January 23, 2015
by Chris Adamski
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By now, I hope you’ve read the story that ran in Friday’s Trib discussing the ramifications of Pat Narduzzi’s hiring as Pitt’s head coach on Penn State recruiting and on the recent social media banter between coaches of the two schools. Colleague Jerry DiPaola did the lion’s share of the writing, so I am comfortable in promoting it as a well-written piece (unlike most of the stuff I provide!).
In preparing for it, I went trying to see if any trends could be identified in who’s recruiting against whom – are Penn State and Pitt truly recruiting rivals? After all, these are two schools in differing conferences, from two completely different campus/town settings who haven’t played each other on the field in 15 years. Yes, we in Pittsburgh take a provincial look at this – we’re all about Pitt and Penn State, Pitt and Penn State. (With a side of WVU). But what is the view from the outside on this?
Indeed, the two national recruiting analysts we interviewed for the story – one each from each of the two services that are generally regarded as the premier sites in the industry – all but laugh off the talk of a Pitt-PSU (recruiting) cold war. Rivals’ Mike Farrell said, ‘Penn State is the alpha dog in-state,” Rivals.com recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said. “Pitt fans can yell and scream about that all they want, but that’s the way it is.” Scout’s Brian Dohn’s take: “You want that rivalry to take place, but it can’t be a rivalry until both sides win… When you go to Penn State, you have 100,000 people there. When you go to a Pitt game, you have a lot of yellow seats.”
The point of this post is not to pile on Pitt (nor was the story). I know many Panthers partisans won’t believe that. Just relaying messages. That said, in researching for this story, I wanted to see how often, in fact, Pitt and Penn State go head-to-head in attempting to attract a prospect. Is it regularly? More often than their respective conference rivals? More often than other schools in the state? More often than schools that are also known for recruiting the Pennsylvania footprint?
So what I did was examine all of the 2015 verbal commitments for Pitt, Penn State and a handful of other relevant schools (nearby West Virginia, Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State, plus recruiting dynamo Alabama for comparison’s sake). I used Rivals.com to see what schools had offered scholarships to each. To compare, I made a chart (that I hope will show up well in blog format) of each school’s “record” in recruiting against each school (in other words, among prospects who had offers from, say, Ohio State and Penn State and made a verbal commitment to one or the other, eight chose PSU and six OSU. Thus, that is reflected by an “8-6” under Penn State and “6-8” under Ohio State).
I hope that makes sense. I also want to emphasize that this is FAR from a perfect measure. For one thing, we are relying completely on Rivals.com for our info. They do a fabulous job in covering recruiting and I have no reason to doubt them, but it’s always unsettling to depend on someone else’s information. Secondly, the term “offer” can be, at times, subjective. Thirdly, there’s a theory that some schools will not offer a kid they know they aren’t going to get — while the philosophies of others is one of, in effect, “it can’t hurt to try.” Finally, the timing of this makes it particularly unfair to Pitt (and Michigan) because they have just gone through coaching changes and, as a result, have much smaller classes at the moment.
One final note: I compiled this on Tuesday, and all I have updated since are the Pitt recruits (PSU hasn’t had any additional ones as I post this late Friday morning). But if by chance Alabama or Ohio State, etc., added anyone, it won’t be reflected here.
Capiche? (I don’t even know if that’s how you say that word). Anyway, here is what I found:
PENN STATE (20 recruits, ranked No. 12 nationally)
13-2 vs. Pitt 8-0 vs. WVU 8-6 vs. OSU 4-1 vs. Mich 8-2 vs. MSU 4-4 vs. Bama
PITT (13 recruits, ranked No. 61 nationally)
2-13 vs. PSU 6-4 vs. WVU 1-3 vs. OSU 1-2 vs. Mich 4-3 vs. MSU 0-1 vs. Bama
WEST VIRGINIA (21 recruits, ranked No. 27 nationally)
0-8 vs. PSU 4-6 vs. Pitt 2-8 vs. OSU 1-2 vs. Mich 1-3 vs. MSU 3-5 vs. Bama
OHIO STATE (24 recruits, ranked No. 7 nationally)
6-8 vs. PSU 3-1 vs. Pitt 8-2 vs. WVU 8-2 vs. Mich 11-2 vs. MSU 6-11 vs. Bama
MICHIGAN (6 recruits, ranked No. 101 nationally)
1-4 vs. PSU 2-1 vs. Pitt 2-1 vs. WVU 2-8 vs. OSU 2-1 vs. MSU 2-3 vs. Bama
MICHIGAN STATE (15 recruits, ranked No. 34 nationally)
2-8 vs. PSU 3-4 vs. Pitt 2-1 vs. WVU 2-11 vs. OSU 1-2 vs. Mich 1-3 vs. Bama
ALABAMA (26 recruits, ranked No. 1 nationally)
4-4 vs. PSU 1-0 vs. Pitt 5-3 vs. WVU 11-6 vs. OSU 3-2 vs. Mich 3-1 vs. MSU
One last note on the “Commonwealth Cold War” between Pitt and Penn State. When looking at in-state schools Pitt is recruiting against, among Panthers’ 2015 verbal commitments, as many have offers from Duquesne as do from Penn State (two). And that group features three times as many players with Temple offers (six) than Penn State.
Enjoy your weekend. Check out my other two blog posts from Friday.