Tag:Pitt
Posted on: March 2, 2011 1:38 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2011 3:52 pm
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Pitt player fights with police, tased four times

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Maybe you read the story today on the amount of criminal activity and lack of background checks amongst college football players that CBS News and Sports Illustrated worked together on. If you have, then consider the following story to be very bad timing for Pitt. You see, the story began with the number of incidents that have taken place at Pitt in recent months, and it looks like the Panthers have a new case to notch on the arrest bedpost.

Fernando Diaz spent his 2010 season as a redshirt freshman on Pitt's offensive line, and it seems he spent his early Tuesday morning fighting with police and getting tased four times. Yes, that's right. Not once. Not even twice. Four times.
A redshirted freshman on the University of Pittsburgh football team on Saturday became the latest Pitt athlete to be arrested when city police said he was highly intoxicated in Oakland, blocked them from driving down Atwood Sreet, and resisted arrest and fought with them so much that he had to be Tasered four times.
The suspect, Fernando M. Diaz, 20, of Bronx, N.Y., was taken into custody after a cruiser on routine patrol at 1:56 a.m. had to stop on Atwood because Mr. Diaz was standing in the middle of street yelling at someone in an adjacent parking lot. He refused to move, police said. When he saw the police car, officers said, he responded "What the [expletive] are you going to do, hit me?"
Officers got out of their car but he became belligerent and yelled at them, police said, and a crowd gathered. A man who said he was on the team with Mr. Diaz told him to "shut his mouth" and accept the citation for being publicly drunk, cautioning him that former Pitt Head Coach Dave Wannstedt was not there any more and new coach Todd Graham would make an example of him.
I can only wonder what Diaz's teammate would have instructed him to do if Dave Wannstedt were still the head coach. Would he have told Diaz to fight?

Anyway, while being given the citation, Diaz tried to walk away from the scene twice. He also told the police he wouldn't sign it, and wasn't going to court. So when he tried to walk away again, the police attempted to handcuff him, which is when Diaz began swinging at the police. The police then had to tase him four times before he was subdued.
Posted on: February 23, 2011 12:31 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Baylor

Posted by Tom Fornelli

College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice. So we here at the Eye on College Football will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers. Today, we look at Baylor, who opens its practice on February 28.


Spring Practice Question: Can Baylor's defense catch up to its offense?

A lot of things went well for Baylor in 2010. With Robert Griffin III back for an entire season and the offense firing on all cylinders. The Bears rode their offense to a 7-6 record and the school's first bowl appearance since the 1994 Alamo Bowl. In other words, under Art Briles, it seems as if Baylor is headed in the right direction.

There's still quite a bit of work left to do, however. Yes, Baylor had a winning season, but at one point the Bears were 7-2 before losing their final four games of the season. In those final four losses, Baylor gave up an average of 47.0 points per game, which is precisely where the problem lies. Yes, Baylor was able to post 31.2 points a game on offense in 2010, but the defense gave up an average of 30.5. 

Not exactly the best formula for success. In fact, teams scored over 40 points against Baylor six times in thirteen games. It's hard to win consistently that way, which is why the focus for Baylor this spring will be on improving the defense. That's where the team's new defensive coordinator, Phil Bennett, comes in. Bennett comes to Waco after spending the last three seasons at Pitt, where he was the defensive coordinator for one of the best defenses in the Big East.

Of course, the offenses of the Big East and the offenses of the Big 12 aren't really comparable, and that adjustment will be Bennett's biggest challenge.

As will be overhauling a secondary which was a problem area for the Bears in 2010. Both of the team's starting safeties, Tim Atchison and Byron Landor, have left which means two new starters in 2011. The good news is that Briles has brought in some talent in his first two recruiting classes. Ahmad Dixon and Prince Kent were two highly-touted recruits in the class of 2010, and both will have their shot at living up to their potential this season. 

