Tag: Pitt Panthers
Every time the Penguins play the Islanders, as they’re doing tonight, I can’t help but remember David Volek. Oh the name conjures memories of infamy, it does. It was Volek’s slapshot in Game 7 of the 1993 NHL playoff series between the Pens and Islanders that denied Mario Lemieux and company the chance at a three-peat.
It pains us, it does. It burnsss. It freezessss. Volek’s goal places him among the top sports villains of my life.
Not as high as Scottie Reynolds. But higher than Alfred Pupunu. Maybe in the same vein as Mardy Gilyard or Larry Brown (the Cowboys DB) , though Brown’s misdeeds against my sporting life were in a higher stakes game.
There would be no dynasty for the Pittsburgh Penguins of Mario Lemieux. They continued to be among the top teams for many years afterwards but looking back now, damn, that team should’ve won that third Stanley Cup! If not for David #$%^@ Volek.
I suppose with the Superbowl coming up, I should name Ray Lewis or Ed Reed in the list. Long and storied careers full of antagonism but to my recollection, neither have a signature, defining play that cuts so deep. They would likely go on a different list.
No one will likely ever supplant Francisco Cabrera though.
… 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]
For years after the ACC first raided the Big East for Miami and Virginia Tech, Pitt partisans dreamed of a move to the Big Ten. TV markets, however, dictated that Pitt would/will never get an invite. The Big Ten Network is already in the Pittsburgh area because of Pennstate. Ratings themselves don’t necessarily matter. If you have expanded cable, you get the BTN whether you watch it or not. So you’re paying for it no matter what. The B1G gets paid, period. I still prefer the ACC.
In football, we can still maintain a strong northeastern and mid-atlantic presence against former Big East schools Syracuse, BC and VT. We get a better toehold in Florida with the additions of games against FSU and resumption of games against Miami-FL. We can expand our recruiting south to places like the Carolinas. And historically, Pitt hasn’t needed a rivalry presence to recruit Ohio; the River City Rivalry with Cincinnati stretches back less than a decade. Moving to the B1G would open up the midwest more but that’s about it.
There’s no doubt that Big Ten schools have more aggregate football success and tradition at the top than the ACC. OSU, Michigan, Nebraska and Pennstate are among the blue-bloods of collge football. But the ACC still has two blue-blood brands of its own in FSU and Miami-FL and two barons (so to speak) in Clemson and VT.
In basketball, the advantage is clear. In either scenario, B1G or ACC, Pitt loses the access to Madison Square Garden that the Big East provided. But one of the biggest false narratives about Pitt basketball is our supposed reliance on NYC talent. In Ben Howland’s early days, that was certainly true but Jamie Dixon has broadening our recruiting during his tenure, expanding into DC/MD area. The best Pitt team of the past two decades, the 2008-2009 Elite Eight team, had only two players from NYC prep schools (three if you count Don Bosco Prep, which I don’t). Sam Young, one of the most dynamic players on that Pitt team, came from Maryland. As Pitt’s talent level has slowly improved, Dixon’s need to rely on under-talented grinders from NYC has diminished.
Institutionally, Pitt fits equally well in the ACC and Big Ten. We’re a major research university. We’re part of the AAU. Our endowment of $2.5 billion would be the third highest in the B1G, fourth highest in the ACC (if you include ND).
In terms of our enrollment, Pitt would be one of the smallest schools in the Big Ten, third from the bottom. In the ACC, we’re right in the middle. Don’t think that enrollment doesn’t factor into a school’s ability to fill its stadia. When it wins, Pitt can/will fill Heinz Field because the city is also along for the ride. When it loses, well, it looks like Byrd Stadium at Maryland.
Ultimately, money talks. For Rutgers, this move absolutely makes sense when the alternative is staying in a sinking Big East ship. But for Maryland, outside of the money, it’s a bad, bad decision. The same would have gone for Pitt.
- 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.
Talent as much as hard work perseveres in college football. Many of the great high school athletes play two positions in high school – RB/LB, WR/LB, QB/DB, etc. They then pick one position for college. It’s up to the college coach to put his players in a place to success but the truly gifted can probably still get by on talent in college. Some let the coach pick, others insist on a particular position.
Sometimes selfishness pays off. Pitt great Larry Fitzgerald recently revealed that he was nearly swayed by the grand experiment, the “success with honor” bullsh*t peddled by Joe Paterno at Pennstate. He nearly became a Nittany Lion linebacker.
