Larry Fitzgerald Deserves Better than the Arizona Cardinals

 College Football, Football, Pro-Football  Comments Off on Larry Fitzgerald Deserves Better than the Arizona Cardinals
Jan 082015
Larry Fitzgerald

Cardiac Hill reports that former Pitt and current Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald may part ways with the franchise this off season due to an enormous $23.6 million salary cap hit scheduled for the 2015 season.

In the current structure of the NFL with contracts not guaranteed, it’s really hard to believe that Fitzgerald (or any player with a big-time contract, for that matter) doesn’t think about the possibility of being let go.

The wide receiver is on pace to earn an incredible $23.6 million next year, to count approximately 17% against the entire team’s salary cap. For a player that’s on the decline, that’s a recipe for being cut. Interestingly enough, Pro Football Talk says that while he might be traded or restructure his deal (again – he did so this year), he won’t be released.

Fitzgerald has been with the Cardinals for 11 years. During that time span, the Cardinals have made the playoffs 3 times. They have finished the season with an above-0.500 record only 4 times. Not only that but Fitzgerald has played with the following quarterbacks not named Kurt Warner: John Navarre, Josh McCown, Shaun King, Tim Rattay, Matt Leinart, Derek Anderson, John Skelton, Max Hall, Richard Bartel, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley, Brian Hoyer, Logan Thomas, Carson Palmer, and Drew Stanton. Of those not named Warner, I would say that only Palmer has been a serviceable quarterback.

From Fox Sports:

Beyond that, Fitzgerald, 31, is not happy with his role on the team, the source said. He doesn’t like playing in the slot and he’s become far less of a focal point of the offense. While Fitzgerald led the team this season with 63 receptions and was second to Michael Floyd in yardage at 784, those numbers are the lowest since his rookie year, and his two touchdowns are a career low.

Although Fitzgerald has no doubt slowed down through 11 years of the NFL grind, the idea that he still can’t be a very good wide receiver is, I think, far-fetched. Floyd’s much bally-hooed emergence and his team-leading 784 yards would rank second worst over Fitzgerald’s entire career and as listed above, Larry has played with much worse quarterbacks. I might even surmise that his college QB at Pitt, Rod Rutherford, did him better service than any other than Warner.

Larry Fitzgerald - Pitt vs VT

Take for example, 2012, one of Fitzgerald’s worst non-Warner years. He caught 71 passes for 798 yards and 4 touchdowns. According to Bleacher Report:

Fitzgerald was targeted 153 times [in 2012], with two of those targets negated by accepted penalties. On those targets he caught 73 passes, 71 officially, for a catch rate of 47 percent.

Of Fitzgerald’s 153 targets, almost unfathomably, only 88 were catchable. When you assess Fitzgerald’s receptions in relation to his catchable targets opposed to all of his targets, his ratio almost doubles [to 80 percent].

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What do we expect of Pitt basketball?

 Basketball, College Basketball  Comments Off on What do we expect of Pitt basketball?
Jan 062015
The pain, oh the pain

One more thought from Chris Dokish’s post about 2015 thoughts:

I find it very disheartening that so many people are ready to throw Jamie Dixon under the bus so quickly even though he’s known around the country as one of the best basketball coaches in the country. Does he have to do better in the NCAA tournament? Yes. Does he need to land more elite prospects? Yes. But he’s also been extremely productive in his career. [emphasis mine].

I’ve constantly been hearing that the program is done under Dixon. Let’s get this straight. If you end up in the top 10 for a few years, and then don’t, that doesn’t mean that your program is done. It means it’s hard to be in the top 10 every year.

Let’s not forget that just four years ago Pitt was ranked No. 1 in the country and was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. In the two years prior to this season, they finished fourth in the Big East and fifth in the ACC. Not only is that not disastrous, it’s something that all but a small percentage of teams of teams would kill for.

Jamie_Dixon_(Karwoski)Again, as with the football program, we want the basketball program to do better. But let’s not allow tournament disappointment to blind us to the fact that Jamie Dixon has been one of the best coaches in the land. It took Jim Boeheim 10 years to get to the Final Four and he didn’t even make the NCAA tournament every year.

