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Pitt, Dixon extend deal through 2022-23

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Pitt and Jamie Dixon just announced a contract extension for the coach through the 2022-23 season, with Dixon saying in the statement he intends to finish his career at the university.

My Friday column from Salt Lake City has all my feelings on Dixon and what his staying would mean.

Please feel free to use this thread to share your thoughts.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and more, including his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the top four columnists in the country -- highest circulation category -- by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the top three columnists in the country by the National Headliners Awards. For 2013, he was named top columnist in the state by the Keystone Awards and second-place by the Pennsylvania AP Managing Editors.

122 Comments

  1. This is Steeler Smart.

  2. Extension is fine but 10 years? With his March record? Where’s the incentive to improve? Basic management 101.

    DK: Technically, the extension is five years on top of the existing deal for a total of 10, but your overall point still stands, obviously.

    • I’m not seeing that.

      If the unthinkable happens and pitt fires Dixon next year, will they pay him for nine more years, or do you think they have a buyout provision?

      I mean really. I don’t like pitt. But I don’t think they’re stupid.

      Every other program uses buyouts. If Dixon underperforms, he has the same incentive – to keep his paycheck beyond a brief, reasonable buyout period – that any other coach would have.

      When the Steelers extended Cowher after a disappointing 6-10 season, how did that disincentive work for them?

      Sure. It wasn’t a 10 year deal. But it was coming off a FAR more disappointing season.

      And I don’t even like pitt.

      But some organizations can see “vision” while others are reacting to the latest trend or frustration and emotion. Obviously.

  3. Jamie Dixon has done a lot for the Pitt program. There’s no denying that, from anyone. However, it’s TOTALLY fair to ask if he can get this team to the next level. He needs to adjust the kind of player he brings in. Somebody has to be the go to scorer, preferably 2 guys in the ACC. I’m not upset they’ve brought him back, but the term is somewhat surprising. Pitt basically says, “we’re fine with your body of work.” As a Pitt fan, I’m not. I respect Dixon and am grateful Pitt is a relevant program, but he’s gotta get over the hump. Period.

    • Be careful what you wish for.

      North Carolina State let Jim Valvano go around 1985 because they thought he had too many distractions, wasn’t focused, and false rumors surrounded the program.

      Took them 26 years to recover and become the winning team again that won 2 National Championships in a decade.

      By the way, a little closer to home, how did forcing out Walt Harris pan out?
      How has it worked out at WVU forcing out Bill Stewart for Chuckles the Clown?
      How is DePaul doing since they forced out Joey Meyer 20 years ago?

      Are you thinking Dixon has already hit his zenith and he will never improve?

      I’m glad Duke didn’t force our Krzyzewski after 4 mediocre seasons, seasons worse than his predecessors!

      • There are no programs that got rid of a coach and improved? I think you’re cherry picking Groat.

        • Not to mention Dixon has had 10 years That’s very patient from most schools.

          • Personally, I’d like to see how he does/recruits over the next 2-3 years in the ACC.

          • Adam: He has won an average of 26 game a year in those 10 years and made 9 NCAA tournaments.

            Do you remember the Pitt program in the mid 90′s playing in the old field house before about 5,000; being lucky to win 15 and make NIT while the players were breaking into houses on road trips.

            Please….the last 10 years have been Pitt’s glory years in basketball

        • Don’t think I am, Clemente.

          Give me some programs who were consistently in the Top 3 of their conference . . . . . . then removed their coach and got better. Check out IowaHadar’s comment below.

          I gave you 4 above off the top of my head; Hadar gave you another one below. That’s 5.

          If you can give me 3 programs who were Top 3 in their conference, chose to remove their coach or push him out the door and got better, then I will believe you.

          • “Give me some programs who were consistently in the Top 3 of their conference”

            Why is that the benchmark? You’re comparing the Big East in football to the Big East in basketball? Please. Comparing Walt Harris or Bill Stewart to Jamie Dixon? I don’t think they’re in his league. There’s probably many of examples to support what we’re both saying. I agree with you to an extent, be careful what you wish for, but that’s not always a good enough reason to stay the course and hope for the best. If Pitt could get a guy like Sean Miller in here, I’d take him.

