W/L record is at the end of the year. I am more interested in it than recruits...

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    1. You're an idiot if you think that it's unrealistic for a new head coach to get the best local prospects. It should be EXPECTED.

      O'Brien's a novice head coach and he's LIGHTING IT UP on the recruiting trail.

      Chryst's strategy and capabiltiy are a joke. So he actually fits Pitt perfectly. One joke coach + one joke program = what Pitt has been for the last 3 decades.

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    2. You need to find a new team to pull for. Your negativity is there for all to see. "Idiot" that is something a teenager would say...

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    3. Pittkrit- Just leave. I'm all for disagreements, constructive criticism and questioning, but you're letting ONE recruit turn you against Pitt? If you're that type of Fairweather Johnson, then leave. Open up a spot on the bandwagon for someone else.

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  17. Chris...good analysis...NINE win Wanny though wasnt gonna get us over the hump...he nbeat no one in those years and failed at and in the big games as u know.As for Chryst...time will tell..I want someone who's gonna be here and can compete in the ACC for a championship every 2-3 years at worse case.Is he the guy who knows....but so far you are correct we are still 3-4 years from that goal.

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  18. Chris
    You are contradicting yourself. I think you would agree that all high profile programs recruit nationally. If Pitt does indeed have all it takes to be a high profile program then they should be looking to recruit in the same manner.
    That being said, Pitt should hire assistants with ties to places other than the east coast just like they did with the new DL coach and they should expect to get recruits from those areas. It should not be thought of as impossible.
    Also, the WPIAL is not the best high school area in the country. I am not saying it is bad. It is better than average. Pitt needs to recruit Jersey, Florida, Texas, etc. Take a look at last years Pitt roster. There are no difference makers from the WPIAL...except Sunseri :-)

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    1. For Pitt to be a top football program they would definitely need to recruit nationally. But right now they aren't going to get elite players from far away places. They can't even get the local kids. Get the top local kids first, coach them up, win a bunch of games, then you'll have a chance with kids from kids around the country.

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    2. Chris has said numerous times that yes Pitt cannot recruit just WPIAL but Pitt must get most of the top WPIAL players. If Pitt cannot get the top ones in their own backyard how can they get the top ones elsewhere?

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  19. Denton County Cell Block 5June 25, 2012 at 2:10 PM

    Chryst seems to be "learning on the job as a headcoach"; being a excellent OC does not always translate to being a headcoach.

    This regime kinda reminds me of the Hackett staff but Hacket was totally inept as a headcoach and hated to recruit. Are we seeing this with the missed opportunities, massive disorganization and miscommunication?

    It really appears so, unless they pull a rabbit out of the hat this is going to be a mediocre class full of projects.

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  20. Imma Man! Im 40!June 25, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    Great article, Chris. These guys remind me of the Paul Hackett regime more and more with every passing week.

    Allow me to offer you a suggestion for a fun article: do an early comparison of the Two Pauls (Hackett & Chryst), pros and cons. Then revisit that list after the season and after LOI day next February.

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  21. “Of course there are people who say that Pitt's recent coaching fiascos have something to do with that, but that's ridiculous. Dana Holgerson is a public relations nightmare as far as coaches go, and Penn State is in the middle of what could be the biggest sports scandal in this country's history. And Pitt is losing local players to these two programs.”

    With all due respect Chris, it’s not at all ridiculous. Neither of WVU’s or PSU’s issues have had an adverse effect on the performance of those football teams on the field. Don’t you think that Chavas Rawlins had to be impressed with the way that WVU annihilated Clemson in front of a national audience? And, scandal or not, Penn State will still be playing Big Ten football in front of 100k fans next season.

    Now, how in the hell does a coach sell the Pitt football program at this time...the promise of going to lousy bowl games in crappy cities or maybe the idea that these recruits can make up the first team to win a conference championship since the kids were in grade school. Then of course there is the ridiculous notion that employing four head coaches in two years may be of some concern to potential recruits. Honestly, given the events of the past few years, I’m surprised that Pitt can snag any highly recruited players.

    At least Coach Christ is coming from a program that has proven that it can win with a roster comprised of mostly average talent. Tell me, how is it that Wisconsin has consistently been a top 20 program without having top 20 recruiting classes? The answer of course is good coaching, so it looks to me like Pitt has chosen the right program to model itself after. Face it, in order to get players, players, players Pitt must first show that it can win, win, win and judging by his past performance, I would say that Coach Chryst gives them a damn good chance do just that.

