Thursday, April 29, 2010

NBA Early Entrants Announced

As I mentioned before, there is a lot of basketball talent leaving the Big East this year. In addition to all the seniors, there are several players potentially leaving early.

So far, players on the NBA's early entrant list include:

Devin Ebanks (WVU)
Jeremy Hazell (Seton Hall)
Wesley Johnson (Syracuse)
Dominique Jones (South Florida)
Mac Koshwal (DePaul)
Greg Monroe (Georgetown)
Herb Pope (Seton Hall)
Jeff Robinson (Seton Hall)
Samardo Samuels (Louisville)
Lance Stephenson (Cincinnati)

You can see the whole list here.

This list looks pretty much what I would expect it to look like. But for the life of me, I don't know why Jeff Robinson would be on it. A 6'6" junior averaging 12 points and 6 rebounds? I must be missing something. I'm guessing he really wanted to play for the recently departed Bobby Gonzalez and maybe just wants to test the waters to see if he can impress someone enough.

Even Mark Blount thinks this sounds fishy.

Players have until June 14th to pull out of the draft, which happens ten days later. The wildly popular site only has five of those players in their most recent mock draft as of today - Ebanks, Monroe, Stephenson, Johnson, and Jones - and they were all in the first round. So I'm guessing they expect the others to drop out.

Blair Left Out

Seeing the voting results for the NBA's Rookie of the Year award didn't surprise me. Anyone who voted for anyone else other than Brandon Jennings, Tyreke Evans, or Stephen Curry (in any particular order) in their top three is a dope and either:

1. A homer
2. Hasn't watched an NBA game all season
3. Subscribes to the theory that all Shaq does is dunk

Still, I wanted to see if DeJuan Blair could steal maybe a third place vote from said dope. No dice.

Still, Blair had a very impressive rookie season and I could have easily seen him putting up Pitt-like numbers had he been stuck on a bad team like some of the other players.

The thing that jumped out at me is that he played in all 82 games, which is not only pretty impressive for a rookie, but I'm sure is making GMs everywhere kick themselves after the knee injury concerns they all had (despite being very healthy throughout his two-year career at Pitt). He also averaged about 8 / 6 in only 18 minutes per game. As Duncan gets older, his minutes should increase and he really makes the most of his minutes while out there. And if you've seen him this year like I have, then you know he just continues to outhustle people.

His games this year included 27/23, 28/21, 18/11, 11/16, and 20/6 efforts.

He could be a special player.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Herb Pope Has Another Setback

The excellent Big East basketball blog,, is reporting that former Pitt recruit Herb Pope has landed in the hospital:
Seton Hall forward Herb Pope was taken to St. Barnabas Hospital in New Jersey after collapsing on campus Wednesday afternoon.

A team source who was with Pope at the hospital said he was uncertain what triggered the collapse.

“A student-athlete has been taken to the hospital,” a university spokesman confirmed to
Complete cause is unknown, but Adam has some more information in the story. Just another setback for a tremendous local athlete. Here's hoping he's better soon and it's not serious. It's amazing what this guy's been through and even Pitt fans who weren't happy with his decision to back out of his commitment to the school have to be pulling for him to at least be healthy.

He was planning to test the NBA waters, but not sure if this will cause a setback in that plan.

Football Notes

Even out of season, lots of tidbits and news out there about Pitt football recently. Guess football really IS king in American sports.

Todd McShay over at is already at it for 2011, mocking the first-round of the NFL draft. Because this is an Insider article, I'll only provide you with this information - McShay has Jonathan Baldwin and Greg Romeus in his first round, but no Dion Lewis.

ESPN blogger Brian Bennett says Pitt has little to worry about if the Big Ten expands by more than one team, while Cincinnati should be worried the most. I'd probably tend to agree with that.

And here's an article about Joe Pa's role in the expansion process. I think Paterno is doing this as kind of a last hurrah. Pitt fans are encouraged by the fact that he's mentioned Pitt as a potential expansion candidate. But I think it's more of him doing this for his legacy to not come off as the bitter old man when it comes to his relationship with Pitt. He very well might not be around when the new Big Ten opens for business, likely in a few years. So there's a good chance he won't even have to play Pitt, which of course, he doesn't want to do. By posturing for Pitt as a candidate, he knows that his decision alone won't make it - Pitt will be in or out, fairly independent of what he wants. Since that's the case, why not at least push for Pitt publicly, leaving the ace up his sleeve needed to 'prove' to critics that he doesn't really hate Pitt?

Bennett also has a solid piece on Jonathan Baldwin getting his thoughts on his basketball skills, game planning against him, and what he's working on for this year:
"My goal this year is to get better at my yards after catch," he said. "I want to run my routes crisper. And destroy defenders when I block them."
I hope deep balls are in the game plan for this year. With his size and athleticism, unless Tino Sunseri is woefully inaccurate or the retooled line has major blocking issues, there's no reason for Pitt not to go deep to him at least a handful of times each game.

And all is well back in the land of Pitt food courts and fried fish sandwiches once again.

Not Breaking the Bank

After apparently going after Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon, among others, the Oregon Ducks have finally landed a basketball coach in Dana Altman of Creighton. Dixon's name didn't land in the article, which also included a pretty good line from Altman:
The hiring ends more than a monthlong search during which several high profile names -- including Michigan State's Tom Izzo and Minnesota's Tubby Smith -- where rumored to be on Oregon's wish list. Missouri coach Mike Anderson said the Ducks approached him, but he turned down the job.

Altman joked about the process.

"You look at my wife, you look at me, I wasn't her first choice either," he said.
The contract, $1.8M per season, is a large amount, but not the potentially bank-breaking (well, at least as much as the bank could be broken in Oregon/Nike's case) amounts thrown out there during the search. I'm sure Dixon, Tubby, or Izzo would have surely been offered more.

Also in the basketball carousel is an article about recently departed Pitt women's basketball coach Yolett McCuin and her reasons for leaving the Pitt program by her hometown paper in the Bahamas.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Does Size Matter?

Brian Bennett at answered some mail this week and the question about Pitt's 2011 potential first-round NFL Draft picks came up - including potentially Dion Lewis.

Bennett doesn't seem to think Lewis is the lock first-rounder that many do, pointing to his size. At first I blew this off, figuring there had to be several guys that fit Lewis' mold that made it into the first round. After doing a bit of research, I was a little surprised to see that the last running back listed at 5'8" or less (which is Dion's listed height on the Pitt website) to be selected in the first round was...

Wait for it.

Steve Broussard in 1990.