Bennett has said that he plans on running a 4-3 defense in Waco, but considering the recruiting success that Baylor has had in the secondary the last few seasons, and the passing offenses of the Big 12, you do have to wonder if it'll be more of a 4-2-5 scheme when it's all said and done. Of course, if a young defensive line that will feature two sophomores in Terrance Lloyd and Gary Mason Jr. on the ends, can mature and get better at pressuring the quarterback, then a 4-3 may stick.

Will Bennett be able to mold Lloyd and Mason into the type of pass-rushers he had at Pitt? If he can help these guys become a Jabaal Sheard or a Greg Romeus, it would be a huge boost to the team's defense.

After all, Bennett doesn't have to turn this unit into a defense that is only giving up 10 points a game. The offense is going to score a lot of points for Baylor in 2011, but if the defense can start holding teams to about 24 points per game, then Baylor is going to rack up quite a few wins in 2011 and get back to another bowl game.

The work begins next week.
Posted on: February 13, 2011 5:09 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2011 5:10 pm
 

Mike Haywood enters diversion program

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Do you remember Mike Haywood? Here's a refresher course for you in case you forgot. He was the head coach at Miami (OH) who led the Redhawks to a MAC title this year, and was a coach on the rise. He then got hired to replace Dave Wannstedt at Pitt, and held the job a whole two and a half weeks before being arrested on domestic battery charges. Haywood subsequently lost the Pitt job, and was replaced by Todd Graham.

There, caught up?

Well, Haywood spent his day in court on Friday, where he admitted to grabbing the mother of his son, Beth Marriott. Haywood was then forced to enter a court diversion program at the behest of Marriott. Which means that he'll have to undergo a psychological evaluation and perform 60 hours of community service. 

If Haywood complies with the sentencing, all charges will be cleared from his record in a year. Of course, what that will do for a coaching career that was on the rise, we'll have to wait and see.
Posted on: January 19, 2011 5:54 pm
 

Niners want to talk to Chryst

Posted by Tom Fornelli

While the Randy Edsall Award* of 2010 hasn't been handed out yet, there isn't much question that Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst is the runaway favorite to win it this season.  Chryst's name has popped up for job openings with Minnesota, Texas, Vanderbilt, Pitt and even the Dallas Cowboys.  Of course, none of those jobs actually panned out, but it seems there's another NFL team now interested in Chryst.

The Wisconsin State Journal is reporting that Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez has told the paper that the San Francisco 49ers have sought permission to talk to Chryst.  The 49ers recently hired Jim Harbaugh -- maybe you heard -- as their new head coach, and Harbaugh just hired Geep Chryst to coach tight ends and quarterbacks in San Francisco.  Geep is Paul Chryst's brother, and it's also a name I'm not sure how to pronounce.

Anyway, what San Francisco wants from Chryst, I don't know.  Greg Roman has already been hired as offensive coordinator, so if Chryst is to be offered a job, it'd likely be as a position coach.  There's also talk that a raise is in the works for Chryst at Wisconsin, and that it's just awaiting approval by the school's Board of Regents in February. So whether Chryst has any interest in leaving Madison or not, the fact that others are interested in him has earned him a raise at the very least.

*The Randy Edsall Award is an award I just made up.  It goes to the college football coach who's name pops up in the most coaching rumors during an offseason.  For the past few years Edsall's name came up in seemingly every opening, but he never left UConn until this season when he took a job at Maryland after his name was never even mentioned as a candidate.
Posted on: January 18, 2011 6:38 pm
 

Graham getting RichRod band back together at Pitt

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Todd Graham (pictured) is all but finished putting together the new coaching staff at Pitt, officially announcing today what candidates he's chosen to fill eight of his program's nine vacant positions. Where Pitt fans are concerned, probably the most controversial hire will be new defensive coordinator Keith Patterson, who served with Graham as his co-defensive coordinator at Tulsa the previous five years; Panther fans had better hope the Golden Hurricanes' up-tempo offense had a lot to do with their defensive struggles, because otherwise hiring an assistant who oversaw the nation's 110th-ranked defense will end up looking awfully curious.

