Tag: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
… Or Yes, We Like to Get Ahead of Ourselves at Pitt
Ok, so the ACC released their schedules for the 2013 and coupled with a scheduled home game against Notre Dame, there is awesomeness all around for Pitt fans:
|New Mexico||at Duke|
|Notre Dame||at Georgia Tech|
|Florida State||at Syracuse|
|Miami||at Virginia Tech|
But since I’m a Pitt fan and we forever live in the land of hope and tomorrow. Here’s a projection of Pitt’s home schedules in the next couple years afterwards:
|Delaware||at Notre Dame|
|Georgia Tech||at UVA|
There is currently a scheduled away game at FIU but I expect that to be bought out. It’s not as exciting as 2013 but home games vs Iowa, GT and Virginia Tech are very solid.
Onward brave denizens!
|Notre Dame||at Akron|
|UVA||at Georgia Tech|
|home vs ACC cross division||at Syracuse|
|Open||at Virginia Tech|
No telling what the cross-division game will be. As it stands, I probably expect the Akron game to be bought out or moved to a home game so we have a home MACrifice. Then the Open date shown would be a BCS level opponent similar to Iowa or Navy. Without having looked at their schedule, the Open Date could be WVU since ND would fulfill Steve Pederson’s wish to have a National opponent.
And the one that’s sure to give me a heart attack:
|Duke||at Notre Dame|
|Georgia Tech||at Miami|
|Virginia Tech||at UVA|
ACC cross division
|Open Date||Open Date|
I listed an Away and Home Open Date just for balance’s sake. It’s entirely likely that Pederson will schedule two home games, both against subpar teams (MACrifice and FCS). With ND away and PSU at home, it’s unlikely that Pederson would try to WVU since PSU already fulfills the regional and BCS level opponent in one. Pederson would probably have tried to get the 2015 BCS-level home-and-away in non-consecutive years so as to avoid three BCS-level non-conference opponents in one year.
Past 2016, there’s three more years of Pennstate games and a home game vs Delaware in 2019. But I’m probably going to get stabbed by a Pennstater (maybe even my own kin, Munia!) in 2016 (if not sooner) so I’ll stop here.
Cardiac Hill discussed the unlikelihood of renewing the Pitt-WVU Backyard Brawl series in the near future.
And if the game doesn’t happen in the next few years while Pitt is waiting to renew their series with Penn State, it just doesn’t look like it will happen at all. The Panthers have clearly placed a priority on the series with the Nittany Lions and after you throw in a cupcake game and a random series against other BCS foes as Pitt has played recently with teams like Iowa and Utah, there’s simply no room.
Because Pitt has ND on the schedule until 2016, there would be no room for WVU even in this interim time before the PSU series is renewed. While it’s true that Pitt will have both ND & PSU on the schedule for 2016, by and large, I don’t think Pitt AD Steve Pederson wants two regularly scheduled regional high majors in the non-conference schedule. He’d want more variety.
So pick one of PSU, ND and WVU, then a random other national BCS opponent (your Iowa’s, Nebraska’s, Texas A&M’s) and two cupcakes (probably one FCS and one MAC-level or two MAC-level). If ND is on the schedule, Pederson might try for either WVU or PSU but I don’t think he’d want PSU & WVU in the same non-conference schedule. It would be too regional for his liking.
Of course I say screw it – try for WVU & PSU on the schedule every year and when ND comes along ever 5 years per the ACC agreement, it’ll be a monster schedule! [/end wishful thinking]
- SEC vs SEC title game scenario. Because you know it’s going to happen.
- ND loses to USC.
- Alabama, Georgia and Florida win their last respective games to finish at 11-1.
- SEC Title game: 11-1 Alabama vs 11-1 UGA.
- BCS National Championship: 12-1 SEC title game winner vs 11-1 Florida.
- Bam. Done. You’re welcome, CFB nation.
- Does this mean I have to root for ND to beat USC just so that we have some variety? Yikes. ND is already a lock for a BCS bowl game and deservedly so but they’re going to get waxed by any of the other contenders.
