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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Penn State finally chooses

DENVER – Some sporting thoughts from a mile high …

>> My Friday column covers the Mike Wallace issue, or at least as much as anyone can hope to cover Wallace. It’s largely from the Denver perspective, which I found telling.

>> Had a request to interview John Elway turned down. I’m told he does that to pretty much everybody, but I still felt like Cleveland for being spurned by him.

>> Penn State finally made its choice by going with Bill O’Brien, New England’s offensive coordinator, late last night. I’ll reserve judgment on O’Brien, as I prefer to do in these situations, but I couldn’t help but be struck by O’Brien immediately making clear he’ll stay with the Patriots until they’re done. The Super Bowl is Feb. 5, and Letter of Intent Day is the day before.

I don’t like this at all. And really, not so much because of the recruiting class. I had no beef with Paul Chryst sticking with Wisconsin because of the specific circumstances at Pitt, where the players needed to see a coach demonstrate loyalty. That’s what Chryst was doing with the Badgers.

This Penn State circumstance is off the charts. The university, never mind the football team, already waited two months for the hire. Waiting as long as another five weeks only further postpones a lot of the healing, mending fences and other important work that needs to be done.

>> Astoundingly, the Pitt basketball team is 0-3 in Big East play after falling in DePaul, of all places. I saw none of this, obviously, so I can’t imagine what it must have been like watching it.

Credit to Jamie Dixon for shaking up his starting lineup by inserting John Johnson and Talib Zanna (16 points, eight boards), but this team clearly needs so much more.

The rest of the month, by the way: Rutgers, Marquette, Syracuse, Louisville, Providence, Georgetown and West Virginia. Don’t even try to guess what the Panthers’ record might be by then.

>> The chat transcript from yesterday.


  1. Reading says:

    Pitt game was nationally televised on espn2. So, you could possibly watch it on that newfangled watch ESPN site or app, if you wanted to see the debacle.

  2. Curt says:

    I think O’Brien is a great hire. Anyone who gets in Brady’s grill and lets him know when he makes mistakes, makes me like him already. Penn State needs some toughness and leadership and I have no problem that he is not a “Penn Stater” like Brandon Short says is a huge mistake.
    Pitt looks like they’ll be playing in the NIT (not in tournament) this year!

  3. JAL says:

    JAL’s Mistaken for Strangers Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3- 2011-12 Pirates Prospects Off-Season Calendar

    4 Pirate Offseason Stats

    5 Yahoo Free Agent Tracker;_ylt=AvN8KLXkNW0TcRjzSCagLIMBbgM6?slug=jp-passan_ultimate_free_agent_tracker_baseball_110211

    6 Pirates Prospects Offseason Tracker

  4. JAL says:

    7 Pittsburgh Pirates 2012 Spring Training Tracker


    8—Pirates Prospects

    Minor League Depth — First Base

    Pirates Release Four Lower Level Minor Leaguers

    Winter League Playoffs 1/5

    9 Rumbunter

    2012 Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training Countdown: Tim Wood

    Pittsburgh Pirates Searching for Utility Middle Infielder Help

  5. JAL says:

    10 McEffect

    Can Garrett Jones Have A Big 2012?

    11WHY GAVS

    One big domino left to fall

    12 The Green Weenie

    The Arb Clock Is On…


    13 Reuters

    New York Times, Washington Post, AP Found NewsRight

    14 Johnstown Tribune Democrat

    Ryan makes move into coaching

    15 Chicago Daily Herald

    Memorable Big Z meltdowns

  6. JAL says:

    16 Wall Street Journal

    A Tough Guy’s Tough Road to the Screen

    17 New York Times

    A Sportswriter’s Hall of Fame Tribute Is Out of Place to Some


    18 PBC Site

    Resop family raising money for cancer research

  7. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    -Behind the Steel Curtain

    Comparing the 2010 and 2011 Steelers as They Head into the Playoffs

    NFL Once Again Posts Smashing TV Ratings in 2011

    BTSC Steelers Six Pack: NFL Playoffs Countdown Edition

    -Steelers Depot

    Aaron Smith Say He Is Completely Healthy; Undecided On the Future

    -Steelers Gab

    Arians Worried About Pouncey’s Status For Sunday Due to Ankle

  8. JAL says:

    Pitt Blogs

    Pitt Blather

    Done! End Of Story! That’s All Folks!