But where fans of virtually every other school are concerned, the most eyebrow-raising aspect of the announcement is the connection binding three of the other new hires:
Calvin Magee served at Michigan the past three years as associate head coach and offensive coordinator ... Prior to Michigan, Magee spent seven seasons as the running backs coach at West Virginia ...

Tony Dews joins Pitt after a three-year tenure at Michigan as wide receivers coach ... Dews' Pitt appointment marks his return to the Big East . He coached the receivers at West Virginia in 2007 ...

Tony Gibson was the assistant head coach and defensive backs coach at Michigan the past three years. He added special teams coordinator to his duties in 2010. Prior to his time in Ann Arbor he coached West Virginia's defensive backs for seven seasons (2001-07) and was the Mountaineers' recruiting coordinator his final year.
Yep, that's not one, not two, but three different coaches who cut their teeth under Rich Rodriguez at Pitt's archrivals from Morgantown, then followed Rodriguez to his doomed tenure in Ann Arbor. Grabbing three coaches coming off of such a notable failure is one thing; grabbing three coaches coming off of that kind of failure who also happen to be associated with Pitt's one-time public coaching enemy No. 1 is another. Graham had better be right about this, or he likely won't be met with a lot of forgiveness by Panther fans.

Then again, he probably won't need it; though Gibson's secondary was frequently torched by opposing passing attacks, he didn't have a lot to work with (including helpful advice from his defensive coordinator), and neither Magee's offense nor Dews's receivers were remotely the problem for the Wolverines. If the trio can recreate anything like the success they had at West Virginia at Pitt, no one will blink an eye at where they spent their previous stops.
Posted on: January 18, 2011 3:34 pm
 

Headset Reset: the Big East and Mountain West

Posted by Tom Fornelli

"Headset Reset" is the College Football Blog's series reviewing the 22 new head coaches in the FBS and what they'll need to accomplish in their new jobs to succeed. In this edition: the four new head coaches in the Big East and Mountain West

TODD GRAHAM, Pitt

Why him? Because Mike Haywood got arrested two weeks after he was hired. Also because Graham put together some successful offenses at Tulsa. For 2011, Graham needs to: build a strong offense without the services of Pitt's two best offensive players Jonathan Baldwin and Dion Lewis.  Luckily for Graham, Dave Wannstedt recruited good players to Pitt, but Graham will have to mold them to his offense. By 2014, Graham will need to have: won a Big East title and taken the Panthers to a BCS bowl.  Dave Wannstedt won more games than he lost at Pitt, but it was the lack of a conference championship in a weak conference that ultimately led to his dismissal.  Chances Graham gets what he needs? I'd say they're pretty good. Weak conference or not, Pitt is still in a BCS conference and has the resources to win in college football.  Of course, by the time Graham has his stamp on the program, TCU will be a Big East member, so it won't be easy.

DANA HOLGORSEN, West Virginia

Why him? Have you seen West Virginia's offenses under Bill Stewart the last few seasons?  Nothing like a Mike Leach disciple who helped put together one of the best offenses in the country at Oklahoma State to infuse life into a dormant scoreboard.  For 2011, Holgorsen needs to: bid his time, let Stewart finish his final season, and start getting his offense ready for his ascension in 2012. By 2014, Holgorsen will need to have: won a Big East title and improve the Mountaineers offense enough so that it once again resembles the teams Rich Rodriguez put together.  He'll also need to find a quarterback better suited for his system than Geno Smith. Chances Holgorsen gets what he needs?  They're very good.  Even with the program's struggles under Stewart, they still competed for the Big East title.

