Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Rippy to Pitt?

According to his coach, via Mike White of the the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sto-Rox linebacker Deaysean Rippy will be signing with Pitt.  The 6'2" 200 pound Rippy has been an underachiever thus far in his career, but he has loads of talent.

Bam Bradley to Pitt?

On Bradley's twitter account, he just wrote "I'm goin wit Freeze".  Freeze is the nickname of Nicholas Grigsby, Bam's brother who is a linebacker at Pitt.

Two quick updates

CB Sean Draper chose Iowa over Pitt and Louisville.

LB Bam Bradley is down to Pitt and Arizona after Stanford got mad at him for visiting Arizona.

Added note: Bradley just tweeted "Burgh Gang or Die".  Don't ask me what it means exactly.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Pittsburgh 72 West Virginia 66

Now that was a satisfying win.  Showing that the Georgetown game was not a fluke, the Panthers won the their third in a row to go 3-7 in the Big East and 14-9 overall.

The leading scorer, and best player in the game for the Panthers, was Travon Woodall who had 24 points thanks to 8-12 from the field, 3-5 from three, and 5-5 from the line.  He also had 4 rebounds and 3 assists.  His only blemish was his 5 turnovers.

Ashton Gibbs chipped in with 14, while Nasir Robinson added 9, and Dante Taylor had 8 points and 7 rebounds off the bench,  The other two starters, Lamar Paterson and Talib Zanna, chipped in with 6 and 5 points respectively.  Patterson also added 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals.

The Panthers shot an excellent 46.2% from the field and made 21 of 26 free throws.

Next up for the Panthers is a home game on Sunday against Villanova.  The Wildcats are also 3-7 in the league and are 10-12 overall.  It's a perfect time for the Panthers to keep on rolling.

Just some quick updates in case you missed them

Demetrious Cox has committed to Michigan State.

Trayvon Hester has committed to Toledo.

Chris Denman will sign with Rutgers.

Willie Henry has committed to Michigan.

Myles Hilliard leaning towards Syracuse over Michigan State.

Note:  Hilliard committed to Syracuse tonight.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Panthers pull the scholarship offer of Marzett Geter

As I suspected they would do, due mostly to his lack of judgement on twitter when he criticized some of the decisions of the program, among other things, the Panthers decided to let Sto-Rox CB Marzett Geter go on his merry way.  Geter is now the fourth player to part ways with Pitt since Paul Chryst has taken the job.  A fifth changed schools before Chryst was hired.  Two more, Adam Pankey and Myles Hilliard, are wavering, and there are still others who may not eventually be signed for one reason or the other.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

William Parks to Arizona

Cornerback William Parks who had previously committed to Pitt, has now committed to Arizona.  This is not a shocker as the new Pitt staff was looking to continue to make changes with the current class.  Whether it makes sense or not is yet to be determined.

Pitt 72 Georgetown 60

Who were those guys?  Pitt wins their second in a row after losing eight straight, and now are 12-0 at the Pete against top 10 teams.

The two best players for Pitt were Nasir Robinson and Lamar Patterson.  Robinson was 9-9 from the field and finished with 23 points and 8 rebounds.  Patterson was 6-8 from the field and had 18 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists, and no turnovers.

Travon Woodall orchestrated the offense well and had 10 assists.  But he was also 1-7 from the field and had 4 more turnovers.  He ended up with 4 points.

Talib Zanna was all over the court in the first half and chipped in with 8 points and 10 rebounds.

Ashton Gibbs did not have a particularly good game but had 13 points. He also had 4 turnovers, one rebound, and no steals or assists.

Pitt shot 52.1% from the field and 86.4% from the line, but made just 3-13 from three.  They also out rebounded the Hoyas 33-22.

The Panthers are now 2-7 in the Big East and 13-9 overall.  Their next game is Monday night at West Virginia.  That's a game that will obviously show if the team is back for good.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Bobby Engram named as WR coach

In one of the worst secrets known to man, Bobby Engram was named as the Panthers WR coach.  This is a great hire for various reasons.  One of the most obvious reasons is that he is an established college star and longtime NFL receiver.  That goes a long way in recruiting, especially for receivers like Robert Foster.  Another reason why this is a great hire is that being a well known former Penn State star, the kids, dads, uncles, etc. in the Penn State territory of central and eastern PA will be enamored with having him show up at their house.  Hopefully Paul Chryst sees that and uses Engram a lot in those areas.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pitt 86 Providence 74

Pitt's win streak has reached one.  Thank you Providence.  The Friars stink but a win is a win and maybe this will give the team some much needed confidence.

Ashton Gibbs got back on target and was heaving some long threes.  He led all Panthers with 22 points thanks to going 5-11 from three.

But the best sign that things may chance is the return to form of Travon Woodall who had 17 points, 9 assists, and just one turnover.  He also made all four of his three pointers.

