Posted on: May 11, 2011 12:58 pm
Edited on: May 11, 2011 3:00 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
In the latest episode of The Transfer, Tyler Gabbert's father informed Sporting News that Arizona, Arizona State, Clemson, Iowa, Louisville, Northwestern, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, and Arkansas State were all possible destinations for his son. Gabbert, the 6-0, 190 pound younger brother of first-round pick Blaine, was a nationally-ranked quarterback in the 2010 class but lost out on the quarterback competition at Missouri this spring.
But according to the Charleston Post and Courier, Clemson has absolutely no interest in obtaining Gabbert's services. Travis Sawchik even points out that bringing in Gabbert (a redshirt freshman heading into 2011) could end up hurting the Tigers in the recruitment of a top-ranked quarterback in the future. Head coach Dabo Swinney pulled in the No. 5 recruiting class last February according to MaxPreps.com. Throw in the arrival of high-octane coordinator Chad Morris from Tulsa, and the Tigers seem like a great landing spot for a hot young prospect looking to gain the attention of the NFL.
Tags: ACC, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas State, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Blaine Gabbert, Clemson, Dabo Swinney, Dabo Swinney, Dominique Brown, Iowa, James Franklin, Louisville, Missouri, Northwestern, Pac-12, Pittsburgh, SEC, Shawn Watson, Tajh Boyd, Teddy Bridgewater, Todd Graham, Tyler Gabbert, Wake Forest, Will Stein
Posted on: May 5, 2011 4:46 pm
Edited on: May 5, 2011 5:01 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
With all eight teams completed with their spring games, we wrap up spring practice in the Big East.
CINCINNATI: For Cincinnati, the goal this spring was to improve defensively. To be more accurate, improving defensively is not just the "goal" but really an "only option for improvement." Second-year head coach Butch Jones needs to prove that 2010's 4-8 campaign was a fluke, or else the Bearcats' fans will begin to wonder whether or not hiring the coach from Central Michigan was the best move. Cincinnati returns all 11 starters from last year's defense that ranked dead last in the Big East in scoring defense and next to last in total defense. But there have been reasons to believe that the same unit can turn around their performance in 2011.
For the first time since most of the active roster arrived on campus, there is no turnover on the defensive staff. For the last three years, the defense has had to spend their spring learning a new system. Instead the defense has been able to spend the spring focusing on fundamentals, while simply reviewing last year's scheme. In theory, this should lead to more development for a unit that struggled to prevent big plays and close out games in the fourth quarter. Offensively, quarterback Zach Collaros has continued to grow more comfortable and looks ready to try and sign his name in the Cincinnati record books. Collaros led the Big East in passing yards and touchdowns last season, and has spent spring focusing on his accuracy (also threw a league-high 14 interceptions). Highly-touted transfer wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins did not get to showcase his full arsenal due to a nagging hamstring this spring, but should make an impact lining up opposite returning starter D.J. Woods. Many of the Bearcats' spring workouts and spring game were based much more on situational drills, which tend to reveal very little about the team as a whole, but the pieces seem to be aligning for a bounce back season for Cincinnati.
CONNECTICUT: New head coach Paul Pasqualoni has quite a challenge ahead trying follow up the most successful season in program history. Unfortunately Pasqualoni, a veteran of the Big East and Connecticut native, has to try and repeat the success with two new coordinators and without the 2010 Big East Offensive MVP Jordan Todman. Wrapping up the spring, it is evident that expectations for repeating as Big East champs should be tempered. However, the Huskies do have the pieces in place to return to the postseason for the fifth straight year.
The Huskies' biggest question marks still exist in the offensive backfield, where a true starting quarterback has yet to be named and USC-transfer D.J. Shoemate is still settling in to a Todman-less rotation. Connecticut finished dead last in passing offense last season, and it will be difficult to improve that aspect of their game without a starter. Michael Box, Scott McCummings, Michael Nebrich, and Johnny McEntee(of YouTube trick-shot fame), are all competing for a premiere spot in the quarterback rotation. The hope is that behind a talented offensive line Shoemate will be able to get the running game going against a weak early season schedule, allowing whoever wins the job some time to get comfortable.
Defensively, Connecticut should be fine heading into the fall. They are under the direction of new defensive coordinator Don Brown, who's defensive unit at Maryland forced 29 turnovers last season -- good for third in the ACC. The Huskies return their entire defensive line and secondary, and that experience could anchor a unit that could end up being one of the better defenses in the conference.
