Monday, September 19, 2016

Why Pitt football recruits at the level they do

I've been meaning to write this article for months, and I kept putting it off, but after the uproar of Donovan Jeter not committing to Pitt, I thought this was as good a time as any.

Let me start by saying that Pitt fans have big aspirations for the football program. I don't blame them for that because I've not hidden the fact that I believe that Pitt has the potential to be so much more than they have been for many decades.

So let me start by saying that there is a pecking order in recruiting, and the Panthers are not currently in the top group of that pecking order.

Let's look at where Pitt stands by going down each category of program when it comes to recruiting. We will start first with the elite group that the Panthers program aspires to be.

Elite level- This is the blue bloods of the college football recruiting world. They are in this group mostly because of money (coaching salaries, facilities, stadium capacity, etc.), tradition (strong, recognizable trademark with decades of success), recruiting area (it's infinitely easier when you have a lot of top players in your local vicinity), and sometimes even a win at any cost lack of ethics (over half of the programs on this list have had at least one major incident, had probation, or have been rumored to employ suspicious practices at times).

This group includes the likes of Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State (sorry, but it's true), Clemson, Florida State, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Notre Dame, USC, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn, and LSU. That's sixteen programs that, for various reasons, often have the potential, because of how well they recruit, to finish in the top 10 in any given season.

Obviously there are circumstances that could prevent each of these programs from having an elite team for a stretch of time, and really only Ohio State and Alabama have avoided that for the most part. But even these programs can be derailed by poor coaching (Michigan, Oklahoma, USC, and Florida are some examples in the past few decades).

But make no mistake about it- and I can't stress this enough- these are the sixteen programs that are at the top of the heap for most kids. When one of these sixteen programs really want a kid, it's hard for for any program not in this group to get them. Not impossible, and there are many instances of top prospects turning down these programs for a program on a lower level, but more often that not these are the programs that kids want to be part of it- sometimes because they truly are the most successful, and sometimes because it's an ego thing from them or their parents to be able to brag about being at one of these blue blood programs.

Here are the recruiting rankings, via Rivals, of last year's recruiting class of this top level- Ohio State (3), Michigan (4), Penn State (23), Florida State (2), Clemson (6), Texas (7), Oklahoma (16), Nebraska (26), Notre Dame (13), USC (12), Florida (14), Georgia (11), Tennessee (15), Alabama (1), Auburn (9), and LSU (5). I didn't even look at the rankings before I listed those teams but I already knew all of their rankings would be high. And they will be just as high next year. And the year after. And so on.

Then there are two types in the second level. One is a traditionally a good, or even, mediocre program that either has a great coach, or cuts corners to win, and the other is very good programs that are below that top level. They are traditionally programs, that with stability, may not be a National Championship contender (unless it's a truly special year when everything goes right), but generally are good enough to be top 25 caliber.

In the first group is the win at all cost programs that will usually end up badly. Currently, that is Baylor and Ole Miss. Both took shortcuts, and both will pay. Enough said on those two. This group also includes schools like TCU, that are likely only in rarefied air because of Gary Patterson. If he's not at TCU, it's questionable whether they would even be in the "very good program" category.

In the second group we have very good programs that could flirt with top 10 status with the right coach. That group includes Louisville, Virginia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Stanford, Washington, Oregon, UCLA, Arizona State, Utah, and Texas A&M.  None of these programs are always excellent, but they've proven that they are good enough programs that with an excellent coach they can be among the elite.

Again using Rivals, here are last year's recruiting rankings for these seventeen programs-  Louisville (36), Virginia Tech (42), Miami (21), North Carolina (24), Pittsburgh (26), West Virginia (38), Oklahoma State (48), Michigan State (18), Wisconsin (35), Iowa (42), Stanford (19), Washington (37), Oregon (28), UCLA (10), Arizona State (30), Utah (34), and Texas A&M (17).

Once again I listed those programs before I looked at their rankings, and once again it's no surprise that most are indeed a level below in their recruiting. And as you may have noticed, of the seventeen schools on this level, Pitt recruited better than ten of them last year. Now look at the six in in this group that recruited better than the Panthers last year: Miami (big name Mark Richt in an area loaded with prospects), North Carolina (Larry Fedora in his fourth season and coming off an 11-3 record), Michigan State (Mark Dantonio coming off a 12-2 season in his ninth season), Stanford (David Shaw coming off a 12-2 season in his fifth season), UCLA (Jim Mora in his fourth season, and in one of the easiest places to recruit), and Texas A&M (Kevin Sumlin in his fourth season, and in a state loaded with talent).

As we can see, coaches like Bobby Petrino, Frank Beamer, Larry Fedora, Gary Patterson, Mike Gundy, Mark Dantonio, Barry Alvarez, and David Shaw are talented enough to turn good programs into excellent programs. The programs that these coaches elevated may not be elite enough to be great after that coach leaves, but they're good enough that an excellent coach can turn them into a top 10 team, and maybe more. Louisville, currently with Petrino, Beamer at Virginia Tech, Patterson at TCU, Dantonio at Michigan State, and Shaw at Stanford made their programs National Championship contenders (Petrino is possibly in the process of doing that).

Am I saying that Pat Narduzzi will definitely do that? No, I'm not. But it's certainly possible. The level of Pitt's program is such that a great coach could make Pitt a National Championship contender, if they have an excellent coach. Not every program can say that.  The Panthers definitely have that possibility. And if Narduzzi turns into that coach, and if they want to keep the program at it's newly elevated status, they will need to pay him. All of the coaches in the above programs got raises for their accomplishment. But we will worry about that when/if the time comes.

