Dave Wannstedt gave his final, emotional, press conference today in the South Side. Wannstedt announced he would not coach Pitt's the bowl game, despite apparently being heavily involved in the preperation. Phil Bennett - the most likely coach to have been fired just a month ago - is now the interim head coach. I'm completely ambivalent about Wannstedt coaching or not. It would have been an interesting storyline, but that's about it. So just like that, the Dave Wannstedt era at Pitt is officially over. at 42-31 This game probably has less intrigue than the spring game, and I think it will be treated like such by the local and national media.
Another coach who won't be making the trip will be Frank Cignetti, who is officially now the offensive coordinator of Rutgers. I had hoped that Cignetti would find a job quickly, although going to a conference rival isn't what I had in mind. This has the potential to make the 2011 recruiting disaster a catasptrophy if Cignetti and Hafley are able to bring some of Pitt's higher rated recruits along for the ride. It's one thing for these guys to Penn State or Maryland, but quite another thing for them to stay in the Big East. This could get very, very bad.
But coaches (and fans) aren't the only ones to not heading down to Birmingham. The conference defensive player of the year will also sit this one out with an elbow injury that required surgery. From Wannstedt's comments, Sheard's injury was something he could have played with, but at this point, why would he care? Sheard has to get healthy for the NFL Combine, which at this point is light years more important than the Compass Bowl.
His partner on the offensive line, Myles Caragein will also sit out the game due to injury. That likely means the D-line will likely be Brandon Lindsey, Tyrone Ezell, Chas Alecxih and Hargrove/Clemmings/Murphy (I'd even expect to see some Nate Nix in the rotation as this will be his last game).
Who's excited now?no comments
If you had Houston's Kevin Sumlin as the next Pitt head coach in your hastily organized office pool, Chris Peak has some bad news for you:
"I have no interest in the Pitt coaching vacancy," said Sumlin. "As a matter of fact I denied their request for me to speak with them about the vacancy the first time around and nothing has changed for me."
Ugh. That generally jives with a Pete Thamel New York Times report that Sumlin along with Tulsa's Todd Graham and Iowa State's Paul Rhodes refused to even talk to Pitt.
So that's one down. Two more you can eliminate from contention: Marvin Lewis and Rich Rodriquez. The Rodriquez thing should be pretty obvious: despite leading the most prominent brand in football, his only success was to land the Wolverines on NCAA probation. There is no reason to believe he would do any better at Pitt.
Marvin Lewis is Dave Wannstedt. Hiring him is an implicit admission that Pitt screwed up by firing Wannstedt. I am also presuming the story that he is on Pitt's short list is complete bullshit. Lombardi's source is a "league source," not a "Pitt source." My suspicion is that those associated with Marvin Lewis wanted to float Lewis' name to convey a not-so-subtle message that he is interested in the job when he canned at Cincinnati on Monday. Count me in the thanks-but-no-thanks camp.
At least there are a few good jokes out there. The operator of a fake Twitter account for former Kansas State Head Coach Ron Prince has expressed interest on his behalf.
I really needed the laugh.no comments
So did I miss anything this weekend? Oh...No...
The University of Pittsburgh fired Coach Mike Haywood on Saturday in the wake of his arrest on a charge of domestic battery in Indiana against the mother of his child. Pittsburgh hired Haywood, who was the coach at Miami (Ohio), on Dec. 16 to replace Dave Wannstedt.
Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark Nordenberg said in a statement that the decision “reflects a strong belief that moving forward with Mr. Haywood as our head coach is not possible under the existing circumstances.” The university said that Haywood had been informed of the decision Saturday afternoon.
Adios, Coach. I'm not going to pile on Haywood, so I'll merely say this: maybe there is more to this, maybe there isn't. But if you're in a position of leadership, one in which you ask mothers and fathers to entrust their teenage sons to you, you can't be in these situations. You just can't. The moment the police were called was the moment his days as the head coach of Pitt were over (all 16 of them).
So where do we go from here?
Back to square one, apparently. Chancellor Nordenberg issued a statement indicating that a swift, but more through coaching search would be conducted. When Haywood was introduced, Pederson said that only those with head coaching experience were considered. That seems to no longer be the case. I think that can only be read to mean coordinators will be fair game as well.
