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Showing posts from December, 2010

Top Pitt recruit changes mind, chooses Cincinnati

One of the first questions about Pitt football after the firing of coach Dave Wannstedt was whether new coach Michael Haywood would be able to keep Wannstedt's recruits in the fold.

Highly touted Bishop McDevitt running back Jameel Poteat has changed his mind about the Panthers, choosing instead to go to Cincinnati, a school many Pitt fans would consider inferior to Pitt.

Penn Live has more details on Poteat's move.

Poteat was the star back for Bishop McDevitt, the PIAA Class AAA champs. He rushed for 31 TDs this season, bringing his career total to 84.

While Pitt has two strong running backs already in Dion Lewis and Ray Graham, the move is troubling for Pitt. Penn Live reported that Poteat is " is one of a number of Pitt recruits who have de-committed" since Wannstedt was forced out.

One of Wannstedt's strengths was the ability to recruit. It was his coaching that got him in trouble.

Hopefully Haywood does better coaching than Wannstedt did. While it's too …

Hey, would it be too much to ask Pitt to do a better search?

The Pittsburgh Pirates have earned a reputation of being cheap.

Add the University of Pittsburgh to that list.

The Panthers reportedly are interested in Michael Haywood as their next football coach.

For a university that wants to think of itself and its football program as great, you don't consider a coach from a MAC school.

If you're cheap and are looking at saving a few bucks, then Haywood is your guy.

The firing of Dave Wannstedt led folks to believe Pitt wanted more from its program, that Pitt thought it was capable of being an elite football school.

Haywood as a leading candidate after two better ones have gone elsewhere doesn't confirm what Pitt fans wanted to believe.

Sure, Haywood turned around Miami (Ohio) after going 1-11 in his first year. Pitt doesn't need a turnaround. The Panthers need to move up a level.

Maybe Haywood can accomplish that. He reportedly is a good recruiter, and that's half the battle.

But this reminds me of Mike Gottfried.

Perhaps Pit…

Yep, he's Lyle Overpay with the Bucs

Meet your new first baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates: Lyle Overbay.

The Bucs continued their overspending spree on mediocre or washed up players Tuesday by signing Overbay to a one-year, $5 million contract.

Overbay, 33, hit .243 last season with the Blue Jays with 20 home runs. The last time he hit 20 homers was 2006 when he hit 22.

He's solid defensively, but lacks the skills to make contact. He certainly doesn't have the profile of your prototypical first baseman, which is probably why he was available for the Pirates.

The Bucs' new plan is to have Overbay play first base with Garrett Jones and Matt Diaz splitting time in right field.

At $5 million, it's a bad plan. I can't imagine fans going out to buy season tickets as Christmas gifts because of this signing.

Pitt running out of finalists for football coaching job

One of the big risks when firing a coach is the ability to get a better one.

By many accounts, Pitt AD Steve Pederson lost two picks as the replacement for Dave Wannstedt.

Al Golden went to the University of Miami while Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen went to rival West Virginia.

If either were Pederson's top pick, he blew it by waiting too long. If Pederson still needed approval to make a hire, then there's too much red tape at the university to be efficient.

Leave it to WVU to trump Pitt and get Holgorsen. 

There's still time to make a good hire, but time is of the essence. A new coach needs to be in place to lock up the players that committed to Pitt. And the new coach will have to hit the recruiting trail to build his incoming class.

My hope still is for an offensive-minded coach, one that doesn't play the conservative game that was a Wannstedt hallmark.

I'm still waiting for Rich Rodriguez to get canned at Michigan in time for the Panther…

Big Ben is the new Shaq

There was a time in the late 1990s and early 2000s when Shaquille O'Neal was an unstoppable force in the NBA.

Part of the reason for his dominance was his physique. He was big (7-foot-1) and tipped the scales at over 300 pounds. You couldn't stop him.

The only way to slow him down was the aptly named Hack-A-Shaq defense. That's where the defenders would simply foul O'Neal when he got the ball close to the basket. The reason it worked, or at least gave the opposition a chance, was the poor foul shooting by O'Neal.

