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Written by PSB Bryan | 22 December 2010

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.

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Written by PSB Bryan | 22 December 2010

 

#6 Pittsburgh
11-1
RealTime RPI: 15

vs.

American

American
7-4
RealTime RPI: 295


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
7:00 p.m. EST
TV: FSN Pittsburgh, ESPN3.com
Radio: 93.7 The Fan

Game Day Stories:

Jamie Dixon will be on 'First Take' on ESPN2 at 9:00 a.m.

Hail to Pitt.

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Written by PSB Bryan | 21 December 2010

Screen_shot_2010-12-21_at_9.26.14_PMMiami-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.

From 2009:

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.

The Miami-Ohio Bio

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Written by PSB Bryan | 20 December 2010

Some quick links on a snowy Monday Morning:

Happy Monday.

NOTE: I've received multiple emails regarding an issue with readers being unable to log-in the comment system.  I've forwarded those emails to the Bloguin administration and hope to have issue resolved soon.  Thank you for letting me know and thank you for your patience.

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Written by PSB Bryan | 18 December 2010

Come spring 2011, FSN Pittsburgh will be no more.  Long live... Root Sports?

DirecTV Sports Networks said late Friday it intends to rebrand its three regional sports networks, including FSN Rocky Mountain, as Root Sports in the spring.

The other regional networks to share the brand are FSN Northwest and FSN Pittsburgh.

Apparently, the three regional channels haven't been owned by Fox in years.  I don't quite understand why they were allowed to be carry the FSN label for so long, but whatever.

Now the important part, per the press release:

When the networks officially transition to ROOT Sports, all of the existing team partnerships and programming will remain intact as will the distribution agreements with cable and satellite operators.

Good news.  In English that means: A.) Non-ESPN/CBS Pitt basketball games will remain on FSN/Root; and B.) it will remain on Comcast & Adelphia even though it's owned by DirecTV.

So breathe easy Pitt fans, you'll still get to see your November beatdowns of the Riders of the world.

(h/t The Pens Blog)

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Written by PSB Bryan | 18 December 2010

 

#8 Pittsburgh

10-1

RealTime RPI: 15

vs.

MarylandEasternShore

Maryland Eastern Shore

2-7

RealTime RPI: 314


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
7:00 p.m. EST
TV: FSN PIttsburgh, ESPN3.com
Radio: 93.7 The Fan

Game Day Stories:

FYI, Michael Haywood will be in the Pete lobby for a meet-and-greet starting at around 6:00.

Hail to Pitt.

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Written by PSB Bryan | 17 December 2010

Perhaps the biggest recruiting loss of the offseason:

Screen_shot_2010-12-17_at_9.56.23_PM

A big loss indeed.

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Written by PSB Bryan | 17 December 2010

Screen_shot_2010-12-17_at_7.32.28_AMAfter what seemed like much, much longer than nine days, Pitt introduced Michael Haywood as the head coach of the Panthers:

Haywood, who turns 47 in February, revived the Miami (Ohio) program after he took over in 2009, his first head coaching job after 21 years as an assistant. The RedHawks were 1-11 during his first season, then pulled the biggest turnaround in Division I, going 9-4 and earning a berth in the GoDaddy.com Bowl this season.

That earned Haywood the Mid-American Conference coach of the year honor. It also made him the leading contender at Pitt, where he becomes the first black head football coach. Haywood replaces Dave Wannstedt, who resigned under pressure after six seasons, a 41-32 record and no Big East titles.

If anyone was wondering if he was going to be a "player's coach," wonder no more.  The theme of the news conference was that there was a new sheriff in town.  As Gorman notes, the assumption that it was the losing that did Wannstedt in may have been mistaken:

If there is a word to best describe Haywood, it's the one that was missing from the Panthers this season: Discipline.

That apparently was the top priority for Pitt chancellor Mark Nordenberg and athletic director Steve Pederson in their search for a successor to Dave Wannstedt, whose teams were defined not by what they accomplished but rather where they fell short, on and off the field.

Funny how Wannstedt arrived six years ago talking about winning championships, only to focus on building character in players when he couldn't deliver a Big East title. Haywood arrives talking about building character in players in hopes it will lead to a Big East title.

It worked for Haywood at Miami (Ohio). He inherited a program that went 10-27 in the three seasons before his arrival. Then his first team finished 1-11. Haywood set out to "change the culture" with radical concepts such as morning practices; making players sit in the front row of class, wear coats and ties to games, and form a leadership council with representatives from every class and position group for accountability.

Miami went 9-4 and won the Mid-American Conference title this season.

"I believe you've got to have those things before you can win a championship," Pederson said. "This was a rough year, on and off the field, and that's not indicative of this university. We want to win championships, but we're not a win-at-all-costs program, and it's not a program that's going to tolerate poor player behavior."