Unless you were playing fantasy football via the mail at that time, many of you might not recall the former Atlanta Falcon who played in the 1990s.

Twenty years. That's a long time. Now, I should be quick to point out that there were a handful of guys listed at 5'9" that were taken in the first round since that time. 5'8", 5'9", not sure it makes all that much of a difference. Plus, who's to say that Lewis won't be given another inch upon graduation. But it does show you that teams are likely more hesitant to select a shorter running back with a top pick.

If Lewis comes out and has another monster year, and would happen to come out in the draft, do I think he would be a first-rounder. I guess. Though, I'd defintely have to see who else was coming out, etc. Bottom line, while it's rare, I think Lewis and his 5'8" frame could be taken in the first round with another outstanding season. But I've said it before and I'll say it again - a few things still need to break Lewis' way for him to be a first-round pick next year, now that he appears to be eligible:

- Stay healthy...a big 'if' for someone his size who will likely be relied upon to shoulder the bulk of the load with a new quarterback.

- Put up the same types of numbers as he did last year - again, could be a big 'if', if the passing game struggles and teams start stacking the box.

- Avoid a running back heavy first-round. Five running backs were taken in the 2008 draft pushing studs like Matt Forte and Ray Rice into the second round.

So if Lewis isn't a lock for the first round, does he come out? Only he can answer that.

Bowl Notes

Looks like the SEC and Big East have extended their affiliation with the bowl for another four years.

And Brian Bennett over at has the full Big East bowl lineup.

I remain thoroughly unimpressed with the Big East's bowl games and the league has a lot of work to do in that respect. The Big East is now without a New Year's Day bowl and the conference's best non-BCS bowl is now The Champs Sports bowl. That game will include a matchup of the Big East #2 team (or Notre Dame) vs. the ACC's third team. Nothing spectacular and I'm certainly not buying the spin the Big East is putting on this in Bennett's article above:
"We think it's the best bowl lineup we've ever had in the history of this conference," Carparelli said.
I would argue that the Gator Bowl, as a New Year's Day bowl, is a better bowl than the Champs Bowl - thus, the bowl lineup was better last year.

Monday, April 26, 2010

News and Notes

Paul Zeise of the PG reports that Robb Houser will join Adam Gunn in Green Bay's minicamp in hopes of landing a contract. Houser was a solid center on a line that produced one of the best running games in all of football, so it doesn't surprise me that he'll get his shot.

Brian Bennett of has stories about Greg Romeus working to improve his draft stock and about Ray Graham staying put:
"Leaving never crossed my mind," he said. "I'm a competitor, and I just feel my chance is going to come."
Personally, I think he's probably smart to stay, though I wouldn't fault him for leaving. Even if Dion Lewis doesn't leave after this year, which could be an option, Graham could still have a year as the starter if he doesn't get beaten on the depth chart. Plus, as I mentioned before, he needn't look very far back in Pitt's history to see that the school is capable of sending backup players to the NFL. Nate Byham was selected higher than the more heralded Dorin Dickerson who not only had a great year, but a great workout. And after backing up Shady for about two seasons, Larod Stephens-Howling is not only on the roster, but playing, for the Arizona Cardinals. Graham should get his chance and can still show his abilities even when not starting.

The NBA Playoffs are here and DeJuan Blair is still making an impact. Levance Fields and Tyrell Biggs are putting up decent numbers in their first year of pro ball overseas.

From the Panthers' website, this is a bit old, but Pitt's basketball program ranks among the 20 most valuable in the country:
For the second consecutive year, the Pitt Basketball program was listed among the nation's top-20 most valuable college basketball programs by Forbes Magazine. Pitt was ranked No. 18 and was one of only three Big East schools to be listed among the top-20. Four factors were measured in the magazine's evaluation: value of contributions to the university, net profit generated from the basketball program, estimated value to conference and estimated direct spending by visitors to the county attributable to basketball games.
Fairly interesting stuff. Louisville (3rd) and Syracuse (8th) were the other two Big East teams in the top 20. North Carolina topped the list. The report says Pitt earned a profit of $6.5 million and has a total value of #13.2 million.

And I normally don't comment on women's basketball recruiting, but this one deserves a small mention as Pitt actually ADDED a player rather than losing one.

Finally, there would have been hell to pay if we couldn't get our fried fish sandwiches from the Towers food court back in the day.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Undrafted Free Agents

Lots of activity post-draft regarding Pitt players:

- DT Mick Williams goes to the Jets.

- Aaron Berry had several offers and opted for the Lions.

- Bill Stull heads to the Chiefs.

- Paul Zeise of the PG also reports that John Malecki was signed by the Titans and that Adam Gunn is headed to Packers mini-camp.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Jaylen Bond on Board

6'7" forward Jaylen Bond out of the Philadelphia area committed to Pitt's basketball program. His coach thinks he's a perfect fit for the school:
"He's a big body who can run the floor, he's very powerful in transition and very powerful around the basket," said Plymouth Whitemarsh head coach Jim Donofrio. "And he's a young kid. He doesn't turn 17 until May. His strength is already pretty impressive for a high school kid. He is a power player. A lot of people have said that he looks and plays like a Pitt kid."
Bond is a big get for the school and is an ESPNU 100 recruit, rated #69 overall. He joins fellow Philadelphia-area recruit, John Johnson (must be an Insider to view)

He is listed as a four-star recruit from Rivals and a three-star from Scout. His offers included West Virginia, Villanova, Temple, St. Joe's, and Penn State and he also had drawn some interest from UCONN, Florida, Florida State, and Memphis according to the two sites.

He led his high school team, Plymouth Whitemarsh, to the PIAA AAAA state championship as a junior and, well, loves his medal.

The kid can get up. Way up. He averaged 18 ppg and 7 rpg as a junior last year.

Definitely a good get for the university.

NFL Draft Recap

As expected, both of Pitt's tight ends, Dorin Dickerson and Nate Byham, were drafted. What wasn't so expected was seeing Dickerson fall so far:
In one of the bigger local storylines that unfolded throughout the day, Pitt tight end Dorin Dickerson, a West Allegheny High School product who is 6-4, 226, was selected by the Houston Texans with the 227th overall pick in the seventh, and final, round. On many mock drafts, and projections done by the many experts who track such things, Dickerson was thought to be a talent who would have been selected much earlier, possibly as soon as the late-second round.

"All I can do now is go out and make the team," Dickerson said. "Everything that happened in the draft is behind me."
I was surprised to see Dickerson fall that far, especially in light of not only the type of year he had, but because his workouts were incredible.