LOUISVILLE: It was very difficult to learn anything about Louisville this spring due to a roster that was decimated by injury. By the end of spring practice, head coach Charlie Strong was left with only 38 healthy scholarship players on the roster. Fourteen of the injured players took no part in spring drills, the rest were injured during workouts. For a team that is looking to replace 13 departed starters on the offensive and defensive units, it was a frustrating spring of indecision.
Most of the starting jobs are wide open in the Louisville depth chart, but junior Will Stein was able to use the spring to create some separation in the quarterback competition. Stein has already gotten a vote of confidence from Strong, and the high school state champion has waited patiently behind Justin Burke and Adam Froman for his opportunity to start under center. Cardinals fans entered spring salivating over early enrollee Teddy Bridgewater, but practice showed that the top-rated dual threat quarterback in the nation still has some learning to do before getting the keys to the offense. Stein completed 10 of 17 passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns in the spring "game," but Strong was most pleased that there were zero interceptions. The starting quarterback's primary responsibility is to manage the game, as the Cardinals offense will once again rely on their running game in 2011.
But with Bilal Powell gone, the responsibility will fall on Jeremy Wright and Victor Anderson to replicate the best rushing offense in the Big East last year. Wright demonstrated his explosive potential in his freshman season, and Anderson was a 1,000 yard rusher in 2008 before shoulder injuries kept him limited in 2009 and 2010. Wright missed spring workouts with a knee injury, but Anderson enjoyed one of his best springs of his career. If the duo can be healthy at the same time, they could form one of the most dangerous rushing tandems in the conference.
PITTSBURGH: Another team entering the 2011 season with a new coach, the Panthers are not afraid to promote their new brand of "high-octane" football under head coach Todd Graham. Just a quick click over to the newly redesigned GoPittFootball.com should give just a taste of the kind of what Pittsburgh fans are hoping for out of the program's newest era. Graham comes to the Panthers fresh off a productive year at Tulsa, where his offense ranked 5th nationally in total offense with 505.6 yards per game. Dave Wannstedt had an awkward exit with his firing/forced resignation, particularly when he obviously still had the support of the team. But the squad seems to have embraced the new staff, and Graham believes that Pitt can be back in Big East title contention in 2011.
Learning the new offense has been the most important task for returning quarterback Tino Suneri. The junior signal-caller was inconsistent throughout 2010, finishing the season with 16 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. The son of Sal Sunseri, currently a linebackers coach at Alabama, Sunseri quickly acclimated himself with the new scheme and has finished the spring as the undisputed starting quarterback. In Pittsburgh's Blue-Gold game, Sunseri lit the rainy skies on fire tossing the ball 55 times (37 completions) for 416 yards and a pair of touchdowns. While the Sunseri will likely put up big numbers this fall in the new spread scheme, the offense has no plans of abandoning the run. Ray Graham returns from a strong sophomore campaign, picking up 922 yards and 8 touchdowns while sharing snaps with Dion Lewis. This year he'll be joined by Desmond Brown in the backfield, who was the leading rusher in the spring game with 64 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. Defensively, Pittsburgh has also been adapting to changes with defensive coordinator Keith Patterson. Patterson has been a longtime Graham assistant, and knows that the offense will dominate the headlines. But with spring practice in the bag, Patterson seems pleased with what he has seen out of the unit - particularly the defensive line.
"That front group has a chance to do some special things," Patterson said. "I feel really good about all those guys and what they are capable of. I think in our shceme they are going to be able to make a lot of plays against both the run and the pass."
Pittsburgh's defense will feature three down lineman, with a fourth "Panther linebacker" on the line of scrimmage upright on most downs. The Panthers have several athletic defenders who could fill this position, one early guess is Brandon Lindsey - who led the team with 17.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks in 2010. If the defense can force some turnovers to give the offense good field position, one of the Panthers' strengths could be putting teams away early. In the Big East, which is short on big-name, gun-slinging quarterbacks, that could be a huge advantage.