            • Sean Miller coaches in the Pac-12, a league inferior to both the Big East and the ACC.

              That gives him an easier shot to Conference titles, regular season titles, and high seeds in NCAA.

              How many National Championships has Sean Miller won, with his added advantage? His team was the overwhelming favorite to win the Pac-12 this year. How’d they do?

              How many Final 4′s, Elite 8′s has Miller gone to in his vagabond coaching career?

              You are looking at Sean Miller with Pitt grad-colored glasses.

              I would not consider Sean Miller in the Top 10 college coaches in America. I might consider Jamie Dixon in that group, even though I frequently am critical of the offense he runs.

              • I think he’s a real good coach. I don’t care what league he coaches or has coached in and I don’t see how a theoretically weaker conference means it’s easier to win that conference. He has recently had some excellent recruiting classes on paper. We’ll see how his teams do in the next couple of years.

                He has moved around. A lot of coaches have. He’s hardly a vagabond. I don’t care that Miller went to Pitt. You’re putting words in my mouth. He took a 16-15 team from his first year to 30-8 and the elite 8. He took Xavier to the Elite 8. You’re cherry picking again. There just aren’t that many coaches available to hire that have coached a national championship team. Added advantage? What in the world are you talking about? Just because you think he has some kind of advantage doesn’t mean he does.

              • I’m not a Pitt grad by the way.

              • Miller makes almost $1 million a year than Dixon. Why would he take a pay cut? Be real….

  4. I am not exactly privy on how these contracts work, but I believe it shows Pitt’s loyalty to Dixon. I believe him when he says he is happy at Pitt. Plus, I am not sure how many coaches out there right now that Pitt could hire are better than Dixon?

  5. Jamie Dixon and his staff are a class act. Pitt is lucky to have them. I am much more comfortable going into the ACC with him under an extended contract.

  6. Dixon has played this tune how many times now?

    JD: Hey Steve, guess what? I’m not paid enough. USC called and I want more money and more years.
    SP: Jamie, I’ll have to cut some money from the football program to do it.
    JD: Not my problem, my hair looks great from November to February.
    SP: Ok, you have a deal.

    • 9 out of 10 years in NCAA Tournament; the 10th year Champions of the uber–prestigious CBI Tournament; full houses every game at the Pete; always a threat——not just a hope——to win Big East (and hopefully ACC) Tournament; finally getting Top 100 recruits to Pitt; always talked of glowingly as a model National program on national media outlets.

      Keep playing that tune. Play it until the grooves wear out!!!

      .

      FIRE DAN BYLSMA!!!

      • So you don’t have a problem with Dixon or any other college coach that has a contract, earning plenty of money, and continually wants more money?

        • Do I like it: No!

          Is it the American way: Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!

          Not many Joe Paternos left in college athletics.

          You are not saying you are against America, are you Fido Eric?!?!?!
          (I learned this tactic listening to Rush Limbaugh!)

          • I have a problem with college coaches that are making millions and millions while college tuition skyrockets. Frankly, same with the school President, Athletic Director, etc.

            • It’s our fault. I have no problem with it. I have an issue with colleges and universities in general because of their inability to control costs.

            • You ought to live in KY where state workers haven’t had a raise in 4 years and Calipari makes 3 million a year.

              Please don’t tell me, either how all the alumni pay his salary. They brag all the time that he’s the highest paid state employee.

              I’m not bitter. I’m glad to have a job, but I agree with Eric. My kids will be paying school loans for the next 30 years.

              • Don’t get me wrong Lucky. What you’re describing isn’t a good situation, IMO. We’re flawed and I accept those flaws because I believe in our form of government. I wish our priorities were different though. And I would never make that alumni argument.

                I believe the highest paid federal government employee is the Air Force football coach.