Dickerson was rated in the top ten of most draft lists I'd seen, while Byham was lower. Byham was drafted as the 15th TE, but Dickerson wasn't drafted until 18th.

In his conference call with the media, Dickerson sounded as if his flexibility will be key:
(on how he would describe himself as a player) "I'm a versatile H-back. I could line up in different positions. I could line up in the back field and I could line up at tight end. You'll see me moving around a lot in special teams. Anything the coaches ask me to do, I'm going to do. I'm going to try to compete and win."
RotoWorld calls him a tweener and cites that reason as to why he may have fallen.

And a Houston Chronicle blog says he will start out at WR - possibly as Andre Johnson's backup.

Onto Nate Byham - he talked about his run-blocking and toughness with the media:
On run blocking being his forte:
“That’s what I pride myself on. I like to bloody noses. I don’t shy away from contact. I’m going into the hole and I’m trying to hit somebody. I think that’s what makes me unique. There’s not too many tight ends these days that want to go in there and try to hurt somebody. I’m trying to inflict pain when I’m in there as a tight end. I’m not trying to get in someone’s way. I’m excited to be a part of the hard-nose offense.”
Byham joins quite a few former Pitt Panthers on the 49ers roster including Andy Lee, Scott McKillop, and Shawntae Spencer.

It's somewhat ironic that in a reduced role this year, his blocking may have been the thing that got him drafted. Without it, who knows? The Pitt tight ends coach calls him one of the best in the business:
Pitt tight end coach Brian Angelichio thinks that Byham, who is 6-foot-4 and 268 pounds, is a top option for any team that values a tight end who can help the run game.

“Obviously, when you put the film on, that’s one of his strengths. There are not many end-line blockers across the country. And Nate has shown the ability to do that as well as anybody in the country,” Angelichio said. “If you’re [an] NFL team, you’re obviously looking at him if you’re looking for an end-line blocker.”
And among the teams he worked out for, the 49ers weren't one of them.

Glad to see both get drafted. Still, to see Dorin fall so far was a bit of a shock. So much for those so-called NFL sources that said Dickerson was possibly going in the second round.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Getting to Know Tino

So Tino goes into the Fall as the starting quarterback. The bad news is you really don't want to enter a season in which you can win a conference with a new quarterback. The good news is that Tino should be at least serviceable and is being given the keys to something better than an El Camino.

He comes in with possibly the best running back in the country in Dion Lewis. Then mix in a dose of playmaking WR Jonathan Baldwin and a very good defense, and you can see he's stepping into a pretty good situation. I also feel a little better since Sunseri's been in the system for two years now. He's had some experience and should have an idea of what it takes to be successful at this point.

Athlon's Big East preview says Pitt will need to bank on Sunseri getting better as the season goes on to gear up for their final four-game stretch, which includes three road games.

Brian Bennett of blogging fame talks with Tino about the Spring. He also gushed about Tino's ability to throw a great ball when he was in town.

Is Tino going to face pressure from a fan base that wasn't even totally happy after Bill Stull put up incredible numbers last year? No doubt. Dave Curtis and Matt Hayes of the Sporting News think so as well and place Tino in their top ten of first-year QBs under the most pressure.

I don't know what it is, but I like this kid. Maybe it's the fact that he at least has something of a tough persona:
For most of his youth football career, Tino Sunseri eschewed the glory positions. Instead, he played offensive and defensive line and fullback.

"I always liked to hit people," he says.

Tino Sunseri has done the most work with the first team this spring and is expected to start this season.But he also had a stronger and better arm than anybody on his team, and in the middle of one game his coach tried him at quarterback. Sunseri tossed a couple of touchdown passes, the team won and his days in the trenches officially ended.
I also like the fact hat he can scramble, too, as evidenced by his 12-yard TD scramble in the Blue-Gold game.

Even his most glaring 'weakness' doesn't really seem like that much of an issue:
Although Sunseri can throw all the passes, has a strong arm, quick release and all the intangibles to be an excellent quarterback, the one question that seems to follow him is his height.

He is listed at 6 feet 2, but that seems to be a little bit of a stretch as he looks smaller when he is in the pocket.

Still, he has had very few passes deflected at the line of scrimmage and has been very good at finding or even creating passing lanes to throw the ball.

"I think that's funny [when people question his height] because I am actually a little bit taller than Drew Brees [of the New Orleans Saints, who is listed at 6-0]. I've looked that stat up plenty of times," Sunseri said, then he laughed. "If you look across our offensive line, they are all tall, and with those guys being so big I've been able to find the lanes in between them and also I've been able to throw over them because we've been taught high elbow and things of that nature.

"The bottom line is, that it isn't an issue because I've shown this spring I can make the throws and we won't see a taller offensive or defensive line than ours."
Are there going to be times when he has balls batted down at the line or doesn't have a clear line of sight? Sure. But I won't believe it's going to be a major problem until I see it. He mentioned Drew Brees and, well, Drew hasn't had that much of a problem.

The More You Look, The Uglier It Gets

I was pretty amused when I saw this story about Pitt's logo being stolen.

Obviously Pitt is fully within their rights to go after this school. Colleges such as Pitt pay thousands of dollars for the creation of logos. No school or entity has the right to then take something that's been paid for, and use it as their own - even if said entity is merely a high school and likely only profiting very little from use of the logo.

That said, I hope they donate that horrible logo to the school and vow to never use it again. Everybody would win.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Blasts from the Past

I didn't know Kevan Smith was no longer on the football team. Somewhere in all the talk about quarterbacks, I have to admit he hadn't crossed my mind lately.

So when this story surfaced about him playing baseball, I was a little surprised:
Kevan Smith was facing a big decision.

Should he remain with the Pitt football team or try his hand at baseball?

He felt he was capable of performing at a high level in both sports. But after some intense soul-searching and a nudge from Pitt football coach Dave Wannstedt, Smith opted to move on and try his luck with the Panthers' baseball team.

So far, it's worked out well for the former Seneca Valley multi-sport star, who came to the Big East school on a football scholarship and played quarterback mainly in a backup role during his first two seasons.

"I wanted to play both, and I told coach Wannstedt I'd do anything to remain on my football scholarship," Smith said. "I said I'd play special teams and long-snapper, anything he wanted. I was hoping he'd go along with it, but he told me I had to make a decision."
I'm a little surprised that Wannstedt wouldn't let him do anything necessary to stick with the team, but not terribly. Glad to hear he's sticking around in athletics.