RUTGERS: Of all the teams looking to bounce back in 2011, Rutgers probably has the farthest climb to return to the prominence that led to five straight postseason appearances from 2005-2009. The Scarlet Knights return 17 starters from last year's 4-8 squad, and they are still one of the youngest teams in the league. Head coach Greg Schiano has some of the exact same concerns heading into the new season, though he has stressed that he feels like this squad has grown this spring.
"Fundamentally we made significant improvement, and I think we grew a little with our confidence," Schiano explained following the Scarlet-White spring game. "This summer is going to be critical as it is every summer, but probably more so than any summer we've had here.
"The youngsters have to get tougher, they have to get more disciplined, they have to get more consistent. And again, this summer will be huge."
One of the biggest concerns is on the offensive line. Last season the Scarlet Knights were dead last in Division I in sacks allowed, letting the quarterback drop a whopping 61 times. Sophomore quarterback Chas Dodd has grown more comfortable in the pro-style scheme of new coordinator Frank Cignetti. But Dodd's supposed comfort and improvement in spring could all change when the non-contact jersey comes off in September. If the offensive line shows an about-face in 2011, the Scarlet Knights have talented (but young) skill position players who could help take Rutgers back to the postseason.
All spring the reports from Piscataway have been praising the work of redshirt freshman Brandon Coleman. The 6-6 wide receiver entered Rutgers with high expectations, but any doubters have been silenced since he took the field this spring. Coleman put on a show for the 21,120 in attendance for the spring game with a 78 yard, two touchdown performance. Maybe he was setting the standard for another touted underclassmen who was watching from the sidelines, incoming freshman running back Savon Huggins. The No. 1 recruit in the state of New Jersey, Huggins was a signing day steal that invigorated the Rutgers fan base. He has not even received his high school diploma, but he already carries expectations from a fan base that pines for the next Ray Rice. But again, Huggins will have virtually no chance to showcase his talents without some help from the offensive line. If the Scarlet Knights are going to get back to the postseason, they still have some growing to do before September.
SOUTH FLORIDA: South Florida was the first team in the Big East to wrap up spring practice, holding their final scrimmage almost a month ago. It was an awkward spring schedule, getting started early and having to dance around conflicts for Raymond-James Stadium, but at the conclusion the Bulls appear to be about in the same position as they were a year ago. The Bulls averaged a 7-point margin of defeat and 4-point margin of victory in league play last season, making their season this close to magical and that close to disastrous. Still, head coach Skip Holtz was able to get USF back to the postseason and pull down a bowl victory - the Bulls' third in a row.
South Florida's time in the Big East could be categorized as "good-but-not-great." They have made a bowl every year (4-2 record), but never finished higher than tied for third in the league standings. At the end of spring practice the Bulls look good, but still have some work to do to reach greatness. Starting quarterback B.J. Daniels returns for junior season behind an inexperienced offensive line with a set of receivers that have been less than impressive. But similar to 2010, the playmaking ability of the offensive backfield will make South Florida a threat against most defenses in the league. Demetris Murray returns at running back after picking up 533 yards and four touchdowns as a backup to Moise Plancher a year ago. He will be joined by a pair of transfers, Darrell Scott (Colorado) and Dontae Aycock (Auburn). Both backs are larger than the 5-10, 206 pound Murray, and should compliment his style well. Scott finished the spring listed as the No. 2 running back, despite being setback by a nagging hamstring injury. Defensively the Bulls return six starters from a unit that, in typical Bulls fashion, stacks up right in the middle of the conference. They lose some run-stoppers on the defensive line, but the coaching staff has been pleased with the unit as a whole - particularly the linebackers. If the Bulls are going to go from good to great in 2011, they will need to focus on developing their wide receivers more this summer. Otherwise it might be another vanilla bowl game season for South Florida.
SYRACUSE: Coming into the spring, my one question for Syracuse was how head coach Doug Marrone planned to repeat the success of 2010 with so many playmakers missing from that Pinstripe Bowl-winning squad. But with spring practice in the books, it seems like the Orange are prepared to prove that last season was not a fluke - but the beginning of a new chapter in Syracuse football. The Orange jumped out to strong start last season with solid defense and running the ball. With all-Big East linebackers Doug Hogue and Derrell Smith gone, the responsibility has fallen on sophomore Marquis Spruill to anchor that corps as he makes the move to middle linebacker. Marrone believes that the strengths in the defense this season will be with the defensive ends and safeties. Seniors Chandler Jones and Mikhail Marinovich will begin as starters, but expect to see a good amount of junior Brandon Sharpe as well after a strong spring. In the defensive backfield Phillip Thomas and Shamarko Thomas return as starting safeties while corners Keon Lyn and Ri'Shard Anderson both earned high praise for their efforts during the spring.