Nasir Robinson added 14 points and 6 rebounds while Lamar Patterson chipped in with 9 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 steals.  The fifth starter, Talib Zanna had 9 points and 5 rebounds.  Off the bench, John Johnson was tops with 7 points.

Pitt and Providence are now both 12-9 overall and 1-7 in the league.  Next up for the Panthers is Georgetown at home on Saturday.

Panthers land TE J.P. Holtz

As expected, Shaler tight end J.P. Holtz has decided to become a Pitt Panther.  Holtz originally committed to Penn State months ago but changed his mind after their program came under fire.  Other offers included West Virginia, Michigan, Michigan State, Arkansas, Virginia, and Rutgers among others.

Versatile player who played at quarterback, running back, tight end, and linebacker at Shaler.  At 6'4" and 240 pounds he already has good size.  Ideal for Paul Chryst's tight end friendly offense but he is also versatile enough to move to defensive end or linebacker in the future if need be.

He possesses very good speed and athleticism, and even though he looks nothing like a true halfback he often ran out of the I-formation like a much smaller player, until he eventually steamrolled any would be tacklers.

Bottom line, this is one of my favorite players from the hundreds of Pitt prospects this year.  He's just a tough, hard nosed football player that hustles.  Combine that with his natural talent and Chryst's offense, and Holtz could be a bonafide star down the road.

Panthers offer local 2013 QB

One of the fastest risers for the 2013 PA class is Monessen QB Chavas Rawlins.  At 6'4" and 195 pounds, Rawlins has good size, but he also has very good athleticism.  His brother, Justice, is  currently considered one of the best linebackers in the country in the 2015 class.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Panthers land corner Ryan Lewis

Pitt didn't recruit him until recently but it was long enough to land corner Ryan Lewis of Eastlake HS in Sammanish, WA.  Lewis is going to be a Panther, just like his uncle Tim Lewis, a former No. 1 pick in the NFL.  His father Will Lewis also played in the NFL for a short time and is now the Vice President of Pro Personnel for the Seattle Seahawks.

Lewis, 6'0" and 185 pounds, is a bit of sleeper but he has excellent speed.  He also had offers from Utah and Colorado.

Monday, January 23, 2012

J.J. Denman to Rutgers

According to a source close to the situation, Pennsbury OT has committed to Rutgers over Pitt and Wisconsin.  He had previously committed to Penn State.

Panthers lose center Brandyn Cook

According to Cincinnati Inquirer writer Mike Dyer, center Brandyn Cook has de-committed to Pitt and will now go to Miami, OH instead.  He is the fourth loss so far for Paul Chryst and the Pitt staff.

The ten players that will determine the early success of the new Pitt staff

1.  J.J. Denman-  The former OT already committed to Penn State and then Wisconsin.  With Paul Chryst and Bob Bostad moving from Wisconsin to Pitt, the Panthers got a visit with a legit shot of landing the big time lineman.  Instead, perhaps because of rumors of Bostad leaving and Pitt's inability to publicly denounce those rumors, the Panthers staff could not close the deal on Denman.  Instead he has visited Rutgers who are now the favorite.

2.  Demetrious Cox-  The Jeannette safety was always open to Pitt as a possibility but now Ohio State and Penn State appears to have passed the Panthers.  One of the reasons Cox has stated for the Panthers falling behind is that he hasn't talked to Chryst very much.  The question is, why is that?

3.  Adam Pankey-  There are better players lower on this list but Pitt needs offensive linemen very much.  He committed to the Panthers, but before Chryst was hired he decided to visit West Virginia.  As of now it seems like the Panthers have somehow fallen behind WVU for his services.

4.  J.P. Holtz-  The former Penn State tight end commit has looked at Michigan State, but this is the one top prospect that looks like he could be headed to Pitt.

5.  Bam Bradley-  Not fast or athletic enough to be a safety and Pitt was honest when they told him they would be taking him as a linebacker.  He prefers to play safety so that hurts the Panthers chances. His brother plays for Pitt but that's not been enough to close the deal. Right now it looks like it's between Pitt, Ohio State, and Stanford and Bradley says Stanford is recruiting him the hardest right now.

6.  Anthony Standifer-  Very good Illinois corner that was being recruited by new Panthers RB coach Eddie Faulkner when he was at Northern Illinois.  It looks like he wants to go to Notre Dame but he has to take Spanish classes on the internet before he will be accepted there.  For that reason, there's always a chance that he will eventually end up at Pitt.  He was supposed to visit Pitt after signing day but it remains it be seen if it will actually happen.

7.  Dakota Conwell-  The Upper St. Clair linebacker was one of the better WPIAL prospects this year and while many fans downplayed the fact that de-committed from Pitt and committed to Arizona, the loss is significant for two reasons.  One, it's never good to lose a top WPIAL recruit, especially one that already committed to you, and, two, Pitt needs linebackers.  I also don't believe that Conwell couldn't fit into Pitt's system.  If Mike Caprara can then Conwell can.  The truth is, the fact that Pitt could not convince him to stay was a big miss on their part.