And in other news, former coach Walt Harris says he's ready to get back into coaching again after taking the offensive coordinator job at California (PA):
"I never let the game go," said Harris, a former head coach at Pitt who coached from 1997-2004 and was formally introduced Monday morning as the new offensive coordinator at Division II California University of Pennsylvania. "I probably was not a lot of fun to live with on football weekends. I liked to be in front of the TV from noon until midnight and maybe later if the West Coast games were on. I always loved the game of football. There were a lot of things I learned from watching other people."
I heard an interview with Walt the other day and no matter your feelings about him, he lifted Pitt from the depths of some pretty bad teams and got Pitt to immediate respectability.

Car Care Bowl Note

The Meineke Car Care Bowl has decided to move to their game to New Year's Eve after the date opened up at the Carolina Panthers stadium. Too bad this didn't happen last year - it would have probably created a little more buzz around the Pitt - North Carolina game.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Not This Again

Frankly, I don't think this move will help all that much. But the Big East has reached out to former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and brought him in as a special advisor to the league.

Fine. I don't know, just not sure what he'll bring. But this at least shows that they're maybe, just maybe, considering how to survive if the league loses three teams.

Now to backtrack a bit...

Okay, I give up.

I really didn't want to mention the recent speculation that things are heating up with Big Ten expansion. It just seems to me that people are jumping the gun on this thing. I covered it earlier when the rumors first came to light. But now it's the same thing all over again - I would just feel like I'm beating a dead horse. Heck, they haven't even decided how many teams they want to add to the league. How can any rational person decide if Pitt is in or out at this point?

That said, I want to take a look at how the Big East can survive if it lost three teams.

If Pitt is included, then the subject is moot. Plus, if the Big East lost a big player like West Virginia, it would make it harder harder to survive. So for the sake of argument, let's look at the Big East's options should they try to stay afloat with, say, a three-team purge of Syracuse, Rutgers, and someone like UCONN.

I've said it before, but I think the Big East needs to remain proactive in this. Yes, I know the argument exists that they conference can't really strengthen itself with the likes of Central Florida, etc. But nonetheless, I'm not convinced a three-team purge has to mean the end of the Big East. It would depend on the teams lost.

All three of those teams above mean very little in the landscape of football. True, you don't want to lose those teams because of the markets they're in. But strictly in terms of quality football programs, the Big East could sustain the loss of those members. The basketball side would be lessened a bit, but still would obviously be plenty deep with the likes of Pitt, Nova, WVU, Georgetown, etc.

Here would be nine options for the Big East as I see them, other than trying to get Notre Dame, which is a pipe dream:

1. Villanova - The Big East would need Nova to move its football program to D-I. UCONN successfully pulled the move off from I-AA to I-A and proved it can be done. And it brings in the Philadelphia market for football.

2. Boston College - Yes they're hated, but if the conference were at stake, I have a hard time believing this call wouldn't be placed. It seems as if they never really fit with the ACC and a move back to the Big East would still place them in a premier basketball league and the Big East at this point is, in my opinion, a step up in terms of football.

3. Memphis - Memphis has had four winning seasons in the past eight years. Syracuse? Zero. Syracuse has much larger advantages in terms of market and tradition, but replacing Syracuse football with Memphis football wouldn't be a drop off in terms of play on the field. And their basketball team would at least help replace the Orange's strong program.

4. UCF - Another team that has four winning seasons in their past eight. They would give the Big East more recognition in Florida, which would mean more talent.

5. Temple - Another Big East defect. After years of futility, Temple has shown signs of life the past two seasons, winning 15 games. I don't think they'd come in and even go .500 in the Big East right away, but again, would they be much worse than the Cuse? They're in a large market, which would be a plus and I think the Big East could do worse. Again, there are sure to be bad feelings after Temple was forced out, but a move from the MAC would be a step up for Temple.

6. East Carolina - Really a team on the rise. After a non-existent football program, has had four straight winning seasons and nine in each of the past two. I'm convinced they could play in the Big East as they've got wins over West Virginia, Boise State, and Virginia Tech in the past three years alone.

7. Troy - Has averaged just over 8 wins for the past four seasons (33 total). Obviously not a large market, but would give the Big East another team in the south, which would help expand their recruiting reach into a state, Alabama, with some talent.

8. Marshall - This was a team that showed some promise in the early 2000s, even posting an 11-win season in 2002. They've since fallen off the map, but this could make some sense. They would create a natural in-state rival with WVU and if in the Big East, could likely recruit some better players in the Western PA/West Virginia area that Pitt and WVU wouldn't consider.

9. Ohio University - Has had two nine win seasons in the past four years and would give the Big East more of a presence in the state of Ohio. Plus, could create a rivalry with Cincinnati.

Frankly, I think Pitt will come out of this just fine anyway - whether that means going to the Big Ten, staying in the Big East, moving to the ACC or doing something else. They're a quality academic school that would add a solid market, excellent basketball program, and very good football program. So, I can't see them being left out in the cold - someone would want them.

Monday, April 19, 2010

One FINAL Spring Wrap-Up

Okay, so I saw some new spring football stuff out there and wanted to throw it in. After all, unless there are any big stories over the spring/summer, there won't be much football talk until the fall.

Paul Zeise of the PG talks about filling holes, including the one left by Adam Gunn:
A player who came into his own this spring is sophomore middle linebacker Dan Mason, who won the starting job early in drills and has not looked back.

Mason, a Penn Hills graduate, played some last season but his inexperience was evident. He struggled making the right defensive calls and at times was out of position on the field.

But he said last season's game experience, combined with the fact that he took nearly every snap with the first-team defense this spring, he will be ready to play at a high level.

"I learned a lot this spring," Mason said. "I really learned the calls this spring and we will add some in the fall. But just learning all of the basic calls and getting a chance to play in a lot of situations is really something I needed to do.

"I got the opportunity to do a lot of different things and play a lot so I feel like when the season starts I'll be ready to go."
I'm really looking forward to see Mason in there full time. He showed some glimpses last year and I expect him to have a big year.

And speaking of Mason, it's a little hard to determine just what he meant by this quote:
“It was a good conclusion for the spring camp, as far as the defense was concerned,” Pitt sophomore middle linebacker Dan Mason said. “The scoreboard tells the truth on things like that, so I really don’t have to say anything.
Meanwhile, the Trib provides another breakdown of the Blue-Gold game that I didn't mention yesterday.

What's that you say? More Blue-Gold breakdowns? Brian Bennett of has another one. Frankly, I'm a little surprised Brian took the bait on the whole Pitt offense struggling thing:
One thing about springs games is, you don't really want one side of the ball to dominate. Because then you worry more about the side that got pushed around than you praise the side that controlled the action.