Getting into the Top 10 is hard. Finishing in the top half of the two toughest conferences in the country as Dixon has so often done is harder. Continue reading »

(Supposed) Cultures of Losing at Pitt Football

 College Football, Football  Comments Off on (Supposed) Cultures of Losing at Pitt Football
Jan 052015

Chris Dokish over at Panthers Prey has an excellent post on Thoughts for 2015. As usual, I agree with most of his points and wanted to expound of one of them:

I keep hearing about the “losing culture” for Pitt football, and that’s ridiculous. First of all, in the last fifteen years the program has had only five losing seasons so there’s hardly a losing culture. Yes, there’s been embarrassing events that the program has undergone in the past, but they’ve still won more than they’ve lost.

I think that college sports fans often get swayed by the win-or-go-home mentality of professional sports. That’s all good and well for a franchise like the Steelers or Eagles but let’s keep some perspective where college sports is concerned.


Surely you’re not questioning why I would use a pic of DITKA, are you?

Over the course of the 1998 and 1999 seasons, South Carolina football went 1-21 with their only win coming against a Ball State team that went 1-10 itself. My freshman year at Pitt, the team went 2-9 with its only wins coming over non-1A Villanova and a 4-7 Akron squad. Each of the next three years, I looked at the schedule and came up with pessimistic/realist/optimist scenarios of 2/5/7 wins. Aye, my realistic scenarios were 5-6 seasons. During my junior and senior years, they hit the optimistic scenarios! 7 wins! Continue reading »

Jan 022015

I consider myself as a lucky sports fan. At least I’m not a Cleveland sports fan. I can find hope without looking too hard. BUT! C’mon, everyone wants some of their teams to do better. So here’s my wishlist for college sports in 2015. Click here for last year’s wishlist. Seeing as how we are dealing with the passions and whims of 18-23 year olds, as you can see, I was totally on the mark. Er sumfink.

Pitt Football

UPDATE, post-Armed Forces Bowl: For Gawd’s sake, my biggest wish it to stop the Pitt-ing! But… but… perhaps in order for Pat Narduzzi to change the culture, to remake Pitt into a contender, first they needed to get all the crazy out of their system. To pull an all-time soul-punching moment… ie, giving up a 21 point lead with 3 minutes left via two successive on-sides kick recovery failures and giving up a 2-point conversion. I’ve been a Pitt fan for over 2 decades and this is definitely the most PITT of PITT-ings.

Also, eff you Matt House. Please, don’t even bother coming back to clean out your things. And whoever coaches special teams for Pitt. I think that was Chryst, wasn’t it? It’s cliche to say that the seniors deserved better because Houston also has gone through a coaching change but seriously, these seniors deserved better!

Narduzzi should have come down on to the field in the final quarter, c*nt punched House and taken over the defense himself.

  • Better recruiting and 8-4
    • I’m truly excited about Pat Narduzzi getting the Pitt job. I don’t think Paul Chryst was a bad choice but his tenure was pretty underwhelming. The guy knows how to build an offense but his not-insignificant disinterest in recruiting on the defensive side handicapped the development of the program.
    • Narduzzi is, of course, known for his fast, aggressive defenses but just as important is that he embraces recruiting. Pitt’s defense won’t be fixed in one recruiting cycle and there’s only so much one can do with better coaching.
    • Next season’s team should be able to win a minimum of 8 games, even with a little in growing pains. Should. This is still Pitt, after all.

college football map

Pitt basketball

  • Further Maturation and the NCAA tournament
    • Coupled with the Maui Invitational and the ACC-B1G challenge and Pitt is “only” 10-3 coming out of their non-conference schedule. This is one of the youngest teams that Jamie Dixon has ever fielded. He’s playing way more freshmen and sophomore than he’d like. But there’s so much to like and hope for in this team.
    • Sophomore Mike Young is probably the most consistent of the youngsters; he’s a great finisher and is really coming on strong. Jamel Artis & Josh Newkirk have been inconsistent but give glimpses of becoming really solid players. Ryan Luther is only a freshman but he plays hard and once the light comes on (albeit probably next year), he’s going to be a really strong force. James Robinson has been more aggressive this year and Cameron Wright is rounding into form coming off injury. Pitt’s achilles heel is not having a proper Center though. Joseph Uchebo plays hard and has shown glimpses of the player he could have been but that’s it -“could have been”. Derrick Randall is just, well, no.