Now let's look at some specifics when it comes to Pitt. The first thing to look at are the local elite prospects that want to stay home. Pitt fans understandably get bummed out when a top local kid goes elsewhere, but just because you want them badly that does not make them immune to wanting, like kids all over the country, to be in one of the blue blood programs. Kids (and their parents) get stars in their eyes. "I can play for legendary Notre Dame?" or "I can't believe Ohio State is recruiting me!" is a natural response for kids.

But look at the bright side. One, not every local kid is swayed by that. Damar Hamlin, Paris Ford, Kaezon Pugh, Tyler Boyd, and Dorian Johnson are just some of the local kids recently that could have gone just about anywhere, but chose Pitt instead. And there will be others that follow.

Secondly, Dantonio at Michigan State and Gary Patterson at TCU are perfect examples of programs that recruited about the same level as Pitt is recruiting now (actually, in TCU's case they were recruiting at a much lower level), but then when they got better, their recruiting skyrocketed.

Thirdly, you don't need top 20 recruiting classes to be a top 20, or even top 10, team. Louisville is currently No. 3 in the nation. Their last four recruiting classes were ranked by Rivals as 41, 36, 32, and 36.  Houston is No. 6 in the nation and Rivals ranks their last four classes as 48, 77, 91, and 41. Wisconsin is No. 11 and their last four classes are 54, 33, 44, and 35. Just a reminder, in Narduzzi's first class he was ranked No. 26. Even Dantonio's last four classes were 47, 22, 22, and 18, meaning even his classes after he already established himself as a great, highly successful coach, were not that much better than Narduzzi already did in his first year. And if Pitt's class this year slips a little bit into the 35 or 40 range, so what? Dantonio just had a No. 47 class not long ago. Some years things just don't go your way. For the record, I still think Pitt's class will at least be No. 35 when all is said and done, which is still good enough with the right coaching.

Bottom line, don't get caught up in recruiting hype. A portion of Pitt fans ink in a Donovan Jeter and then when they don't get him they think the program is doomed. The problem with social media and message boards are that pessimistic and paranoid people can get people worked up way too easily, and then the doom and paranoia feeds itself with more doom and paranoia. There's no need for doom and paranoia. Narduzzi is recruiting well enough to win big at Pitt. I just proved it. I'm not saying he definitely will win big because until he does it, he hasn't done it. But Narduzzi is adding top 25 talent at Pitt, and if he ends up being the coach that most of us expect, he's also recruiting enough to be a top 10 team from time to time. Nothing has changed with Pitt. They are a very good program that could be a national power with the right coach. And for the first time in decades there are legitimate signs that they have that coach.





112 comments:

  1. Do you see Jeter flipping on LOI day? Does Pitt win on Saturday?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I assume that the answer is no on both counts.

      Delete
  2. Makes sense and hard to argue with any of your points. Nonetheless, I am still pretty bummed out at present.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Its smells all the way down to north Carolina $$$$ been around a lone time every odd how this came about!can you say foster lol

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you for calming the waters.

    I'm currently working on a bunch of stuff in this area for academic conferences (believe it or not). But FWIW, of the top-1000 recruits since 2000, according to 247Sports composite index, these are how many committed to particular schools (top 15):

    USC (91)
    Florida State (78)
    Alabama (62)
    Florida (62)
    Texas (52)
    Ohio State (51)
    LSU (48)
    Georgia (46)
    Tennessee (43)
    Miami (38)
    Oklahoma (34)
    Notre Dame (30)
    Michigan (29)
    Auburn (23)
    Clemson (22)

    Penn State tied at #19 with Ole Miss receiving commitments from 17 top-1000 recruits
    Nebraska tied at #24 with Arkansas, Miss St, and Washington with only 8 top-1000 recruits.
    Pitt received commitments from 5 top-1000 recruits (with Cal, Mizzou & Wisc)

    I don't mean this to poke holes in your assumption regarding who the blue-bloods are in college football, but rather, to illustrate how the landscape has changed significantly since the 1990's for many programs. I would no longer hold Nebraska and Penn State in that category. In fact, given the co-locational tendencies of recruits and the specific schools they commit to, I'd argue that there are really only a handful of schools that can consistently produce elite recruiting hauls; and I wouldn't include Notre Dame or Michigan in that group. I say that with the caveat that you'd have to define "elite". But over the last 17 years, there are several schools that have lapped those two in terms of the most heavily-recruited players.

    As for Pitt, I too believe that it has severely underachieved in overall recruiting since Gottfried. I think they face two primary challenges in recruiting: local, relative, school-age population loss; and the historical trend of Pennsylvania high school players leaving the state at high rates. Even in the 1960's, when PA was producing college football players at the same rate as Texas, well-over half would leave the state. (Over 80% of Texas players stayed in-state during the same period). Obviously Pitt doesn't have to depend exclusively on PA players. But it is extremely difficult to consistently pull elite players out of other states, year-after-year (at least from what my data shows).

    In any event, it will be interesting to see if VanGorder lasts at ND after this year, and how much longer Kelly will actually be there. If they fail to beat Stanford, looking at their schedule, a 4-5 loss season with zero marquee wins to excite the fanbase is very realistic. Not sure how that goes over with Kelly in his 7th season there already. It's still a long way until signing day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. If Doke thinks PSU is among the elite, then Miami is too, and Miami also has the same money and a much better recruiting base. Frankly I would throw both of them out and Nebraska based on the last 5-10 years of average football and coaching and move them into the 2nd category.

      These kids are coming out of high school....they aren't in their 40's.

      Of course these 3 teams could be using boosters to cheat......if ya get my drift.

      Delete
    2. Actually, Miami doesn't have a lot of money. And they have yet to prove that they can be an elite program without cheating. They haven't won big in over a decade, ever since they were being watched closer.

