Saturday, March 26, 2016

A closer look at four major coaching candidates

It was reported by Paul Zeise that at least four names have risen to the top of the Pitt basketball coaching search. Here is a closer look at the four. If any new names get added, or any of these get dropped, I will change the list.

Andy Enfield, USC head coach, 46 years old- The originator of "Dunk City" at Florida Gulf Coast, and the first coach to ever lead a 15 seed to the Sweet 16, when he beat No. 2 seed Georgetown and followed it up with a win over No. 7 seed San Diego State two days later. Enfield, a native of Shippensburg, PA, scored over 2,000 points at Johns Hopkins and had am amazing career free throw percentage of 92.5%. He then started selling videos on how to shoot. That led to stints as a shooting coach for both the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics.

Enfield then left basketball after becoming an investor and vice president of finance for TractManager, a healthcare software company. He got very wealthy at the company (and he still owns stock), so he decided to leave to do what he really wanted to do- coach basketball.

Enfield ended up at Florida State with Leonard Hamilton for five years where he was considered one of the best assistants and recruiters in the country. His last season at Florida State the Seminoles had eleven top 100 prospects on the roster.

With his great success as an assistant, he got the head coaching job at Florida Gulf Coast in 2011, which only became an official D-1 program that year. Taking over a 10-20 team, Enfield led the Eagles to a 15-17 record in his first year, then 26-11 and the Sweet 16 the second year. He was the talk of the tournament thanks to his team's exciting style and his model wife. That led to him being hired by USC.

The Trojans were coming off a 20-44 record over the last two seasons, not to mention probation that decimated the roster. With USC so low, it obviously took Enfield a few years to turn it around. But after 11-21 and 12-20 seasons, the Trojans fished 21-12 this year, and made the NCAA tournament. He also added six top 60 prospects and two more that were top 100.

Enfield's system relies on athleticism (a lot of dunks), and great offense, but he also stresses good defense, too. That's exactly what AD Scott Barnes is looking for. Already a great salesman (see his wife), his exciting system helps to bring in top prospects.

Why would Enfield leave USC for Pitt? Well, for one thing both Enfield and his wife grew up in the east and people that grow up in one area of the country often feel more comfortable in that area. Is that Enfield? Possibly. USC is also going through an AD change and that's always alarming for a coach since a new AD is not nearly as loyal to you. Lastly, while Pitt would probably pay more for Enfield, he is very wealthy already and is the type that's looking to have fun more than getting even more money. And what's more fun than the ACC and the Oakland Zoo?

Lastly, I know a lot ask me ask me about his wife, a former model. Many wonder why a model would leave Los Angeles for Pittsburgh. But the truth is, she's a former model, not a current model. She's 36 years old and has three small children. And by all accounts she's very happy with that. Plus, the fact that Enfield is interviewing for the job is a good sign that his wife is okay with that.


Linc Darner, Green Bay head coach, 45 years old- Probably a bit of a long shot but he's proof that Barnes is thinking outside of the box. The former Purdue guard was born in Ohio but grew up in Indiana. At Purdue he was a two time captain and was on the Glenn Robinson team that made the Elite 8.

He wasn't NBA material so he started off as a student assistant under his coach, the legendary Gene Keady. After stints at Murray State and various D-2 schools, he got his first head coaching job at St. Joseph's College in Indiana. The D-2 school had 7 losing seasons in the 8 seasons before Darner arrived. After taking three years to implement his system, he went 31-3 in his fourth season. That led to another job in D-2, this time Florida Southern.

After an 8-20 season at Florida Southern he ripped off seasons of 24-9, 29-7, 25-5, 23-9, 19-11, 27-6, 27-5, and 36-1. That last season ended up in Florida Southern winning the National Championship. That led to his current job at Green Bay.

Green Bay is a good, under the radar mid-level program, and in his first season Darner was 23-13, and beat Bryce Drew's Valporaiso team to get into the NCAA tournament.

