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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: All hail the exceptionally large man

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> My Wednesday column is about Sidney Crosby looking and sounding more upbeat than he has in nearly a year. If I didn’t read much into that before, I certainly did after our talk yesterday. The Kid is legitimately feeling good, more than he’s letting on most of the time.

If you can think of a bigger story in Pittsburgh sports for 2011 than the day Crosby returns (Steelers making Super Bowl, Pirates reaching first base), I’m all ears.

>> The puckheads among you will appreciate Gary Bettman’s wide-ranging interview yesterday with Canada’s Globe and Mail. Lots of topics covered.

>> I called on Monday for the Steelers to hold ‘open tryouts for exceptionally large men,’ and they go out and bring back hyper-exceptionally large Max Starks.


Max says he’s lost 60 pounds since the summer, and he says that the way you and I cite 5 pounds.


Max knows the playbook.


Max is so popular within the Steelers that Ben Roethlisberger wore his No. 78 during an early drill in Latrobe to pay tribute.


Can Max play Sunday, Coach?

>> If you want a firm grip of how much the Steelers are going to miss James Harrison the next month or so, consider first that he was the only man to stand up and say it like it is Sunday in Houston. Then, consider that he backs up his talk by doing things like returning to a football game and playing with a broken eye socket.

>> After spending the morning with the Penguins, I covered Mike Tomlin’s news conference over on the South Side — made it without about 30 seconds before Stan Savran and Paul Alexander’s intro sequence, actually — and found that the coach really hadn’t changed his tune much since Sunday. He still cited fundamentals as the main culprit for the loss. But he did openly acknowledge and criticize obvious shortcomings such as the inability to stop the run and even singled out a couple guys. LaMarr Woodley, as Tomlin noted, was “2-2, kind of like us” in the quality of his work.

Just guessing here the coach is challenging his guys a bit more forcefully away from the cameras.

>> These comments from Dana Holgorsen, criticizing West Virginia’s attendance as being too low, really threw me. I really can’t recall the last time a coach did that, though I’d be happy to hear if you know of any.

Imagine if someone at Pitt said something like this.

>> Not suggesting who anyone should root for in the baseball playoffs, but watching the Rays get eliminated and then the Brewers lose a game isn’t exactly the kind of thing that should encourage fans with revenue pools — or even potential revenue pools — like the Pirates’.


  1. PgherinLev says:

    Hey Dana,

    When the Athletic Department starts paying for students’ books, then you can make demands on them.

  2. leefoo says:

    Once again I am baffled that the SPORTS section of the Trib has NOTHING on the divisional series in baseball.

    I guess they’re a non-story.

  3. leefoo says:

    DK…….I had just asked my buddy that about Max “Can he play Sunday”?

    Great signing.

    Welcome home, Max.

  4. JAL says:

    JAL’s Basket of Light Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3- 2011-12 Pirates Prospects Off-Season Calendar

  5. JAL says:


    4—Pirates Prospects

    Arizona Fall League Recap: 10/4
    Starling Marte and Kyle McPherson Are Top Eastern League Prospects

    Mercer 3-for-3 In Team USA Win

    5 McEffect

    The Drafting Genius of the Rays

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates Minor-League System Still Not Thriving After Years Of Lavish Spending

    7 The Green Weenie

    The Outfield

    8 Rumbunter

    Pittsburgh Pirates 2011 Yearbook: Andrew McCutchen, Bucs Followed Star

  6. JAL says:


    10 Milwaukee Journal

    Brewers players don’t apologize for antics

    Brewers unable to solve Collmenter once again

    11 Forbes

    Baseball’s Best And Worst Secondary Ticket Markets

    12 NPR

    Relief Pitcher Admits Living A Lie, And Then Life Gets Complicated

    13 Minor League Ball

    Top 50 Hitting Prospects for 2011: How They Performed

  7. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    -Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers Reportedly Close To Re-Signing Max Starks

    Memorable Games from 25 Steelers Legends: No. 23 — Donnie Shell

    -Steeler Depot

    Rushing and Passing Directional Stats after 4 Games

    -Steelers Gab

    Tomlin expects Roethlisberger to play Sunday vs. Titans; DE Smith, RB Mendenhall doubtful?

  8. JAL says:

    Pitt Blogs

    Pitt Blather

    Is You Is, or Is You Ain’t… a good football team?…-a-good-football-team/

    Cardiac Hill

    Attendance Problems At Heinz Field? Here’s Why.