Offensively the number one question is how to replace Delone Carter. The 1,233 yard rusher from 2010 carried the Orange on his back when Ryan Nassib and the passing game sputtered, carrying the ball at least 18 times in eight different games. Antwon Bailey was exceptional as Carter's backup, but some people wonder whether the 5-7 running back can be an "every-down back." Bailey will be backed up by another speedster, the 5-9 Prince-Tyson Gulley. Orange fans are hoping that an improved passing game will help alleviate that pressure, and that responsibility falls on Nassib. Luckily, the offensive line returns 4 of 5 starters from last year and redshirt senior tight end Nick Provo showed his ability as a big, reliable target for when Nassib gets in trouble. The players claim that last year's success has changed the attitude this spring, and now they have a new belief in themselves. Talk is great in March and April, but we'll check back in on these guys in August.
WEST VIRGINIA: The Mountaineers fell one game short of returning to a BCS bowl game in 2010, after an inability to score led to two early season conference losses. The Mountaineers offense eventually got going, finishing the regular season with at least 35 points in 3 of 4 straight victories. So in the interest of preparing for the future, and ensuring offensive stability, athletic director Oliver Luck arranged for the arrival of Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen. His impact has been obvious and immediate on the West Virginia offense, with quarterback Geno Smith falling comfortably into Holgorsen's spread system from day one. Smith finished the spring by throwing for 388 yards and four touchdowns in the spring game. Even against a talented Mountaineer defense, Smith was able to connect with his wide receivers for 44, 67, and a 38 yard touchdown pass. Holgorsen plans on supplying Smith with a deep rotation of running backs and receivers, pushing the ball horizontally and vertically. If Smith continues to improve on his already hot start in the new system, the Mountaineers should have no problem scoring the ball against the Big East defenses.
Defensively it is hard to make judgements based on performance against their own offense, but West Virginia does still have some work to do in the secondary. Defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel has admitted he is already anxious to get back to camp, particularly after seeing how the unit performed in the spring game. The unit only returns four starters from last year, with defensive line likely being the Mountaineers strength. In Casteel's 3-3-5 scheme, the pressure is on the secondary to be everywhere on the field at once. Despite a wealth of athleticism at that position, there is still plenty of gelling left for the unit. But if the offense is putting up 30+ points per game (which they may), it should give the defense some time to come together before conference play begins.
Tags: Antwon Bailey, B.J. Daniels, Big East, Bill Stewart, Butch Jones, Charlie Strong, Chas Dodd, Cincinnati, Connecticut, D.J. Woods, Dana Holgorsen, Darrell Scott, Delone Carter, Demetrius Murray, Desmond Brown, Don Brown, Doug Marrone, Frank Cignetti, Geno Smith, Greg Schiano, Kenbrell Thompkins, Louisville, Marcus Sales, Oliver Luck, Paul Pasqualoni, Pittsburgh, Ray Graham, Rutgers, Ryan Nassib, Skip Holtz, South Florida, Syracuse, Tino Sunseri, Todd Graham, Victor Anderson, What I Learned, What I Learned This Spring, Will Stein, Zach Collaros
Posted on: April 25, 2011 12:56 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Apparently the Ann Arbor-to-Pittsburgh exodus isn't just for coaches.
Earlier this year, new Pitt coach Todd Graham took full advantage of Rich Rodriguez's dismissal to hire away three different former Wolverine assistants. It's a decision that's already paying dividends where the Panthers' roster is concerned, according to this report at Scout.com; thanks in part to his familiarity with new defensive backs coach Tony Gibson, former four-star recruit and 2010 Michigan cornerback Cullen Christian has elected to transfer to Pitt.
For the Panthers, it's a welcome addition to a 2012 secondary that finished 19th in the country in pass defense a year ago but has its work cut out for it under Graham, thanks both to the Panthers' new defense-straining no-huddle offense and a 2011 two-deep that could feature as many as four seniors. Christian (like virtually every member of Michigan's 2010 pass defense) didn't do much to stand out as a true freshman in Ann Arbor, but did see action in 11 games and recorded six tackles.