- Brian Kelly is a dbag but man, can he coach. I said it when he left Cincinnati that he would reawaken the echoes. Looks like he has done that.
- Maryland and Rutgers to the B1G. Makes financial sense for both but athletically, they’ll be whipping boys going up against those huge schools.
- I don’t regret one bit that Maryland and Rutgers might be going to the B1G while Pitt is going to the ACC. The B1G was a pipedream of Pitt fans for many years but we fit better athletically within the ACC.
- If ever you doubt that college football is more innovative and interesting than pro football, check out Chris Brown’s site, Smart Football.
One of my main interests in college football is watching the rise and fall of programs that don’t belong to the normal big dawgs’ club. Occasionally one of the top tier programs will fall on hard times but you can’t keep a Texas or an Oklahoma or a PennState or a Southern Cal down for too long. You can see the downturn today at Notre Dame and Michigan but don’t count those programs out for long. (If you’re short-sighted enough to point out that ND hasn’t been factor since the early 90′s, please keep in mind that college football has been played for over a hundred years. A decade is a blip on the radar).
The pursuit of consistent excellence at schools below the high historical threshold is a fascinatingly excruciating exercise. What combination of coaching, recruiting, facilities and plain old luck would it take to engender year-in, year-out contention. Can these schools really dare to dream of being consistent top-10 programs.
The big dawgs have institutional advantages that continually pull down their lesser cousins. Michigan steals Rich Rodriguez from West Virginia, his own alma mater. Alabama lures Nick Saban from the pro’s after a short trip thru the wilderness of coaching mediocrity. Once upon a time, Johnny Majors left Pitt after winning a National Title in order to go home to Tennessee.
Other times, it is the lure of extended history that lays waste to a school’s attempts to climb up the ladder. On signing day 2003, Pitt lost the jewels of a top-25 class when its top QB recruit de-committed to sign with Pennstate and its top RB recruit de-committed to sign with Miami instead. That neither player lived up to his reputation is not the point. The recruiting losses so gravely affected Walt Harris’ faith in his own program that his agent publicly downplayed Pitt’s absolute ability to ever rise to the top. One year later, Harris was pushed out after leading Pitt to the Fiesta Bowl.
You can almost hear the nervous chattering at Cincinnati, a school with less history than Pitt or Cal or Wisconsin. Here you have a program newly arrived on the big stage with a dynamic young coach, Brian Kelly, who could very well give Ohio recruits a second legitimate in-state destination. But like Mark Dantonio before him, most pundits feel it’s only a matter of time before Kelly jumps to a “big” program, leaving the Bearcats to hope they can strike gold with a third coaching hire. Yeah sure. Tell that to Louisville which weathered the departure of John L. Smith by hiring Bobby Petrino but have so far failed with Petrino’s replacement, Steve Kragthorpe.
Sometimes, geographical disadvantages contribute to a program’s uneven performance. Clemson and South Carolina come to mind. Both have had or presently have fine coaches. Neither have really sniffed extended 1st-tier success. The biggest and best of the Palmetto State probably aren’t numerous enough to construct a powerhouse program given that two large programs exist in the state and many of the top prep stars may long to play at Rocky Top or Between the Hedges instead of Death Valley or Williams-Bryce stadium. Is it too much of a coincidence to note that Cal’s rise and Oregon’s steady success has coincided with Washington’s fall from grace?
The upshot of all these considerations is not to excuse Pitt or Louisville or South Carolina from failing to consistently reach the big time. In the end, these programs have only themselves to blame. If a shizzle hole like Norman, OK can become a destination for the best prep stars, the Steel City or even Corvallis shouldn’t be too far behind.
Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated
ESPN.com reports that Rick Pitino may be interested in the Sacramento Kings head coaching job. Having largely failed in two previous stints in the Ligg, Pitino’s outsized ego may push him to give the NBA another shot in order to prove that he has what it takes to succeed on both levels, ala Larry Brown.