8.  Deaysean Rippy-  The Sto-Rox linebacker has always been trying to go anywhere other than Pitt and to be honest at this point he's more trouble than he's worth.  Even though the Panthers desperately needs linebacker depth I wouldn't blame them for not going after Rippy.

9.  Corey Jones- Yes, the Penn Hills WR is very small and yes, he is a potential academic casualty, but he's also a potential excellent return man, at worse.  It's never good to lose a fast, athletic WPIAL player who already committed, to a MAC school.  If an equal or better wide receiver was signed instead then it would make sense, but the program isn't exactly loaded with receivers.

10.  Sean Draper-  Glenville HS in Ohio is always loaded with top talent which is all the more surprising that this talented corner camped at Pitt under the former regime, and yet they never pursued him.  The new staff got in late and will have to battle Louisville, Iowa, and Illinois, but they have a good shot.

As you can see, things aren't exactly going swimmingly for the new staff.  They've already lost Conwell and Jones, and Pankey may be next.  The two best players, Denman and Cox, have plenty of reasons why they would come to Pitt yet it looks like the Panthers will miss out on both.

It's also a little troubling that the new staff doesn't seem very organized or focused.  It took over a week before Chryst talked to any recruit, or hired any staff, meaning he lost some potential recruits and let committed players get recruited by others.  Then when he did finally have most of his staff together, committed players and potential prospects still weren't receiving calls in a timely fashion.

The biggest test for the staff will be the next recruiting class, and I'm not suggesting that they won't do a good, or even great, job with that class.  But I'm also saying that they haven't exactly started out in fine fashion.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Louisville 73 Pittsburgh 62

This is getting old and again not much to say other than this team is not good enough.  They played hard and they didn't play horrible.  They aren't just very good.  And to be honest that may not be a good thing for the future because when your only problem is lack of talent, and you are losing every game, then you really have a lack of talent.

Ashton Gibbs and Lamar Patterson led with 14 points each.  Gibbs shot better going 5-13 from the field and 4-10 from three.  But he also had just one rebound, one assist, and three turnovers.  Patterson actually had a good game offensively shooting 6-9 from the field and 2-3 from three.  He also added 5 rebounds and 7 assists to go with just one turnover.

Nasir Robinson had 12 points and 7 rebounds but the turnover machine had four more.

Talib Zanna and Dante Taylor did a decent job with Zanna getting 7 points and 6 rebounds, and Taylor chipping in with 8 points and 5 rebounds.

Travon Woodall came back and started, but the lift he was expected to give didn't even come close to happening.  He was scoreless on 5 shots, had just two assists, and had 3 turnovers.

Defensively, the Panthers could do nothing as Louisville shot 55.3% from the field.

Pitt is now 11-9 overall and 0-7 in the conference.  The next loss for the Panthers will be at home against Providence on Wednesday.

Future fullback?

Fullbacks are needed in Paul Chryst's offense and he doesn't have many right now.  That may change in the future as Ohio State's David Durham is visiting Pitt today.  He is a redshirt freshman so if he transfers to Pitt he would lose his sophomore year and would have just two years of eligibility left.

Durham, who is 6'1" and 245 pounds, was a defensive player in high school, playing linebacker and defensive end.  But he wanted to get more playing time for the Buckeyes so he asked to be moved to fullback.

Originally from Charlotte, NC, he spent most of his teen years in Austin, TX before moving back to Charlotte to graduate.  He has family in Pittsburgh.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Pitt looking at California juco

Pitt may be looking to the juco ranks for help and are looking at 6'9" 235 pound Andrew Young from Monterey Peninsula College in CA.  Young is currently averaging around 20 ppg and 20 rpg.  The schools looking at him include Gonzaga, California, Georgetown, Cincinnati, Virginia, and NC State.

Bad grades at Monterey HS and a broken wrist in the second game of his senior season meant Young had to head to junior college, where he is now one of the biggest junior college recruits in the country.  He also has a GPA of 3.8 now.

As for what type of player Young is, he can run the floor with ease and is a good passer for a big man (a requirement for Pitt power forwards).  

Syracuse 71 Pittsburgh 63

The Panthers lose their seventh game and a row and are now 11-8 overall and 0-6 in the conference.

One thing that was obvious was the team tried hard and came to play, but just couldn't match the talent and depth of the Orange.

Ashton Gibbs was one of three Panthers with 10 points but was back to shooting poorly again going 4-12 from the field, and 2-9 from three.  Lamar Patterson also had 10 points but fouled out and went 0-3 from three.  Cameron Wright surprisingly added 10 points and 7 rebounds.

Nasir Robinson had six rebounds but was pretty awful with 4 points and team leading 3 turnovers.  From the field, he was 1-5 and from the free throw line he was 2-8.