A Pittsburgh native, Christian's return home and ability to continue working under his original position coach could see him fulfill the potential that made him one of Pennsylvania's most sought-after prospects in the class of 2010.
But where Michigan is concerned, it's yet another blow to a secondary that's already sustained a decade's worth of blows the past few seasons. The Wolverine pass defense was already in tatters last August, and that was before Troy Woolfolk missed a season with a serious ankle injury, Vlad Emilien left the team, Jared Van Slyke broke his clavicle, Ray Vinopal left the team ... you get the picture. Christian's decision not only deprives Brady Hoke of a much-needed scholarship body at corner, but of the highest-ranked recruit remaining in the entire secondary.
It's not a pretty picture for the Wolverine pass defense. But don't expect an unproven, first-year staff like Graham's to have much sympathy.
Posted on: April 14, 2011 3:42 pm
Edited on: April 14, 2011 3:47 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
This weekend, five of the eight Big East teams will wrap up their spring practice with an annual spring game. Some teams will engage in game-like scenarios in front of thousands of onlookers, while other teams will engage in a more “drill-centric” display for their eager fans. Regardless of the setup, there are always pertinent questions to be answered whenever a team takes the field competitively. Here are your things to watch in the Big East spring games April 15-16.
Cincinnati - 5:30 p.m. Nippert Stadium
The Cincinnati Bearcats have claimed to be “all in” with head coach Butch Jones heading into his second season, and Saturday will be a chance to prove it to the public in “Bearcat Bowl V.” There won't be many new faces on the field for the Bearcats, with 18 starters returning from 2010's squad. One aspect worth keeping an eye on will be the performance of Cincinnati's secondary against the first-team offense. Quarterback Zach Collaros , a unanimous All-Big East first-team selection, not only gets D.J. Woods back at receiver but also junior college transfer Kenbrell Thompkins . Thompkins was a high-profile recruit committed to Tennessee before Lane Kiffin's departure. The Bearcats were burned through the air often last season, and some of the best competition around will be wearing the same jersey.
Connecticut - 5:00 p.m. Rentschler Field
Veteran coach Paul Pasqualoni has taken a more laid back approach to spring practice than some of his colleagues, but he believes it will pay off. As opposed to keeping things out of the spotlight, Pasqualoni has made the Huskies spring workouts as open as possible. The result has been a host of high school coaches at nearly every practice. The new coaching staff seems comfortable with the personnel, and the players have responded positively as well. Pasqualoni plans to showcase all aspects of the team, so more than anything it will be a glimpse of the Connecticut future. Even in the Fiesta Bowl the Huskies’ roster was filled with names unknown to the average college football fan, let’s see if any stand out on Saturday.
Louisville - 7 p.m. Friday, Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium
A little bit of everything. Head coach Charlie Strong has kept spring practice closed to media and the public, making Friday night’s scrimmage both a first and last look at the Cardinals until fall practice. Unfortunately, even Friday’s look won’t be anywhere close to the lineup that Strong hopes to have on the field in September. As of Thursday morning, 22 different Cardinals were sitting out of workouts because of injury or rehabilitation. The situation has gotten so bad that they were forced to hold practice at 5:30 a.m. in order to accommodate the class schedules of the few healthy offensive linemen. The injuries also will restrict the activity in Friday night’s Spring Game, which will be exclusively be an offense/defense scrimmage-type format.
Pittsburgh - 2 p.m. Heinz Field
New coach Todd Graham has elected to run more of a “true football game” than the offense-defense structure of past spring games. Graham plans to kickoff at least twice, and run at least 60 offensive plays for the Blue and Gold teams. The thought is that the competitive environment will be the best test for players who are still getting used to a new systems and schemes. Not to mention, the 11-man scrimmage should provide for much more entertainment than some of the slow-paced situational scrimmages elsewhere. Even running back Ray Graham said that the Panthers have been treating this like a “game week” and look forward to showing their stuff to the coaches and fans on Saturday.
Syracuse - 11 a.m. Carrier Dome
Similar to Pittsburgh, Syracuse will be mixing up their spring game format this year. For the first time in 20 years the Orange will divide into two teams and conduct a game-like scrimmage, only with limited special teams. The scrimmage will be made of up four, 12-minute quarters with regular officials. The format should give fans a good opportunity to see who the next crop of defensive playmakers will be, as the Orange look to replace Doug Hogue and Derrell Smith. Spring practice has had some extra enthusiasm coming off the 8-5 season, we’ll see how much of that energy is present in a mostly-empty Carrier Dome at 11 in the morning.