                DK: For real?

              • I believe you’re right.

          • Groat do you really think in the 70′s that Joe never got more money to stay when both the steeler and pats came calling?

  7. Extend Bylsma!

  8. If I owned a pro basketball team and my coach was Dixon, I would consider firing him.

    If I was responsible for a major college basketball program, I would want my program to be exactly what Dixon has made it. I would keep Dixon – long term.

    Of course I would evaluate how we could get a little closer to a NCAA Championship.

  9. I’m not really familiar with the Pitt program, but a while ago Iowa had a coach who was getting them to the NCAAs every year, but couldn’t get them “to the next level” whatever that means.

    The AD listened to the fans and fired the guy and brought in a hotshot kid who played at Indiana and had some tournament success at Missouri State. Just what the fans wanted for the first year — until his players started getting arrested and the program which had been consistently a top 25 program, occasionally a top 10 program fell into the second division. He left the program in a total shambles and the guy they brought in to fix his mess couldn’t get the job done either.

    Now the Iowa program is just starting to come back. It’s been over ten years, though, and they still haven’t been back to the NCAA tournament. Meanwhile the guy they fired came out of retirement and built a championship at Drake in the Missouri Valley; which was strong until he retired again.

    Be careful what you wish for. You might just get it. There’s a big difference between firing a coach at a losing program and getting rid of one who’s been successful (and against some pretty strong competition at that), but just not quite as successful as everybody in the bleachers would like him to be.

    • DR. TOM!!

      I lived in Iowa when he was the Hawkeye coach.

      Good call, IowaHadar——exactly the same situation!!

      Didn’t take Iowa long to go from top 3 in Big Ten each year to bottom half for almost 2 decades, did it?

  10. In short order we’ve had Chryst and Dixon re-commit themselves to Pitt as it enters the ACC. I know it’s hard for some, but Pitt fans should be very happy.

    • was Dixon committing to Pitt or did he want more money?

      • I am certain he is well paid as he should be. But your assumption he used this for leverage is based on what? If it’s only a guess, I can make a guess that he didn’t and got an extension for the going rate which is a good deal for Pitt.

      • This is going to come out harsher than I mean it – I’m serious about the Q – but do you ever see a positive motive in anyone?

        If Dixon turns into Bobby Bowdin, Dean Smith or Jim Bayheim and stays for the rest of his career, will it just be because he continually held up pitt?

      • I agree, this ” money grab” theory is a red herring.

        • I agree AW.

          Plus, if it was money he wanted wouldn’t he have talked to USC.
          I’m sure they would pay him much more than Pitt.

          • But doesn’t 5 years seem a bit long?

            • If they were really on the hook for five more years, maybe. But there are no five or ten year deals in sports. There are buyouts.

              And if that is the case, why shouldn’t coaches get the best deal they can using whatever leverage they have? (I know you never said they shouldn’t. Just thinking out loud.)

              • In fact, you sorta said the same with your later leverage comment, which I just found.

                Schools don’t honor contracts. Coaches don’t honor contracts.

                So if Dixon retires from pitt in 2023 or so, I’m going to be impressed. Yes. Even about pitt.

              • I see it this way. If both sides agreed on a contract, and then agree to amend the contract resulting in a coach’s departure, it’s still honored. An original agreement is just that, IMO.

          • Cracker,

            You are a very wise men! Good Call!!

        • I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using the USC job as leverage, even as a bluff, if that’s what he did. And I think that’s exactly what Dixon and his agent did.

          • I haven’t read much about the whole USC connection. I know Dixon went there. But how serious were the rumors? Were there actual talks with Dixon or his agent.

            I heard the announcer on TV say that if Dixon went to USC he better get used to playing in an empty arena.

    • And kudos to Pederson and Dixon for quickly nipping this in the bud. On national TV to boot.

  11. Why do I keep seeing people mention the move to the ACC as some sort of big step up in competition? I think you can argue that the Big East has been a better conference than the ACC over the past 5 years and Pitt could actually have more success in the ACC.