    Continue reading »

My 2015 Pittsburgh and Pro-Sports Wishlist

 Baseball, Football, Hockey, Pro-Football  Comments Off on My 2015 Pittsburgh and Pro-Sports Wishlist
Dec 312014
Pittsburgh Sports Logo

I consider myself a lucky sports fan. At least I’m not a Cleveland sports fan. I can find hope without looking too hard. BUT! C’mon, everyone wants some of their teams to do better. So here’s a short wishlist for my pro teams and pro-sports in general in 2015 (in no particular order).


  • Upgraded Secondary. The defensive secondary has played particularly well the past couple weeks but there’s no doubt that these guys aren’t suited to being long-term front-line players. Will Allen, William Gay, Brice McCain and Antwon Blake have played above their pay grade. It is highly, highly unlikely though perhaps not impossible that McCain and Blake could become front-line players. Still, with the withering of Ike Taylor and the failures of extending Cortez Allen and signing Mike Mitchell, the secondary needs a huge infusion of new talent.
  • Polamalu closeupA Dignified Exit for Troy Polamalu. There was significant debate on 93.7 The Fan last night as to whether Troy should even play at the expense of a roster spot for a special teams player, let alone start against Baltimore. Troy’s jersey was the first I ever bought so I don’t like the thought of the end of his career. I would give him a spot for the Baltimore game, not start him, and substitute him into certain packages. And then I hope he retires at the end of the season (mmm… hopefully after holding aloft another Vince Lombardi Trophy?).
  • The Return of Linebacker Nation. A 3-4 defense is not supposed to have an Defensive End tie or lead the team in sacks. Cam Heyward has fast become an exceptional player and the emergence of Stephon Tuitt bodes well for the future as well but this defense is predicated on getting pressure from its linebackers. Jason Worilds is almost certainly gone after the season; his price tag will be too high after recording a colossal 7.5 regular season sacks. Vince Williams and Arthur Moats are good depth guys but Ryan Shazier and Jarvis Jones absolutely must pick up the slack in seasons to come.


  • bluebloodHealth. Every team suffers injuries but between career and life threatening injuries, cancer and the mumps, this team has had way too many kids called up from the Baby Penguins farm team this season.
  • Earn that Cash. Franchise players are paid the big bucks to show up in critical high-pressure situations. Management did a good job of adding toughness and grit to the team this off-season. But Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury cannot go another playoffs without playing to their potential in the highest pressure games. If Fleury plays well, so too must Sid & Geno. If Geno plays well, so too must Fleury and Sid. This isn’t the most stacked team the Penguins have had but they are a team that can win a Stanley Cup.
  • More Noise!! It’s been said that Penguins crowds haven’t been as animated since the move to the Consol Energy Center as they were in the old Civic/Mellon Arena. Part of that may be to do with the new building’s acoustics and part of that may be more expensive tickets pricing out the (increasingly eviscerated) proletariat. In England, the landed gentry who can afford futbol games and aren’t loud or involved are called the Prawn Sandwich Brigade. I tend to think the CEC crowds still do get pretty loud but not for as long as they might have done in the olden years. Or perhaps I’m getting old and you should stay the hillel off my lawn.

Continue reading »

Pat Narduzzi and the Theory of Coaching Internships

 College Football, Football  Comments Off on Pat Narduzzi and the Theory of Coaching Internships
Dec 262014
new Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi will be officially unveiled as Pitt’s new head coach today. As the media and Friends of Tom Bradley like to point out, he will be the 10 millionth head coach at Pitt since Dave Wannstedt was tarred, feathered and run out of town on rails fired for being a coach-on-the-decline whose only major strengths included a Yinzer accent and a fantastic mustache.