That was the case Saturday at Pitt, where the defense won 62-24 in a modified scoring system. The offense scored only one touchdown, a 9-yard run by quarterback Tino Sunseri. Dion Lewis had a 52-yard run, but he totaled just 74 yards on five carries. As a team, the Panthers managed just 119 yards on 38 carries.

Pitt's players said they kept things very basic because the game was broadcast on the NFL Network and they didn't want to give opponents a lot of scouting material. Still, the lack of a strong running game raises questions about the offensive line, which needs to find answers at center and right guard before the season begins.
Brian acknowledges that Dion Lewis only had five carries, but then notes how badly the running game struggled. Well, Dion's the starter, and he looked fantastic. True, it would have been nice to see a little more from Ray Graham who figures to get some carries, but the bulk of the work will go to Lewis - and he looked very good. So, no, I'm not buying that the running game is taking a hit due to the offensive line just yet. If Dion had struggled, that would be one thing. And even then, it's still Spring and the offensive line is going to take some time to get going. I imagine they'll improve at least a little by the fall.

Pitt attendance wasn't so hot, but all of the Big East teams struggled with that same issue this weekend. Bennett hit this one straight on. You can make an argument for the Big East if you talk about them having better teams than the ACC. But when you look at some of those attendances from schools such as NC State, North Carolina, Clemson, and Florida State, you see that most of the Big East really pales in comparison in terms of interest. Yes, the weather wasn't great. But I've been at Blue-Gold games in good weather and the attendance wasn't so hot then. Yes, Pittsburgh is a town with three pro sports teams. But none of them were playing at the time. Bottom line is that the reason the Big East gets little respect is because it has a long way to go to catch the other conferences in terms of fan bases and prestige.

The main page on Pitt's home page (off to the right) has some video highlights of the game and the recap page also includes some post-game interviews.

Also, Chas of Pitt Blather was on the sideline at the game and took some photos.

Finally, Greg Cross and Antwuan Reed received the Ed Conway Award, signifying the most improved player during the Spring.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Another Ranked Program

Mention Pitt baseball and you're likely to start a discussion of Rutgers basketball coach Fred Hill's highly publicized outburst in the Pitt/Rutgers game. But the true story should be Pitt's play on the field.

After a great start this year, has finally moved into the top 25 rankings. The team is 16-9 and fresh off a sweep of Villanova and ranked #24 in the latest Collegiate Baseball newspaper poll. The team went 4-1 this week since being ranked.

Spring Wrap-Up

So Spring ball has now concluded and it's a good time for a few last thoughts.

The question about the starting QB position appears to be answered. Even though I havne't seen an official announcement, here's what we know:

- Tino Sunseri took a greater number of the first-team reps in practice.

- Sunseri played much better in the Blue-Gold game.

- Comments by the coaching staff seem to slightly favor Sunseri.

As I alluded to yesterday, Wannstedt seemed like Tino was his favorite and in comments about Bostick, there was a lot of talk about, and I'm paraphrasing here, not to leave Bostick out of the discussion. I think it's a done deal. And I give Wannstedt credit for putting himself in position to do what he said he wanted to do - name a starting QB by the end of the Spring. He hasn't done that yet, but it appears he's in a position to do that. The advantage is that Tino can take the bulk of the snaps in the Fall and give himself time to get in sync with teammates. And if he really struggles early on, there's nothing that says he can't go back to opening it up (though I think once Tino is named, he'd really need to struggle for Wannstedt to do that).

Looking back at the Spring game, the easy observation is the whole caveman "Offense good. Defense bad" theory. But you've a few reasons that contributed to the defense's domination:

1. The offense was likely watered down due to the game being televised nationally:
"I don't think there was much concern about [scoring only one touchdown]," said quarterback Tino Sunseri, who completed 9 of 17 passes for 82 yards. He scored the lone touchdown on a 9-yard run on a bootleg.

"We wanted to keep it very simple because [the game] was on the NFL Network and things of that nature, and we wanted to establish the ground game and get certain guys touches and we wanted to spread the ball around and we did a good job of that.

"It was very vanilla by design. We wanted to come out here and just do some things that were very basic in our offense."
2. The offense's two stars, Dion Lewis and Jonathan Baldwin didn't play a whole lot. Lewis did nothing to make fans think he won't have a strong season with that long run yesterday.

3. The wind didn't help.

Plus, I think defenses tend to do a little better in these types of games. It's early in the season and the offense is working with a new quarterback and many new players on the O-Line. It will take some time to grow, but I'm not concerned at this point.

Moving on from the final game, it looks like Greg Cross is finally going to get his chance. After scoring a TD on his first play with Pitt, I think it's safe to say that no one thought that was the last we'd really see of him. But that's exactly what happened. It's premature to think he's going to come in and have the same impact as Dorin Dickerson did in moving to tight end. Pitt has several quality receivers including Baldwin, Mike Shanahan, and Devin Street and it may be hard to crack that rotation. But I'm glad it appears he's at least going to get a shot.

Looking at tight end: Call me crazy, but while I don't expect the same production in terms of touchdowns from the position this year with the loss of Dickerson, I think Pitt fans will be pleasantly surprised by the the production the position produces this year. Much of the success at tight end had to do with Dickerson being an absolute freak. But I think Offensive Coordinator Frank Cignetti really knows what he's doing and I believe he'll find a way to again get good numbers at that spot.

Of course we'll know more once the Fall comes and we'll see if any incoming freshmen can make an impact. There's much work to be done and I can't help but think that Wannstedt would much rather have New Hampshire as the opener rather than a tough road game at Utah. Still, should be an exciting season.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Blue-Gold Review

I've got to admit that my attention wasn't completely on the game. Even with the miracle that is I DVR, I missed some chunks of the game and didn't have the patience to rewind to catch everything I missed. But here are a few observations I had:

- Tino Sunseri is clearly the starter. If fans had any remaining doubts, they should have vanished today. Sunseri was 9/17 for 82 yards, zero interceptions, and nice rushing TD from about ten yards out. Pat Bostick on the other hand was 6/13 for 59 yards, no TDs, and two interceptions.

- And it wasn't so much the play, either. You could tell that Tino was the starter simply by the way Dave Wannstedt gushed about him throughout the day. And he was completely baffled on Bostick's first interception, which was not in the vicinity of any receivers. At first Wannstedt sounded as if a receiver ran the wrong route. But when he saw the replay, it seemed like he may have changed his tune. You can say that Tino had the first team to work with, but he also had to go against the first team defense, where Pat went against the second team.