Secondly, that the statement came from Nordenberg and not Pederson. That seems to be an issue of some debate. At the very least, it appears that powers above Pederson's head are planning on being a bit more active in the coaching search this time around. Assuming no one could have predicted this from Haywood - presumably he passed through background checks - the blame for this incident falls on Haywood alone. Pederson has earned his share of criticism over the years but unless something turned up serious red flags on Haywood, I'm having a hard time blaming him. As Ron Cook points out, however, the rope is getting much, much shorter.
The next hire has to make a splash. The name being thrown around a lot right now is Penn State's Tom Bradley. Pederson even told Paul Zeise that if they look at coordinators, Bradley is "a very attractive candidate." Just as I was the first time, I'm all aboard the Bradley train. Pitt didn't need a complete overhaul when they fired Wannstedt. Last season, Pitt had a solid, albeit inexperienced, team that was in need of just a bit more in terms of coaching and management. It's not time to burn the whole thing down and start over. A Bradley hire will instantly be a hit with the media folks and the recruits who watch/read/listen to them.
It hasn't happened much during his career at Pitt, but Nasir Robinson is finally getting some love:
The 6-foot-5 Robinson, who started all 34 games last season, wasted no time making an impact, recording his fourth career double-double in Pitt's 78-63 victory over No. 4 Connecticut on Monday night.
Robinson, who had knee surgery in late October and missed three games, posted 11 points, 10 rebounds and four assists while playing a season-high 31 minutes, as Pitt won its fourth in a row against the Huskies.
"It gave me a lot of confidence" Robinson said. "I went hard in practice, and it worked out. It really didn't matter (who started). I just wanted to come out and play my game."
The shuffling of the lineup was more about Robinson's consistent play than any indictment on 6-9 redshirt freshman Talib Zanna, who had started the first 13 games of the season. But since a 14-point, 12-rebound performance against Maryland at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 18, Zanna hasn't had more than seven points or six rebounds.
A 11-10-4 night will certainly earn you some ink. I'd disagree that Nasir's starting role is independent of Zanna's cooling off, but overall a majority of the credit has to go to Nasir. From the moment he stepped on the floor for the first time this season against Maryland at Madison Square Garden, he's been very good - especially defensively. Adding double-digit offense and rebounds at the power forward spot is certainly more than Pitt's gotten out of that position in some time.no comments
8-0. That's Pitt's record against top-5 teams all time at the Peterson Event Center. That three of those have now come against UConn is a testament to the victors of course, but also to a UConn program that has quickly ascended into college basketball royalty. But then again, it's even more a testament to Jamie Dixon as he earned win number 201 with a dominating win over #4 UConn.no comments
RealTime RPI: 15
# 4 Kemba Walker
RealTime RPI: 7
8:30 p.m. EST
TV: ESPN2, ESPN3.com
Radio: 93.7 The Fan
Game Day Stories:
- Official Pitt Preview: No. 6 men's basketball hosts no. 4 Kemba Walker
- Associated Press: Heavyweights Kemba Walker, Pitt square off in Big East opener
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Pitt's goal: stop Kemba Walker's fast break
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Early meeting of Pitt and Kemba Walker unusual
- Pittsburgh Tribune Review: Pitt braces for tough Big East opener
- Pittsburgh Tribune Review: Big challenge in Pitt's Big East opener
- 93.7 The Fan 4-1-Zoo: Previewing Pitt vs Kemba Walker
- 93.7 The Fan 4-1-Zoo: Pitt-Kemba Walker a top rivalry
- Hartford Currant: No. 4 Kemba Walker men open Big East season at No. 6 Pittsburgh
- Hartford Currant: At Pitt, rebounding a challenge
Hail to Pitt.no comments
Not a bad way to spend the holidays. First, start off by winning your 200th game:
Dixon won No. 200 in his 255th career game. Only 12 other coaches in NCAA history have won 200 games in fewer opportunities. Pitt seniors Gary McGhee, Gilbert Brown and Brad Wanamaker presented Dixon with the game ball in the locker room after the game.