    Cardiac Hill

    DePaul 84, Pitt Somehow Less Than DePaul: We’ve Reached Full Panic Mode

    Pitt Football: Lucas Nix Charged In ‘Incident'; Bowl Status Unclear

  9. JAL says:

    WVU Blogs

    Metro News

    Orange Bowl Champion Gear In Demand

    Casteel’s Future Uncertain

    WV Illustrated

    WVU Turns Doubters to Believers… Again

    Darwin Cook Turns Over Clemson, Turns Around Game



    Looking at the Skeddy: Next 5 games provide challenges for Pens

  10. John Lease says:

    Going outside was a very good move for Penn State. Whether or not he works out remains to be seen.

  11. Jandy says:

    I don’t know a lot about Penn State football coaching, et al, but I get the feeling O’Brien may have a rough time getting the players to accept him. Already there are comments from the players. Personally I don’t see why they didn’t just keep Bradley on.

  12. Skip says:

    I’m surprised, DK that you think it’s okay for O’Brien to quit on his team in the middle of a playoff run. If he’s the right guy, I don’t see why waiting a few more weeks will matter in the long run.

    Also, they don’t need a “Penn State guy”. They need someone who can recruit and win and run a clean program.

  13. JAL says:

    Who would have thought Pitt and Villanova would both start the Big East season 0-3, two traditional powers struggling.

  14. Drew71 says:

    I’m a Penn State alum. I still adore JoePa, although I supported his termination. I am appalled by what happened at Penn State, although I continue to support my school.

    A critical hiring, of which I followed – and agonized over – every internet rumor. So on the day the story leaks of the biggest Football hiring I can remember since after Chuck Noll stepped down, I feel…


    Not one emotion, positive or negative. Just sort of blah nothing.

    I have no idea what that means.

  15. January 6

    43 days until Pirate Spring Training

  16. Ryan says:

    Good coaches get the best out of their players, regardless of circumstances. If they don’t like him coming in, it doesn’t matter. If he knows what he’s doing, he’ll turn things around.

  17. jackdeloplane says:

    Re: Pitt basketball. Now we see how hard it is to have a Top 10 program year after year and decade after decade. Dixon will right the ship and they will be back next year, but he has alot of work to do

    As for PSU, it was clearly a no win situation and anyone who thinks they will be successful for the next 2-3 years is either VERY optimistic, or uninformed. With all due respect to DJ Dozier and Brandon Short, they had to go outside the program for a hire. I just thought they’d go with someone with HC experience. Just shows you how toxic the job is right now. What parent would advise their son to go there when the possibility of an SMU-type sanction looms. At least some tough sanctions will come down. I mean if they nab OSU for tatoos (and lying and covering up) what will they do with PSU for lying and covering up?

    Look for Obrien to right the ship, steady the program and be gone in 4 years.

  18. Catfish293 says:

    Elway spurned Indy in the draft, probably felt more like that, lol.

  19. @suckmeter says:

    It sucks all Bill O’Brien will likely be is a buffer for 3-4 years until he resigns/gets fired. Penn State will then be able to attract the elite coach they weren’t able to get now.

  20. CWalton_67 says:

    Hope you’ve been enjoying the weather out here, Dejan, and hope you also brought your coat. Snow coming.

    Don’t know if anyone else saw Todd Blackledge on ESPN last night. You’d have thought that PSU hired Todd Graham by the way he was whining about O’Brien. I thought he was going to cry.

    Rough start for Pitt basketball, and might be a rough season. But doesn’t Jamie Dixon get a little slack, here? He’s been sustained excellence for a very long time.

    Go Steelers.

  21. jackdeloplane says:

    Dixon has earned “Cowher treatment” for his sustained excellence. remember Cowher had a few down years in there, but the Steelers stuck with him and were rewarded.

    Very similar situations actually, since the current knock on Dixon (until this year) was that he’s a great coach who can’t get over the hump, much like Cowher not being able to win AFC Championships despite home field advantage and what was thought to be superior teams a couple of times. Without question, Cowher was the right man at the time, and so is Dixon

  22. Bunch of fair weather fans... says:

    2011-12 Pitt basketball = More proof that preseason rankings in any sport are nothing more than conversation starters.

  23. scapper says:

    Drew 71…it means you should be commending yourself for being a sane, rational person who keeps sports in their proper perspective. Now, if you were gnashing your teeth and burning acid holes in your stomach about that issue, THEN you’d have reason to be concerned.

  24. ski says:

    College kids may not react well to having coaches in their faces, see Tino Sunseri.
    May we will play PSU in NIT (where they reside permantly) since they did not want to face us because we were too good. Why don’t you attend your bb games, your crowds are pathetic.

  25. BenderHeel says:

    “Also, they don’t need a “Penn State guy”. They need someone who can recruit and win and run a clean program.”