As for style, Darner's is something to see. His teams will basically try to run his defenders into the ground. He calls his style "RP40", which stands for relentless pressure for 40 minutes. It's been described as a combination of Nolan Richardson's style and Paul Westhead's style.

Obviously that style would be fun for Pitt fans to see, but will it work in the ACC? Maybe, if he can land great athletes that are also ACC level talents. And, though Darner has never recruited at this level, you'd have to think a lot of players would love to play in that kind of system.


Bryce Drew, Valparaiso head coach, 41 years old- A former star guard at Valpo, and a former No. 1 draft pick of the Houston Rockets (16th overall), Drew is so entrenched at the school that he even grew up in the town. His dad, Homer, was a longtime coach at the school, and his brother, Scott, is the current head coach at Baylor.

After a six year NBA career, in which he didn't do well, he spent time playing overseas in Italy and Spain. Eventually he came back to take over for his dad at Valpo. In his first year he was 22-12. That was followed by seasons of 26-8, 18-16, 28-6, and 29-6 this season, with the Crusaders playing in the NIT semifinals in a few days.

Drew has long been considered the next best thing, and he turned down numerous offers in the past, including Mississippi State after Drew's first season at Valpo.

His style is nothing fancy, but he's considered a brilliant basketball mind who has a very complex offense that runs a lot of of set plays. As a recruiter, he recruits a lot of overseas, mostly because of being a Lutheran school he has a limited pool to choose from.

His religion comes up often because some suggest that he won't want to come to a school where he can pray with his team, which is what he does now at Valpo. But here's the thing. At Valpo, he's a Lutheran, the school is Lutheran, the fans are Lutheran, and presumably a lot of the players are Lutheran. So having a massive prayer with the players and fans is not that unusual. That doesn't mean that he will come to Pitt and ask players and fans to have a prayer circle after the game. If he wants to have a career beyond Valpo he will have to adjust, as many religious coaches have done in the past. Is he comfortable doing that? That's what Barnes will find out when he interviews him.

Bottom line, he's an excellent coach that can be a big time national coach. Will a devout Lutheran from Indiana work well in the ACC?  That's the big question. But he's interviewing so he must think he could make it work.


Mike Lonergan, George Washington head coach, 50 years old- A native of Bowie, MD, he played basketball at Catholic University, a D-3 team in Washington, DC. After a few minor assistant jobs early, he got the head coaching job at his alma mater and went 251-88 over 12 years. That included a National Championship in 2001. He was also named National Coach of the Year in D-3 that season.

After that he left to further his career by joining Gary Williams' staff at Maryland, but it wasn't until 2005 that he got his first big break by taking over from Tom Brennan after Brennan took the Catamounts to three straight NCAA tournament appearances. In his first season he went 13-17, but then followed that up with a 25-8 record and winning the regular season conference championship. The next year he slipped back to 16-15, but then finished with seasons of 24-9, 25-10, and 23-9. The middle season ended up in the NCAA tournament. He finished at Vermont 0-4 in postseason tournaments.

Still, though, that led to his current position at George Washington. Lonergan took over for Karl Hobbs, who was 17-14 in his last season. Again, he started slowly with seasons of 10-21 and 13-17, but once again he rallied and followed it up with seasons of 24-9 and 22-13. This season he's currently 26-10 and will be in the NIT semifinals in a few days.

On the plus side, Lonergan has deep recruiting ties in the Maryland and Washington, DC area so that that helps. He is also very adept at bringing in prospects from overseas. But that would be probably be harder to do at Pittsburgh than a city like Washington, DC that has much more different nationalities living there.

He has proved that he can win at every stop, but he's never been actually great in D-1 either. That may not necessarily mean anything. Coaches like Jim Larranega and John Beilein bounced around a long time before breaking through. But it appears he will not excite Pitt fans as others may.


53 comments:

  1. Hey Dok, thanks for the capsules on the possible coaching hires. I can get excited about Enfield and possibly even Darner (love that style of play). No thanks on Drew (hyper-religious) and Lonergan. Small correction: FGCU wasn't the first 15 to beat a 2. It happened 5 times previously. Perhaps you meant the first 15 to advance to the sweet sixteen?

