Pitt won’t make the NCAA tournament, but that’s OK. No one will beat Kentucky, anyway. You’d have to shoot 78.6 percent from the field, like Villanova did against Georgetown in the 1985 final.
Where does Pitt go from here? That’s easy.
Pitt is in the ACC now, not the Big East. The NCAA will likely adopt a 30-second shot clock next year (down from 35). Coach Jamie Dixon needs to recruit a more offensive style of player, and needs to quit putting defense first.
Coaches who ignore change and stubbornly stick to their ideology almost always get fired.
Pirates P Charlie Morton threw two scoreless innings in an exhibition game yesterday and felt no pain.
As a result, team management is doubtless feeling a lot less pain themselves.
Morton had major hip surgery in late September. Who thought Morton would be ready by season’s start, let alone now?
Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano, A.J. Burnett and Morton are solid. Vance Worley and Jeff Locke will battle for the rotation’s fifth spot.
Who’s your pick? Worley, or Locke?
I bet the Pirates would love it to be Locke, to get those left-handed innings and give the rotation variety. But I also bet the Pirates think Worley is a better pitcher.
The Trib did a front-page story praising Cal U president Geraldine Jones for doing a great job since the school’s football scandal, a program-wide crime wave covering several years punctuated by six players beating a man into a coma, then chanting “football strong.”
The headline: “Cal U president lauded for unflappability amid scandal.” The article used phrases like “rapid response” and “refusal to sugarcoat.”
Nice PR piece.
But Jones didn’t DO ANYTHING.
The athletic director is still there. The coach is still there. The program didn’t get suspended.
All Jones did was say, “We cannot tolerate this.” And then proceeded to TOLERATE IT. That nonsense made the front page of a major metropolitan newspaper.
Jones is utterly useless, and Cal U is still a cesspool.
One week ago at practice, Penguins’ fourth-liner Craig Adams got into a fight with superstar Evgeni Malkin. At yesterday’s practice, Adams thumped Malkin and rookie defenseman Derrick Pouliot with robust bodychecks. Adams hit Malkin from behind and put Pouliot’s surgically-repaired shoulder at risk.
The Penguins need to waive Adams. Now.
Once can be an accident. This was twice. It seems like Adams has a feud going with Malkin. There aren’t two sides to this story. Superstar > fourth-liner. Every time.
Adams is OK on the PK. That’s his only legit attribute. Adams was a Dan Bylsma crony. Bylsma isn’t the coach anymore. Malkin is having an incredible season. That should not be disrupted.
If it’s not a problem, it could yet be. Why take a chance? This isn’t Sidney Crosby clashing with Malkin. It’s not even, say, Brandon Sutter and Malkin butting heads. It’s CRAIG ADAMS, a 37-yer-old jabroni who can be easily replaced.
This isn’t even worth further discussion, let alone debate. Cut Adams.
As I look out the window and see rain pelt Pittsburgh, I can’t help but fear that inclement weather might affect the outcome of tonight’s Steelers-Baltimore playoff game at Heinz Field.
In dry weather, it would boil down to Ben Roethlisberger vs. Joe Flacco. Sounds good.
In rain and mud, it could come down to Josh Harris vs. Justin Forsett. Uh-oh.
I’m surprised every game isn’t indoors. Shocked that every NFL team doesn’t have a domed stadium. Yeah, I know…THAT AIN’T FOOTBALL. Let’s see what you think if the Steelers lose 3-0 in OT. If conditions cause the Steelers’ high-octane offense to stall.
If Le’Veon Bell was playing, I’d expect the Steelers to win by 10, maybe more.
Now, weather permitting, the result comes down to Antonio Brown. What can the Ravens do with him?
Brown isn’t IN the zone. Brown OWNS the zone. Look at his 54-yard touchdown catch against the Ravens in the fourth quarter of the Steelers’ 43-23 home win Nov. 2. He ran an out, caught the ball, cut back in, stiff-armed a would-be tackler, broke another tackle and JUST KEPT GOING.
How do you stop that?
Brown’s predecessor as the Steelers’ stud receiver was Hines Ward. Ward was great, but you knew what to do with him. He wasn’t EXPLOSIVE. Ward made you suffer death by a thousand cuts. Brown just whips out a machete and lops your head off. Game over.
That can happen again today. Weather permitting.
You’ve heard all the names.
Schiano. Narduzzi. Bradley. Tomsula. Rudolph. Holliday. The list goes on.
But when it comes to the Pitt coaching hire, the real debate isn’t WHO you want. It’s WHAT you want.
Do you want a coach who’s going to leave again after three years?
Or do you want a coach who’s going to stay long-term?
I want the latter. When a coach gets hired under the assumption that he’s a short-term hire, there is no guarantee what that short term will produce. Instability kills recruiting, too.
Look at Paul Chryst. He went 19-19, 10-13 in conference play. Mediocre.