Taliba Zanna showed some signs of life with 9 points and 6 rebounds while Dante Taylor added 11 rebounds to go with 4 points.

Off the bench, John Johnson added 9 points and J.J. Moore had 7.

The Panthers out rebounded the Orange 38-24 but once again shot poorly going 39.3% from the field, 30.4% from three, and 52.2% from the line.

Next up for the Panthers is Louisville at home on Saturday.  Unfortunately, Pitt's problems will be talked about a lot on that day as ESPN will be in town for College Gameday.

Dakota Conwell de-commits from Pitt

Upper St. Clair LB Dakota Conwell, one of the better recruits for the Panthers this year, has de-commited from the Panthers and committed to Arizona where he was once recruited by former Pitt DB coach Tony Gibson.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Panthers land local linebacker

New Pitt coach Paul Chryst gets his first commitment as Woodland Hills linebacker Mike Caprara gave the Panthers the good news today.  Caprara is only 6'0" and 205 pounds (at most), but he's a tough kid who would have gotten a lot more offers if he was bigger.

Marquette 62 Pittsburgh 57

Well, it was a better effort, but Pitt loses their sixth in a row and are now 11-7 overall and 0-5 in the Big East.

The only good part for Pitt was that Jamie Dixon finally realized that Ashton Gibbs at the point was not a good thing so he gave Isaiah Epps a chance.  The redshirt freshman responded for the most part.  He only had 2 points, 2 assists, and 2 steals in 26 minutes but he only had one of Pitt's seventeen turnovers.  He also enabled Gibbs to move to the two where he had a career high 29 points.  Not playing out of position also helped Gibbs have just one turnover.

Now the bad.  Nasir Robinson had 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 turnovers but he also has SEVEN turnovers.   Lamar Patterson added four more turnovers to go with 7 points and 7 rebounds.

Next up the Panthers play on Monday night at No. 1 Syracuse.  Good luck with that.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

New WR coach could be Bobby Engram

There have been many rumors that former Penn State star WR could be the new WR coach for the Panthers.  A longtime NFL veteran, the 39-year old Engram was an offensive assistant in his first year as a coach for the 49ers this season.  A native of South Carolina, Engram currently lives in Murrysville, PA.

While I haven't confirmed this hiring yet, if it came to fruition, it would be a nice hire for Paul Chryst due to Engram's long NFL career.  

New defensive backs coach is Matt House

Paul Chryst's second addition to his staff today is Matt House who spent the last three seasons with the Rams as the defensive quality control coach.  Prior to that, House spent a season with the Carolina Panthers  as a special teams assistant, two years as the defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator at Buffalo, under Turner Gill, and for one season at Gardner-Webb as the defensive line coach.  Prior to that he was a defensive back assistant at North Carolina and a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Michigan State.  He is a native of Harrison, MI.

Comparing the rankings of Pitt class

Just out of curiosity, I looked to see how the ratings of ESPN, Scout, and Rivals compared with my own.  Though I don't use the star system, I did for this comparison.

Stars in order for each player are:

                              ESPN     SCOUT   RIVALS    DOKISH

Rushel Shell        4    5   4   5
Chad Voytik       4    4   4    4
Adam Bisnowaty  4  3  4  4    Scout lone low
Dakota Conwell   3  4  3   3   Scout lone high
Corey Jones        3  4  3   3     Scout lone high
Dimitrious Davis  4  3  3  4
Chris Davis         2  3   3   3     ESPN lone low
Myles Hilliard    3  3   3    3
Darryl Render    3  3   3   3
Trenton Coles   3   2   3   3    Scout lone low
Brandyn Cook  3   3   3   3
Devon Porchia  3  2    3   3   Scout lone low
Alkwan Williams  3  3  2  2
Tyrique Jarrett      3  3  2   3   Rivals lone low
Marzett Geter       3  3  2   2
William Parks      2   2  2   2
Jahmahl Pardner  2   3  3   3   ESPN lone low
Jevonte Pitts        2   3   3   3  ESPN lone low
Adam Pankey     2   3   3    3   ESPN lone low
Overall average rating:

ESPN   2.95 stars
Scout  3.11
Rivals   2.95
Dokish  3.11

New RB coach Eddie Faulkner

Paul Chryst has added another coach to his staff and the coach in question, Eddie Faulkner, was once a running back at, you guessed it, Wisconsin.  With the Badgers, Faulkner was a four year letterman, mostly backing up legendary Ron Dayne.  

This past season Faulkner was the running back coach at Northern Illinois under first year coach Dave Doeren who was the defensive coordinator at Wisconsin until taking the Northern Illinois job.  Before that he was the offensive coordinator at Ball State for two seasons until a coaching change cost him his job.