    I’m torn over the Dixon extension, but ultimately believe it is good for the program. I get just as frustrated as the next fan regarding the annual tourney failures, but he will make sure that they’re competitive every season. It doesn’t hurt recruiting to know there is some stability in the program, and it almost guarantees Adams will return next year. If he can convince Adams to stay until he’s a Junior, that team should be a legitimate Final Four threat, as I expect Robinson to be a top tier PG by that time. Then, if they lose, we’ll be having these conversations all over again!

  12. I posted this on a previous thread. Just my thoughts.

    With Bylsma and Dixon the grass is green, it’s not always on the other side.

    I would rather have someone get me to the promise land. Once there, it is up to me to own it and make something of it

  13. I wish all the haters of Dixon would let him go to Penn State.

    We wouldn’t be a joke anymore.

  14. You never make a hasty move like this. I have a lot of respect for what Jamie has done and for his loyalty to the school. But, the fact is he needs to prove that he is willing to look at ways to improve himself before getting an extension. The type of players he recruits, as well as how he structures both his offense and defense are a thing of the past. Everyone is adapting to the faster pace of the game that was forced upon the big schools by the mid-majors. Jamie stubbornly clings to a half-court offense using 30 seconds of shot clock, moving the ball back and forth. It works in the regular season, where he knows his opponents inside & out, then fails vs quick, athletic teams every post-season. Pitt has now locked itself into 10 more years of mediocre talent, where top flight talent will avoid this outdated playing style. I would have said “Adapt, or move on.”

    • Then it would have been move on. There is no option that he would have taken less money and a finger-wagging, prove-it-or-else situation at pitt vs millions more at USC.

      So if you think it was time to move on, go for it. Let him go.

      It wasn’t hasty. it was the only option to keep him. That’s not to say it was the RIGHT option. The other option was to let him go.

      Would you? If your options are to extend or say goodbye, would you wave goodbye?

  15. ‘USC is stung by Pitt coach Jamie Dixon’s decision to remain at the school. The university opened talks with him and thought he would return to Southern California.’

    I found that on the Inside USC blog.

  16. I’m baffled by this; your about to enter a new conference and are basing the extension on past success in the Big East. His exisiting deal was for 5 years. To me this seemed like the perfect opportunity to say put up or shut up. You got 5 years left and moving into a new conference. Lets see if you can do in the ACC what you did in the Big East.

    Wanny has to be sitting around scratching his head a bit at this one. Never been to a final four; feasts on a cupcake non-conference schedule and hasn’t won any title of any kind in a few years. Consistent failures in the big dance.

    Lets extend him for 5 more years! BRILLIANT!!

    • Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying Dixon should be fired; but he has 5 years left on his deal. He’s won nothing of note in a few seasons. I just don’t get this right now.

      • Not extending would have the same effect as firing.

        He would be gone.

        To a private or better endowed school which could pay millions more than pitt.

        So we would be fooling ourselves if we think Dixon would stick around for less money to prove that he deserves more than his old deal but still less than he could get from USC a year earlier.

        It was: extend Dixon or hire a new coach and hope.

        • And by the way. With that choice, if someone says Let Him Walk, I respect that

          Don’t agree, but at least respect the honesty of recognizing that there was no middle ground available of maintaining the old deal and expecting him to stay.

        • If Dixon is the coach everyone makes him out to be why would it be hire a new coach and hope?

          If he’s as good as advertised this program should be a prime job for most coaches to jump to not jump from.

          Again I’m not saying Dixon is a horrible coach but gosh look at what the kid at Butler has been able to do and look at what Dixon has done. And its not even close when it comes to available talent.

          If Pitt basketball is as great as everyone makes it sound because of Jamie Dixon there should have been no shortage of quality proven coaches that would have wanted this job. But if we are sitting here saying hire and hope isn’t that kind of an indication that the program is not where it should be despite 10 years of coaching?

          • let me be clear.