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    1. What does religion have to do with coaching? Why would you rule him out bc of that ? If he can coach he can coach. Players do not have to participate in prayer

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    2. I think you would take the hyper religious guy now over Stallings:)Help us Chris, Your voice of reason!!

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  2. Chris,

    Who are a couple of realistic candidates you'd like to see added to this list?

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  3. look for Enfield to be announced Monday.Thats all.

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  4. To the first commentor, you should read more carefully before correcting someone. Chris said Enfield was the "first coach to ever lead a 15 seed to the Sweet 16."

    I'm really warming up to Enfield. I was thinking he was more flash than substance, but the combination of his playing style, serious recruiting prowess, and success in turning teams into winners is pretty damn exciting.

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    1. He was right. I was writing quickly and made a mistake. I changed it.

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  5. So far we have heard big coaches like the Millers don't want to coach Pitt in the ACC because they have to play against Roy, K, Rick et al. Now we hear the expectations are unreasonable at Pitt. Pitt fans were pissed at Dixon because the first 16 games were a bore then a non exciting ACC followed by a first round exit in the tourney. Do we expect more? Yes. But the story was getting to be the same every year.


    Are coaches no longer interested in being challenged? I agree following Jaime 5 years ago would have been hard but I don't see that now. And if a fan base isn't passionate does a coach want to go there anyway? Those who can read about the history of PITT athletics have to see the disappointment and frustration we have endured. As the new administration says 'Pitt is a ticking time bomb ready to explode and be a major player in D1'

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  6. Enfield is the top guy, he's clearly a competitor and in order to prove you're the best you have to beat the best. The only place he can do that is in the ACC, K, Williams, Petino, etc. no other league offers that.

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  7. Yes there are a plethora of great hoops coaches in the ACC. They became great, and now kids want to play for them. Kinda like Potato Paul's "just offer" strategy in football, except in the case of Petino and Krzyzewski, et al, in hoops it actually works.

    I'm a big Jamie Dixon fan, but clearly he'd lost his mojo somewhere along the way, to where elite players no longer truly appreciated his style, thus no longer preferred to play for him, if in fact he ever had much. Pitt became a very hard sell for Jamie, which isn't his best skill set.

    We need a coach who players recognize and want to play for. If we hire another no name, this time in the ACC instead of the Big East? IMO, it could be a tough few years until the guy proves himself. If in fact he ever proves himself.

    Due respect to Brandin Knight, but a first-ever head coaching gig in the murderer's row that is the ACC is a recipe for disaster.

    Enfield is the only guy on the list who fills that bill.

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  8. Barnes would lose all credibility if he hired Kevin Stallings. That's one rumor I sure hope Jon Rothstein is wrong with what he's hearing.

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    1. I tweeted it before he did. I was told by a coach that there's a lot of noise with Stallings. But then Rothstein and Goodman reported the same. It seems a little too convenient. Like someone is planting this stuff.

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    2. To Sean Miller to Stallings - Wow - We go from the best to the worst this week on twitter! Only Pitt guys can squeeze so much emotion out of ya!! H2P, I guess right

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  9. So Barnes was hired to fix mens hoop..

    The $64,000 question, provided Stallings gets hired, is how did Stallings get hired? Because the first 6 guys on their list said no? Never thought of Stallings as a great recruiter - since Barnes put " relentless recruiter" out there as most important criteria, how does this fit the model?

    This is a head scratcher.

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  10. Basketball aside, leave it to Pitt to find the one coach who could simultaneously tamper with its football program. ANYONE else. Literally. Anyone.

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  11. Stallings...really? well that is just totally disappointing. I would rather have an up and comer than him. he is average at his best and mediocre at his worst. not a lot of excitement to be drummed up with this hire. sorry for the rant but that's just horrible news to my ears and just took the air out of my sails.

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  12. Hiring Stallings will set Pitt back years. I know for a fact that Jamel and Mike are leaving for sure if stallings is hired. And I haven't talked to or heard for sure about Sheldon but you could assume he'd want to leave too.