With the exception of the aforementioned Brown, few successful college coaches, football or baskeball, seem to prosper in the Pro’s. Tim Floyd, Nick Saban and Mike Montgomery easily come to mind. Pitino’s new nemesis at Kentucky, John Calipari wasn’t successful in the Pro’s.
On the other hand, Bill Callahan failed miserably at Nebraska. Charlie Weis has yet to deliver at Notre Dame. Al Groh chose to go back to UVA rather than coach the New York Jets and although his record in Charlottesville is admirable, it’s not particularly elite.
In college, you have to schmooze alumni and boosters. You have to raise money for the athletic department. You need to court 18-year (oft-spoiled) superstar children who have never heard a bad word about their games. You have to graduate players. You are the face of a program, much moreso than in the Pro’s.
In the Pro’s, you have greater access to your players but have to deal with egos made larger by huge, sometimes unwarranted, contacts. You have to assist a general manager with navigating a salary cap/luxury tax. The season is longer.
Perhaps it takes failing like Steve Spurrier did with the Redskins for a coach to realize that he is better suited to one game or the other. I think Pitino is better suited for the college game. He’s a master at it.
I would posit that coaching in the Pro’s isn’t inherently more difficult; it’s just a different game. It’s not as if the salaries are markedly different. Phil Jackson, for instance, is a master at the Pro game. I don’t think he would be comfortable in college. But for some reason, we in this society equate the Pro’s with the pinnacle in all aspects. Becoming a Pro may be the ultimate goal for an athlete but it shouldn’t necessarily be the case for a coach.
Don’t let all the Super Tuesday primary headlines fool you. February 6th – National Signing Day is one of the most anticipated days on the collegiate calendar. The masses quiver as they read the write-ups on some 17-18yr old who faxed a Letter of Intent to their favorite team. There are no Red or Blue states for us. There is only Maize & Blue, Scarlet & Grey, Burnt Orange or whatever ridiculous color scheme Oregon chooses this year.
While recruiting rankings are not but so much detritus, they’re still fun. So let’s dive in.
The big surprise this year has to be Clemson. The Tigers made huge waves in recruiting, ranking #2 overall according to ESPN and #12 according to SI/Rivals. Despite being wooed by the likes of Georgia, Florida State and Virginia Tech, Clemson managed to keep homegrown superstar DaQuan Bowers (DE; #1 ESPN150, #12 SI/Takkle) from leaving the Palmetto State.
Alabama came on strong with a class of 32 commits are ranked #3 by ESPN and #1 by SI/Rivals. Landing Julio Jones (WR; #2 ESPN150, #1 SI/Takkle) was huge. Miami (#1 ESPN, #4 SI/Rivals), also pulled in a stellar class for Randy Shannon. Nick Saban is a proven big-time recruiter and Randy Shannon will not let south Florida fall to the Gators without a fight. Expect fortunes in Tuscaloosa and Coral Gables to rise in the next couple years.
The usual suspects also appear near the top of the rankings as well. Florida, Georgia, Texas, USC, Oklahoma and Notre Dame all locked down top-10 classes. Wait, Notre Dame? The same Notre Dame team that lost to Navy and finished 3-9? It’s a simple truth that the University of College Football in America (self-named) will always be a major player. The Genius Charlie Weis pulled in the #9 class according to ESPN and #2 according to SI/Rivals, addressing much needed team speed.
Every year some player is viewed as the next coming of Vince Young or Dan Marino or Fred Biletnikoff. He generates loads of accolades, awards drama and HYPE. This year, the soap opera comes to us from tiny Jeannette, PA where all-everything recruit Terrelle Pryor (QB/ATH; #4 ESPN150, #16 SI/Takkle) is holding hostage such coaching lumninaries as Joe Paterno, Mike Bellotti, Jim Tressel and Rich Rodriguez. This kid (yes folks, they’re still KIDS) has been tearing up southwestern PA defenses for 4 years and has generated serious discussion whether he might be the best ever high school player to come out of the southwestern PA. That’s no small feat for a region that has produced the likes of LeVar Arrington, Joe Montana, Danny Marino, Major Harris and Tony Dorsett. I remember Arrington’s days as a RB/LB for North Hills high school. Pryor deserves to be part of the conversation.