    WVU Blogs

    Gold and Blue Blog

    Holgorsen Rips WVU Fans (Video)

    WV Illustrated

    Corey Smith Replaced on WVU Special Teams

    Holgorsen Asks WVU Fans for Support, Regardless of Situation



    Does Joe Vitale’s Promotion Seal Eric Tangradi’s Fate in Pittsburgh?

  9. Bob Apjok says:

    “Pirates reaching first base.” Nearly sprayed my milk all over the place on that one.

  10. Turner Ward says:

    DK – I can tell you who we should be rooting for in the baseball playoffs: the Phillies and the Yankees. And we should be rooting for that matchup every year until the soon-to-be-signed CBA expires.

    Bud Selig and Co. are able to cite the token World Series appearances by Tampa Bay, Colorado, Houston and others as evidence that their revenue-sharing system actually works.

    Only when the Yankees, Red Sox, and Phillies make the World Series EVERY year will the rest of the owners possibly have enough spine to stand up to those top teams.

  11. John A says:

    DK, Coach K has openly chastised his fan base many times at Duke while I was there. There was a stretch in the early 2000’s when the students became complacent with success and he went after them threatening to take away seat allotments. He also was very active in policing fan behavior, if a chant went in a direction he did not like he would openly address the fans in the press or even in person before games. Finally, K even plays directly to the fans as a strategy inciting noise during games and timeouts. I know its not football, but he commands every single aspect of that program.

  12. Jandy says:

    It’s heartening to see Sid feeling so good. I’m looking at an end of October return to play. Anyone else have a prediction?

  13. Jandy says:

    Yes, it’s great to see Sid smiling….and it’s REAL. I’m hoping to see him return to playing mid-October. Anyone else want to make a prediction…all in fun, of course.

  14. Jandy says:

    Sorry for the double post, I thought the other one got lost.

  15. Officer Mancuso says:

    Greetings and salutations Kovacevites!

  16. SeanE says:

    I have a different take on the whole Holgorsen calling out the fans. I think the guy wants out of WVU. Holgorsen realizes that WVU is, quite possibly, going to be left standing when the music stops in the conference realignment game. He does not want to be the last rat left on a sinking ship. Seriously, is there a better way to alienate your entire fan base (including money giving alumni) than calling them a second rate program? Make no mistake, that is exactly what he did yesterday.

  17. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Seems like the local blogs up there think the Titan game this week is somewhat of a lock. I hope it is, living less than 2 hours from Nashville, and having to put up with constant Titans’ nonsense and banter, but they are still the only team to beat Baltimore, which was coming off the pounding of the Steelers in week one. I know Matt Hasselback is their new saviour and all, and he is a woose compared to Ben, but they do have Chris Johnson, who is as capable as Arian Foster.The Steelers stuffed him last year, but we can’t be over-confident. Week one is a recent example.

  18. JAL says:


    Maybe WVU will be left though there are reports that the SEC will take them.

  19. JAL says:

    As for Holgs, did he fail to homework? WVU did not hide anything–the number of fans at every game over the years is open.

  20. Milo Hamilton says:

    Just an aside to the West Virginia attendance talk. Last week when Pitt attendance was being kicked around here I came across last year’s attendance figures. West Virginia averaged only 500 more people per game than Pitt. Just found that interesting.

  21. Bizrow says:

    Welcome Ossifer, good to see you here

  22. SeanE says:

    JAL-You may be right about the SEC as that has been the “buzz” on Twitter the last few days. Of course the next major media source to report this move will be the first. I would certainly think Holgorsen would know if there was any substance to these rumors.

  23. Milo Hamilton says:

    Sorry guys. Left off a zero. WVU 56,325 & Pitt 52,165. So it’s a little over 4,000. As a life long Pitt fan, I just thought it was a lot worse.

  24. @suckmeter says:

    Holgorsen basically said to WVU fans, “You think it sucks the SEC doesn’t want us? This is why!!!”

  25. JB says:

    Milo –

    Pitt regularly inflates their attendence. Check Dejan’s twitter picture of the Pitt-Maine game. Couldn’t have been more than 20,000 people there, yet the announced crowd was over 40,000. There is no way Pitt averaged a legitmate 52,000 last year.