            I. Do. Not. Think. pitt. Is. As. Great. As. Anything.

            Period.

            At least until Dixon took Howland’s nice beginning and built it to something better.

            Put the wrong coach there? In my view it drops right back to the mediocre-to-just-ok program it was for years and years and years.

  17. Never felt he should be fired, but locking him in for 10 years handcuffs the program. No incentive to imrove. Pitt’s major problem in all sports is the AD. Look back on his record in coaching decisions and tell me that it inspires confidence.

    • extend or he goes to USC.

      let’s not pretend there’s a middle ground.

      if you want him to walk, fine. But he’s not staying without an extension.

      So are you more inspired to confidence with Dixon or without him?

      Because that is what it comes down to…the only thing it comes down to.

      • Really neutral. If and when he wants to leave, he will. Pitt loses leverage with this move and more money in the long run. The athletic program is just a muddle on the order of Duquesne’s. I give it a vote of no confidence.

  18. DK:

    Let me ask this question. Do you see the Pitt basketball program as a landing spot or a jumping spot? Meaning is this a job a quality coach would jump at the opportunity at or is this a job where a coach comes and builds his resume and jumps to another school?

    I’m not saying its a Kansas, Kentucky or Duke but I’m curious to see where you feel this school would fit if you were a coach.

  19. I really don’t think Dixon needs an extra financial incentive to attempt to improve on his post-season record.

    • Well they just gave him a 5 year extension and I don’t believe its incentive based so he doesn’t need to worry about post season records to get paid

      • Sure he does. If he is fired, he doesn’t get paid after the normal buyout.

        I just don’t see why everyone thinks ten years means a ten year guarantee.

        Or why an incentive disappears when a coach can be fired at ANY time.

        Forget pitt and look around college basketball. Contracts mean little to schools or coaches.

        • Then why extend him?

          • because the only other option is: he leaves.

            If that’s what you want, fine. I disagree but I respect a decision.

            But let’s not fool ourselves that that he would stay to prove himself worthy when USC was waiting with more money than pitt could ever pay.

            • You don’t think the buyout went up when this extension was signed? Every time his salary goes up so does the buyout.

              I seriously don’t think Dixon would ever go to USC. I honestly believe USC is a step back for him at this point. I think its been nothing but leverage.

              • That may be true. But maybe not if they offered millions more. That would get MY attention.

                So the bottom line is, do you want Dixon to stay as your coach?

                I really don’t care. I don’t like pitt (tho admittedly i like Dixon.)

                But do you think he should coach pitt for next decade?

    • TJ—a bunch of people have argued in one way or another he would not have an incentive WITH the extension. I’m saying he has that incentive regardless of the contract. It’s just whether he does it here or somewhere else. These guys want paid, no doubt, but they have a burning desire to WIN methinks. Certainly Dixon does. Curious what DK thinks about that, since in his Friday column he said he thought Dixon downplayed the lack of championships in the interview. But I’d be surprised if he thought he needed some kind of extra incentive.

      • Arriba my biggest problem with Dixon is the tournament. He never seems capable to adapt or make changes. Its like the only thing he knows is how to play cupcakes and Big East basketball. Any other style of play and its like he freezes. I don’t doubt his desire; no doubt he has it.

        • so the obvious follow-up Q is…would you have let him walk to USC, now that we know that they were talking, or would you have extended him?

          If those were the only choices, what would you have done?

          • Drew… if Dixon is as good a coach as everyone makes him out to be then the Pitt program should be in a solid condition and be a program that should not have a problem finding an established quality coach (miller perhaps).

            • That’s too academic of an answer. So much so that it doesn’t really answer the Q..

              Not asking whether it is POSSIBLE to replace him and continue his success.

              I am asking if you would put yourself in position to try to do so. In other words…

              Direct Q:
              - In THIS situation, do you let him go to USC, or do you extend?

            • Miller makes much more than Jamie right now, why would he take a big pay cut to come to Pitt?

  20. My wife just put the handcuffs on the remote.

    We’re watching Pretty Woman.

