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Idle Thoughts- A Turkey Day Sampler To Snack On

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I’m not one to share my opinion, but since you asked…

  • It’s Thanksgiving and I have much to be thankful for.  Watching Pitt’s 2010 season however, is not one of them.  The Panthers were a top 15 pre-season ranked club who drew the attention of many before play began.  People were speculating if this edition of the Panthers would help to bring them back to national prominence, while carrying the banner for the weak Big East Conference.  As it has turned out, Pitt is nothing more than a middle of the pack football program under Dave Wannstedt, who in six seasons as head coach has done little to take the program any further than Walt Harris did.  Harris, who now works as an offensive coordinator for Cal. Pa, a Division II program, led Pitt to the Fiesta Bowl in his last season as head coach.  If Wannstedt can’t beat West Virginia tomorrow, one could argue the program has regressed and needs to look for new leadership. 
  • The situation in Morgantown is not much brighter, according to Mountaineer fans as they continue to ask for the head of Coach Bill Stewart on a platter.  Since Rich Rodriguez bolted for Michigan three years ago, many have questioned even why the University hired Stewart to lead the ‘Eers.  All he’s done in three seasons is win a BCS game, while leading the Mounties to at least 9 wins in his first two seasons as head coach.  The success WVU had under Rodriguez has confused some in the coal state, leading them to believe that their program is one of the elite in college football.  I have news for you folks that believe this.  It’s not, so get over it and be happy for that short run you had a few years ago.  Stewart is a good man who will help keep your program competitive, but to expect 11 win seasons and BCS trips every year is just unrealistic Mountie fans. 
  • Does anybody really think Clint Hurdle is going to make a difference as Pirates manager?  I’d think a job like suicide bomber has better upside to it at this point.
  • I see Joe Paterno had the best interest of his football program in mind when he decided to come back for the 2011 season.  What an unselfish decision to make for a man about to turn 84.  As if enjoying the remaining years of your life with your loving wife, family and friends is enough to make somebody retire, Paterno has ignored conventional wisdom and allowed his ego to get in the way once again.  It’s embarrassing and another example of how Penn State allows this old man way too much power.  He has killed the Pitt-PSU football series and he will keep dragging down the program until he actually dies either in practice or at a game.  It’s the only way he steps away.
  • Have you purchased your Pittsburgh Power season ticket plan yet?  Those $140 seats up front have to be selling like hotcakes in this economy.
  • My predictions for the WPIAL Championships at Heinz Field this Saturday are not too far off from what I predicted in August.  I like Woodland Hills in Quad-A, Aliquippa in AA and Rochester in A.  As far as AAA, the upstart Central Valley Warriors will have a tough opponent in Montour to deal with.  The Spartans have been knocking on the door the past few seasons.  It was only a matter of time with Lou Cerro running the program.  He was very successful at Seton-LaSalle for many years before taking over at Montour.  Mark Lyons has done a magical job in leading this Central Valley team, a merger of Monaca and Center High Schools.  I’m torn on my decision, but I have to lean with Central Valley here.  I liked them to go deep in the playoffs, but went against them last week.  I can’t make that mistake again. 
  • The Penguins have quietly gone 7-2-1 in their past 10 games to jump up in the Eastern Conference standing.  Marc-Andre Fleury has been in net for most of those wins and is doing a better job of not allowing soft goals to get past him.  His confidence may be growing, but I still have that eerie feeling that he could easily slip back into a rut.  As long as he can keep his save % above .915, I think he will do well and give the club a punchers chance.   Some additional scoring from the 2nd & 3rd lines would help.  A healthy Jordan Staal doesn’t hurt their chances either.  Philadelphia is four points ahead of the Pens at this stage of the season and will be the Pens biggest obstacle moving forward, not Washington.  The Capitals are perennial losers and will never win a Stanley Cup.
  • If TCU or Boise State get left our of the BCS party this year, I will personally lead the charge on the BCS offices myself to blow the place up.  I’m kidding of course, but seriously, one of those two schools will probably not get an invitation to this years BCS games, as college football’s unfair system is loaded this year with teams like Oregon, Auburn, Alabama, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Stanford, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech & whatever 7-5 Big East schools gets to play.  That’s 10 schools I’ve listed that come from BCS Conferences vying for bids.  Expect the Big East and ACC to supply only one school.  I’m betting the Pac10, Big 10 & SEC get two schools in, pushing that number up to eight qualifying schools.  The Big 12 will send one to make nine, leaving TCU or Boise out and that my friends is just wrong. 
  • Some people have argued that not enough was done to Richard Seymour regarding his punch to Ben Roethlisberger’s head on Sunday at Heinz Field.  Some have suggested that Ben’s offensive line didn’t do enough to retaliate for the hit.  I say that’s crazy.  The O-Line that was standing next to Ben when it happened did go after Seymour.   To suggest that a brawl was necessary is just silly. 
  • And speaking of the Raiders-Steelers tilt, what was the god-like complex that fell upon that Officiating crew?  Holy over reaction Batman!  I’ve never seen so many flag-happy Zebras before.  I’m still looking to see any ‘helmet to helmet’ hit Ryan Clark delivered.  Czar Goodell has his officials over analyzing in the fast-paced environment they work in.  It’s led to making some bad calls that take away from the game action.   Is that what the most popular sport in America really needs with a work stoppage looming in the shadows?

A seventh alternate for the 2008 US Olympic Freestyle wrestling team, John Phillips is the author of this article.   He also dabbles as a weekend talk-show host on 93.7 The Fan.  Check out JP Thanksgiving night after NFL football as he previews the Backyard Brawl, sometime after midnight-5:40 AM. 

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