PAUL PASQUALONI, UConn

Why him? Well, it came as a bit of a surprise.  Pasqualoni hasn't been a head coach or coached on the college level since 2004, spending the time in between in the NFL.  Still, the last time he was a head coach he was a rather successful one at Syracuse in the Big East.  So he knows what it takes to win in this conference.  For 2011, Pasqualoni needs to: silence the doubters.  We know that Pasqualoni can coach, but will the lay off and his age (he'll be 62 when UConn kicks off its season) prove to be too much for him?  By 2014, Pasqualoni will need to have: maintained what Randy Edsall started at UConn.  I'm not sure he'll have to win a Big East title to keep his job, but at the least he'll have to continue to build the program for his eventual successor.  Chances Pasqualoni gets what he needs?  Not great, but not terrible.  UConn has always been a basketball school first and foremost, but who knows how a trip to the Fiesta Bowl will affect the schools interest in building a winning football team?

ROCKY LONG, San Diego State

Why him?  Because Brady Hoke left, and had built something at SDSU that Long was a part of.  The school didn't want to risk losing any momentum by starting a coaching search. Plus, Long has head coaching experience from his time at New Mexico.  For 2011, Long needs to: continue the rise that Hoke started.  Since Marshall Faulk left for the NFL, the Aztecs weren't exactly a football powerhouse before Hoke came along.  The good news is that Long inherits some talent in Ronnie Hillman and Ryan Lindley. By 2014, Long will need to have: kept San Diego State competing in the Mountain West.  With Utah, BYU and TCU leaving, the conference becomes a lot easier to win.  Chances Long gets what he needs?  Not great.  San Diego State just doesn't have the established history to make me think they'll do whatever it takes to help Long build this team into a powerhouse.  What Long will have working for him, however, is the fertile recruiting base of southern California.
Posted on: January 14, 2011 9:21 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2011 3:20 pm
 

5 Up: Potential 2011 sleeper teams

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Earlier today, our own Dennis Dodd posted his pre-preseason Top 25 for the 2011 college football season. We here at the College Football Blog wouldn't dare disagree with our esteemed colleague's opinions ... but every year there's teams that vastly exceed the expectations of even the wisest prognosticators (like, say, Auburn in 2010) and some that disappoint despite some seemingly major advantages (like, say, Iowa in 2010).

So earlier today we named five that are in his Top 25 that might slip out or could otherwise disappoint, and right now we'll name five more teams we think can crack that Top 25 next season. Without further ado (and in no particular order):

1. Baylor - The good news for Baylor: dynamic quarterback Robert Griffin III is back along with most of the offense, and while he loses starting tailback Jay Finley to graduation, Finley's backups Terrance Ganaway and Jarred Salubi provide an intriguing balance of power and speed -- they both return. In addition, RG3 gets his top five receivers back (all of whom caught at least 40 passes this year), and three-year starting lineman Philip Baker will be the anchor at center for a mostly intact offensive line. Yes, Baylor still looks wretched at times on defense (53 points to Oklahoma and 55 to Oklahoma State aren't exactly solid efforts), so there's no telling whether the Bears' losses on that side of the ball are addition by subtraction or not, but one thing's for sure: there'll be points put up in Waco in 2011.

2. Illinois - This spot would likely go to fellow "Leader" Penn State if it weren't for the fact that PSU's replacing Evan Royster, two leading receivers, its two best offensive linemen, and there's really no telling who's starting at QB in 2011. Oh, and most of the Penn State defense -- including two of three starting LBs -- is graduating too. Contrast that with Illinois , who found a star quarterback in freshman Nathan Scheelhaase this year and returns four of five starting offensive linemen. The Illini won't miss early declarant Mikel LeShoure much with Jason Ford (who's basically a human truck) waiting to take over at tailback. The defense will definitely miss Martez Wilson and Corey Liuget on the interior, on the other hand; those guys were anchors of a stout rushing defense and their backups are unremarkable. Still, Illinois' 2011 schedule looks primed for some upsets, and nine wins is hardly out of the question. If Wilson and Liuget were returning, Illinois would probably be in Dodd's Top 25, but it's not as if no borderline-Top 25 team has ever exceeded expectations after losing two juniors to the NFL.