- Speaking of that second team, the offensive line for that unit wasn't good. At all. Pitt fans should really hope that the first-string doesn't have any injuries because they second team needs a lot of work. The second team defensive line had a field day against them and Bostick was under a lot of pressure.

- Dion Lewis was, well, Dion Lewis. He only had five carries, but still managed to break one for 52 yards. Ray Graham had five carries, but only managed 16 yards.

- Kind of a side note because we're talking about the backup kicker, but Kevin Harper has some kind of leg. The coaches say he needs to work on his accuracy, but he's definitely got the distance part down. He made a 45 yard field goal with probably about 10 yards to spare.

- Also related to the kicking game was the fact that Pitt used two other punters in addition to Dan Hutchins. I'm wondering if either of them will get a look to take the punting duties from Hutchins or if they were just trying to get backups some work.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Turning Into A Trend

I know women's basketball isn't real high on anyone's list of priorities right now, but this offseason is turning into a mildly interesting one. After losing an assistant and three players, Pitt's women's team has lost another assistant - Yolett McPhee McCuin. Now, I'm not familiar with the work of one Yolette, but this marks the fifth departure for the program this year. A program that only a year ago was up and coming.

This appears to be a lateral move and there don't appear to be any ties for her. Further, Clemson was not considered even a mediocre team this year and haven't been over .500 since the 2003-04 season. So, really, this appears like a step down.

It really makes you wonder what is going on at Pitt's program.

Football News and Notes

Brian Bennett of stopped by Pitt and has a video interview with Dion Lewis. And speaking of Lewis, Dave Curtis of the Sporting News lists him as the #2 power running back in college football. Not bad for someone who stands only 5'8" and is about 200 pounds.

Getting back to Bennett - he discusses Pitt's secondary while at practice this week. That 'work in progress' will be tested immediately with the game against Utah's spread offense.

Locally, Paul Zeise discusses a poor day of practice on Thursday and also breaks down the scoring changes for this year's Blue/Gold game, which will take place tomorrow. Speaking of the Blue/Gold game, it will be televised on CW and NFL Network at 2:00 p.m. Dave Wannstedt will be providing color commentary and, well, that could be priceless.

One thing to keep an eye on will, of course, be the offensive line. Eyes of the casual fan will likely follow strictly the quarterback play, but no matter who starts, their success will depend on the line providing protection and Dion Lewis' ability to again shoulder much of the load.

Another thing will be the tight ends.

And one player who hasn't been discussed a lot is Cam Saddler. I still am confident he's going to break a return for a TD this year. Too many times last year, he just needed to make one more move and he would have been off to the end zone. And in case his football career doesn't work out, he's got a potential broadcasting future going for him. Which is nice.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Preseason Award Time has Begun

Just a quick note here, but Pitt star Greg Romeus has been named to the Lott Trophy Award watch list.

The trophy is named after NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott and given to the nation's top defensive player.

One More Loss

Going back to my recent post about the Big East talent exodus of 2010, add one more name to the list - Rutgers star Mike Rosario, who has been granted a release in the midst of all the Fred Hill stuff.

I've got to admit that when I saw the whole scuffle he had with Pitt's baseball coach, I didn't think the trickle down would go this far.

Rosario is the latest star to go in the Big East. What's worse for Rutgers, it continues a disturbing trend of recent recruits leaving the school. Earlier this year, it lost star center/PF Greg Echenique to a transfer to Creighton, last week it lost forward Patrick Jackson, and in 2009 it lost guard Earl Pettis and forward Christian Morris.

Wow, even Agnus Berenato thinks their team is losing too many players.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

No Mo

Potential Pitt recruit Maurice Walker apparently couldn't wait for Pitt anymore and has committed to Minnesota.

As of this interview where's pictured in a Pirates hat only a few days ago, Pitt was one of his three favorites and the only school he had visited.

It hurts a little that Pitt couldn't make room for him, but if incoming recruit J.J. Moore qualifies academically, then Pitt will already need to get rid of a current player. With Walker, that would have increased the casualty list to two. And you've got to believe that teams really don't like essentially taking away a scholarship from someone. It looks bad and gives future non-blue chip recruits reason to worry about being 'asked nicely' to transfer.

It also hurts because he was a top 10-15 center and from reports, had previously shown some fairly strong interest in coming to Pitt. Pitt's 2010 recruits aren't frontcourt players and they could have used a little size. And with Pitt's history of developing some NBA frontcourt players in Aaron Gray and DeJuan Blair, Walker may have been a good fit.

But the incoming class should be good, so it's hard to quibble. Fact is, having too many good prospects and not enough spots is actually a good problem.

Just for Fun

ESPN takes a shot at a 96-team Bracketology version for next season. As in Joe Lunardi's preseason Bracketology in the 64-team version, Pitt is still a 3-seed.

Ah, lovely - rewarding mediocrity to ensure that a 16-14 team makes it into the big dance.

Ancillary Stuff

Not a lot going on. Sure there was a football scrimmage Saturday, but I can only take so much Spring stuff until it feels as if sticking sharpened pencils directly into my retinas might be more entertaining.

That said, though, there are quite a few minor things out there or things indirectly related to Pitt:

- Well, well, well - looks like Rich Rod may have found yet another way to harm his former employer. As if he wasn't hated enough, now WVU is dealing with potential violations. I'm wondering if it's similar to the type of stuff he's been going through at Michigan with too much practicing. Hmm....

- Joe Pa thinks Big Ten expansion will happen:
"I think the trend is there are going to be bigger conferences. I think there are going to be 12-, 14-team conferences and maybe even 16-team conferences. Do I know what I'm talking about, who knows?

"It would appear to me that with the television situation what it is and the great impact that it has on exposure and what that exposure does to recruiting, we're naive to think ... we can sit back and see everybody else move ahead because they're going to move ahead. We better start thinking about where we're going."
I've not been commenting on the expansion stuff and that's been by design. Just too many variables and unknowns at this point and no real advantage to commenting on it every week until we get closer to something actually happening.

- Brian Bennett over at hints that he may be picking Pitt to win the Big East this year.

- In the wayyyyy to early Bracketology for the 2010-11 season, Joe Lunardi lists Pitt as a 3 seed. He has Georgetown as a 2-seed, highest in the Big East. I'm guessing that's dependent upon Greg Monroe coming back, though they should have a good team even without him. Along those same lines, Andy Katz loves, loves, LOVES Pitt next year. And so does Gary Parrish. I wouldn't put Pitt this high, but to each his own.

