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Written by TFW Bryan | 21 May 2012

It's funny how things one's perception of college sports can change in such a short matter of time.

Not all that long ago, I was looking forward to Pitt playing in the ACC.  There would be road trips to beautiful campuses like UVA down in Charlottesville and rekindling an old rivalry against former conference-mate Virginia Tech.  The thoughts of Duke and North Carolina each coming to play at the Pete two out of every three years made me giddy like a school girl.  The thought of Clemson and Florida State leaving the ACC for the Big XII was nothing more than a figment of some dude's imagination, throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks.

Since, ESPN and the ACC signed a new TV contract, the Big XII and the SEC created a new bowl game, yada yada yada, my thinking has made a complete 180°.

But Bryan, you yada yada'd over the best part.

Alright, let's fill in some of those details.  To do so, we need to travel back in time two weeks to take a look at where it all began.

time_circuits

Warning, this post approaches 2,700 words.  Block out your time accordingly.

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Written by PSB Bryan | 17 May 2012

We've long been fans of self-deprecating hashtag fun here at the Pitt Script Blog. But our TFW Bryan Took it a whole new level when he decided to ruin everyone's Wednesday productivity by wondering what Pitt-related stories would make a good topic for an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary.

30for301

These are the highlights:

30for302

 

30for303

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Written by PSB Bryan | 17 May 2012

RGrahamStudents

Buried in the Tino Sunseri hysteria was maybe the real news of Andrea Adelson's piece from the ACC spring meetings (via ESPN):

Now here is a quick update on running back Ray Graham, coming off a knee injury. Chryst said Graham is "progressing" and anticipates his star back will be ready for the start of fall camp.

"The plan is he will be ready," Chryst said. "We’ll have him practice. He needs it. They all need it. I’m not going to project too much until it’s time. But we’re planning on it. We’re going full steam ahead."

Huge. Graham led the conference in rushing before his injury and should be considered the frontrunner for Big East POY if he can come back at 100%.

The conventional wisdom on ACL injuries are that they take a full year to heal. With Graham's injury occurring at the very end of September, getting him in camp at the beginning of August means he's well ahead of schedule.

Graham, Bennett, Shell, repeat. There's 75% of the offense.

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Written by PSB Bryan | 16 May 2012

TSunseriUSF11This really shouldn't be surprising (via ESPN Big East blog):

Chryst said Tuesday during the ACC spring meetings, "He was the best quarterback we had out of spring. That's why he's the starter."

"The biggest thing for quarterbacking is being able to do it and doing it on a consistent level," Chryst said. "That’s your normal progression. He clearly was the best this spring that we had. You’re aware of the history but it doesn’t really matter for us. What do you have right now? It’s our job to coach them and how can you help everyone get better? He’s got a great opportunity. He has played in a lot of games, he does have experience. He’s got room to grow. If he chooses to grow, and I know it’s easier for us to say last year or two years before that doesn’t matter. It matters in the sense that you should learn from all of it, positive or negative. But it doesn’t matter going forward.

"Right now, if you were to say who gives you the best chance to have success, it would be him. So coach the heck out of him."

Yes, Tino was bad last season. I don't think that's debatable - poor offensive line and all. But honestly, who's going to beat him out? Both Mark Myers and Trey Anderson were all but begged to take the job away from him last season and neither could do it. Anthony Gonzalez has been moved from quarterback to just about every position out there. Chad Voytik? Only a very select few freshmen quarterbacks are able to come in and play after just one summer and I just don't see Voytik being ready right now.

The fact of it is that Pitt's quarterback situation is not ideal. Blame that on the instability. Blame it on the failure of Wannstedt to recruit better options (although his second half recruiting haul of Sunseri-Myers-Gonzolaz-Nova is pretty solid). Blame it on whatever you want, but the options right now are very limited. And three coaching staffs have all evaluated what they had and concluded Sunseri is the best option.

Chryst's job is to win games now. Tino Sunseri very well likely gives this team the best chance to win games in 2012. And that's why he's the starter.

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Written by PSB Bryan | 15 May 2012

A few random basketball links to clear before they get buried:

  • I don't know how to put this but I'm kind of a big deal. Steven Adams is adjusting to life of an American college basketball star (via The Post Game):

"Ever since I've been here, it's just been media, rah rah, media; I'm still getting used to it," he said. "At first I was real nervous, mumbling; I didn't know what to say. I never thought it would be like this. It's crazy."

