Sunday, December 28, 2014

Pitt Gets Its Man, and Other Selected Football Topics

The University of Pittsburgh ended its search for a new head football coach by announcing on Friday that current Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi will be the Panthers next coach.

It seemed from the outset that Narduzzi was the guy that Pitt wanted, and I am glad that they went the route of an up and coming, younger coordinator.  He has all of the credentials that you would want in making such a hire, and he certainly seems enthusiastic and excited to be here, but no matter the background and how well a guy has done in working his way up, you just never know how he will perform when given the job of head coach.

I always think about a quote from Art Rooney Sr. when he talked about hiring Bill Austin to be the Steelers coach in 1966.  No one had better credentials to be an NFL head coach at the time than did Austin.  He came highly recommend by no less than Vince Lombardi himself!  We all know what happened.  The next guy, Chuck Noll, arrived with little acclaim and no expectations, and we all know what happened with THAT hire as well.

Let's just hope that Pitt, finally, gets lucky with a football coaching hire.  One thing for sure, though, is that Narduzzi will not be putting anyone to sleep during interviews and press conferences.


Speaking of the Narduzzi press conference, I have to note that I listened to it on the radio.  How quaint is that?  I had assumed that Root Sports, which proclaims itself as the center of sports media in Pittsburgh,  would be televising this press conference, so imagine my disappointment when I tuned in and saw that Root was televising a replay of a HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL GAME that was played six weeks ago.  

Root could have given its audience its first view of Pitt's new football coach, but, instead, they thought we would be better served by hearing Craig Wolfley make up new words as he goes along.


Allow me to recommend to you, highly recommend, in fact, two recent articles fro  Sports Illustrated.

In the December 22 issue (Jon Lester on the cover): "Bundle of Questions" by L. Jon Wertheim.  This is about how sports are delivered to us via cable TV providers and networks and how that model may (will?) be changing in the future.  

For example, because so many cable networks are bundled by the service providers, we are forced to take and pay for networks that many never watch.  Many, myself included, have often said that they wished you could select your cable networks a la carte, but be careful what you wish for.  The average charge for ESPN in your monthly cable bill is about $6 (higher, way higher, than things like TNT, NFL Network, USA, Disney, CNN, or Fox News), but if such things were unbundled, and you could pick and choose, ESPN might cost you as much as THIRTY dollars a month just for ESPN to keep up with the financial commitments that they have made to the NFL, NCAA, MLB, etc.  Believe it or not, and sports fans may not get this, research shows that fully two-thirds of all cable subscribers do not watch ESPN.  Would you be willing to pay thirty bucks a month to watch Chris Berman and Around the Horn?

The second article is in the December 29 issue (Cardale Jones on the cover) and it is about the 1974 Steelers, the team's first Super Bowl winner.  As the lead says, that team "revived a franchise, enlivened a city, and reshaped the NFL."


Like many of you, I am anxiously awaiting the four team college football playoff, but at breakfast yesterday, friend Dan Bonk made the point that the Committee couldn't have picked a more loathsome four teams if it tried.  Start with the Alabama and Ohio State and their dour coaches, Oregon and their unlimited bankroll from Nike, and Florida State and their looking the other way with their quarterback and what you've got are reasons to hope all four of this teams would lose their games.

However, I will no doubt be watching all of the games, so, as I have said so often, that makes me a part of the problem, doesn't it?


It appears that after the conclusion of today's NFL regular season, Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49'ers will part company.  Harbaugh has proven that he can coach. The 49'ers have played in three straight conference championship games and one Super Bowl under his leadership, but it all seems to have come apart in 2014.  The team is 7-8 going into today's finale and will not make the playoffs.  I mean, wha' happened out there?

From what you read, Harbaugh has a personality that grates upon players and, more importantly, his employers, so his welcome has a very short shelf life.  Don't cry for him, though, because the University of Michigan appears to be ready to shower him with $48 million, and they will probably be competing with other NFL teams for his services as well.  Set the alarm clocks for 2018 or so for the implosion to come at wherever Harbaugh lands this time.

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