      Delete
    3. And yet they are out recruiting PSU. Of course PSU pays about 2 mil more for their lousy coach, so they must be elite.

      http://www.scout.com/college/football/recruiting/a.z?s=73&p=9&c=14&yr=2017

      https://n.rivals.com/team_rankings/

      Delete
    4. I'm a little skeptical of the "University X" can't win without cheating argument. NCAA governance as it currently stands will always haunt urban schools in major media markets much more so than those where media is beholden to the only show in town. As I understand it, in order for the NCAA to get involved, an allegation has to be made. This would appear to be much more-likely where media saturation is higher, this raising the level of competition for scoop. I don't think you can make the argument that because a school hasn't been caught, they aren't cheating, given the way the NCAA governs itself.

      But even given that argument, how many of the blue-bloods have NOT been caught cheating?

      Delete
    5. I didn't say they can't win without cheating. I said they haven't proved it yet. Miami had a few decades of greatness, they cheated horribly at that time, and since they cleaned up their act some they haven't won big. All of those are facts. Time will tell if they get back to a power while not cheating. If they do then they will prove that they are an elite program permanently.

      Delete
    6. apm, these numbers don't seem right to me at all. Bama only 62 Top 1000 recruits in past 16 years? OSU only 51 and ND 30? Those seem like 2 or 3 years numbers to me.

      Are you sure you don't mean Top 100?

      bill

      Delete
    7. These numbers are from the top-1000 overall recruits from 2000-2017, according to the 247Sports Composite Index. Jadeveon Clowney being their No. 1 overall. These aren't entire recruiting classes.

      The list is readily available in the public domain on their site:

      http://247sports.com/Sport/Football/AllTimeRecruitRankings

      Delete
    8. So he apparently means top-1000 COMBINED for all 17 years. So bascailly about 50-60 per year, but a really weird way to look at it.

      Delete
    9. Doke....if winning is your sole criteria for being elite, how do you have PSU in your elite list in 2016? They are 32-25 with their cupcake schedule since Paterno and 17-18 in conference play.

      Delete
    10. I never said winning was the sole criteria. I listed a bunch of criteria.

      Delete
    11. In terms of the elite recruits, the data supports your classification extremely-well.

      Delete
  5. Chris I know Pitt is not on top right now but this kid was basically living on Pitts campus you got to think how that happen on one visit.GOT TOO !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Easy answer - they are kids. kids do spontaneous things. Kids do stupid things. You can't predict what kids will do

      Delete
    2. Typically when you see kids from this area going to one particular school, it's because that school has an assistant with great recruiting ties in the area. This happened back in the 90's when although Pitt was somewhat down a kid that had graduated from Pitt (T Austin) got his first coaching job with Michigan and all of the sudden all of the top talent from here started going to Michigan.

      I think that's the one weakness in Narduzzi's staff right now, he doesn't have anyone with strong local ties in the hs coaching community to land these kids.

      Delete
  6. Chris, Your addition of Clemson in the top level is a perfect example of what can happen with a program that wants to improve recruiting. Clemson recruited on par with in-state rival South Carolina for for the last ten years.

    However, with the down fall of South Carolina's program as a result of Spurrier getting old they begin dominating the state, combined that with performance on the field, and have had recruiting classes that were 4th and 6th in 2015 and 2016. Which they almost turned into an National Title last year and who knows what they do this year.

    Its taken Dabo 8 years to get it figured out. He started off with recruiting classes in the 30s and 20s before getting to the teens for 5 years and then cracking the top 10. Its also worth noting that he is currently making 5.75 million (I'm sure it was much less when he was an interium HC and then first year HC).

    ReplyDelete
  7. Only thing I disagree with you on is I don't think Nebraska is a blue blood anymore

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A lot of people are disagreeing with Nebraska but I'm sticking with them for the time being. They aren't as great as they used to be but it's still a place that gets 9 wins a year during this down time. And the Big 10 chose them because of their stature. But most relevant to this topic is that in the last two and a half classes they have 4 star recruits from 10 different states. That means they recruit very well nationally, and that's a sign of eliteness. That may change someday, but not yet.

      Delete
    2. Nebraska has always had a more far-reaching recruiting extent than most traditional powers. But not because it's ideal, but rather, because they have to. Almost half of their current roster is from out-of-state players.

      John Rooney made some great maps of Big 8 recruiting in the 80's, to illustrate the dependence of schools from the Great Plains on distant recruits. Nebraska's recruiting stretched from California to New Jersey, but relied heavily on Midwestern urban areas. What was also evident was that the dominant program in the conference at the time (Oklahoma), had a relatively smaller recruiting footprint, pulling the bulk of its recruits from its own state and the Dallas area.

      Delete
  8. Good thing for Pitt is that, in the ACC, they have a gateway they didn't before in the Big East.
    If they could win their conference on a consistent basis that could be enough to jump them into that elite class of Blue Bloods of the FSU and Clemson Level.
    Fans and Money would have to step up too just like Chris pointed out
    But that is the inclining of hope that drives my wanting these kids now.
    Hope Nard dog is the one because living through more coaches is getting impossible to take.
    H2P