Chryst didn’t use Pitt as a stepping stone. Wisconsin merely stashed Chryst at Pitt until Wisconsin needed him. Pitt was Chryst’s head-coaching internship.
Chryst didn’t help Pitt make progress. He helped himself.
I don’t care if it’s a local guy. But I do want him to coach Pitt for more than three years. If local roots make that more of a possibility, that should be considered.
Steelers G David DeCastro had a great game yesterday. DeCastro and the tight ends were pulling, moving and hitting. They were so good, you didn’t need game film to know for sure. It was obvious.
Then, of course, came the tweets: YOU WERE WRONG, FATASS! DECASTRO IS GREAT! YOU’RE FAT!
Or, words to that effect.
I wasn’t wrong. Up until yesterday, DeCastro was having a putrid season, and I said so. Yesterday, he was terrific. I was right THEN. I’m also right NOW.
It’s the same with Evgeni Malkin fans. Right now, Malkin is playing awesome hockey. Seven goals in eight games. I just wish Malkin was inspired more often.
Judging an athlete isn’t permanent. Performance level changes.
The offensive line had its best game. The Steelers averaged 6.2 yards per rush. QB Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t sacked and didn’t have to deal with a lot of pressure. DeCastro was perhaps the biggest part of that.
I did a monologue last week about the state of the Steelers’ offensive line. Lots of football people told me I was right on the money, including Joe Butler of Metro Index Scouting.
*LT Kelvin Beachum: Average. Overachieving for his pedigree.
*LG Ramon Foster: Average. Perhaps a bit better.
*C Maurkice Pouncey: Good, but wildly overrated.
*RG David DeCastro: Just rotten. Absolutely terrible.
*RT Marcus Gilbert: Awful at season’s start. Much better since.
The Pouncey myth is firmly in place. It’s a phenomenon in sports. It’s not how well you play, it’s what people say. People say Pouncey is the best center in football. He’s not. But you believe it.
DeCastro stinks. GARBAGE. That might be the Steelers’ best-kept secret.
The prevailing opinion is that offensive line coach Mike Munchak has done a great job. If that’s true, why has QB Ben Roethlisberger been sacked 30 times? Ben is on pace to be sacked more than last year.
But Munchak is a genius. That’s the narrative. Deposed O-line coach Jack Bicknell Jr. was the villain last season, so Munchak has to be the hero now.
But the offensive line is no better than last year, except marginally on run blocking.
Replacing Bruce Arians with Todd Haley as offensive coordinator in 2012 is one of the worst moves in Steelers history, right there with cutting Johnny Unitas in 1955.
Prevailing wisdom holds that Haley was hired to prolong Ben Roethlisberger’s career.
How? By making sure Roethlisberger never plays in another playoff game? The post-season CAN be dangerous.
Everyone wants Roethlisberger to be hit less. I get it. But Roethlisberger has been sacked 25 times this season. That’s fifth-most in the NFL.
So, Ben is still getting hit. Haley hasn’t helped in that regard.
Why wasn’t Arians asked to figure out a way to keep Ben clean and vertical? Arians is no dummy. As witnessed by his work after he “retired” here in Pittsburgh.
In 2012, Arians birthed QB Andrew Luck’s greatness in Indianapolis. He won AP Coach of the Year honors as interim boss, going 9-3 while Chuck Pagano battled cancer. He’s 8-1 this year as Arizona’s head coach, 18-7 since taking over last season.
Roethlisberger has posted great numbers under Haley.
But I don’t care about his stats. Roethlisberger doesn’t care about his stats.
Regardless of Roethlisberger’s “career years,” the notion of three straight non-playoff years is unacceptable. Nothing good can be gained via three straight non-playoff years.
The Steelers were 55-25 with Arians as offensive coordinator. One Super Bowl win, another Super Bowl appearance. They’re 22-20 with Haley. No playoff games.
Go ahead: Find a bright side. Or an upside. You can’t.
I’m not sure I buy the narrative about the Steelers defense being better because it’s mean and nasty again. That’s getting put out there to make LB James Harrison seem more important than just one good game, which he definitely had vs. Baltimore.
Mean and nasty is overrated in football’s current era. The Steelers defense is putting pressure on the QB and getting takeaways.
No need to romanticize about something that doesn’t matter. The facts are good enough.
When LB Jarvis Jones returns from injury, the Steelers will be hard-pressed to not keep playing Harrison. But I’d still put Jones back in. This is Harrison’s last gasp, not a new beginning.
As for Sunday’s opponent, the biggest problem with the New York Jets is trying to make them seem like a credible foe. They’re coached by a circus clown and quarterbacked by a convicted felon. Their secondary has allowed 24 touchdown passes while collecting just one interception. Could Big Ben go for 6-6-6?
The Steelers are favored by 5. I can’t imagine the Steelers not covering.