All in all though recruiting isn’t an exact science. Antonio Bryant was rated a 1-star player coming out of high school. Leon Washington was once viewed as a can’t-miss prospect for Florida State. Not only do some players never develop but some coaches may ruin potential star careers through position switches. Jim Kelly grew up dreaming of playing QB for Penn State. Joe Paterno wanted to switch him to linebacker. Kelly went to Miami to play QB and the rest is history.
Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette
(Originally written for Deepslant.com)
There is a constantly raging debate in college football about haves/have nots. Central to this discussion is the plight of previous national powers fallen trying to rejoin the elite and programs with maybe one or two brief past glory periods trying to do the same.
As to the former, you have programs such as Nebraska, Notre Dame, Florida State and Miami-FL. It has been claimed that Nebraska stands little of being mentioned in the same breath as USC again because players have greater choice and why should any one now need to go to Lincoln, NE. Such a position neglects the resurgence of a program that fell on hard times in the 1990s – the Oklahoma Sooners. Why on earth would anyone want to go to Norman, OK?!
In Notre Dame’s case, academics and recruits’ ignorance of ND’s past cachet has been their undoing. However, ND’s academics have always been stringent. For FSU & Miami-FL, the ever-increasing attention placed on recruiting Florida has certainly hurt these programs’ talent bases. Recruits no longer need to sit as the 3rd string WR at UM when you can be a star (and get TV exposure) at Rutgers or South Florida. However, the rise of South Florida itself and continued excellence at the University of Florida is testament to the depth of the Sunshine State.
In the second case, you have lesser programs such as Clemson, Ole Miss and unfortunately, my alma mater, Pitt. These are programs that experienced meteoric success in short periods in the past. They have never been consistent national title contenders decade after decade like UMich, Ohio State & USC. Yet fans of these schools still look on their teams as still being one snap short, one player short of returning to the glory years. They go from coach to coach, AD to AD, in search of that elusive peak.
In order to divine whether these two types of programs indeed have a lessened or non-existence shot at resurging, we must look more closely at the Have’s in college football. Actually, we should say the Current-Have’s. OU is once again a national power while Nebraska flounders. USC is a contender while Notre Dame languishes. Virginia Tech wins while Pitt languishes. Rutgers rise from (beyond) the ashes while Syracuse bottoms out.
My contention is that coaching is the biggest factor. Programs such as Clemson, Ole Miss, Pitt, Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame all have the support of their Administrations. They have great or improving facilities. They all have some sort of tradition and a past of winning and producing great pro players. But they don’t or may not have the right coaching anymore.
Look at USC post-John Robinson/pre-Pete Carroll, OU after Switzer but before Stoops, Notre Dame since Lou Holtz’s departure. Consider Nebraska after Tom Osbourne, Florida State without Bowden’s great offensive coordinators. Now look at USC with Pete Carroll, OU with Stoops, LSU since Nick Saban and now with Les Miles.
It is not a chicken or egg issue. Great coaches can turn around a badly-constructed institution. A bad coach cannot turn win at a well-built administration. Certainly a bad coach can humble a great program. If that was not the case, Paul Hackett would still be at USC, Bob Davie would be winning titles at Notre Dame and Bill Callahan would not have one foot in the grave at Nebraska.
Because they exert greater control over their players and programs, college coaches have much more of an impact than professional coaches. Nick Saban awakened LSU; Greg Schiano is doing the near-impossible at Rutgers; Frank Beamer has built a colossus at his alma mater, Virginia Tech. Soon – Butch Davis at UNC, Dennis Erickson at Arizona State. H*ll, Steve Spurrier won at Duke two decades ago. South Carolina is/will be a picnic compared to Durham. And for my sake, let us hope – Dave Wannstedt at Pitt… or maybe the next guy.