    ReplyDelete
  9. Chris, have read your columns for a long and they provide great insight. I went to Pitt from 91-95 (look at the records of those teams) and have been waiting forever for Pitt to have a good team.
    They have gone to one BCS game since it started and even though they went, they really were not a good team.
    When Narduzzi took over, my hopes were really high. Great coach, good guy. Your comments at the time were that his first couple classes would be goid, but, the longer he was there, the classes would get better and better.
    Last year was a very good recruiting class. You had mentione numerous times how great this wpial class is and if he could get just some of those kids, it would be a tremendous class. You even mentioned with PSU having a horrible coach, we lost one of our biggest competitors.
    Well, we loose our biggest competitor and ND comes and totally cleans our clock. I mean, we just got massacred in the wpial.
    The recruits from the next year's are looking at that. Other colleges are looking at it.
    Plain and simple, the local kids look at the Steelers as their hometown team and have no allegiance to Pitt. You could have a scandal at psu and then ND and then another college would come in and cherry pick the best players. Pitt is a perpetual 6-6 to a max 9-3 and a team that goes to a 2nd or 3rd tier bowl game. That is it.
    I have rwally been down on college football on general. Too many recruiting violations, SEC is a cest pool, players committing horrible crimes and local police and judges won't prosecute. Just very sleezy. And just like baseball, there are the big money haves and the low budget have nots. Pitt will never be in the big money haves. Our alumni will never contribute like alabama, fsu, Florida.
    So, today really sold it home for me today. From Jeter basically sitting in Narduzzi's lap at a basketball game to this today....I am just done.
    I can love and support the University without having to support the athletic departments. I am a proud alumni, but, with all the aggravating losses, all the hop brought by new coach hires, it is always the same old Pitt. And it is not their fault. Things are just too stacked up againist them. Not going to route for another team, just not going to watch college football anymore. Have better things to do on Saturdays. Live in AZ. Probably going to take up mountain climbing with my sons in the rockies and they try to teach them to play tennis.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pitt is just like the Pirates who are up against the big time cities with their TV revenue and no salary cap. Makes it hard to root for sure....SOP is hard to kill with the system being what it is.

      Pitt can maybe become like MSU which is enough for me to still hope.

      Delete
  10. I count at least 12 recruits in the 2016 recruiting class that had at least 1 offer from one of your "Elite" power programs. Alot of them had a number of Elite programs offer. So my question is this.

    Why does Narduzzi recruit so well out of state, but he cant recruit players in Pennsylvania. It doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. It also makes it seem we pulled in a huge recruiting class last year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can tell you this- generally speaking, Pitt is more highly regarded nationally then they are in Pittsburgh. Sad, but true.

      Delete
  11. Wow, recruiting classes actually do that to you. Good luck in your life sir!

    ReplyDelete
  12. very well written, but winning begets better recruits, which begets winning.
    its incumbent that Pitt do 8-4 at least this year.
    otherwise, seat gets warmer...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dantonio was 6-7 in his third year. In year four he was 11-2.

      Delete
    2. Frank Beamer took something like 5-6 years to win.

      Delete
  13. I really have seen nothing either recruiting-wise (bunch of 3* prospects, failing to get nearly every top WPIAL player, #52 ranked 2017 class), or on-the-field wise(7-6 record against FBS teams, still-awful looking defense for 2nd straight year from a coach who's strength is supposedly defense) to suggest there are any "legitimate signs" that Narduzzi is a coach who can turn them into a power. If it's not on the field or in recruiting, what are the signs? He seems like an entertaining guy? He has some good quotes? Sure they will probably improve, but I think the bar was just set so low with a bunch of hopeless 6-6 seasons right before Narduzzi came that the slight upgrade has you seeing things that aren't there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Narduzzi is still dealing with Potato Paul's stiffs....that's why.

      Delete
    2. Well you might be right about that. But that's just an excuse for mediocre results, not some kind of sign that he's a great coach. The point is, he hasn't done really anything at all related to actual football success to suggest that he's some kind of savior, all this praise seems to just be based on people's opinions of his personality.

      Delete
    3. Al, it's recruiting the kind of players that fit his system and coaching then up that gets results. Narduzzi is just starting his 2nd year. Maybe a few of his recruits will play this year and they will be true freshman.

      You have to be patient. He's trying to turn around a 30 year dumpster fire.....
      Re-evaluate him in 3-4 years. Until then, keep the faith. He's using modern recruiting methods and he hires recruiters who can sell. Our ceiling will be a MSU kind of team though.....and that's plenty good enough for me at Pitt.

      Delete
    4. Oh I definitely think Narduzzi is an improvement, I think he can turn them into as good as they were under Wannstadt pretty quickly. But I also think that might just be the ceiling. All this top-10 some years/national power talk is silly when you look at the recruits they actually are able to get and the results on the field. Could they win 8-9 games most years? Sure, but mainly because they are in about as forgiving of a division as exists in any power conference. If they were on the other side getting blown out twice yearly by FSU and Clemson, people would probably be a little more realistic about how far away they are from being in that elite group, or even close to it.

      Delete
    5. Maybe you missed Louisville being No. 3, Houston being No. 6, Michigan State being No. 8, Washington being No. 9, and Wisconsin being No. 11. Do you need to be hit over the head? 4 of the current top 11 recruit equal or less than Pitt.

      Delete
    6. I mean if you want me to admit it's POSSIBLE to be a good team without great recruiting, sure I guess it happens sometimes. But that sure doesn't make it likely.

      My whole original point was that Narduzzi has yet to do anything to warrant such high praise. Essentially saying "he doesn't recruit great players, and probably never will, but here are some teams that also didn't and became good" isn't some kind of evidence of Narduzzi being a great coach.

      All of these arguments for Narduzzi being a great coach you are basing on the assumption that he's already a great coach. "He may not get great players, but a great coach makes players great" "these guys don't have high rankings, but because Narduzzi picked them, they must be underrated". Stuff like that makes sense if it's being said about someone with a track record of already being a great coach. It doesn't make any sense when it's a guy with no track record that you're just automatically giving every benefit of the doubt.

      Delete
    7. First of all, it's more than possible. Around half of the final top 10 every year recruit equal or less than Pitt.

      Secondly, I didn't say Narduzzi was such a coach. In fact, in my post I said we don't know if he is yet. I actually wrote it more than once.

      Delete
  14. Ask Robert Foster how he is enjoying his decision with Alabama...
    He could be playing in NFL today if he selected Pitt because he would have been a starter on Day 1.
    YTD... 3 catches. I think he is a RS Sr.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wonder how his dad is enjoying seeing him play...don't blink dad....