Mike Haywood lasted a couple weeks. Toddy Graham spent one season at Pitt selling used cars with no engines and ripping on his quarterback before he absconded in the middle of the night, not unlike the Baltimore Colts. Paul Chryst left after three mostly uninspiring seasons to take over at that most Shangri-La of schools, Wisconsin.

I get it… Pitt hasn’t had true stability for a long time. And here comes Pat Narduzzi, a long-time defensive coordinator who passed over other head coaching jobs to come to Pitt. We are perpetually losing head coaches. The most common joke I’ve heard on the radio or read in comments sections (yes I should stop reading comments sections) is that Pitt has turned into a coaching internship, a way-station where younglings bide their time until getting called home (or where they apparently have family in the area).

By Paul_Chryst,_Pittsburgh_Panthers_Head_Football_Coach.JPG: Singregardless derivative work: Crazypaco [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

That Narduzzi will do the same – leave in 2-4 years, whether back to Michigan State or to some other school with deeper pockets and a stadium that’s more than half full. What’s the alternative for Pitt?

Tom Bradley? Sal Sunseri? Bill Cherpak? Seriously, don’t make me laugh. Pitt fans don’t laugh. We chuckle ruefully. Continue reading »

Requiem for Pitt AD Steve Pederson

 College Football, Football, The Bigger Picture  Comments Off on Requiem for Pitt AD Steve Pederson
Dec 182014

Well then, I think my hypothesis that Pitt football can become a Wisconsin got a huge shot in the arm last night. Pitt BAMF Chancellor Patrick Gallagher saw fit to relieve Steve Pederson of his duties as Athletic Director, a position he’s held for 13 years, resulting in no conference championships for the most important team in any major collegiate athletics department, football.

“Before beginning a robust national coaching search, Steve Pederson and I spoke this morning and we mutually agreed that this would be the appropriate time to make a change in athletic department leadership.

“With major decisions to be made about the future of football, I thought it was in the best interest of the University of Pittsburgh for Chancellor Gallagher to assemble his own team,” Pederson said. “I am a Pitt and City of Pittsburgh fan, and want what is best for everyone moving into the future. I will miss the daily interaction with our great staff, coaches and student-athletes, but will enjoy watching them accomplish great things. To our friends and supporters, thank you for making this a great home for our family.”

There were positives to Pederson’s tenure:

   “Since arriving at the University in August, I have greatly appreciated my collaborations with Steve. Our athletic department has advanced in many significant ways under his leadership. Steve was an instrumental figure in Pitt’s move to the Atlantic Coast Conference and thanks to his efforts our athletic facilities, especially the Petersen Events Center, rival any in the country. I want to thank him for his many important contributions to Pitt and his unwavering commitment to our student-athletes.”

It can’t be underscored how important it is that Pitt made it into the ACC ahead of Cincinnati and especially UConn. Pederson also had two successful hires. He brought Ben Howland from Northern Arizona, though I’ve heard that Sonny Vaccaro had a lot to do with that hire, just as he had a lot to do with Howland leaving to go to UCLA. Pederson also hired Walt Harris to resurrect the football program. That we now bemoan a 6-6 record is testament to the yeoman’s work that Harris did. Continue reading »

Can Pitt Football Become a Wisconsin?

 College Football, Football  Comments Off on Can Pitt Football Become a Wisconsin?
Dec 172014
By Paul_Chryst,_Pittsburgh_Panthers_Head_Football_Coach.JPG: Singregardless derivative work: Crazypaco [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

So, Pitt football is about to be left at the altar again. Another coach absconding away to his dream job. This time, at least, it’s hard to fault the guy for leaving. Paul Chryst grew up in Madison, played at Wisconsin, coached at Wisconsin and still has family in Madison. And I honestly believe that it’s the only job for which he would have left Pitt.

It’s been written much lately that Pitt football is a steppingstone job. This is true. That Chryst is leaving for his dream job. This is true. That Wisconsin is a better program than Pitt. This last assertion is, I think, also true.