    Barnes lied out his ass in that press conference. He said he wanted a winner who is exciting and recruits well. I'd rather have an unproven mid major coach than stallings. Stallings threatening a player makes this even worse.

    If this really is true , then I'm done with Pitt basketball. No more tickets, no more donations. I know plenty others who feel the same way

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  13. So how do these search firms work? How do they have clients such as Wade, Keets and Stallings? How can you hire a firm to do your coaching search when they are affiliated with coaches? isn't this a conflict of interest? Would the search firm be double dipping? Lobbying for one of their own regardless of match to the school? Seems kind of fishy and stupid

    Dubb

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  14. I think this is all just a smokescreen. According to sources, stallings was released from Vandy so why would Pitt be negotiating a buyout? Barnes is a genious at diversion.

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  15. Stallings...
    Are you effing kidding me?
    Not even on my long list let alone short list.

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  16. If you pitt people though you were going to get a better coach then Jamie you are the fouls.let a good coach go yall deserve this.

    James conner htp

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  17. I'm normally a pretty optimistic guy but the hire of Stallings is.. Just terrible.

    Maybe Narduzzi would be willing to take basketball too?

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  18. Is Barnes actually SP in disguise? WTF
    Let's see he threatens a kid and blocks Jeter trade? And we were told integrity was so important.
    I guess its the old saying be careful what you wish for cause just might get it!

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  19. Call 412-648-8230 to voice your opinion on the hire. It is Barnes/secretary phone number per Pitt website.

    I just did... left a message calling Barnes a dumbass on the hire.

    Don't just type on message boards... leave a VM.

    This has to be the worst hire imaginable.
    I clearly didn't want Knight... but I would take Knight over Stallings everyday and twice on Easter!

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  20. Patrick Gallagher

    412-624-4200

    pdg@pitt.edu

    https://twitter.com/PittChancellor



    Scott Barnes

    412-648-8230

    https://twitter.com/PittADBarnes

    sbarnes@athletics.pitt.edu

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  21. I just checked my calendar it isn't April 1st is it?

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  22. You don't show Dixon the door... only to hire Stallings.

    As much as I wanted Dixon gone...
    many said, watch what you wish for...
    I'd rather keep Dixon...

    Can we have a do over? or is the problem the AD?

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  23. Why Stallings? Blue lite special?

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  24. Chris, have you heard anything about the current staff and player reaction?

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  25. The fans have obviously expressed their displeasure towards this but the administration hasn't acknowledged it at all. Therefore, I'm taking my 4K annual donation and spending it elsewhere

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  26. Chris,

    A lot of people are threatening to cancel season tickets and withhold donations.. Do you believe that this lack of $$ could set Pitt back?

    Also, does this effect your perception of Barnes/Gallagher? Will they be able to keep narduzzi here for a long time?

    Thanks,

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  27. I think most Pitt fans would have been willing to give Barnes the benefit on any hire of the coaches you reviewed in this article and the previous one. To go with a retread SEC coach that has not been all that successful has cost him all the goodwill that he worked so hard to develop among Pitt fans. Something seems off about this whole hire. So many unsubstantiated allegations being made about conflicts of interest with the search firm Pitt hired. Hopefully someone reputable will investigate the matter to either prove or disprove them.

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  28. Rumors (internet) that Enfield wanted Dixon type money and Barnes said NO.
    So, was Stallings a budget hire?
    Bring back the temporary AD that hired Narduzzi for a do over.

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  29. WOW! is all I can say to the hire of Stallings. As I have previously posted, it is time to explore replacing Dixon who has only accumulated 28-26 ACC record and has had great difficulty in recruiting the SKILL players needed to compete in the ACC. But this is DEFINITELY a step in the wrong direction. I'm very disappointed with Barnes hiring a coach off of the SEC scrap-heap who has only 1 NCAA Tourney win in the past 9 years. I feel strongly that Dixon's 1 win in the past 5 years is unacceptable for a program that trying to evolve and develop a national brand, this certainly isn't the answer and Barnes' reputation and trust from the fan base will suffer a big blow as a result. There were many qualified up-and-coming coaches on the previous lists worth a shot, and for Barnes to fail in hiring any of them and end up with Stallings doesn't speak well of his abilities to lead Pitt forward as the AD. Sorry Mr Barnes, but Stallings doesn't fit ANY of the qualities you listed as important for the next Pitt coach to possess, and for that, YOU FAILED.