A native of Muncie, IN, Faulkner is 34 years old and has most of his recruiting contacts in the Big 10 region.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Top offensive lineman J.J. Denman expected to visit this weekend

Apparently Paul Chryst is not done trying to raid the Wisconsin Badgers football team.  J.J. Denman, a 6'6" 310 lineman from Pennsbury HS in Fairless Hills, PA is expected to visit the Panthers this weekend, nearly three months after verbally committing to Wisconsin.  Denman originally verbally committed to Penn State in May.

Denman is considered a nasty brawler who has good athleticism to go with his obvious size.  He was recruited to Wisconsin by running backs coach Thomas Hammock who is still with the Badgers.  

Besides Pitt, Penn State, and Wisconsin, others who have offered Denman included Notre Dame, West Virginia, Michigan, Michigan State, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Miami.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The three things Paul Chryst has to accomplish to make Pitt excellent

1.  Assembling a great staff-  While only half the staff has been announced, Chryst has had an excellent start.  Offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Bob Bostad is one of the best offensive line coaches in the country and new assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach Joe Rudolph is considered one of the best recruiters in the country.  Neither of these statements are hyperbole.  Both are well known facts.  Why is Rudolph, a former offensive lineman, the new quarterbacks coach?  Well, let's be honest.  No matter what titles Rudolph and Bostad have, the offense will be Chryst's baby.  I expect him to formulate the game plans (with help from his staff, of course) and to call the plays.  He's one of the best play callers in the business and that's why he was hired in the first place.  Therefore, there's no reason to take him away from that.  So expect Rudolph to be quarterbacks coach in name, but what he'll really be is a recruiter extraordinaire.

On defense, new coordinator Dave Huxtable has had some excellent defenses at Central Florida and as a linebacker coach he's shown to be one of the best in the business.  Hiring former Mt.Lebanon head coach Chris Haering as linebackers coach was another excellent idea.  Expect Haering to not only be a good coach (he was an All-American linebacker in college), but he's also well respected and liked amongst WPIAL coaches so as a local recruiter he could be excellent.

Running back, wide receiver, defensive line, and defensive backs coaches are still needed and one of those will be presumably be the recruiting coordinator also.  If Chryst can add young hungry coaches and recruiters in those spots then his staff will be a grand slam.

2.  Recruit the best of PA immediately-  First Chryst has to hold on to the best of the 2012 class and that doesn't seem to be a problem.  Then he must finish off the 2012 class with some quality players.  It remains to be seen who the staff will  add to finish off the class but a strong finish would be a huge bonus going into next season.

Then comes the 2013 class.  This class will go a long way in determining Chryst's success at Pitt.  Central Valley wide receiver Robert Foster, Clairton safety Tyler Boyd, North Allegheny guard Patrick Kugler, and tight end Adam Breneman from the Harrisburg area are all nationally elite prospects at their positions and if Pitt can somehow manage all four, or at least three, then the new staff would have accomplished two things- one, adding talent of a top ten team, and, two, showing the rest of the programs, and prospects, that Pitt is a program to be reckon with.

The time is right for such a recruiting push.  The talent in PA is excellent in 2013, Penn State figures to struggle in recruiting, and the buzz of Chryst's (and Bostad's and Rudolph's) reputation from their time at Wisconsin is very high right now.  Combined with the fact that a new coach means a chance to play a lot early (that's why new coaches often get a big time class right off the bat) and Chryst can really get Pitt good in a hurry if he can land the big fish in PA.

3.  Coach 'em up-  Chryst has proven that he can take some okay prospects and turn them into college stars, and Bostad has done the same.  As long as Chryst continues to run the offense and as long as Bostad continues to coach up the linemen, there is no reason why they can't do the same at Pitt, who will actually have better prospects than Wisconsin had.

With a healthy Ray Graham, an incoming Rushell Shell, and a few other pretty good backs, the running game should be excellent.  Hubie Graham should thrive in the new offense and the tight end position is deep.  The offensive line was poor this season but Chris Jacobson should back, Tom Ricketts can finally play, and Bostad is the king of making something out of nothing.  The passing game may need more work but if anybody can get anything out of the quarterbacks it's Chryst.

On defense, Huxtable will be given free reign since Chryst's speciality is offense.  That puts a lot of pressure on him so it's important that he comes through.  The secondary should be good in 2012, but the front seven is going to need a lot of new, young players to come through.  Huxtable had two All-Big Ten linebackers this year, one a junior and one a sophomore, so he knows how to get the most out of his younger players.  The three projected starting linebackers- Juan Price, Todd Thomas, and LaQuentin Smith- are all sophomores, and Huxtable's coaching will be put to the test immediately. If he can turn that trio into very good players immediately, the defense could be very good right off the bat, and that will mean more wins in year one.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

SMU 28 Pittsburgh 6

I'm not going to waste my time or your time analyzing this game because this team you saw today will not be the team you see next year.  I have no idea if Paul Chryst will bring Pitt back to greatness, but I do know that the Todd Graham era is finally, and thankfully, over.