Participating in events like the Jordan Brand Classic, an annual high school all-star game now in its 11th season, has helped Adams acclimate to the culture here and even learn to enjoy it.

"It can be quite fun," he said, "but sometimes I think it's too much attention for people my age. We're still high school players."

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Written by PSB Bryan | 14 May 2012

Even with two graduation seniors, Jamie Dixon was able to add four incoming players for next season. One of the extra scholarships came from Khem Birch, the other from little-used guard Isaiah Epps. So it would seem that Pitt's done recruiting for the season. But the recruiting saga of 2012 Philadelphia forward Savon Goodman just won't end.

The one time Villanova commit was at Pitt this weekend for an official visit (via Adam Zagoria):

Uncommitted 2012 wing Savon Goodman took an official visit to Pittsburgh this past weekend, his high school coach, Rob Moore, confirmed to SNY.tv.

Goodman was not immediately available for comment but Moore said the visit went well.

Of course, it seems that Mr. Goodman could be bound for prep school instead of a high-major program. And that seems to be the most likely option. Goodman is a great prospect, but he isn't the type of elite talent that can wait this long and expect to be able just commit somewhere.

And further, it's unclear whether Pitt would force out another player at this late date to make room. While it's a bit unseemly, I'd be ok with that. With Jones, Robinson and Zeigler all coming in this season, I have a tough time seeing where the minutes come from for both John Johnson and Cam Wright. And with a seemingly huge hole at power forward, Goodman would seem like a no-brainer to come in and play meaningful minutes behind Talib Zanna.

So while it seems unlikely that Savon Goodman will be gracing the floor of the Pete next season, you can bet Pitt will be all over him for 2013.

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Written by PSB Bryan | 14 May 2012

Josh Verlin covers the Philadelphia basketball scene for the website Philahoops.com. Recently, he caught up incoming Pitt Panther Chris Jones and the two discussed his game, Jamie Dixon and his recruitment.

<<------------------------->>

Though the Pittsburgh Panthers are coming off their worst season in seven years, there are plenty of reasons for hope on the horizon.

One big reason is the incoming freshman class, a consensus top-15 group due mostly to the presence of 7-foot New Zealander Steven Adams, who many believe could have been a first-round NBA draft selection as early as this year.

After Adams and point guard James Robinson, a consensus top-60 recruit out of basketball powerhouse DeMatha (Md.), had both committed by September of 2011, it seemed the Panthers had found their two-man class to replace graduating seniors Ashton Gibbs and Nasir Robinson.

The surprise transfer of Khem Birch meant a third scholarship was open to add to that stellar 2012 class, and that was all the opportunity that Teaneck (N.J.)’s Chris Jones needed.

After drawing mostly mid-major interest through his junior year, the 6-foot-5 wing’s impressive senior season earned Jones a scholarship offer from Jamie Dixon and Teaneck’s all-time leading scorer was headed for the Big East.

“Early on, he got a lot of interest from Atlantic 10 and Colonial conference and places like that, but I knew he was much better than that,” Teaneck head coach Jerome Smart told the Pitt Script Blog by phone on Thursday. “It was kind of, just wait it out and at the end of the year you’ll get the love that you’re supposed to get, if you have the season that I feel you’re supposed to have, which is what he did.”

“Pittsburgh actually got in a little bit late but I decided to go there because of the winning history they have at Pittsburgh,” Jones told the Pitt Script Blog at this weekend’s Mary Kline Classic. “Coach Dixon’s a great coach and he’s really known for developing players and I had a good relationship with coach Brandon Knight.”

Jones led Teaneck to a 31-1 record in his senior season, earning first-team all-state honors in averaging 21.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game to finish his career with over 1300 points.

That rebounding number is particularly impressive because, according to Smart, Jones averaged just 4.5 per game in 2010-11.

“He’s gotten much bigger, much stronger, much more physical and offensively he’s gotten much more aggressive even though he takes things in stride,” the second-year coach said.

“I’m really excited to start getting down to Pitt,” Jones said. “I’m starting to work out and everything so I’m really excited to get down there.”

Regarding his fellow incoming freshmen, Jones said he’d played against Robinson and called the point guard “tough” and “strong,” though he admitted he hadn’t yet seen Adams play.