    MC

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    1. All I have to say to that is Walt Harris. When he came to the program, it was losing 70-0. He turned it around. It's just excuses. This is a bottom line business and making excuses will get Pitt nowhere. And I do think Chryst could win 9 games. I've said it many, many times. But that's enough at Pitt as we know. To get beyond 9 games from time to time Pitt needs coaching AND talent. To think Chryst can take Pitt to a major bowl just because it happened at Wisconsin when he was there does not make sense. Back to Harris, he was also in the Rose Bowl before he came to Pitt. It didn't mean he can duplicate at Pitt. Wisconsin has football as a priority. Pitt does not!!

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    2. Just wondering Chris, how long did it take Walt to turn the program around. Did it happen in his first year at Pitt and was he able to secure a top recruiting class before coaching even one game.

      MC

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  22. I think the main point of contention that I would bring up is the fact that "Pitt has everything it takes to become a high profile football program". Essentially I totally disagree with this statement.

    What does it take to become a high profile football program? Well that is obviously an incredibly subjective question, but for me anyways the main ingredient is simple; good players. Whether you get them by recruiting nationally or in your own backyard, you simply have to acquire outstanding football players. That said, how in the world do you expect Pitt to do this? I can't sit here and say that I know a lot about local recruiting, but I do that know if you build your football program mostly out of players from western PA.....well, let's just say its going to be tough to do anything special with that kind of talent. There are absolutely some great players in the region, but you have got to be kidding me if you seriously think that Pitt can grab up all the players from the WPIAL and just start winning tons of games. The talent level is simply not anywhere near what it was during the 70's and 80's. Of course there are some amazing players from the region, but for every solid NCAA player that PA produces Texas or Florida or California produces 10 or even 20.

    That brings me to my next point. If it is clear that you cannot build a consistent championship caliber team from your local recruiting basis, then it essential to recruit nationally. As you have pointed out, why in the hell would an elite recruit from down south come to Pitt?? It sure as hell isn't going to be the weather. The girls....no. The football atmospehere????? 40,000 people show up and they are very far from rabid on the typical gameday. There is just no way that a kid who is considering Penn State, or Alabama, or any of the other consistent power house programs is going to turn down the chance to play in front of 100,000 strong every saturday. A chance to be in amazing weather year round. A chance to be around gorgeous girls 12 months a year.

    As a Pitt alumni I want nothing more than to see the University that I love so much succeed. It just seems to me there it is unreasonable at this time. Pitt is what it is in terms of football, a solid program that is going to have some good years, maybe even a run of 2-3 years where they can do some damage nationally, but nothing more than that.

    Sorry this post was long and rambling, I really enjoy the website. Thanks for posting and Hail to Pitt.

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    1. I'm not saying only the WPIAL. But there are a handful of elite players right in their backyard this year. Get those first, while getting some good prospects in other areas. Trust me, if Pitt could have gotten the top WPIAL players last year, this year, and next year, then they are a top 25 team. Once they get to that level, then they have a better chance at the best national kids.

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  23. Fair enough. Hopefully they can turn it around on the recruiting trail.

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  24. Doke:

    Does Pitt have a recruiting coordinator? If not, this would be very surprising, and it would also seem to be part of the problem in terms of the lack of coordination that you mention.

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  25. Chryst's nephew, John Strauser, committed to Purdue today. So we know he cannot even sign a family member. Those midwestern kids love the Big Ten.

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  26. Last time I checked, chryst didn't have many elite prospects at Wisconsin and I think they have been to two straight rose bowls

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    1. Last time I checked, Chryst didn't do it alone at Wisconsin. Foge Fazio was in big bowls before he became head coach, too. How did that work out for him? Just because an assistant wins big at one place, that doesn't mean he is going to win just as big as a head coach somewhere else. There are many factors, beyond just Chryst, that have to be met for him to succeed.

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  27. Big difference between Fazio and Chryst.

    Everything about Fazio was in complete dissarray. Did not have the organizational skills to oversee all aspects of the team.

    My understanding is that Foge also wanted to be liked by his players, his coaches, and everyone else.

    Chryst won't have that problem.

    Also Chris, are you absolutely sure Chryst or Rudolph really wanted Johnson, i.e. really saw him as their kind of player?

    Being from the same area, the same school... maybe just maybe they had reason to have a different opinion of him than those on the outside looking in?

