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I’m not one to share my opinion, but since you asked…
- It seemed like the only person who was shocked by the events of Tuesday at the UPMC Sports Complex on Pittsburgh’s South Side was Dave Wannstedt himself. His ‘resignation’ as head coach of the Pitt Panthers football program caught few in the media by surprise. Wannstedt was stunned and from some accounts, taken by the news that Pitt AD Steve Pederson asked for the coach to resign. Despite a winning record of 42-31, Wannstedt did little to take Pitt football to new heights, i.e, winning a Big East title outright. Sharing a conference title is not enough. Having let the crown slip through his hands the past two years was enough to give Pederson the opportunity to make the move he did. I don’t wish ill will on Dave. He’s a great Pitt ambassador and Pitt man through and through. He just can’t win the big game. His offensive style is one that worked 30 years ago, but not today. Let’s hope Pederson’s search is fast and finds the right person for the job, unlike his last coaching search when he was AD at Nebraska.
- The Penguins continue to streak past NHL opponents like they are wearing sneakers on ice. Currently 1st in the Eastern Conference and riding an 11 game winning streak, the Pens have done it by scoring on the power-play and with steady goaltending, as they have vaulted to 3rd in the league in GAA. Marc-Andry Fleury, who received heavy criticism early in the year has pulled his act together and looks like he has shaken whatever was bothering him by stopping everything thrown at him by opposing would-be goal scorers. Let’s see if he can carry this play into the playoffs, four months from now.
- With Wannstedt leaving as head coach, there is some notion that many of the recruits he singed for 2011 may take a second look at some other schools. One of the better WPIAL commitments Wannstedt secured is Lafayette Pitts, a running back from Woodland Hills. I spoke to Pitts on Friday and he said he isn’t jumping ship because of the coaching move. He committed to Pitt and said honoring that committment means something. That’s the type of character rarely seen in an 18-year old high school student and speaks to the type of player the ‘Stache tried to recruit in his tenure.
- How hard was it to watch New England dismantle the New York Jets on Monday night? Yeah, it wasn’t easy to root for anything good in that game. How scary are the Patriots right now? They have one of the worst defenses, statistically, but that offense…WOW!
- I like that Wannstedt is finishing out his tenure by leading his players as head coach in the bowl game they are playing in. It may be strange if Pitt has a new coach in place by then. They should. If they don’t, recruiting could suffer, despite having most of their available scholarships already spoken for.
- How odd is it knowing that Urban Meyer’s last game as Florida’s head coach will be against a man who should be playing shuffle board on some boardwalk in Miami Beach?
- Why do all the hillbillies in West Virginia want Bill Stewart’s head on a platter? All he’s done in three seasons is average 9 wins a year, has a BCS victory & beaten Pitt twice, your biggest rival. Go find some couches to burn for crying out loud. Here’s a news flash, Morgantown is NOT a plum job in college football. Stewart will win you games, get you to a bowl game and possibly a BCS berth. To expect 11-1 every year in Morgantown is almost as silly as expecting that at Pitt.
- Steve Pederson has done some amazing work in his two stints as AD at Pitt. Hiring Ben Howland, tearing down Pitt Stadium and building the Peterson Events Center. He also hired Walt Harris, who helped to get Pitt’s football program out of the depths of hades. All of these are great feathers in his cap. None will mean much if this next hire to replace Wannstedt is a failure. He lost his job at Nebraska because the Bill Callahan experiment failed. He can’t fail with this one either.
- Does anybody think Pitt won’t crush Kentucky in the who the hell came up with the name of that bowl game Pitt’s playing in Birmingham, Alabama? By the reaction of the players at the press conference, the Wildcats stand little chance in this one.
- It looks like Jordan Staal’s saga continues amid published reports a new break was found in a recent X-ray of Staals’ right hand. After practice at the team’s Southpoint facility on Friday, head coach Dan Bylsma denied the reports to members of the media after speaking with Pens GM Ray Shero & the Communications team before hand. If a new break has surfaced, we will more than likely never really know, as NHL teams hide these injuries better than the Kremlin hid Nuclear Secrets.
- Jon Baldwin’s waffling on his possible early departure for the NFL was a bit of a knee-jerk reaction this week due to Wannstedt’s departure. When you look at his numbers, it may be in his best interest to stay one more year.
- The same can be said about Dion Lewis. Remember the talk before the start of the season about Lewis jumping to the NFL after 2010? I’m willing to bet Lewis knows he’s got to stay at least one more year at Pitt before he can think about a possible jump to the NFL.
- The BCS title game will be a blowout with the SEC claiming yet another pseudo-title. Oregon is fast and fun to watch, but they don’t play much defense. Auburn’s size will be too much for the Ducks, despite breaking out some god awful uniform scheme for the big game.
- Brett Favre’s Ironman streak will come to an end this weekend. If he starts and plays just one play, it will make a mockery of his career achievements to date. Retire now Brett and take Joe Pa with you.
- I’m now rooting really really hard against the Boston Red Sox this year. They are doing a great job of making themselves the Yankees by signing Carl Crawford & acquiring Adrian Gonzalez via trade this past week at Baseball’s winter meetings. In a completely unrelated story, Bob Nutting wanted to remind Pirates fans the team is still searching for ways to relive anything tied to Bill Mazeroski, his World Series winning home run or anything remotely connected to the 1979 Pirates since it helps keep the handful of baseball fans in this town from actually thinking about the 2011 Pirates.
- How much fun is the Winter Classic going to be at Heinz Field? Before it’s all said and done, I predict it will be regarded as the biggest sporting event ever held in Pittsburgh. Even bigger than the Bassmasters.
- My choice for the new head coach at Pitt is Mike Leach. Yes he brings baggage, but so what? He has recruiting ties in Texas, is an offensive genius and let’s face it, those Monday afternoon press conference will be much more exciting to cover.
- I don’t have a vote for the Heisman, but if I did, Cam Newton would get it. He has been hands down the best player in college football, despite all the controversy surrounding him and what his dad did or didn’t do.
A former Rule 5 draft pick of the Montreal Expos, John Phillips now toils as a weekend talk-show host and sports anchor for 93.7 The Fan. You can hear JP this Sunday Night after NFL football concludes around midnight.