"That's the thing that means to the most to me," Dixon said. "They talked about the hard work and dedication. Of course, I corrected them and told them it was good players that is the most important thing. We're going to try to keep it going here. We're not going to change the philosophy. I want to rely on good players rather the coaching. We get the best players and win with the best players."
Of course, we know that Dixon has accomplished what he has by doing just preaching hardwork and defense. And that led to winning a lot of games - often times with less talent than his opponent. He did it only 8 seasons, a feat that ties him with Roy Williams and Mark Few.
And to top it off? Be named the 2010 Dapper Dan Sportsman of the Year:
But the 2009-10 Pitt basketball season will be remembered as one of the most memorable in school history. With four first-year starters and some unsung players, Dixon guided Pitt to 25 victories and finished tied for second in the Big East in a season many believed the Panthers would struggle to finish with a winning record.
For those accomplishments, Dixon has been named the Dapper Dan Sportsman of the Year for 2010.
"I know the list of guys who have won before," Dixon said. "I have great appreciation for the history of sports. As everyone knows, I'm a big fan of all of the Pittsburgh teams. This is quite an honor."
The hits just keep coming. ESPN is reporting that Kyshoen Jarrett has decommitted from the Panthersand will now be... a Hokie. Obviously nothing is official until he signs on the dotted line on National Letter of Intent Day, but this recruiting class is quickly turning into a lost cause.
On the glass is half full side, at least two of Pitt's four-star Rivals guys, Marquese Wright and Terrell Chestnut are still listed as committed. But if this keeps up, we're looking at a very depressing Feb. 2nd.
From August: At Last, Depth
UPDATE: And the hits keep coming and coming and coming. Four-star running back Jameel Poteat has decommitted from Pitt and committed to Cincinnati. Tough to lose a guy whose mentor proudly exclaims "Pitt Panthers!" whenever the Eagles are on Sunday Night Football. Particularly damaging is this is a guy from Bishop McDevitt - a huge football school in Harrisburg. Disheartening, although unless Dion Lewis were to leave for the NFL this offseason, he'd likely be buried on the depth chart for at least a year. Certainly not the end of the world, but if he wants to play right away, Pitt isn't likely a good choice for him. A tough loss regardles.no comments
RealTime RPI: 15
RealTime RPI: 295
7:00 p.m. EST
TV: FSN Pittsburgh, ESPN3.com
Radio: 93.7 The Fan
Game Day Stories:
- Official Preview: Jamie Dixon vies for 200th career victory
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Pitt's Dixon goes for 200th win tonight
- Pittsburgh Tribune Review: Dixon's tenure a boon for Pitt
- Pittsburgh Tribune Review: No. 6 Pitt hosts American in nonconference finale
Jamie Dixon will be on 'First Take' on ESPN2 at 9:00 a.m.
Hail to Pitt.no comments
Miami-Ohio Offensive Coordinator Morris Watts will be making the trip east to assume the same job. Michael Haywood announced the hire this morning on Rivals Radio (hat-tip to FearTheStache). Watts has been all over the coaching scene, with stops at Michigan State, Mississippi State, high school and the NFL. In 2009, he joined Michael Haywood - whom he knew from his days at LSU - in Oxford, Ohio.
Since you last worked with Coach Haywood at LSU, how has he grown?
"Naturally, he's grown in his knowledge of the game. Coach Haywood is a challenge-driven individual, to be as good as he can be. From all of the stories I heard about him as a player, he was the same way. I always told my wife that if Mike gets a chance to be a head coach that he'll be a good one. He's studied well under the people that he's worked for as far as how to handle situations. I don't see any hesitancy in him when he has to make head coaching decisions. He seems to thrive upon the challenges that a head coach faces. I spent so many years as an assistant coach and as an offensive coordinator--and as a head coach for three games--that I know what the challenges are. In essence, it's like being the father of 105 young men. You've got to make decisions that will lead them in the direction that they need to go in regard to your program. Mike Haywood is well on his way to being an outstanding head coach. He did a great job of assembling a staff that gets along well and understands the importance of `team.' All through the years, I know that I thrived off a staff and a group of players who were hungry and wanted to get better."
Like the Haywood hire, this certainly isn't an exciting hire. That's not to say that it won't prove to be a good hire, just that Watts isn't going to convince anyone to up their Panther Club donation.no comments