Though the athletic guard/forward described himself as being an “above-average” shooter and an “average” handler, he did say he had plenty to continue working on in his game.

“My defense, getting faster, getting stronger; my jump shot,” he listed as areas he’s working on before college. “I’m looking to work on anything...my handle also.”

Jones could find himself initially fighting minutes for behinds behind juniors Lamar Patterson and J.J. Moore, sophomore Cameron Wright and redshirt freshman Durand Johnson, all of whom are capable of playing the G/F role.

Still, even if Jones ends up taking a redshirt, it doesn't seem like he’s the type to mope about needing to wait his turn to play.

“I said time and time again...speaking to our younger kids, you don’t have to look anywhere else for how you should conduct yourself on and off the court, it’s in front of you every day,” Smart said about his star. “You could always count on him to be there for workouts, he was a leader all the time in the weightroom, on and off the court, in the classroom, walking around the building, he was like the perfect person to carry the flag.

He continued: “A lot of times you take over a program and it’s a mess. I was fortunate enough to have a guy who was like a poster child for what you want your player to be.”

If he keeps working like he has been over the last two years, maybe the least-heralded of Pitt’s 2012 class could end up being the diamond in the rough.

<<----------------->>

Thanks a lot, Josh!

Josh Verlin is a staff writer for Philahoops.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jmverlin.

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Written by TFW Bryan | 11 May 2012

In a move that shocked absolutely no one in the world of college sports, Pitt filed a lawsuit against the BIG EAST Conference so that it may join the ACC on July 1, 2013, one year earlier than specified in the conference's bylaws. 

In the complaint, the university asked for a jury trial to rule on its requests, which include allowing Pitt to withdraw from The Big East Conference at the end of the 2012-2013 conference year without penalty or interference; sharing revenue received by the conference during the 2011-2012 conference year, including money received from TCU and WVU; and reimbursement for damages such as the fees Pitt paid to secure the lost home games with TCU and WVU and to secure replacement games with lesser rivals, the lost ticket sales from disappointed fans, court costs and other financial losses. The Big East has stated that Pitt must remain in the conference through the 2013-2014 season.

Yes...you read that correctly.  Pitt is suing in part due to the loss of ticket sales.  My question is...did the statute of limitations on this game expire?

large_Pittgame

Probably.  Damn.  Anyways, Pitt did lose two valuable home games against TCU and WVU this upcoming season.  As we all know, they were replaced by Temple, a team once deemed kicked out of the BIG EAST conference for extremely sub par athletic performance, and Gardner-Webb.  Keep in mind that UCF was originally on the schedule, but Pitt was told by the BIG EAST to buy out that game so that there would be an open date for TCU on the schedule.  Opps.

So why file a lawsuit to leave when you've already told the BIG EAST you were leaving?  Well, apparently commissioners office in Providence was giving Pitt the silent treatment.

Although the Big East’s stated position is that we must stay through the 2013-14 season, the Big East acknowledged publicly that a discussion of our departure after the 2012-13 season was appropriate. A few weeks ago, Steve Pederson met with John Marinatto to begin the process to work toward an exit after this upcoming academic year. The Commissioner indicated that he was doing this with the authorization of the Chair of the Big East Presidents. However, attempts to contact the Big East in the following weeks to move the process forward have been unsuccessful, leading us to conclude that negotiations would not occur. Given the change in leadership of the Big East and the lack of response to our attempted contacts, on Friday, May 11, 2012, we filed a law suit in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, seeking resolution of this matter. We are confident in our position as stated in the complaint, but believe that this matter is best resolved between the parties. We have notified the Big East of this action, and continue to hope that our departure can be accommodated through private negotiations.

Boise State may also have played a part in this.  Rumors were heaving this week that Boise State may be having second thoughts about joining the BIG EAST as have yet to find a conference home for all of their remaining sports.  In fact, Boise State has not even given notice yet to the Mountain West conference that it would be withdrawing after this upcoming season.  Should the Broncos get cold feet, San Diego State would most likely back out as well.  Both teams would compete in the Mountain West in all sports in 2013 if that is the case.

So, is this newsworthy during the off season?  Of course.  Is the news anything to write home about?  Nope...because one fact remains true...

Screen_Shot_2012-05-11_at_7.52.48_PM

Sigh.  

Oh, Steve Pederson, one piece of advice...just don't go spending all of that new ACC TV money on our exit, OK?  Great.