    Talk about no incentive.

  21. Good game going on between Butler and Marquette. Enjoy Pretty Woman, Drew.

  22. I just watched a commercial (a mortal sin) on Oxygen about some show called Voice.

    They talked about someone called Usher joining the show.

    Is he a singer? I cannot imagine they’d offer a job to a, you know, usher.

    But isn’t Ryan Seacrest sort of a mouthy usher?

    Or is that a different show?

    I am so lost.

  23. The original screenplay for “Pretty Woman” was a dark story about narcotic addiction and human exploitation. The director changed it to the hooker with a heart of gold story that has become beloved by millions of women.

    Go Marquette!

  24. Nice try by Pitt to bury the news of this contract extension on the same day the Pirates released Brad Hawpe.

    DK: Post of decade. Magnificent.

  25. If you don’t mind I’ll jump in, and offer IMO, Pitt is in the upper end of resume builders ONLY because of the tourney record. Their record and the overall quality the program suggests that. That being said, I also only think there are less than ten “jump to programs”, all established over a long period of general success AND F4/NCs.

    Dixon’s (and Pitt’s) overall success should not be in question, athough in reading blogs, I have had to come to grips with the “quailty” of a lot of the posts. I don’t say that looking down the end of my nose, but there’s many more (emotional) opinions than informed opinions.

    Good Lord, this years team was PAINFUL to watch in the offensive court and he took them to 4th in the BE. If it was painful to US, can you imagine his REAL thoughts, you know, after the games and a few beers?

  26. What I find amusing is that everyone just assumed he would return to Southern Cal because that is where he is from. I think he just showed that Pittsburgh is his home, not California.

    • I was thinking the same thing, John. I’d love to go back to Ohio or the Tri-State area, but, after 15 years in this place, it seems more like home than that. I know DK would disagree, but home is where most of the family is.

      He can go home to Cali and visit.

  27. Nice thread.

    Can’t WAIT until we have the same discussion about Bylsma.

    • canNOT wait

    • Agree. It’s unreal the success of Pittsburgh sports teams and how spoiled and/or jaded the fans have become as a result. Nothing less than the Big Prize has become acceptable. So many factors come into play to win it. Regardless of the sport, you HAVE to have the talent, get the bounces, get the calls, avoid key injuries AND get hot at the right time.

      All these factors, IMO, are why the Pens haven’t gotten at least one more cup to date, but could win a couple more in the next few years.

    • Drew whats funny is that Bylsma has actually won a stanley cup. Dixon hasn’t even made a final 4.

      • Facts are facts. That is correct.

        Which makes this move either stupid or gutsy.

        I’ll take the latter but recognize the possibility of the former.

  28. The big question is: What if he struggles the next two or three seasons and can’t successfully adjust his system? They can’t fire a guy with 7 or 8 years left.

  29. It’s funny how people say that Dixon can’t get Pitt to the ‘next level’, well he’s already elevated them to the ‘next level’.

    In Dixon’s 10 years Pitt has 9 NCAA appearances (11-9 record) with 3 Sweet 16′s and 1 Elite 8. In the 30 years prior to Dixon, Pitt had 11 NCAA appearances (10-11) record, 3 Sweet 16′s and 1 Elite 8 — that includes the Howland years, where Dixon should maybe get some credit for those 2 NCAA appearances and 2 Sweet 16′s.

    I’ll be the 1st to say he has room to improve, but I think that will come. I think his extensive use of the zone this year shows he’s willing to learn and change. I’m hoping he develops a better, less stagnant offense in the next couple of years. But I’m one happy Alum that Jamie Dixon is Pitt’s coach for the foreseeable future.

  30. After being talked down from the ledge on Thursday afternoon, I now realize that this is the right call. It proves that Pitt is committed to him and he APPEARS to be committed to Pitt.

  31. Now they need to make a commitment to a much stronger nonconference schedule. They are doing a disservice to the players and the fans if they keep scheduling cupcakes in December.

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