On a bright note, I'm sure more than ever that Chad Voytik is going to be an excellent quarterback for Pitt.  In the Army All-American Bowl today he showed great mobility and had a running, jumping touchdown run that was beautiful.  As for his arm, the kid has a cannon and was throwing BBs out there all day.  I liked everything about the kid before, but now with Chryst coaching him, I think they will combine to at least give Pitt an excellent QB/head coach combo and that's a great start.  So keep the faith, Pitt fans.  Your long nightmare may finally be over.

New coaching news

First of all, Bob Bostad will be the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach.  Obviously, Paul Chryst will still make a lot of the play calls, but it's great to have Bostad continue to coach the offensive line since he's considered one of the better offensive line coaches in the country.

Interestingly, Joe Rudolph, who was the tight end coach and recruiting coordinator at Wisconsin, will be the assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach.

As we already knew Dave Huxtable will be the defensive coordinator and Chris Haering will be the linebackers coach.

The new tight ends coach is Jim Hueber.  Not sure I feel about this one.  Hueber has a long track record as an offensive line coach, especially at Wisconsin in the past where of course he worked with Chryst.  His last job was two years ago when he was the assistant offensive line coach for the Minnesota Vikings.  While having a highly experienced coach like Hueber slumming as the tight end coach sounds good from a coaching aspect, he's also in his 60s and I'm not sure what kind of an impact he's going to have as a recruiter.  That would have been a good spot to land a hot, young assistant who wants to make his bones in recruiting.  Is somebody like Adam Breneman going to get excited to play for a guy in his 60s?  I don't know about that.

The new strength and conditioning coach is Todd Rice, who most recently spent the last five years at NC State, where he followed Tom O'Brien from Boston College.  Before that, he was the head of strength and conditioning at California and Rice.  Rice played at Wisconsin-Platteville where the head coach was Chryst's dad.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Joe Rudolph to be added to Panthers staff

The raid of Wisconsin is complete as new Pitt  head coach Paul Chryst will now add Joe Rudolph to his staff, joining new offensive coordinator Bob Bostad and new defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable.  Rudolph was the tight end coach and recruiting coordinator for the Badgers and his recruiting skills, especially in PA, are considered excellent.

Rudolph is a big believer in summer camps where he can see the prospects perform against each other.  "The fact that you get to know someone and you're face to face an you're getting to know them and you see their level of competitiveness and you see what type of kid they are, you see how they react when things get hard.  I think that's invaluable, I think it really elevates someone when you have a chance to work with them one on one."

Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema is obviously a big fan, or at least was.  "Obviously, you've got to have a great personality.  But simply being able to follow through and do things is important.  A lot of people talk about what they're going to do and never do it- Joe Rudolph does it every day.  It's just amazing to me how much of an effect he's had on us in recruiting."

Rudolph, 39, is a Belle Vernon, PA native who was a two time first team All-Big Ten offensive guard for Wisconsin.

Jamie Dixon's season is not unusual

Jamie Dixon has been the Pitt head coach since the 2003-04 season.  Here are some of the elite coaches who have had bad seasons since that time.

Jim Calhoun, UConn:  

2006-07:  (17-14, no postseason)
2009-10:  (18-16, NIT)

Jim Boeheim, Syracuse:

2005-06:  (23-12, finished 9th in Big East, needed conference tournament championship to make tournament)
2006-07:   (24-11, NIT)
2007-08:   (21-14,  finished 8th in Big East, NIT)

Rick Pitino, Louisville:

2005-06:  (21-13, finished 11th in Big East, NIT)

Ben Howland, UCLA:

2009-10:  (14-18, no postseason)

Roy Williams, North Carolina:

2009-10:  (20-17, 9th in conference, NIT)

Mike Krzyzewski, Duke:

2006-07:  (22-11, 6th in conference)

Tom Izzo, Michigan State:

2005-06:  (22-12, 6th in conference)
2006-07:  (23-12, 7th in conference)
2010-11:  (19-15)

John Calipari, Memphis:

2004-05:  (22-16, finished 6th in conference, NIT)

Billy Donovan, Florida:

2007-08:  (24-12, NIT)
2008-09:  (25-11, NIT)
2009-10:  (21-13)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

DePaul 84 Pittsburgh 81

Pitt has officially hit rock bottom losing to the conference's perennial doormat, DePaul.

All five starters reached double figures, led by Talib Zanna's 16 points on 8 for 8 shooting.  He also had 7 rebounds.  Zanna started in place of Taylor who lost his starting job for the second time this season.

Ashton Gibbs added 13 points but had another bad shooting night going 5 for 15 from the field.  He also had 4 assists an 2 steals.

Nasir Robinson also had 13 points on 4 for 11 shooting.  He also had 7 rebounds and 3 turnovers.

Lamar Patterson added 10 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 steals, but also had 3 turnovers.  He shot just 4 for 13 from the field.