Because Shaq was so big and strong, referees would allow the opposition to get physical with O'Neal. Sometimes, they got too physical. The problem was, no one else was allowed to get away with it on another player in the league.

Which brings me to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Opposing defenses are teeing off on Big Ben, with some very questionable hits going unnoticed by officials.

He's become the new Shaq.

Roethlisberger isn't as d…

Polamalu's picks prime Steelers' defense

There was lots of speculation about what was wrong with the 2009 Pittsburgh Steelers.

After Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals, there's no mystery. The problem with the 2009 Steelers was the absence of safety Troy Polamalu.

No ifs, ands or buts about it.

Polamalu makes the Steelers. Without him, they simply are an average team.

With him, he turns a team with a banged-up offensive line and a quarterback that looks like he can barely walk and breathe into a title contender.

Polamalu's interception return for a touchdown Sunday kick-started the Steelers and turned the Bengals into the Bungles.

Another Polamalu interception and a LaMarr Woodley pick-six later, and the Steelers beat the Bengals 23-7.

It was quite a showing by the defense. And it all happened because of Polamalu.

Polamalu's play the past couple weeks elevates him into the frontrunner for the defensive player of the year award.

More importantly, it sets the Steelers up for a long playoff run.

Bucs' spending remind me of my son

My wife made the mistake of telling my son he had some extra cash left from his birthday a couple of months ago.

The money likely was misplaced, but my wife, being the dutiful mother that she is, quickly told our son of his new wealth.

I, however, thought that would be a mistake.

"He'll want to spend it as soon as he can," I said.

I was right.

As soon as he found out, he wanted to buy something. It didn't matter what, he wanted something.

He could have saved the money for a bigger purchase. He could have saved it for something nice.

Nope.

He had to spend it.

Which is kind of how the Pittsburgh Pirates approach free agency.

They have a certain amount of money and they'll be sure to spend it.

Instead of getting a quality player, the Pirates sign the same type of player each year.

Matt Diaz is that player this season. The Bucs and Diaz reached a preliminary two-year, $4.25 contract Wednesday. That comes on the heels of the team getting pitchers Kevin Correia (two y…

Pitt shows it's interested in winning with Wannstedt gone

Dave Wannstedt is gone as the Pitt football coach.

A season that started with high expectations, a No. 15 ranking and a clear shot at a BCS bowl bid ended with a berth in the BBVA Compass Bowl.

Maybe that was just the ultimate embarrassment for the administration. Their football team ended up playing in a bowl that has zero recognition. C'mon, the BBVA Bowl? Really? 

Wannstedt was a good recruiter at Pitt, but he'll never be remembered as much of a game-day coach.

For me, he'll be remembered as the guy who didn't think Joe Flacco was good enough to start for the Panthers.

Being humbled by rival West Virginia at home was surely a big blow to keeping Wannstedt on board. And I'm sure not being able to sell out a rivalry game with major bowl implications didn't sit well with many people as well.

The fact is, Wannstedt never took the program to another level after replacing Walt Harris.

The next step is figuring out who will be the next coach. Maybe recently fired …

No Pirates ornament on our tree this year

We're putting the finishing touches on our Christmas tree.

Inside a big box of ornaments I found a couple ones with a Pittsburgh Pirates theme.

"Nah, we're not putting those up this year," I told my kids. "They stink."

I think I turned into a Scrooge when it comes to the Pirates these days.

Roethlisberger impressive while in pain

I've been slow to warm up to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

After all the distractions this past year, I've stayed away from cheering him.

Before I went to the Steelers-Raiders game at Heinz Field a couple weeks ago, I didn't wear my No. 7 jersey. I just couldn't bring myself to root for him.

After Sunday's win over the Ravens, I'm starting to come around.

Yes, it might be fickle, but you have to give the guy some props simply for what he's been playing through on the field.

Whatever the problem is with his foot, you can clearly tell it's an impediment to his game. On top of that, he played through a broken nose in Sunday's come-from-behind victory.

That's toughness.

Roethlisberger's saying and doing the right things on and off the field. I took notice after the Raiders game when Roethlisberger asked about Richard Seymour's cheap shot. With an open microphone in front of him, Ben stayed above the fray.

Whether he's being c…