  26. dcpinpgh says:

    Dana Holgorsen needed to say what he said. If WVU wants to jump off the Big East sinking ship, the WVU need to make itself more attractive. A half filled stadium is to the SEC is like how the big east feels about Nova and their 16K(or whatever) stadium. Who wants a school that burns couches, beats up pregos, wears t-shirts with profanity, and doesn’t fill up a stadium…CUSA…maybe

  27. leefoo says:

    Turner Ward………what playoffs? You’d never know they were going on by the Trib’s Sports page.

  28. Absolute59 says:

    “You want to talk about an elite program, that’s one. I don’t know about this place.”

    Wow if I was his boss, I would be calling him on the carpet.

  29. CWalton_67 says:

    Great article on Sid, precisely because it is very good news. The Pens have handled this entire situation, with the possible exception of the initial diagnosis, as well as any organization could have. That said, I really wish you would take on the issue of the helmet, DK. As a retired Soldier, I know how seriously the Armed Forces take providing the best possible protective equipment to protect Soldiers from mTBI, which has been a very common and debilitating injury in our latest wars. Mark Messier Project proclaims that it’s helmet provides players better protection than any other. Why isn’t Sid wearing one? Why isn’t the NHL conducting a study to prove/disprove it’s claims and mandate it’s wear if proven true? I’ve mentioned this on here before, and hate to sound like a broken record, but I’ve seen the difference between superior/inferior equipment. If Messier’s helmet provides even the slightest proven increased protection, Sid (and all players) should be wearing it.

  30. Milo Hamilton says:


    You are 100% right about that. You also have to factor into last year’s numbers that the Pitt/WVU game was at Pitt.


    Jandy: I am not going to make a prediction on Sid’s return. That being said, for the first time I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel. Starting him on the IR is a good thing. If nothing else, it takes a bit more pressure off Sid to try and return for the start of the season.

    CWalton_67: I know it makes sense that you’d want to do everything you can to protect yourself and your players, but the NHL has a long history of not pushing equipment standards on their players. The players simply don’t like change, especially change that’s forced upon them. Visors are still not mandatory in the NHL because there are players who can’t stand to play with them, despite their obvious benefits. Helmet standards would be welcome for the fans, league, and owners, but would surely be vetoed by the players. The CBA might be the best way to introduce equipment safety standards, and I’d be all for it.

    In the meantime, I have to applaud the efforts of Brendan Shanahan. The regular season hasn’t even started yet and he’s already taken a very active approach to discipline in the league. He’s making a clear statement that players will be held accountable for their actions on the ice, and that’s a great start.

  32. CWalton_67 says:

    @Relentless–agree with your points on the NHL and equipment standards. Remember Gretzky’s helmet? Nothing more than a thin plastic shell. But it’s time for change. When the games greatest stars are staggering around darkened rooms, there is a serious problem. I believe that advertising/sponsorship dollars are the primary culprit in preventing players from using the best possible equipment. Your point about visors is well taken, players are resistant to change. However, even they have to begin recognizing that with the size and speed of today’s players, precautions against head injury must be taken. Of course, the almighty dollar always seems to take precedence. Wonder if Marc and Eric Staal wish Marc had been wearing a Messier Project helmet?

  33. Jandy says:

    Relentless, I agree on your points on Sid…and it’s great to see that light at the end of the tunnel.

    CWalton, I have wondered myself how Eric feels about Marc and his injury (which he is responsible for). Even tho it wasn’t intentional, I’d feel terrible myself. That said, does the NHL have the guts to DO anything about equipment? Relentless has a good idea…introduce some equipment changes for the next CBA, which is just around the corner. When I first started watching the NHL, helmets weren’t even mandatory. Craig McTavish steadfastly refused to wear one. Go figure.

  34. Sammich says:

    Ok, so James Harrison feels that he “looks like a pirate”. Let’s hope he doesn’t start to hit like one, too.

  35. Milo Hamilton says:

    Saw on MLB Trade Rumors today that Colorado may come asking about Pedro Alvarez. Hmm.

  36. Officer Mancuso says:

    Biz! Just the guy I need to ask “Are Kovacevites Bolsheviks or Mensheviks? Great to see your pixels.

  37. Officer Mancuso says:

    Nobody leaves till I check your pockets for a closing parenthesis.

  38. JUCOFan says:

    35) Tony Sanchez, C, Pittsburgh Pirates: Disappointing in Double-A, hit .241/.340/.318, threw out 22% of runners. I expected better. Stock down.

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