- I never got around to mentioning the whole Fred Hill/Pitt baseball thing mostly because I didn't really care all that much. But it was an interesting story nonetheless. Anyway, it appears Rutgers and Hill are at a standstill as far as him coming back to coach. Jon over at Rutgers blog Bleed Scarlet has plenty of good posts analyzing the situation as well as a possible replacement for Hill.

- Former Pitt coach and current Pitt villain Ben Howland gets some votes as one of the decade's top coaches.

- Finally, this happened several days ago, but thought it was worth a mention. Mike Rice agreed to stay at Robert Morris, despite interest from Seton Hall and Tulane. Rice handled the situation exactly how fans want. He ackonwledged interest in listening to both offers, acknowledged interviewing with both schools, and ended up staying. I believe he would have taken the Seton Hall job had he been offered it, but that's not the point. He was as honest and straight forward as could reasonably be expected throughout the process and Robert Morris should be proud of the way he handled the entire process. Jamie Dixon is in a much higher profile situation and the two situations were not the same. But maybe Jamie Dixon should take a note or two about how to handle these types of things rather than essentially playing grab ass with fans and media, and going into hiding every time his name comes up for a job.

Just sayin'.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lots of Losses

So with kind of some down time, I got to thinking, there's a lot of talent leaving the Big East basketball scene...I mean, A LOT.

Last year, it was the likes of Sam Young, DeJuan Blair, Hasheem Thabeet, Johnnie Flynn, Terrence Williams, Earl Clark, and DaJuan Summers.

This year it seems like it could be even more. Maybe not the quality of first-rounders as last year, but from top to bottom, you can easily argue that the conference is losing more.

Wes Johnson and Devin Ebanks were the latest to declare. has both as top 20 picks (Johnson in the top five).

But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

- The site also projects Greg Monroe, Stanley Robinson, and Dominique Jones as first-rounders.

- Then mix in Lance Stephenson, Lazar Haywood, Da'Sean Butler, Herb Pope, and Luke Harangody as projected second round picks.

- Oh wait, don't forget one of the conference's best players in Scottie Reynolds.

- And then there's guys like Sharaud Curry, Andy Rautins, Arinze Onuaku, Deonta Vaughn, Jerome Dyson, and Will Walker who were big time players as well.


And that's not even considering other guys who may leave early. Get the point?

All in all, 13 of the top 15 teams in the Big East (sans Pitt) are losing at least one of their top two scorers. Seriously. Seton Hall is losing Pope, who was easily their best rebounder and the other, St. John's, well, doesn't really matter.

Pitt, of course, lost a somewhat key player in Jermaine Dixon. However, they've got plenty coming back, even if you're like me and believe that this team is devoid of a true 'go to' player. But if you go strictly by the casualties other teams have faced, Pitt looks like a frontrunner for the Big East's best team next year.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Herrion Out

As I first saw reported by Bob Smizik's excellent blog, Pitt top assistant/Associate Head Coach Tom Herrion is reportedly leaving to take the head job at Marshall. It's not a surprise that he was looking to leave as he was a finalist for the Holy Cross job previously, and was linked to the Toledo job just a few weeks ago.

It seemed like it was only a matter of time. Herrion has been Jamie Dixon's main man and was the lead guy on the recruiting of Dante Taylor. According to Rivals, he's credited with the recruiting of Ashton Gibbs, Jermaine Dixon, Dwight Miller, and Lamar Patterson.

Marshall's AD, Mike Hamrick, is familiar with the Herrion family, and I think this is a good hire for them - even if he wasn't necessarily their first choice:
MU officials are holding a press conference at 1 p.m. at Cam Henderson Center. They are steadfastly refusing to confirm Herrion's appointment, but it was reported on the flagship radio station of the Thundering Herd radio network, WRVC in Huntington.

Further, WSAZ television reported that athletic director Mike Hamrick initially offered the job to Appalachian State coach Buzz Peterson, but the sides could not agree on a contract.

Hamrick has a history with Herrion's family, hiring his brother Bill in 1999 while at East Carolina. The older Herrion now coaches at New Hampshire.
Not sure who Dixon will get to replace him. I guess he could promote someone within then hire a lower-level guy. I've always liked the idea of having former head coaches as assistants on your staff. You get opinions of experienced guys who have been responsible for and in the situation of winning and losing games. Too many chefs in the kitchen can be a bad thing, but Dixon had a good find in Herrion.

If Dixon promotes from within, it will be interesting to see who fills the position - Pat Sandle, (who's been in the Howland/Dixon family since the days of Northern Arizona, but isn't really known as a recruiter) or former Pitt star Brandin Knight, (who's less experienced, but credited by Rivals as bringing in PG Isaiah Epps).

Friday, April 9, 2010

Spring Notes

Lots of Spring football notes over the past week or so. The themes seem to be focusing on players with increased roles to play.

First up, though, I've never seen an official site for a college team make an official announcement that someone is EXPECTED to join their coaching staff:
CALIFORNIA (April 7) – Although details have yet to be finalized, California University of Pennsylvania anticipates adding Walt Harris to its football staff under the direction of head coach John Luckhardt.

Harris, former head coach at the University of Pittsburgh and Stanford University, is noted for his ability to produce talented quarterbacks. His title and duties at Cal U have not yet been decided.
Wow, talk about being excited.

Now, moving onto Pitt's team:

The guy who may benefit the most from Jonathan Baldwin:
Shanahan's role in the offense might be labeled as a "possession" receiver because, as Wannstedt notes, Shanahan has the ability to hurt teams that underestimate his athleticism.

"He's a big guy who, because of his basketball skills, can position you," Wannstedt said. "If they're going to double-team Baldwin and leave Shanahan one-on-one, the guy covering him is going to have to go up and be able to make a play on the ball, or [Shanahan] is going to beat you."
I'm really torn on how much of an impact Shanahan will make. If he's the starter opposite Baldwin, who will obviously draw a lot of attention, a lot of people are calling for him to have a great season. But with an inexperienced line and quarterback, I don't know how much the passing game will be relied upon. Part of that, of course, will depend on the individual games, if Pitt is ahead or behind, and down and distance. But while I expect Shanahan to have a good season, it will be interesting to see just how much the passing game is utilized. Still, I like his game enough to think that he will make a sizable impact. So how good will he be? I don't know, ask me tomorrow.