John Johnson had his first start and also had 10 points on 3 for 9 shooting.  He also had 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 turnovers.

Off the bench, Dante Taylor had 9 points and 5 rebounds, while J.J. Moore added 7 points and 5 rebounds.

The Panthers are now 11-5 overall and 0-3 in the Big East.  It's the only time in Jamie Dixon's career that he has lost four in a row.  Next up for the Panthers, they are hosting Rutgers on Wednesday, January 11.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Dave Huxtable is Panthers new defensive coordinator

New Pitt coach Paul Chryst continues his raid of Wisconsin's staff by hiring the Badgers' linebacker coach Dave Huxtable to be his defensive coordinator.  This follows Chryst's hiring of Wisconsin's offensive line coach Bob Bostad, presumably for offensive coordinator.

Huxtable has been a defensive coordinator before, most recently at Central Florida for three seasons.  His defenses in those years were ranked highly in many national categories, including in the 2010 season, when Central Florida nationally finished No. 15 overall in total defense, No. 8 in scoring defense, and No. 8 in rushing defense.  In 2009, Central Florida finished No. 4 nationally in rushing defense and No. 6 in sacks.  In 2008, Huxtable's defense was No. 3 nationally in tackles for loss.

Huxtable also was the defensive coordinator at North Carolina in 2002 and 2003, and Western Kentucky in 1989.  He also coached at Georgia Tech, Oklahoma State, and East Carolina.

Huxtable, who will begin his 30th year in coaching, is a 1979 graduate of Eastern Illinois.

There are also rumors that Belle Vernon native Joe Rudolph may also exit Wisconsin for Pittsburgh.  Rudolph was a former star offensive guard for the Badgers, and he is currently the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator for his alma mater.  However, Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema is trying to land Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator to be his new offensive coordinator, meaning Rudolph would not get the job.  If that happens, there is speculation that Rudolph, who is close with both Chryst and Bostad, may prefer to come to Pitt and be the new offensive line.  Rudolph is considered the best recruiter on the staff and pairing him with new linebacker coach Chris Haering could make Pitt formidable in PA recruiting.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Comparing Wisconsin offensive talent with Pitt offensive talent

The more pessimistic Pitt fans have already started saying that Pitt may get Paul Chryst, but that doesn't mean much because they aren't getting the Wisconsin players.  The interesting part of that argument is that overall Pitt has filled their team with better prospects than Wisconsin.  Chryst, and also Bob Bostad on the offensive line, have done wonders with much less talent than Pitt has.  The Wisconsin offensive staff turned these kids into great players and a great offense.  There is no guarantee that they could do the same at Pitt, but with more raw talent to work with, a Pitt fan would have to be crazy not to be excited about the possibilities.


QB-  Russell Wilson-  Rivals 2 star rating- Chose NC State over Duke (only other major offer)-  33 touchdowns, 4 interceptions this season.

RB-  Montee Ball- Rivals 4 star rating (No. 33 RB)- Chose Wisconsin over Indiana, Kansas, Iowa State, Missouri, Stanford, and Northwestern.  1,923 rushing yards, 33 rushing touchdowns, 24 catches, 6 receiving touchdowns.

TE-  Jacob Pedersen-  Rivals 2 star rating-  Chose Wisconsin over E.Michigan, N.Michigan, Minnesota-Duluth, and Michigan Tech. (yes, I'm serious).  29 catches, 8 touchdowns

WR-  Nick Toon-  Rivals 4 star rating-  Chose Wisconsin immediately after being offered and since his dad was a star for the Badgers, he had no other offers.  64 catches, 926 yards, 10 touchdowns.

WR-  Jared Abbrederis- Walk on-  55 catches, 933 yards, 8 touchdowns.

LT- Ricky Wagner- Walk on- Considered possible No. 1 draft pick in 2013.

LG-  Ryan Groy- Rivals 3 star rating- Committed early and had no other offers.

C-  Peter Konz- Rivals 4 star rating- Chose Wisconsin over Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Duke.  Considered possible first round pick either this year or next year.

RG- Travis Frederick- Rivals 3 star rating- Chose Wisconsin over Air Force, Navy, and North Dakota State.

RT-  Josh Oglesby- Rivals 5 star rating-  Chose Wisconsin over Ohio State, Michigan, USC, Iowa, Nebraska, Notre Dame.

PITT 2012 (projection)

QB- Tino Sunseri-  Rivals 3 star rating (No. 24 QB)- Chose Pittsburgh over Florida State, Louisville, Boston College, South Florida, S.Mississippi.

RB-  Ray Graham-  Rivals 4 star rating (No.11 RB)-  Chose Pittsburgh over South Carolina, Rutgers, Michigan State, NC State.

TE-  Hubie Graham-  Rivals 4 star rating-  Chose Illinois over Michigan, Michigan State, Florida, Florida State, UCLA, Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh, Iowa, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, Clemson, Syracuse, Minnesota, Virginia, and Rutgers.