Posted on: March 7, 2011 2:24 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The past few seasons, there haven't been many adjectives less applicable to Pitt than "high-octane." Even in the Panthers' best days under Dave Wannstedt, their erratic passing game and slog-it-out rushing attack -- on display in the cavernous, often frigid, choppy, rarely lively Heinz Field -- never made for appointment viewing. When arguably the most memorable game* of your team's past decade is the lowest-scoring bowl game in 40 years , yes, it's probably time to look for something a little more pulse-pounding.
So it's no surprise that Todd Graham has begun his Pitt tenure by promising exactly that :
Members of the Pitt athletic department distributed gray T-shirts to season ticket holders that had on them, in blue ink, "High Octane Football, Coming Soon to Heinz Field."If Graham and co-offensive coordinator Mike Norvell live up to their talk, some information-processing nanotechnology might actually be necessary to help Panther fans understand what they're seeing; they promised to snap the ball within five seconds of it being marked ready for play, to run the two-minute offense the entire game and throw "10 40-yard passes outside the hash marks per game." Tino Sunseri throwing a three-yard check-down on third-and-13, this sounds like it is not.
What it sounds like, in fact, is a carbon-copy of the offense installed by Gus Malzahn when he worked under Graham at Tulsa. The question is whether Graham can transplant it to Pitt with any real success; even with Malzahn on hand, the Golden Hurricane defense (the side of the ball on which Graham, a former defensive coordinator, would have more input) struggled so badly opposite the high-tempo no-time-of-possession offense that Graham never did win a Conference USA title. And at Auburn, Malzahn reined in the tempo to a certain degree ... and won a national title.
So it remains something of a question mark whether the all-out offensive approach can work for someone who's not a Chip Kelly- level genius. But after so much time spent watching -- or sleeping through -- Wannstacheball, it's understandable that Pitt and its fans want to give it a shot.
*Personally, this blogger would argue for the Panthers' wild 45-44 loss to Cincinnati to see the 2009 Big East title slip away, but that game's not nearly as representative of the Wannstedt era ... nor one Pitt fans will want to recall any more than the Sun Bowl disaster.
Posted on: March 4, 2011 1:44 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
On Wednesday Sports Illustrated and CBS News released a story about the amount of football players in college sports with arrest records, and the lack of background checks that schools are performing on these players. Without a doubt, the school that emerged from the story with the biggest black eye on its reputation was Pitt, as the Panthers have had quite a few run-ins with the law as of late. Of course, this also reflected poorly on former head coach Dave Wannstedt, who oversaw the program as all these arrests were taking place.
On Thursday Wannstedt, now with the Buffalo Bills, tried to defend himself. Saying that while there were some problems while he was at Pitt, he was still proud of what he'd accomplished at the school.
"We had an unfortunate stretch of incidents last summer but I am very proud of our body of work during my six years with regards to players behavior," Wannstedt told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Every player [we recruited] was evaluated and scrutinized and we tried to project whether they would become productive members of our football program as well as the university at large. Every player and each incident was evaluated on an individual basis and we did our due diligence to make sure that we treated each player fair and almost all of the incidents resulted in either a suspension or a player being eliminated from our program and many of the incidents in question did not result in a conviction of any kind.
"Our players understood their responsibility, they graduated and for the most part, they did the right things."
Unfortunatly for Wannstedt, the results seem to indicate otherwise. Incredibly, only hours after the story went public, news of another Pitt football player being arrested emerged. The most amazing part of Fernando Diaz's arrest was that he needed to be Tasered by police four times before finally being subdued. However, the most telling part of Diaz's arrest was what his teammate said to him as he was struggling with the police.
Diaz's teammate told him to calm down because Dave Wannstedt was no longer the head coach, and that new head coach Todd Graham was going to make an example of him.
Sounds like Pitt players really did understand their responsibility. Get in trouble under coach Wannstedt and they just might get slapped on the wrist.
Posted on: March 2, 2011 1:38 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2011 3:52 pm
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 13, 2011 5:09 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2011 5:10 pm
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.