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  30. If Stallings has the program thriving in 3 -4 years, all of you naysayers will be groveling back here. Give the guy a chance. For all the alums like myself - I've invested 10's of thousands of dollars over the years and will not forsake the Panthers. Dixon had to go. No ifs, ands, or buts. Let's wait and see.

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    1. What exactly has Stallings done that gives you confidence that he will have us all groveling? Under .500 conference record in a weaker conference. He had more NBA talent than Dixon in that time

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    2. Issue is not Dixon leaving, it is the manner in which Stallings was hired/search firm integrity. Also issue of "Was this the best we could do?". Most Pitt fans would have given an up-and-coming mid major hire the benefit of the doubt for several years. This hire just made most Pitt fans angry due to its stupidity.

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    3. Yes... Dixon had to go.
      But this was a shitty hire!!!

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    4. Well said John the Listener.

      If I may add, past performance is usually a predictor for future performance. Nothing in Stallings resume to think he will do better than Dixon... in fact, probably worse than Dixon.

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  31. Chris I hold you and your opinion on Pitt in the highest regard. I truely believe you are fair and balanced on Pitt Athletics. I've been following you on twitter and the last hour it seems you are trying your best to put as best of a spin on this as you can. As the saying goes no matter how much you polish a turd you still have a turd. I say this cause I read all your earlier posts and you expressed what I was feeling about this hire. I guess we will all have to try seeing as this guy isn't going anywhere for three years. I will say as I was dropping my daughter back off at Pitt today we were both confused, disappointed, and tired of talking about Pitt Athletic / Administration alienate against fan base. Ok maybe I was tired of talking about it and she was just tired of listening.

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    1. I will try to write something on Monday about this but the bottom line is that Stallings can win here. Win big? Probably not. But he's not going to be awful. He's actually a very good coach. It's the process that I'm most angry about and that's all Barnes.

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    2. He can win at Pitt? What does that mean? He will duplicate Dixon's level of winning? Win at the level he did at Vanderbilt (it sucked, IMHO). Pitt fans want and expect results on a par with the upper level of the ACC with the exception of Duke and UNC.

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  32. A nice little deal. Barnes spends Pitt's money to pay a firm that hired him and Sterling just as Vanderbilt was thinking about firing Stallings.

    Two ways to punish an athletic director:

    *reduce/eliminate donations
    *stay away from games

    If you are serious about protesting the idiocy of this hire, do both.

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  33. I should have stopped being a Pitt fan once Van Pelt took the final snap versus Texas A&M in the 1989 Sun Bowl. It's been a comedy of errors by the administration since then sans the Howland and Dixon hires. Narduzzi is still a TBD. Harris and Wannstedt were OK. But it has been far more incompetence than smart decision making. Barnes is a total joke after all the talk of his so-called contacts.

    TR

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  34. TR

    Sherrill left because our administration was arrogant and thought Pitt would just go on due to reputation and history, boy were they wrong.

    Management is key and hiring the right coach can make or break an AD.

    I agree Narduzzi TBD but he exceeded expectations and he is a Gallagher hire.

    Stallings who knows but Barnes is on the hook for this hire and the ACC is unforgiving on the hardwood. You can't hide long regarding wins and losses let's see what transpires, Barnes is either a genius or an absolute idiot we can comment on this for the next few seasons.

    WLAT and the Big Beat!

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  35. stallings is a really good x's and o's coach. one of the better offensive minded coaches out there. he has an eye for under rated talent. but its what he does with that that has me concerned. because he hasn't done much in the SEC even when it was in its very bad years. can he win here at Pitt? yes he can. but its not going to be an upgrade over what was. this is why I told folks unless you have a better option lined up that you don't get rid of Dixon. a lot of folks over estimate where Pitt is on the basketball radar and that they could hire an impressive big name coach or a hot up and comer. and here we are.