Perhaps Wannstedt's fate was sealed before Utah with the arrests of Sheard, Douglas, Knox and Coleman.  If so, I find that to be uncategorically unfair.  The university is correct in expecting better, but to pin that all on Wannstedt - a guy who has run a very clean program - is unfair.  He's the coach, not the babysitter.  There will be arrests in any program.  That's one of the downfalls of running a business that involves 84 young men between the ages of 18-22.  It happened to Wannstedt and it will happen to Haywood.

/end rant

Seeing how the current players respond to this radical departure from Wannstedt is likely going to be the story of the summer.  The fan reaction has been almost universally negative.  Ron Cook asks us to step back and give the guy a chance:

Really, is it so wrong to give Haywood a chance?

I once made the bad mistake of lambasting a Pitt hire before the man coached a game. When unproven Jamie Dixon was promoted from Ben Howland's staff to take over the basketball team after Howland left for UCLA after the 2002-03 season -- Pitt's first choice had been Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year Skip Prosser, a Carnegie native who was at Wake Forest -- I wrote: "There are very few ways to screw up a top 10 men's basketball program. ... Pitt found one yesterday. ... This is insanity."

No, it isn't one of my prouder moments in journalism.

He's right.  At the end of the day, no one knows how he'll do.  Pitt may have found the next Jim Tressel, a hire that raised a few eyebrows coming from Youngstown State to the Buckeyes.  I probably would have preferred someone with a bit more "splash," but if Haywood is the real deal, then he should have been the hire.  If he proves to be terrible, then we can all call for Pederson's firing and be completely justified.  But let's see how he does before we decide.

One area that demands immediate attention is recruiting.  Pitt is losing recruits left and right.  That's to be expected as players rarely come to a school for any other reason other than the coaches,  That's not the way it's supposed to be, but that's the reality.  And with Wannstedt gone, some of Pitt's biggest fish are swimming away:

"I was a big Wannstedt guy. I love coach Wannstedt," Poteat said. "For them to let him go was shocking. Us McDevitt guys and Wannstedt were close. I bonded with him. So I opened things back up with the recruiting."

"Pitt was my first love, but they let my man go," Poteat said. "My big thing was Pitt's playing style. They run straight at you and not too many coaches do that. Plus, Wannstedt did so many things for guys I know."

Poteat also said he hasn't totally ruled out Pitt.

Whatever Coach Haywood is doing today, I hope it involves calling out to the 717 area code.

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Written by PSB Bryan | 15 December 2010

It appears that Michael Haywood, head coach of the Miami (Ohio) Redhawks is ready to become Michael Haywood, head coach of the Pittsburgh Panthers:

Haywood was one of the first known candidates to be contacted and interviewed by Pitt last week and he was brought to campus for a second interview which continued late into the afternoon today. He also was to meet Chancellor Mark Nordenberg and other key Pitt administrators.

Haywood could be introduced as the next coach as early as tomorrow and then would immediately start assembling a staff and trying to retain most of Pitt's nationally ranked recruiting class.

Haywood was 10-15 at Miami, rebounded nicely to 9-4 last season after a 1-11 record his first year.  In his defense, he inherited an awful squad that went 2-10 the year before he got there.

No way to really judge the hire right now.  I'd have been excited for Dana Holgorsen and I still think it would have been a good hire, but for whatever reason it didn't work out.  I can't say that I'm "excited" about Haywood, but if he's the right guy, then he's the right guy.  We have no idea how he'll do at Pitt and Pitt can't make a hire based on who will sell the most tickets going into the next season.

He has a nice pedegree though.  As ESPN's Mark Schlaback tweeted, he was an assistant under Nick Saban when LSU won the national championship.  Also on that staff: Jimbo Fisher (FSU), Dooley (Tenn) and Muschamp (Florida).

Pitt's recruiting class this season will almost certainly suffer.  Four-star athlete Bill Belton decommitted today in what I am sure is not a coincidence.  But Wannstedt has put Haywood in a position to succeed with talent up and down the roster (skipping linebacker).

The next question is who will be retained and who will be let go.

But that's a question for tomorrow.  Tonight, we welcome Coach Haywood.  HTP.

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Written by PSB Bryan | 14 December 2010

Screen_shot_2010-12-14_at_5.43.53_PMAfter losing in fairly humbling fashion Saturday afternoon, Pitt fell five spots in the both major polls to eigth place.  While being eighth should be - and is - a great thing, in the rough and tumble Big East, that's good for third place.  UConn and Syracuse are ahead of the Panthers, while Villanova lurks close behind at 10th.

It's early, but it seems certain that the survivor winner of the conference should be awarded a top seed come March.

Tennessee is now ranked seventh.

It's a long season ahead.

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