More than 10 years ago, this [numbers-first] attitude led to a life-changing decision. He said no to Joe Paterno, who wanted Fitzgerald to play linebacker, to be part of a great Penn State tradition.
“I played linebacker all the way up to my senior year in high school,” Fitzgerald said. “I was heavily recruited as a defensive player. I had about 25 to 30 offers coming out, and probably 70 percent of them were defensive offers. I grew up watching Penn State, and was really enamored by the defense at Linebacker U.”
Except Fitzgerald was chasing something else, and he did something rare. Like Tony Dorsett, he chose the University of Pittsburgh instead, where Fitzgerald would be the team’s star wide receiver, catching 34 touchdown passes in two seasons before jumping all the way to the NFL.
Despite their well-worn reputation as “Linebacker U”, perhaps Pennstate should stop trying to turn every great athlete into a linebacker!
LaVar Arrington was a RB/LB in high school. In fact, he was known as much for his running skills at Mars & North Hills High School so it was a surprise to me when he switched over to LB fulltime at Pennstate. Paterno may have gotten it right on this one but I’ve always wondered how Arrington would have done at running back.
Pro football Hall of Fame Quarterback Jim Kelly grew up in East Brady, PA, in the heart of Pennstate country. He always wanted to play at Pennstate. The only thing he wanted to do more than play at Pennstate was to play quarterback. But Joe Paterno wanted him at LB. So Kelly chose to go to the University of Miami instead. Bam.
Former Pitt QB Rod Rutherford was one of most sought after recruits in the country during his days at Perry Traditional Academy. Almost no one thought he would end up at Pitt, especially after the sainted Paterno paid an in-person visit to the Rutherford house. But Pitt coach Walt Harris did what Paterno wouldn’t do. He promised Rutherford the opportunity to play offense, namely QB, not linebacker or safety. Two years later, Rutherford scampered 60+ yards for the only touchdown in the last game Paterno ever coached against Pitt. For his career, Rod Rutherford finished with 458 completions in 840 attempts, passing for 6,725 yards and 60 touchdowns.
Photo Credit: John Beale, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
[As an aside, I don't really feel like commenting on the whole PSU/Paterno/Sandusky conflagration. So instead, I'll rip on Pennstate in the way they'll best understand, on the gridiron].
Or… Why Joe Paterno is Laughing Himself Silly Down in Heaven
In the wake of Big East Commissioner John Marinatto’s (forced) resignation, there’s been a lot of revisionist history about what should have been done to strengthen the league. I don’t think anything substantive could have been done post-2004; certainly nothing that would have prevented further defections.
It’s been written that the conference dithered too much in the wake of the 2004 ACC defections. The additions of Louisville, Cincinnati and USF stabilized the league but that was it. UCF or Memphis might have been decent additions at the time but no available school would have radically shifted the balance of power nor provided the anchoring presence that the University of Miami once did.
A league needs an anchor tenant (or two) around which to build its brand. The ACC already had a high mid-level brand in Clemson and got an anchor tenant when they admitted Florida State in 1992. Prior to 2004, the Big East wasn’t the clear-cut worst BCS conference; it was relatively on par with the ACC in football and could have even tried to poach FSU and maybe UMD and UVA, two decent mid-level brands. But instead, the ACC acted boldly and snagged the Big East’s anchor tenant (Miami), a high mid-level brand (Virginia Tech) and a large market (Boston College).
So I would contend that the Big East as a major football league has been doomed to die a slow death since losing the Hurricanes. I, for one, am very relieved that Pitt is off that sinking ship.
With the news coming out that head coach Greg Schiano has bolted Rutgers for the supposedly greener pastures of the NFL, the immediate concern for Scarlet Knights fans focuses on the program’s future relevance. BCS concerns aside, can Rutgers continue to field even a modestly successful football program (defined here as at the very least an average of 6-8 wins/year).
The historical answer, pre-Schiano/post-1978, is a resounding no. Except for Greg Schiano, no other coach has won big at Rutgers. Except for Greg Schiano, no other coach has gotten a firm commitment (read: financial) from Rutgers’ administration to field a winning big-time program.