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  36. He is not a re-tread, no job-jumping, he took a dormant, impossible to win at program and got it to 7 tourneys in 17 years with 9 drafted NBA players (after this year), 2 Sweet 16's, won an SEC tourney in 2012 and was SEC coach of the year twice. His first few years were not great but taking those away he had a pretty good overall SEC record at the worst program in the SEC. He is as much a re-tread as Dixon is. Both needed to move on for different reasons and Stallings has the opportunity to recruit like hell and get to the next level for him before retiring in 5-10 years which is Elite 8, Final 4.

    I hated the hire but when looking at the other list of potential candidates I think Enfield is the best choice and his resume is light in comparison to Stallings. He has not had the success in a Power 5 conference unless you consider 1 year at 21-12 and the prior 2 at 23-41 combined. Both are from the Power 5 but Enfield is trying to get USC to where Stallings has been with Vandy and USC is a much better job with more talent all around than Vandy. We really have no idea if Enfield could build on this one good year at a Power 5 school and if he left USC he would officially be a job jumper. He is also not young at 46.

    Compare Vandy to Pitt and as Dokish analyzed in an earlier article, Pitt got a 1 out of 5 in recruiting area. What would Vandy get in comparison, a 0? Vandy only has 1 player from Tennessee on its roster, 2 from Texas, one from PGH, their roster is from all over the country and it is a higher rated group of players than Pitt currently has. At Pitt Stallings should be able to consistently get 2 top 100 players every year, have a real talent base that can compete against the top tier of the ACC. And let's not forget keep the program clean and academically pointed up.

    Stay positive, this is not Ron Everhart or the guy at BC.

    PGHFAN1992

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  37. Is it safe to assume that the Chancellor gave his approval on the hire before the offer was made?

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  38. Bottom line is I am still going to watch Pitt basketball so I need to get on board with the hire. I think we all agree the process smells of something incestuous and we feel like Pitt got the short end of the stick on the 'deal.'

    Here is my concern. Everyone is talking about how great an offensive mind he is and how smart. But that only goes so far. How many NFL Offensive coordinators were the next big thing and for one reason or another got fired without much success. Paul Hackett. Great offensive mind right? How did that go? I hope this works out because I don't want us to go backwards. I hope Barnes had a lot of input on this and wasn't a puppet being used by his friends at the search committee. Time will tell.

    Oh, I love Barnes comment that 'they share the same goal of a Final 4.' Ok, so we can assume then the other coaches not hired didn't say that was their goal too?

    I hope the local media is able to get to the bottom of this hire. How it happened. I would love to hear it. But in the end it doesn't matter because Stallings is our new coach. Now let's hope he doesn't lose the current players and can re-recruit the current class and they come. That will help lessen the blow

    Dubb

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  39. Stallings has never out coached the talent level on his rosters only equaled it (vs Dixon who did). We wont get where we want to go with him unless his recruiting classes are in the top 20 year after year. His classes averaged out around #50 at Vandy. Can he recruit much better than that at Pitt? IMHO-it is highly doubtful. If he recruits at the Vandy level at Pitt we wont sniff an NCAA bid out of the ACC because he wont get to 9-9 or better in conference with that level of recruiting.

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  40. I do have a few questions, as I'm just a casual Pitt basketball fan. First, I've read all the search firm stuff. If Stallings was actually going to get fired (even if he wasn't). Why the rush to hire? It's not like any other school was chasing this guy? I'd have to believe that Enfield or someone else was the target, and turned this job down. I think Pitt had a quick #1-then-#2 decision and made it. But I would have liked to have seen Drew and a few others in this position. But I guess we'll wait and see.

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  41. Wow... media showed some balls.
    Finally.
    They are on attack mode at the introduction.
    Attacking both Stallings... and Barnes.
    And that was just the 1st 2 questions.

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