      Delete
  15. Great article at just the right time. One thing that needs mentioned is Pitt has not been able to use some of the talent they recruited in last year's class due to a lingering medical problem and an outright medical bans from playing football ever! Hopefully this will not be the case going forward.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Excellent as always Chris. Thanks for the hard work you put in.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Chris,

    I really enjoy reading your articles and your comments. As for Pitt Football, I'm excited for the team, and I think the future is bright. I attended Pitt during the mid-70s, so I remember the good days, and unfortunately, the not so good days. I think Coach Narduzzi is doing a good job; not a perfect job, but a good job. The recruiting has improved (and I thank Paul Chryst for paying attention to the O-line), and we have the potential to get even better recruits. If they don't come from WPIAL or anywhere in PA, he can get some great talent in the southern US. In short, I agree with you....We can be a top 10 team in due time, particularly if Coach Narduzzi proves to be what we think he will be. He's just getting started.

    //Hercdriver

    ReplyDelete
  18. When it come to wpial players this writing means not a thing .I will put $$ everybody here and south bend did not see this coming untell yesterday.htp bring on the Irish!!! PS we will still get the 2 best kids in wpial

    ReplyDelete
  19. Looks like a timeshare sale over the weekend

    ReplyDelete
  20. Excellent post Chris. One of your best.

    On another topic - any idea why Ollison got zero touches on Sat?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know. I'm not surprised that Hall got in over him, but I am surprised that Moss did. They may have just felt that his between the tackles style is something they already have with Conner, and Hall gives them something different.

      Delete
  21. Narduzzi can win big if he can overlook his ego and make changes to his staff this off season. He needs a legit big time recruiter on offense and defense. Wanny failed but he can recruit and close on defensive talent and he's available $$$$$. Walt Harris was the last coach who did get good quarterbacks and receivers to Pitt he's always around and available he can be beneficial to Pitt in some capacity. Narduzzi's problem currently is he has put too much stock in up and coming coordinators, talented coaches maybe but they haven't arrived yet. Jeter played Narduzzi and pitt and he knows it. It hurts fans but Narduzzi the most because the kid was around the program constantly and pitt truly thinking he was a lock didn't press hard for other dt's for fear of losing Jeter. Jeter tried distancing himself from Pitt's fan base prior to the Penn state game by defending Joe paterno. Ncaa needs to implement an early signing period to balance out the power in football. Pa kids wait entirely too long to commit and that is another factor that just kills Pitt as well because it's harder for Pitt to recover from this so close to signing day. Lastly I will say the blue blood programs don't need most kids because they recruit well every year but they do it because they can. They will recruit over you every year ala Robert foster. Let's go Pitt NEXT MAN UP

    ReplyDelete
  22. Pitt is always going to have a hard time recruiting due to the campus. Sorry to say but having an eight lane road going through the middle doesn't appeal to a lot of kids. Plus the buildings are nice but the roads around campus generally suck,bums constantly asking for money and south oakland living looks dumpy. What have the yuppy kids from Pine-Richland, NA, USC heard their entire lives about "dirty oakland"?

    ReplyDelete
  23. Jeter is a kick in the shorts because Narduzzi invested too much time and money with this particular recruit. This is part of a kids maturation process. At some point, one would think he sits back and compares the person and the coach. The choice would be clear when the proverbial smoke dissipates. He might play and he might be great, but why be great where no one can see you? Hard to argue with the recruiting speech of " if you want to be the best, you have to practice against the best every day" and "Son, in order to mature in life you need to make tough decisions and set your own course in life". "Your best chance of making it to the NFL is with ND, not Pitt". Here is a list of my draft picks compared to Narduzzi's at Pitt. Personally, I do not believe Kelly will be at ND when Jeter graduates. He has been on shaky ground from the administration from the day the student worker was killed because Kelly put football ahead of life safety.

    Social Media is so important to the recruiting process now. Narduzzi has done well. Pitt's scheduling gets easier next year which should lead to a 9 win season. To do that, we need to get a gamechanger at QB or at a minimum get our next qb some snaps this year. Compare Jurkovec to Kaiser = no comparison. The good news for Jurkovec is that Kelly won't be there when he graduates college. Secondly, Jurkovec will be a slightly better Tony Pike in Kelly's offense. Kelly likes mobile/athletic QB's. Jurkovec will struggle with his quickness and speed to succeed in a preferred Brian Kelly offense. The oline commits will be fine.

    It only takes one superstar to change the trajection of a program. Usually, at the QB spot!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Sometimes I think Chryst had the right idea, offer the kid and wait and see if he accepts. To spend all this time with a recruit I s an exercise in futility. How many others got away when you spend so much time on the few. I know it's a crap shoot but don't you think most of these kids already know where they want to go? Are we just stroking their egos as long as the kid wants. Maybe it's time to change recruiting?

    ReplyDelete
  25. Chicken or the egg. Win & elite recruits come easier. It's easier to win with elite recruits. Perplexing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, it's easier to win with elite PLAYERS. And elite coaches can turn good recruits into elite players as I've shown above with Petrino, Dantonio, Patterson, etc.

      Delete
    2. True but it's been shown repeatedly that a far higher percentage of elite recruits turn into elite players. For every time someone says "oh James Conner and Aaron Donald weren't 5 star guys", there are about 20 five star guys that just were really good. If it was random the same teams wouldn't be top-10 almost every year. It's because they get the best players over and over. There's some wiggle room there, but thinking you're gonna take a bunch of 3 star guys and turn them all into great players is like believing the Pirates can sign these no-name pitchers every year and "Uncle Ray" will magically make them good. Once in a while you get lucky, but that's not a sustainable strategy for actually being a good team.

      Delete
    3. Elite coaches turn good players into elite players.