I didn’t realize this but apparently Rutgers was once an academics-first/only institution. As opposed to fellow northeastern schools Pitt and Pennstate which both boast outstanding academics but also strive to run with the big boys in college football, Rutgers didn’t even put itself in the game. This was the eye-opening passage for me from CFT’s Matt Hinton:
Traditionally, Rutgers belongs to the class of academically oriented schools in the Northeast that disavow the corrupting influence of big-time football: Before Division I was split into “I-A” and “I-AA” classifications in 1978, its schedule consisted overwhelmingly of teams from the Ivy League and the kind of wannabe-Ivy schools that would go on to form the Patriot League — that is, second and third-rate programs that care so little about sports that most of them still don’t offer athletic scholarships.
And Rutgers were mostly successful in that setting. 7, 8, 9-win seasons weren’t uncommon. It was only after trying to join the big boys post-1978 that Rutgers became a laughingstock of a program. In fact, in 1976, Rutgers went 11-0… against a lineup of Navy, Bucknell, Princeton, Cornell, UConn, Lehigh, Columbia, UMass, Louisville, Tulane and Colgate. Four of those schools were non-IA. That team didn’t even go to a bowl game.
By comparison, the 1976 National Champion, who went 12-0, played a schedule consisting of Notre Dame, GA Tech, Temple, Duke, Louisville, Miami-FL, Navy, Syracuse, Army, WVU and Pennstate with a Sugar Bowl win over Georgia. That team was Pitt. (Hail).
Beano Cook once wrote that if you’d asked him in the early 1970′s to name the programs with the most un-tapped potential, he would have named Miami-FL (duh)… and Rutgers. The strength of northeastern teams from Pitt to Pennstate to Syracuse has often been supplanted with the fantastic talent that comes out of the Garden State. Greg Schiano tapped into that base, to a degree, and it helped him build a modestly successful program. Whether another coach can build on that legacy or even sustain it is debatable.
My guess is that Rutgers fades into semi-irrelevance; partly by choice of not paying ridiculous huge sums to keep up with the Ohio States of the world and partly by being excluded from the big boy conferences upon the demise of the Big East.
Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
The college sports world was thrown into turmoil this weekend when it was revealed Pitt and Syracuse had applied for and been accepted for membership in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Speaking to Andy Katz of ESPN, Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said that adding the Panthers and Orangemen would be a coup for the ACC.
“It’s actually pretty exciting,” Krzyzewski said. “I think it’s great for our conference football-wise, even better basketball-wise. Wherever this is going to end up, four big-time conferences or five, whatever it is, you want to be perceived as No. 1 in football and basketball.”
It is widely known that Duke and Coach K opposed the ACC’s previous expansion plans, a position that solidified the other universities’ resolve to add Miami-FL, Virginia Tech and Boston College. So even though Pitt and Syracuse bring top-notch basketball programs to the ACC, Krzyzewski’s remarks still caught ACC administration off guard.
MST has since learned that the ACC’s Presidents and Athletic Directors have had a sudden change of heart upon hearing of Coach K’s welcoming words. Using a little known by-law known as the We Hate Duke Corollary, they have since re-voted to reject Pitt’s and Syracuse’s applications to the conference. The ACC’s expansion focus will now shift to schools that will most definitely piss off the Blue Devils.
“It’s actually pretty exciting,” Krzyzewski said. “I think it’s great for our conference football-wise, even better basketball-wise. Wherever this is going to end up, four big-time conferences or five, whatever it is, you want to be perceived as No. 1 in football and basketball.
In any loss, culpability must be apportioned. Players stand up and take the blame for not executing the game plan. Coaches stand up and take the blame for devising an inadequate game plan or not making proper adjustments.
In the wake of Pitt’s loss to Utah last night, the Mustache of Pitt head coach Dave Wannstedt took the fall.
Said the veteran facial hair, “Don’t blame the coaches or players. As the lead coordinator of Dave’s upper lip, I worked in concert with the Lower Lip to affect game strategy as we saw fit. Tonight, our instincts were wrong.
“I’m confident that as we learn to trust Wannstedt’s ideas, as is the case every season, the game plan will open up sufficiently as, in retrospect, it should’ve for the Utah game.”
Reached via teleconference, the wise and grizzled Mustache of Pitt legend Iron Mike DITKA agreed with Wannstedt’s Mustache’s assessment, saying that Man-Mustache partnerships are complicated and can be influenced by time, experience, temperature, humidity and the wearer’s grooming and combing technique.