WR-  Michael Shanahan- Rivals 3 star rating-  Chose Pittsburgh over Georgia Tech, Stanford, West Virginia, and Vanderbilt.

WR-  Devin Street-  Rivals 2 star rating-  Chose Pittsburgh over UConn, Temple, Akron, and E. Michigan.

LT-  Tom Ricketts- Rivals 4 star rating- Chose Penn State over Pittsburgh, Florida State, Stanford, Virginia, Illinois, Northwestern.

LG-  Chris Jacobson- Rivals 4 star rating- Committed early so WVU only other offer.

C-  Ryan Turnley- Rivals 2 star rating- Committed to Pittsburgh over Wisconsin, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Louisville.

RG-  Cory King- Rivals 3 star rating- Committed to Pittsburgh over Minnesota and Bowling Green.

RT-  Matt Rotheram- Rivals 3 star rating-  Chose Pittsburgh over Wisconsin, LSU, Michigan State, NC State, South Carolina.

PITT 2013 (projection)

QB-  Chad Voytik- Rivals 4 star rating (No. 4 QB)-  Chose Pittsburgh over Clemson, Virginia, Wake Forest, Louisville, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State.

RB-  Rushel Shell- Rivals 4 star rating (No. 5 RB)- Chose Pittsburgh over Alabama, Penn State, Oregon, Ohio State, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee.

TE-  Anthony Gonzalez- Rivals 3 star QB-  Committed to Pittsburgh over Penn State, West Virginia, Clemson, Florida State, Cincinnati, Illinois, Oregon, Stanford.

WR-  Robert Foster- Rivals 5 star (projected)- top 3 WR prospect in the country.  Obviously he hasn't committed to Pitt yet but this is just a strong possibility.

WR-  Devin Street-  Rivals 2 star rating-  Chose Pittsburgh over UConn, Temple, Akron, and E. Michigan.

LT-  Tom Ricketts- Rivals 4 star rating- Chose Penn State over Pittsburgh, Florida State, Stanford, Virginia, Illinois, Northwestern.

LG-  Ryan Schlieper- Rivals 3 star rating- Chose Pittsburgh over West Virginia, Maryland, UConn, and UCF.

C-  Brandyn Cook-  Rivals 3 star rating- Chose Pittsburgh over Miami (OH)

RG-  Cory King- Rivals 3 star rating- Committed to Pittsburgh over Minnesota and Bowling Green.

RT-  Matt Rotheram- Rivals 3 star rating-  Chose Pittsburgh over Wisconsin, LSU, Michigan State, NC State, South Carolina.

OL Reserves-  Adam Bisnowaty (Rivals 4 star rating) and possibly Patrick Kugler (probable Rivals 4 star rating).

Monday, January 2, 2012

New linebacker coach: Chris Haering

Former Mt. Lebanon high school football coach and West Virginia linebacker Chris Haering will be the new linebacker coach for Pitt.  Haering has coached at Mt. Lebanon for the past 17 years, and he was also a Civics teacher at the school.  A native of Colorado, the 44-year old Haering won the WPIAL championship at Mt. Lebanon in 2000.

As a player, Haering was one of the best players in Mountaineers history when he was named 3rd Team All-American in 1989.  He is still ranked seventh all-time in tackles at the school.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Mike White once relayed a story of Haering at Mt. Lebanon where Haering heard his team recite a chant in the locker room that had a few cuss words.  Haering stormed from his office and told them that swearing doesn't make you tough, it's what you do on the field that makes you tough.  Haering is considered a tough, no nonsense type of coach and person.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Panthers lose again: Cincinnati 66 Pittsburgh 63

Once again, the Panthers lose due to lackluster defense, poor three point shooting, and bad ball handling.

Nasir Robinson led the Panthers with 19 points and 10 rebounds, but also had 3 turnovers.  Ashton Gibbs had 18 points, but was 2-7 from three and had 2 turnovers.  Lamar Patterson had 13 points.

Dante Taylor had the rather unusual stat line of 2 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 turnovers in 29 minutes.

Cameron Wright once again started at the two and in 18 minutes he had 3 points and 2 turnovers in just 18 minutes.  As usual, John Johnson got more minutes in reserve, this time to the tune of 22 minutes, and came away with 4 points, 5 assists, 3 turnovers, and 5 fouls.  Talib Zanna played just 9 minutes after getting hit in the eye and came away with 2 points and 4 rebounds.

Pitt shot just 5-19 from three.  Gibbs and Patterson combined for 5-13 which obviously means the rest of the team was 0-6.

The Panthers are now 11-4, 0-2 in the Big East, and it's starting to look more and more that the wheels are in danger of falling off the team.  Next up for the Panthers is a road game at DePaul on Thursday.  If they lose that game then obviously things are going to start getting really ugly.