But why? Why is Wisconsin a better program than Pitt? It comes, as it always does, to two factors. The first is coaching. Barry Alvarez, who it should be noted is from western PA, turned Wisconsin into a better program than Pitt. It’s one of the best non-blueblood programs in the country. But prior to Alvarez’s stint at the helm of Wisconsin, the Badgers were pretty abysmal. From

When Alvarez arrived in Madison in 1990, Wisconsin had compiled a 9-36 record during the previous four seasons and attendance at Camp Randall Stadium had dipped to an average of 41,734 per game (54 percent of capacity).

Additionally, Wisconsin hadn’t been to a bowl game in the 6 years prior and hadn’t played in the Rose Bowl since 1962. Alvarez changed everything in Madison. He went 118-73-4 as head coach of Wisconsin, winning 3 Big Ten and Rose Bowl titles. Camp Randall Stadium sells out regularly and is considered one of the toughest venues in the Big Ten.

By Ohsuch181 at en.wikipedia [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], from Wikimedia Commons

Camp Randall stadium

Continue reading »

Pitt, PSU, WVU – Defensive Comparisons

 College Football, Football  Comments Off on Pitt, PSU, WVU – Defensive Comparisons
Nov 062014
Pitt-PSU-WVU logos

After comparing Pitt, Penn State & West Virginia’s offensive numbers, here forthwith are the defensive stats for the local teams:

Yds Yds/G P Yds/G R Yds/G Pts Pts/G
Pitt 3006 334 176.8 157.2 237 26.3
PSU 2712 339 261.9 77.1 170 21.3
WVU 3501 389 212.6 176.4 231 25.7


Here are where each team ranks in the country:

Pts/G Yds/G P Yds/G R Yds/G
Pitt t-66 20 8 60
PSU 9 3 23 1
WVU 61 64 46 85


A couple quick conclusions:

Pitt’s defense hasn’t played badly but they’re not good enough to make up for the offense’s passing shortcomings.

Penn State’s defense seems to have played quite well but has been let down big time by its offensive troubles.

It’s hard to say whether West Virginia’s defense is any good because they play in the Big XII. They seem to have a defense that’s just good enough to allow them to win with that great offense.

Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia – Offensive Comparisons

 College Football, Football  Comments Off on Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia – Offensive Comparisons
Nov 042014
Pitt-PSU-WVU logos

Well, I think it’s safe to say that my ‘middle-ground’ CFB predictions for the local college football teams shall not come to pass. Pitt sits at 4-5 and so they could still make it to 7-5, which was my pessimistic prediction and even that would be optimistic at the moment. This is a typically mediocre yet schizoid Pitt team. All bets are off at this point. WVU sits at 6-3 and should get to 8-4 at the least with the way they’re playing. Free drinks for Holgorsen at any bar in the Granite State! Penn State, at 4-4, has been just as awful as Pitt since opening up at 4-0, maybe more so. Losing to Ohio State and even to Michigan is one thing. Losing to Northwestern and Maryland though. No Penn State team should ever have that happen. That’s Pitt’s job to succumb to tragically mediocre competition, damnit.

Looking at the offensive statistics for the three teams confirms our picture of the team’s overall records. (I’ll do defense in another article). Pitt runs the ball well. WVU is explosive through the air. Penn State neither passes nor runs particularly well.



WVU – Clint Trickett 233 345 2925 67.5 8.48 18 7 20 151.9
PITT – Chad Voytik 125 204 1470 61.3 7.21 11 6 17 133.7
PSU – Christian Hackenberg 183 318 2038 57.5 6.41 7 10 30 112.4
WVU – Clint Trickett 34 -84 -2.5 1
PITT – Chad Voytik 83 355 4.3 2
PSU – Christian Hackenberg 64 -49 -0.8 0


WVU’s Clint Trickett was bound to succeed in Morgantown eventually, if for no other reason than a guy named Clint Trickett just belongs at a school like West Virginia. Well, that and Holgorsen. I hope Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg is paying attention in class and taking his education seriously because his numbers this year are not up to par for an elite QB. Pitt’s Chad Voytik is the only first year signal caller out of the three and it’s showed for most of the season; overall a mixed bag but I’m still optimistic about him.


Next, Receiving: Continue reading »