      Delete
  26. In summary ... many can take an issue to 1 or 2 schools that they believe Chris mis-categorized, but the main points are (1) Pitt will continue to lose recruits to the biggies and (2) the only way to combat this is to win on a consistent basis.

    To accomplish this, Pitt will need consistency in (1) coaching (the carousel has to stop) and (2) commitment by the administration (Pitt's history has shown an inconsistently here for decades -- in fact, I believe the times not fully supporting the FB program has far outweighed when it was fully supported.)

    bill

    ReplyDelete
  27. L-Ville and Houston have studs at QB. It's been ages since Pitt has had a super QB. A great QB can uplift an entire team, make a good team very good. A very good team great.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agree absolutely. Tyler Palko was our last very good qb

      Delete
  28. I completely agree with the two comments above. Need consistency at the coaching position and continued commitment from the administration, things that are often overlooked by many fans, and both bear fruit over a longer period of time - Pitt is early in this process, but at least it has (apparently) begun.

    On tomcat's post above, It's been more than thirty years since Pitt had a QB that was a game-changer. I know they don't come around often, but I find it truly perplexing that Pitt has been unable to find and/or develop a very strong college QB over such a long period of time. I've seen WVU and PSU both have superior talent at the QB position, again, over a LONG period of time. I mean no offense to Rutherford, Palko, etc,

    ReplyDelete
  29. Mr. Dokish,

    I follow your blog and your comments on Twitter...but I have to call you out on something. You know if what happened to Pitt at UNC happened to James from State College you would be all over it.

    I understand that some fans get a little unreasonable but understand that this is not some isolated instance. This has been Pitt football for almost 30 years now.

    Fans pay for season tickets, decide to spend their precious time in their lives to root for this team. They have a right every now and then to go a bit overboard.

    You see it's a self fulfilling prophecy you can commend the Pitt Signal by coach Narduzzi all you want but until he starts to show that he can manage a team he will not completely turn this around. Today is a microcosm of why Pitt can't recruit...winning cures a lot of the shortcomings of a program.

    Continue to do this mind boggling approach of thump chesting my D can win it for me approach and this will be another lather, rinse, repeat after 3 more seasons of mediocrity.

    Yes we should be patient...but you need to be patient with fans who have seen 3 decades of this crap time and time again.

    Sorry I just think you get way too angry at people you call fools...they are just venting. And like Charlie Brown...they will come back next week only to be frustrated yet again.

    DaveD

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. First of all, I absolutely trashed Narduzzi and said his piss poor coaching at the end of the game and his inability to field a pass defense is disgraceful. What more can I see?

      Secondly, I'm not talking about being pissed about losing those two games in that fashion. I am too. But if you saw my timeline on twitter you would know that I was talking about fans that said Pitt will always suck, they'll go 6-6 this year, and all kinds of similar whining, incoherent nonsense.

      Delete
    2. I did read it. I just am saying to you that I get the behavior. I even get the attitude Pitt will be this way forever. that is why I suggested you that they are just blowing off 3 decades worth of steam.

      I think it's just hard to see that type of stuff over and over again and not feel like you didn't wake up to Sonny & Cher singing "Babe, I got you Babe..."

      I think we all get frustrated because I am looking at the schedule and thinking 6-6/7-5 is what we will end up (5-3 going into Miami and Clemson). I think they lose both of those games and either split or sweep the last two home games.

      Btw, my Mr. Dokish was a term of respect not derision...I didn't feel comfortable calling you Chris since I don't know you and it's my first time posting. So if it came off as condescending it was not meant that way.

      I do enjoy lurking but just felt its very hard to be a Pitt alumn/fan and just wanted to let you know I think most of these folks are venting. They will be back again next week for the same ritual.

      DaveD

      Delete
    3. Like I said, people can be pissed off all they want, but anybody that says Pitt will go 6-6 or will never be good because of one game are crybabies. There's no reason to jump off a bridge because you didn't pull off an upset. Pitt was losing to Youngstown State a few years. Have some perspective.

      Delete
  30. Went to the game today.Ifeel for them young man they played hard today.This one going to test then the rest of year. Htp!!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Chris - I've followed you for a while and generally think you are a positive contributor to the Pitt diaspora. Your reactionary tweets blaming fans and subsequent blocking on twitter of people like me who said "hilarious. blame the fans. you're a joke" and "we deserve better efforts by the entire program" in response to your tweets that clearly called out fans are a testament to your thin skin and the reason no one should take you seriously as a journalist. You are a fan with a blog. Good luck to you. Those of us that have been life long fans and that have invested in the program will react however we see fit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This shows everyone how delusional you are. You call me a name and then complain that I block you. Of course I blocked you. Who in the hell are you to call me a name? I don't even know you.

      Delete
  32. Chis you do a good job keep it up don't let a couple people stop you it's a game guys of young man.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Penn State fans are delusional, Pitt fans are just really frustrated because yesterday and last weeks games were winnable but our coaching staff just dropped the ball and apparently they continue to blame the players.

    Narduzzi is a defense oriented coach and will coach that way, conservative offense in the 4th quarter and rely on the defense to hold.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Pitt is a dropped pass away from being 1-3 too. The story line would be considerably-different, yet about the same issues, if Hamilton holds on and scores. This is a bad trend and a critical juncture for this coaching staff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Only Pitt fans barely lose at the end of a game on the road as an underdog and see it as a bad sign.

      Delete
    2. Amen Chris when the talent get to where it's even then let's see what happens

      Delete
    3. Not true: Cleveland Browns fans.

      Singularly a close loss at the end of a road game isn't a bad sign. But three straight games where the team collapses in the 4th quarter is a negative trend. Reality is, this team is as close to 1-3 as they are to 4-0. And close, but no cigar has been the case for a long time at Pitt.