3. Utah - Everything's going to come crashing down once Utah joins a "real" conference, right? Maybe not. If QB Jordan Wynn recovers from December shoulder surgery in time for the season (which he should, but six months of rehab can turn into nine without the patient doing anything wrong), he'll be a third-year starter with a reasonable set of returning players. Senior wideout/returner Shaky Smithson is sure to be missed, but this is college football; so it goes. And while Utah's schedule looks daunting, it really could be worse; the Utes miss both Oregon and Stanford in inter-divisional play, and neither BYU nor Pitt should be as tough of matchups as they'd have been over the past couple years. In addition, the schedule's pretty top-heavy, and it's easily possible that Utah wins at least five of six down the stretch. Head coach Kyle Whittingham keeps proving predictions wrong by not bolting for a paycheck elsewhere, and now he's got a chance to lead his Utes into battle in a real conference and destroy the "mid-major" label that's been dogging the program -- even through multiple BCS bowl wins! -- once and for all.

4. Oregon State - Meanwhile, in the Pac-12 North, the Oregon State Beavers have a chance to make noise. Yes, Oregon and Stanford are the class of the division and should remain so for the near future, but don't sleep on the passing skills of QB Ryan Katz , especially now that he'll have his first full season as a starter under his belt. With the game slowing down for him and with Markus Wheaton and James Rodgers both returning at WR (to say nothing of Joe Halahuni coming back at TE), Katz should be able to more effectively use his NFL-caliber arm to put some points up in Corvallis. The offense will miss Jacquizz Rodgers desperately, and while deserved, his jump to the NFL will likely cost the Beavers a win or two. So while the defense struggled in 2010 and stands to lose several seniors, it may not matter in a Pac-12 with several struggling offenses and an OSU attack that should set 30+ points per game as a goal. Scheduling a road date at Wisconsin might not have been the wisest idea, though. Still, look for a push from Oregon State to hit that eight-win mark, which against a schedule like this could mean a spot in the Top 25 when it's all said and done.

5. Tennessee - Dodd ranks eight SEC teams in his Top 25 (26, really, but whatever). We're not sure all will end up ranked at the end of the 2011 season, but one thing seems clear: of the four teams he left out -- Kentucky , Ole Miss , Tennessee , and Vanderbilt -- Tennessee's the closest thing to a contender of the four. No, the SEC East shouldn't spend its entire season on fire like last year, where South Carolina took the division trophy in a five-loss season, but Florida 's going to be experiencing major upheaval and Georgia will be missing A.J. Green (again). With Tyler Bray coming off a successful freshman campaign and returning starting RB Tauren Poole and deep threat wideout Justin Hunter , we could see the Vols make some noise. On defense, the only major loss is leading tackler Nick Reveiz ; Herman Lathers made strides along with the rest of the defense down the stretch, and the secondary returns intact. If there's ever a time to make a run in the East, it's -- well, okay, it was 2010. 2011's not a bad opportunity for the Vols either, though.



Posted on: January 14, 2011 11:32 am
 

Tulsa names Bill Blankenship coach

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It's official.  On this Friday morning, January 14th, every single football program in the FBS now has a head coach.  The carousel has stopped spinning for now.  The latest team to name its new head coach is Tulsa, who had to replace Todd Graham after he left to take the Pitt job.  The news broke on Friday morning that Tulsa will hire Bill Blankenship to take over the football program.




If you're anything like me, you're reaction to this news may have been along the lines of "who?"  Well, let me tell you a bit about Bill Blankenship.  He served as Tulsa's associate head coach last season, but has been coaching at the school for the last four seasons.  He spent three of those seasons coaching special teams, and has also coached the running backs and wide receivers.

Blankenship also played quarterback at Tulsa, and though this will be his first head coaching job on the college level, he spent 22 years as a head coach on the high school level.  In those 22 seasons, Blankenship's high school teams reached the state championship game seven times, winning three of them, and he was inducted into the Oklahoma Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2009.
 
 
 
 
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