    @Skip: It’ll be harder for him to recruit if he’s focusing all his time and energy on the New England Patriots. Penn State fans best hope for an early demise for the Pats in this post-season.

    Recruiting is the lifeblood of college football, and Penn State will have an empty head football coach’s office at the most critical time.

    And his rumored first hire – the offensive quality control assistant from the Tennessee Titans – hasn’t been in college football in five or six years…and that time was at dook as a one-year RB coach.

    O’Brien better be burning the phone lines lining up LEGIT college assistants who are top recruiters. Larry Johnson, for one, better be on O’Brien’s staff to ease the transition and appease some of the letterman.

  26. Pattonbb says:

    I agree with those that think O’Brien isn’t a long term hire. He’ll be there until the dust settles and the stink left from that creature Sandusky leaves Happy Valley.

    I relate it to when Alabama hired Mike Shula. Although they stayed in house and hired a ‘Bama guy, everyone knew he was just a band-aid. Once the NCAA penalties wore off, they went after and got their man, Saban.

    Of course, I could be totally wrong, who knows.

  27. Benderheel,
    “They need someone who can recruit and win and run a clean program.”

    No one should know that better than a graduate of No Carolina!!! Rumor has it that UNC really stands for “UNClean”!

    By the way, I guess they did not have spelling class down there in dirty foot land——the correct spelling is D-U-K-E!!!

    It will be great to have a former Duke Assistant Coach as coach of Penn State. Duke might not win in football as much as No Carolina, but at least you don’t feel like you need to take a shower after talking to one of their coaches. How many football coaches in a row has UNClean had who are/were in trouble with the law AND NCAA?

    Any truth to the rumor that Todd Graham will become the Head Coach at Carolina in 2013? (you know he’ll be leaving Arizona State after one year) . . . . I hear he has family down there. Typical heel.

  28. JAL says:

    From ESPN

    – Steelers running backs coach Kirby Wilson was hospitalized on Friday after being severely burned during an early morning fire at his home in a Pittsburgh suburb.

  29. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    Per Ken Rosenthal on Twitter:

    Confirming other reports: IF Ronny Cedeno in agreement with #Mets on one-year, $1.1M contract, plus incentives. Pending physical.

  30. JMB says:

    The Cubs just robbed the Pads of Anthony Rizzo.

    Why can’t NH make deals like this?!?!

    That’s right; we don’t really need a young slugging 1B…

  31. TS says:


    Your question was rhetorical. Neal Huntington can’t make deals like that because he’s Neal Huntington. Only way Pirates EVER compete again is when Nutting decides he’s had enough and sells the team, which will be a long time considering he’s making a profit every year.

  32. JAL says:

    Rizzo has PCL stats similar to those of Jeff Clement. No sure thing. Cubs plan to start him in AAA.

  33. JAL says:

    Baseball America once had Clement ranked 33rd best propect in baseball and highest Rizzo has been ranked is 75th.

  34. absolute59 says:

    Jal: Rizzo and Clement numbers are not comparable.

    Last year Rizzo was 21-22 years old and during his first year in AAA he had 26 HR and 101 RBI. His line was .331/.404/.652 with an OPS of 1.056.

    In his first full year in AAA Clement was 23-24 years old and he had 20 HR and 80 RBI. His line was .275/.370/..497 with an OPS of .867.

    So Rizzo’s stats in PCL are much better than Clement’s and done at a younger age.

    In fact Clement at 28 year old has never hit for as high average, hit as many HR or driven in as many runs as Rizzo did as a 21-22 year old last year.

  35. JAL says:


    To me that is comparable–both PCL inflated numbers. Clement hit over .300 4 seasons

    Clement started pro ball later because he went to college and Rizzo did not

    Clement hit 21 in AAA and 20 another year.

    Rizzo’s numbers are a bit better. My only point is that Rizzo is no better a guarantee that Clement once was.

  36. JAL says:

    Another thing to ask about Rizzo is why is his now in his 3rd organization? Padres just got him after the 2010 season and after the 26 HR in AAA and 49 games in the majors they trade him away.

    Rizzo may become a top level slugger but there are some possible red flags.

  37. JAL and Abby,
    No red flags on Rizzo trade.

    Red Sox and Theo Epstein originally drafted him.
    He was the super prospect Padres demanded in the trade for Adrien Gonzalez.

    Jed Hoyer, who pulled the trade off for the Padres to acquire Rizzo, is now the General Manger of the Cubs under Theo Epstein. Those two wanted their original draft and trade choice back. No red flags when the leaders of the two previous organizations want him back!

    He will spend another year in AAA, then come up smokin’.

    There goes my prediction that Theo was laying in weeds ready to spring and sign Fielder.

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