And speaking of that inexperienced offensive line, walk-on Alex Karabin could be the starting center. The somewhat surprising thing to me is that he might STILL be a walk-on:
That leaves Karabin as the starter entering camp in August. Even if he does earn the job, he might not get a scholarship. Last season, Wannstedt gave scholarships to three former walk-ons -- kicker Dan Hutchins, reserve quarterback Andrew Janocko and defensive lineman Chas Alecxih.

"If we have one, nothing would make me happier than to give one to Alex," Wannstedt said. "He's deserving."

Karabin would like it, too, to take some of the financial burden off his parents.
I'm sure Wannstedt will do his best to get him a scholarship. I think you've got to find one for anyone who starts for your team.

Shayne Hale and Brandon Lindsey will see time as backups this year.

And of course you've got fan favorite, Henry Hynoski:
After two seasons of being mostly a battering-ram blocker for Dion Lewis and LeSean McCoy, Hynoski is champing at the bit to being a bigger part of the offense.

"I'm thrilled about it," he said. "I love when the ball is in my hands. I was used to that all throughout high school. Now I have the opportunity as a fullback to run, block and catch equally. I'm just thrilled to death about it. I'm just very excited that I have the opportunity."
I love what Hynoski brings and would love for Pitt to find a few opportunities to not only get him the ball in short distance situations, but think they might be surprised if they can find a way to get the ball in the open field on things like short screen passes. That might be unrealistic, but man, would it be scary for an opposing cornerback to try to take him down one on one.

And could little-used Greg Cross turn into this year's Dorin Dickerson - a skill player making an impact at another position? He apparently didn't mind the move:
"I got stuck playing quarterback," he said. "I love (playing receiver). I'm learning every day to go out and compete."
Also, the Blue-Gold game is next Saturday - free admission.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Odds and Ends

Real quick hitters as all of this is pretty minor stuff:

The Pitt News calls for Tino Sunseri to start next year.

Former Tight Ends Dorin Dickerson and Nate Byham both worked out for the Baltimore Ravens in preparation of the upcoming NFL Draft.

A website picks Pitt basketball to win it all next year. Seriously.

That same website calls Pitt football a potential sleeper at 30:1 odds to win the BCS National Championship next year.

Pitt baseball is moving on up after a great start to the season. The team is ranked 24th in the Collegiate Baseball Rankings.

Heinz Field, home of the Panthers, is named as one of the 25 best stadiums at night...albeit not by all that strong of a source. PNC Park was also named as one.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

How Big A Role?

The Ray Graham piece in the PG on Friday got me thinking: Just how big a role will he have this year? This has me at least a little encouraged that he'll be around for the long haul:
Coach Dave Wannstedt called Graham "the star of spring practice," saying he has improved. "Ray Graham's probably had as many exciting plays as anybody out there. He's really come on."

Some in Graham's position might have transferred to see more playing time. But he said he is committed to Pitt, what he called a "program on the rise."
Graham's in a tricky spot, no doubt. He could very well start for many college programs, even good ones. But here he is, in the same class as Dion Lewis, and as long as Dion is here, has little chance of surpassing him on the depth chart.

Meanwhile, Pitt had a scimmage today and it sounds like Dion Lewis had a great day:
Dion Lewis carried nine times for 64 yards, and Chris Burns netted 35 yards on 11 carries. Jason Douglas and Ray Graham combined for 53 more rushing yards on 24 carries, Graham with 22 on 11 and Douglas with 31 on 13, while Mike Shanahan and Jon Baldwin each had touchdown catches.
I think Graham will stick around, banking on the fact that he can still have a successful career in the mold of someone like Larod Stephens-Howling. I think he'll be able to play the same kind of role, and maybe bank on the fact that Lewis will leave early (which is an entirely different issue as there's some kind of stipulation where he could possibly leave after this year - another discussion for another time). It should be somewhat comforting to him that he can look at someone like LSH and see him playing in the pros, despite backing up Shady for the better part of his last two seasons.

I would expect Graham to play about the same type of role this year that he did last season. He will likely come in for a series at some point in the game and maybe get a handful of additional carries. His big-play ability has to earn him at least some playing time. The only question is, how much?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Jamie Dixon Brings Home Another Award

Jamie Dixon brought home a Coach of the Year award for his efforts in leading Pitt to a very good season:
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon has won the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year Award.

It's the second national coach of the year award for Dixon in as many years. He won the Naismith Men's College Coach of the Year trophy last year.
I know who Jim Phelan is, but wasn't aware he had a Coach of the Year award named after him. The selection committee includes a hodge podge of analysts, coaches, and others.

It will be interesting to see how many of these he can rack up over his career.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Minor Bowl Note

Brian Bennett,'s Big East blogger (quoting a writer for the Birmingham News), reports that the Liberty Bowl could be back in the mix for the Big East.

I actually wouldn't mind seeing this and it could conceivably mean that the Big East could have seven of its eight members in bowl games. A little ridiculous? Sure, considering the Big East probably ranks no better than fourth out of the six BCS conferences. But it would still be a good thing for conference members.

Most Pitt fans probably remember the beating they took in the game 13 years ago. I also noticed that no other Liberty Bowl game had been less attended since. It was a bad game for Pitt, but still it was nice for the team that made a bowl after several horrible seasons.

I Lied - One More Note On Dixon

So this morning on the Vinnie and Cook show on 93.7 FM, Vinnie finally asked the tough question - DID JAMIE DIXON MEET WITH OREGON?

As expected, I figured he did and Dixon did nothing to suggest otherwise. He only answered by saying that he won't comment on that, which clearly has to suggest that he did. If he hadn't, there's no reason at this point to say he didn't. He's got a new extension and will not be leaving this year. Mix in the fact that several outlets had reported that he had met with them and it seems like a no-brainer to me. Whatever the reason...genuine interest, looking for more money from Pitt, etc., it's pretty clear to me that a meeting did take place.

Dixon then had yet another awkward moment, ending the interview early, immediately after that question by saying he was in traffic, approaching an accident, and had to pull off the road. Now, I'm not saying that's not possible. But it certainly is a bit odd considering that it occured immediately after the first tough question he received.

What this tells me is that Dixon is at least passively listening to offers and would consider leaving Pitt. I think we all basically knew that before, but these last couple of days have really confirmed it. My stance is still that it will take a 'dream job' scenario for him to leave and I expect him to be around for a while. I'm not personally irked at him, but I think he's turned off at least a few of his supporters to a small degree.

And just as I ripped the local radio shows for not asking anything tough yesterday, I really applaud the Vinnie and Cook show. They really don't back down from the tough questions and I'm quickly becoming a fan. Well done, guys.