      I think if the majority of Pitt fans that interact online had experienced something other than the build-up to let-down cycle with Pitt football, there wouldn't be such foreboding among them towards the program. I was 7 the last time Pitt lost fewer than 3 games in a season, and I'm probably older than most of them. And even for me, these past three games reek of the last 35 years. What makes it worse is that both UNC and Oklahoma State are deeply-flawed teams that are probably going to finish their seasons with 4-5 losses each. And Pitt was talented enough to overcome whatever the marginal talent gap was in those games.

      Maybe everyone is overreacting. I had two good friends, my age, text me almost identical texts after the game: "This is Pitt football." It's what's become expected of the program among a substantial cohort of potential season ticket holders, which is why it is crucial for Pitt and Narduzzi to fix the ship and keep the momentum moving forward. But I think the biggest part of the frustration right now is that for anyone of my generation or younger, Narduzzi is the best, most-exciting football coaching hire Pitt's had since Jackie Sherrill; and that's a long time, a lifetime for many, and a lot of turmoil, mediocrity, and ineptitude. Add in the fact that they won games last year that in the past were certain to be losses, and you had more excitement around the program than I can remember. It would be crushing to the Pitt fanbase if Narduzzi failed. Yet at the beginning of this season, fans are seeing, what they've always seen with Pitt football, happening to the best hope the program has had in decades. And you can't fault people for not having faith in something they've never seen.

      Delete
    4. It's ludicrous to worry about a coach that's mostly winning, adding very good talent, and hasn't even been there for a season and a half.

      Delete
  35. Chirs, I love your column, your comments and your tweets. Saturday's game was heartbreaking, but isn't this offense so much more fun to watch over past pitt offensives. We weren't expecting Narduzzi to go undefeated in his 2nd year. The team is clearly better and the problems can be fixed. Coaches need experience to become better just like players and Narduzzi can get better at coaching and play calling in the 4th quarter.

    Its also important to note that this could be much much worse. Im a pitt alum who went to grad school at the University of South Carolina and now live in Columbia SC. I followed saturday's Pitt loss by watching the South Carolina/Kentucky game with a bunch of South Carolina fans. It was simply a pathetic display of being way to conservative on offense by the gamecocks. Muschamp punted from kentucky territory 4 times on 4th and short. He is in his first year as their head coach, has the 7th ranked recruiting class currently in the country and right now every single South Carolina fan would trade him for Narduzzi. I'll repeat that, he has the 7th ranked recruiting class and South Carolina fans would trade him for Narduzzi.

    We have to give Narduzzi a chance. He is already an improvement in a lot of areas and he is going to get better in other areas. Plus, and this is straight reality, he's the best we can get. Let's hope he becomes great.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The offensive system is definitely fun to watch. With hopefully improved QB and WR play in the future it will be even more fun.

      Delete
  36. People should really be happy that Narduzzi has given them expectations that they can be disappointed with let downs the last two weeks. I don't like the way they lost the games, it leaves a bad taste in everyones mouth when you feel like you are better than two teams and just don't get the job done. We lost to two top 25ish teams on the road. Now lets look at the talent Pitt has lost and brought in over the past 5 years(I love giving this argument to everyone who bitches from PSU).
    2012(would be redshirt Sr.)
    Shell 5 * gone
    Voytik 4* gone
    Rippy 4* gone
    Bisnowaty 4* stud
    Davis brothers gone
    Holtz graduated.
    Our red shirt srs. are basically a bunch of 2* recruits and a couple of low rated 3*. Obviously stars don't mean everything but they also had two years under matt house to not develop.

    2013
    Johnson 5* stud
    Boyd league
    chapman jail?
    A bunch of 2 and 3 stars who once again had 2 years under matt house not to develop.

    2014
    Jennings gone
    james gone
    Bookser stud
    Bertke gone
    A bunch of low rated 2 and 3 stars(sensing a theme).

    So of the "upper classman" we have 3 4 or 5 star players and all of them are on our offensive line.

    In 2015 Narduzzi came in late and scrambled to get a recruiting class together. He kept Whitehead and Hall along with Henderson. Then you add in another group of 3 stars in a small class. I would have more faith in these guys when they get older with 4 years under a Narduzzi run defense, but the class is thin and still young.

    2016
    Narduzzi puts together a full class and it is the best in years. Keep in mind that these guys are all freshman.
    Injuries or health issues have taken out...
    Hill 4*
    Hendrix 4*
    Gilbert high 3*
    Hamlin so far 4*

    A Narduzzi defense is predicated on depth, speed and knowledge. They are recruiting to fit this style, but you can't force talented underclassman to play when they aren't ready(or healthy).

    The program is bringing in talent, they are learning the systems and are going to continue to progress. The coaches are also learning.

    Perspective is not something most fans wish to keep, it often doesn't mesh with the term fanatic.

    The question needs to be, after years of turmoil, is the program moving in the right direction? Is there an uptick in players, and most importantly players that fit the game plan which the coaches want to run? Are the players developing and the ones that are going to be contributors staying while only those who are lacking playing time are moving on. Stability and progression are the keys to Pitt returning to glory, not a mishandle of a couple of 4th quarters. Learn from the losses and move on.

    Most people expected to be 2-2 at this point and now are unhappy with the way we got there.

    ReplyDelete
  37. With every heartbreaking Pitt loss, it makes the Penn St win that much better. If we lose out, the Penn St win would become legendary.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Any chance with all the problems Notre Dame is having, firing coordinators and such, that some of their committed recruits will flip?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very doubtful. These kids went there because they love the whole ND thing. Who's coaching doesn't even matter.

      Delete
  39. What is going on with Robert foster and what are the chances we see him in a Pitt uni next year?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Probably about the same chances of seeing me in a a Pitt football uniform.

      Delete
  40. So are we getting a new commit tomorrow? Reeves, Warren, Munford?

