Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Counting down the top Pitt football players of the last 40 years- No.22 Tom Brzoza

I will be counting down my own list of the top 50 Pitt football players since 1972.  I have spent time doing a lot of research and talking to a lot of people when formulating this list, but ultimately it is MY opinion.  The great thing about lists like this is that people will disagree, and feel free to, but just remember that there is no right answer so there's no need to go crazy if you do disagree.  I will post this same intro with all 50 bios because I know the one time I don't, people will complain about not knowing what criteria I used.  I will add at least one a day, maybe two.  

My criteria for selecting the order is as follows:

1.  Productivity.
2.  Talent.
3.  Place in program history.
4.  Only the player's careers while at Pitt are considered, not their NFL careers. 
5.  No current players.

22.  Tom Brzoza (1974-77)-  This is probably the highest ranked player that most Pitt fans aren't familiar with.  Some of that has to do with how long ago he played and some of that is because his position, but whatever the reason let it be known that Brzoza was an excellent player.

The New Castle native was a starter for the Panthers from the fourth game of his freshman year, beginning as a sophomore guard.  That season he became an integral part of the Panthers offense that saw Tony Dorsett run for over 1,500 yards and Elliott Walker add over 900 yards himself.

As a junior, Brzoza helped Dorsett run for over 2,000 yards and win the Heisman Trophy while the program won the National Championship.  The storybook season ended with Brzoza getting All-American recognition.

Dorsett graduated before Brzoza's senior year and to make matters worse for him Jackie Sherrill became the head coach and moved him to center.  Even though he hated the idea he responded by being named a consensus first team All-American.


  1. Brzoza was also an excellent student as well as stud lineman.

  2. and what a great name... three consonants in a row, one of which is a "z".

  3. Respect your blog but you're going to regret not covering the largest sports story of our lifetime.

    1. I talk a lot about it a ton on twitter and I'll talk about it on here in the comment section if somebody says something. I'm just not going to write a Penn State article when this is a Pitt blog and there are already thousands of articles on the subject.

      Now when it concerns Pitt, like it would if they get a transfer from there, and for future recruiting against Penn St., then that's a different story. I will definitely have something like that in the future.

    2. That is a PSU story or blog...

      If anything.. I want to hear about PSU potential transfers to Pitt...
      - who does Pitt have an eye on....
      - who is considering Pitt as potential transfer...
      - which Frosh/Soph got an offer from Pitt and visited Pitt.
      - Is Engram living at State College the next 2 weeks?
      - In the end, which transfers did Pitt lose out on... meaning Pitt was in the mix but didn't get selected.

      I know its early, but the current roster has 9 days remaining to decide to transfer in order for waiver of sitout.

    3. Imma Man! Im 40!July 24, 2012 at 1:46 PM

      Hate to agree with Joe D (smile), but the countdown -- great as it is -- can wait.

      I'd really like some insider dope: is Pitt taking its normal laid back ("just offer") approach, or are we actively seeking to fill some serious holes -- like OL. ESPECIALLY since Pitt doesn't even have a full 85-schollie roster.

      Forgive the metaphor, but this is like shopping on Black Friday, or at a second-hand store, meaning it doesn't have an unlimited supply, which won't last long: the early birds are gonna get the, ummm, worms.

    4. Trust me, like I said, when I know anything about Pitt and PSU transfers, you guys will be the first to know. It's not something Pitt is going to be very vocal about it. It's going to take awhile to see how it plays out.

  4. O'Brien is an attractive personality. I don't believe many of the current players or committed recruits will defect. Those players have bought in, and the coaching staff will use the "circle the wagons" approach to keep things together.

    Where I think PSU begins to hurt is in gaining new commitments. Players who haven't already committed are obviously not die-hard fans; and PSU coaches will have incredible difficulty convincing many to commit now.

    Unfortunately I think Pitt fans are underestimating our own problems, which preclude us from capitalizing on PSU's issues. What PSU transfer is going to consider Pitt now given the recent coaching fiasco? If I'm a player, do I really trust Pitt to have the same coaching staff two or three years from now? If Bobby Engram (or any assistant) is recruiting me, do I trust that he'll be there next year given all of the recent turmoil within the Pitt program?

    Sadly, and I'm not saying he was the answer, but I do think if Wannstedt was still coaching Pitt would be a landing spot for a few PSU transfers. Saying that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    Not capitalizing on this situation will be the end of the Steve Pederson reign. Pitt football has to get worse before it's going to get better.

    1. well, chryst does have a lot of familiarity with penn state players, at least on the defensive side of the ball. hes had to study hours and hours of film to know what each of them are capable of so he definitely knows who he wants from their team. there also seem to be some no-brainers. eugene lewis, nyeem wartman, etc because they all heavily considered pitt, granted when graham was here but they are very promising prospects

  5. I look at Rivals and who Pitt offered in 2011 and 2012... I think those would potentially transfer... I doubt any Junior or Senior will transfer.
    2011 Offers
    LB - Kline
    OL - Smith
    OL - Mangiro
    DE - Barnes
    DE - Oakman
    ATH - Belton

    2012 Offers
    WR - Lewis
    OL - Gaia
    LB - Wartman

    Suffice to say.... those on PSU roster that Pitt didn't give an offer when they were in HS... would be a long shot (opinion).

  6. I just don't see that many current players leaving. I can just hear all the crap that the first guy that walks is going to take for bailing on the team and all that stuff. Think of how Silas Redd will get blasted in State College if he bails for USC. I hope I'm wrong and we can pick up a player or two that can help the team. But my guess is we won't be in the running to get anyone who can really help anyways. The way I see it is if the better than average to good players are going to leave, they are going to want to have a chance to win the Natl Champ or play in one of the BCS bowls - that eliminates Pitt at least for this year. The rest....well not playing in a bowl vs. playing in the "Birmingham Bowl" is about the same. I'll be surprised if we get any. Our best chance is on next year's commits.

    1. By my estimates, there will be about 15 that go...
      now would be a better time to leave instead of end of year.

      Bottom line.. if they don't go voluntarily, O'Brien will have to CUT 15 current players on roster to make room for 15 incoming frosh for 2013. I say this assuming 20 seniors on the roster.
      I think the better players (frosh and soph) will stay... it will be those far down the depth chart that will leave. I don't see any junior or senior leaving.

  7. Just read that Boyd does not have Pitt on his list. Penn State went to the bottom, but he lists Arizona, Arizona State, ND, and Wisconsin as favorites.