    I'm aking the question given some comments above that Chryst and Rudolph were not overly aggressive in pursuing Johnson.

    Chryst has already shown that he's willing not to recruit someone just because it seems like the obvious thing to do.

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    1. How do you know that Chryst won't have that problem? None of us know how good, or how bad, Chryst will be as a head coach.

      As for Johnson, Pitt wanted him very much, but at the end of the day Penn State sold him better.

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  28. Corrections...

    Chryst has already shown that he's willing to not recruit someone even if it seems like the obvious thing to do.

    PittofDreams

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  29. Player development is more important than recruiting. Look at any Boise St class or Wisconsin class. They aren't classes filled with elite high school talent. I agree with Doke that Pitt has all the recipes to be a great football team, but I think we just need to have stability and faith in our coach. Winning, or even stability alone, will allow Chryst to get the guys he wants. Being able to talk to these recruits as they progress high school will make a huge difference. While potentially losing several of the elite players this year, especially Johnson, is heartbreaking, it is still Chryst's first year as a HC. Yes, O'Brien has been killing it recruiting in his first year, but who's to say that he can develop his players as well as Chryst has proven to in the past. IMO opinion Chryst does a great job with projects, and we have a lot of talent on our current team. Pitt's fanbase needs to stop jumping ship after a few mishaps. It's his first year, and despite having many highly recruited guys so far, we do have a lot of potential future talent.

    Hail to Pitt

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    1. And just for the record, I'm not saying that Chryst won't be a GREAT head coach who turns Pitt back into a national power. I hope like hell he is does. I'm only saying it's just wishful thinking when people say it WILL happen. We don't know if it will happen. Time will tell. He may be great, he may suck. I just want him to have the best players he can get so that it will make it easier on him.

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    2. Hail to Pitt, how do you know Chryst did all this developing at Wisconsin? He wasn't the head coach and Bielema and Bostad did a lot with the program.

      He may or may not be good at it, no one knows but its a lot easier to make a 4 star kid into a 5 star than a 2 star into a 5 star.

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  30. Thank you for your postings Chris. It's refreshing to read your posts because I am, more often that not, always frustrated with this program for one reason or another and you are ususally right on target.

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  31. Donations have been a colossal failure again this year. With the Pitt fanbase divided by Stevie P supporters and those who want him fired, this is still a huge problem nobody is addressing.

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    1. Again? Their Panther Club set a record for donations they raised in the last fiscal year.

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    2. Donations are down for the past fiscal year. Way down. Any Stevie P B.S. to the contrary is laughable.

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  32. Pitt's reputation has risen since Walt Harris, the Ohio State quarterbacks coach, was hired in 1997. Now we've managed to snag a real offensive coordinator, not just a position coach. Walt was a quarterbacks and receivers whiz. Wanny could talk and recruit but was a piss poor gameday coach. If we could put Wanny and Chryst together we might have the complete package. You have to wonder what Chryst's expectations are at this point.

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  33. Of course there are people who say that Pitt's recent coaching fiascos have something to do with that, but that's ridiculous. Dana Holgerson is a public relations nightmare as far as coaches go, and Penn State is in the middle of what could be the biggest sports scandal in this country's history. And Pitt is losing local players to these two programs.
    ******************************************************************************************************
    Chris......... not ridiculous! WVU has been a winning program no matter how despicable Dana Holgerson's behavior is. PSU is a fabled program with a horrendous pox on its house, but it's a scar that will fade. Continuity and winning Chris, it's all about continuity and winning!
    IMO........ Chryst knows what he's walking into and will try to build a foundation on rock rather than a quick fix on sand. Let's face it........... there has been some good talent at PITT that was never "coached up" well or appropriately over the years. The worst thing in life is wasted talent and PITT has been a master at wasting talent and at being unable to mold some character in their former players.

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  34. Chris:

    I have asked three times who is Pitt's recruiting coordinator (one with this post and two in previous posts), but you have never answered the question. This seems like a straightforward, non-controversial question, so I am not sure why you haven't responded.

    On the one hand, I have never heard of a D-1 team not having a recruiting coordinator. But, on the other hand, I have never heard of anyone being given that title on this staff.

    I would really appreciate it if you would give me your insights about this. Thanks in advance.

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  35. If when the smoke settleup there in State Penn, and it is determined that Tom Bradley was not envolved will Pitt consider putting him on staff? If for nothing else but for recruiting purposes.

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