    ReplyDelete
  41. Not anything against young Peterman but if we change QB last week the game would of not been even close.....there was that big of a difference.when you see it live you say wow!

    ReplyDelete
  42. I miss your post-game synopsis. Any thoughts on Saturdays game?

    ReplyDelete
  43. Have to say that my time and resources have been well spent the last five weeks watching this team. High entertainment value. Could easily be 6-0 or 1-5, strange. Scoring 40 a week and not being able to stop anyone consistently is the polar opposite of expectations. Very impressed with Canada last two weeks on the whole. Not a lot to work with....

    ReplyDelete
  44. I miss the good old days, when this blog received occasional updates....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm currently in Italy. I could write about how Pitt is doing but as I haven't yet seen their last two games I'd be lying.

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. You don't have to see them you saw all you needed in the ok state game, can't play 1 on 1 cb but our idiot coach insist on running his mind boggling scheme of leaving them out there on an island and committed to stopping run when qb and wr are having career days every week agains that abysmal def backfield. Its groundhog day, put cb 1 on 1 and let the other team pass for 400 yards, no joke. Too stubborn of a coach to see he does not have athletes or players to play his def but refuses to give them help, blitz, play zone or whatever, will continue to lose bc he's not a good coach he is a fool. Even a mediocre coach could see he can't run the def he wants, coach to the players YOU HAVE NOT WANT TO HAVE you defensive genius, what a joke. Everybody can see it every week, the announcers point it out but you insist its technique not talent, well your WROING, look at your losses, facts are facts

      Delete
  45. Read the response Jeter had to his decommitment. He either sounds extremely confident in himself or he is kind of arrogant. Sounds like pitt would need to show a lot of improvement to get his commitment.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Doc

    Jeter to Michigan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not surprising. When I read his story on the other sites, he is one of those guys with stars in his eyes. Also, the kind of guy that gets the prettiest girl in class, then dumps her when the next big thing walks by.
      Not really sore grapes. But, for someone like that, will be interesting to see how he likes being redshirted, play behind other 4-5* recruits for 2-3 years and then play. Best of luck to him and I am certainly glad I am not 18 anymore.

      Delete
    2. I have to admit that I don't really care that he went elsewhere. He has proved to be quite fickle and kids like that are worrisome.

      Delete
  47. 6 4* linemen in this recruiting class for Michigan.(and I wonder they were last year, too.) Jeter very legitimately must live up to his hype. Even with thar, probably doesn't play on line until jr year, and, if he doesn't develop quickly, could easilly become a depth player.
    If I had to advise my son, unless he was the premier player at his position, there is no way I have them go to school like that. IMO, so much better to be a very good recruit at a good school with good coaches. That way, very little chance you get buried on the bench.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Doc

    Sort of like looking at Tyler Boyd and Robert Foster, both local high caliber high school players but choosing different paths.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Exactly like them. Boyd in the pros and foster so far having a fairly undistinguished career.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Foster should have never gone to Alabama, he's the same as jeter as far as having stars in his eyes and now he's paying the price. The good thing about Foster going to Alabama is that made Boyd's choice to go to Pitt.

      Delete
  50. Looked at reeves twitter today......so did he commit already and just going to make it official on Friday? Narduzzi has hit ohio hard. That would be 5 4* players in two years(munford would make 6 and possibly white 7). While Hill is one of those, that isn't counting Moss who has shown that he was under recruited. 2018 seems to have enough talent in Ohio and the Wpial that even with misses, Narduzzi should have a pretty nice floor. This is what it takes to build a program. It has been a long time since Pitt hasn't had a few superstars that dictated how the season would go and an injury would dismantle the season. Imagine if Donald went down his final year, or if Boyd wasn't here last year. With lots of coaching changes and system changes and transfers and lack of recruiting, we have been very very thin. Imagine a roster full of players who are learning the system and are just waiting for their opportunity, not to mention a defense that can go two and three deep to stay fresh.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Chris,

    Why is whitehead playing SS? He was recruited nationally as a CB. He's one of the best athletes on the team. They are sending horrible corners out there each week. Seems like Jordan could make much more of an impact on the game at corner potentially locking down one side of the field.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He doesn't have the skill set to play CB and he didn't even play in HS, but I've been saying his entire career that he's wasted at SS. At the very least he should be at FS where he can make more plays. Playing him at SS just makes no sense to me and it never has.

      Delete
    2. Do you subscribe to the school of thought that Hamlin also slots better as a safety than a CB?

      I just hope the play in the secondary is better next year. I thought it couldn't get worse after last year, but it did.

      Delete
  52. It's like Groundhog Day every pitt loss was the same way if something is broken don't you try to fix it or is it impossible to fix wait maybe a change if what you're doing is not working maybe a change no that makes sense lol coaches like a stubborn mule

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was like Groundhog Day. I thought I saw the ghosts of both Wannstadt(visibly flustered as team melts down around him) and Todd Graham (refuse to adapt your system regardless of player strengths and weaknesses)

      Delete
    2. Amen brother amen things like that can kill a coach ask Brian Kelly

      Delete
  53. Hey Chris hou did Florida state beat that they are still in top 20 and pee u beats Purdue and goes to 20 really

    ReplyDelete
  54. Good team get better as the year goes on waiting for that to happen with our team as not happen the last to years. Not a good sign!

    ReplyDelete
  55. A big melt down today, the Pitt defense is essentially useless and with Narduzzi being touted as a defensive guru you'd think they could make an adjustment or two just to make the defense half way respectable.

    Any thoughts?

    ReplyDelete
  56. What those kids did down in Clemson is special.happy for them came together as a team HTp!

    ReplyDelete
  57. Good for Matt Canada he should thank every offense of player on that team for making him a millionaire it's the players who win and execute not the coach I don't have Twitter but I had to say that

    ReplyDelete