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Written by PSB Bryan | 10 May 2012

CathedralACC

The ACC announced yesterday that it has renegotiated its current television deal (inked in 2010) to run through 2027. It upgrades the conference's payday to $17.1 million per school, up 33 percent from the 2010 deal. It grants ESPN pretty much total control over all of the conference's football and basketball inventory, something that is going to reportedly be left to the schools in the Big 12 deal.

Is it perfect? Absolutely not. The Big Ten and the SEC will likely speed right by that number in the coming years. It's less than than the Pac-12 gets and what the Big-12 will likely get, but it's certainly comparable.

So why not more? Well, the lack of national success due to the decline of the Florida schools is a big reason (via the Daily Press):

Swofford estimated that football drives 70-80 percent of rights fees and acknowledged that more national success in that sport would have meant additional revenue.

“We seem to be right on the verge of taking that next step,” Swofford said, not for the first time. “Our main goal … is to have our best teams winning on a national stage.”

But consider this: Pitt was making $8.7 million in television rights in the Big East. This deal will double it. The single biggest source of revenue for Pitt athletics is being doubled. And double is conservative: DiPaolo's article says Pitt will be making $12 million more in the ACC. Either way, that's a very, very good thing for Pitt.

And then there's the exposure. The ACC deal will put Pitt in more households than it ever was in the Big East. And not just football and men's basketball, although it certainly will increase exposure there significantly. From the ACC (via):

The conference’s planned increase to an 18-game conference men’s basketball schedule and the additions of Pittsburgh and Syracuse will bring an increase of 30 conference men’s basketball games per year and two more conference tournament games. In football, 14 more conference-controlled games will be televised each year. Per the extension, ESPN has the right to televise three Friday ACC football contests annually which will include a standing commitment from Boston College and Syracuse to each host one game as well as an afternoon or evening game on Thanksgiving Friday. Also, more women’s basketball and dozens more Olympic sports competitions will be covered on ESPN platforms representing the conference’s 25, soon to be 26, sponsored sports.

[Emphasis mine] As noted in the last sentence, Pitt's addition of a women's gymnastics program will allow the ACC to officially sponsor the sport. While this blog covers only football and men's basketball, I can't ignore how huge this is for Pitt's Olympic sports, especially baseball.

And with football, there will be no more Wednesday night games. Thursdays, yes. But no dreaded Wednesday night games. There will also be three Friday games, one will be at Syracuse, one at Boston College and one the Friday after Thanksgiving. There will also be a Labor Day game and, of course, the ACC Championship game.

The big increase in revenue should allow Pitt to grow not just football and basketball, but the whole athletic department (via the Trib):

Meanwhile, the increased revenue from the ACC, which dwarfs Pitt’s previous Big East payouts by at least $12 million annually, will be used to grow athletic programs, Pederson said.

“The resources associated with that should continue to help us drive the program to higher levels,” he said.

He added there are no specific plans for the money yet.

“We have been fixated on what we are doing right now,” he said. “We will look forward once we get there. We will continue to look for capital improvements, but nothing is imminent.”

Pederson did say there are hopes to build an on-campus track.

“We would like to build a track at the appropriate time, but we want to do that the right way,” he said.

More Pederson (via the PG):

"The exposure it gives us for all of our sports is pretty spectacular," said Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson.

"It's all the things you want -- strength, stability and exposure."

Pederson said he expects the Big East will stand behind its comments made earlier this year that it is in everyone's best interest to move forward.

As for when Pitt arrives in the ACC, that seems right on schedule for 2013.

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Written by PSB Bryan | 09 May 2012

WillFerrellElfPitt picked up its fifth commitment for the 2013 class Monday in Gateway fullback Jaymar Parrish. He played tight end in high school, but there's no question where Chryst and Rudolph are going to line him up (via the PG):

"They're going to line him up as a traditional fullback because they're a pro-style offense team," said Gateway coach Terry Smith. "He's an extremely physical blocker and just a tough, hard-nosed kid who is really athletic."

At only six feet, there was no chance of him playing tight end in Chryst's scheme. And like most fullbacks, his offer list isn't particularly large - just one from Akron - but neither was Pitt's last fullback's and things worked out just fine.

Like offensive line and tight end, Pitt is in need of quality fullbacks. Chryst added Ohio State transfer David Durham in February, which hopefully allows Parrish to redshirt.

Welcome aboard, Jaymar.

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