Rapid fire football going on. The Pitt Panthers this evening play their third game in 12 days facing 4 and 0 South Florida. This is a very important game for both teams. Both USF and Pitt played Notre Dame with USF coming out victorious against the Irish but lest we forget Notre Dame had 5 turnovers against South Florida. Pitt battled the Irish, had their chances, but came up a little short. Notre Dame is 2 and 2 right now with some tough games down the road. As veteran sports prognosticator Beano Cook once said, the 3 toughest jobs in America are: the President of the United States, the Mayor of New York City, and the Head Football Coach of Notre Dame. Switching gears to talk about Upper St. Clair's high school grad Sean Lee who was an excellent linebacker coming out of Penn State, and now a very talented inside linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys. Lots of teams passed on drafting Sean Lee. If the NFL scouts that went into Penn State would have listened to Coach Tom Bradley's outstanding assessment of Sean Lee, then Sean Lee would have been a first rounder. After watching Sean Lee play last Monday night vs. the Redskins, I validated my original evaluation and said he is for real. Sean Lee had knee injuries at Penn State but being around Sean Lee a few times at workout facilities, I realized how hard of a worker he is. The Steelers discussed taking Lee 4 picks before the Cowboys but decided on taking Jason Worilds. Barring injury, he could develop into one of the finest linebackers in the entire NFL.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Two former Chartiers Valley H.S. players from Scott Township are now active in the National Football League. And Oh by the way, they just happen to be brothers. Coach Bill Belichek just activated Ross Ventrone for today's game vs the Buffalo Bills. Ross was a walk-on at Pitt, then transferred to Villanova and played in the secondary for the Wildcats. His brother Raymond also played at Villanova, was a undrafted free agent with New England, and now is a stalwart special teams player and safety and is on the field a lot for the Cleveland Browns. This a great story and both Ross and Raymond deserve a ton of credit. Both have excellent speed and balance, they are super hard workers, love the game of football, and both have excellent football instincts. And I cannot forget to mention, both Raymond and Ross are great people. Talking about another excellent young guy, check out #23 for the Indianapolis Colts, Corner Terrence Johnson from Woodland Hills H.S. and California U. of PA. Terrence Johnson was an undrafted free agent, also signed with New England but was signed by the Colts in January. He is in the mix with the Colts as a corner and may play a lot vs. the Steelers on tonight's Sunday Night Game. Pennsylvania is producing talented football players.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Where have you gone Mr. Bob Nutting? Everything was peachy on the day when the Pittsburgh Pirates were 51 and 44 and in first place. Since that great day in July, the Pirates have gone into a non-recoverable swoon. On September 20, their record is 68 and 86. That means the once popular Buccos have gone 17 and 42 since that wonderful day in July. This is just a shade over .250 baseball. Mr Nutting, you went into hibernation way too early. A multitude of Pittsburgh Pirate baseball fans would like to get an explanation of what has happened the last 70 days. Maybe from Coach Clint Hurdle and his staff, maybe from G.M. Neal Huntington, and probably from you Mr. Nutting. I remember seeing an interview with Bob Nutting when the Buccos were playing well in early July and telling everyone that the organization is looking good and how positive the atmosphere was at PNC Park but now Mr. Bob Nutting has pulled a David Copperfield on the Pirate fans and disappeared. I think the fans of Pittsburgh need some sort of explanation of what has occurred. The Pirate team batting average is a weak .242, just the same as the bad 2010 season. They are getting crushed in game recently by scores of 15 to 1 and 14 to 3. It looks to me like the team wants the season to end in a hurry. They are lucky to get 70 wins. As a the old slogan goes "Hope to hear from You!"
Monday, September 19, 2011
What is the National Football League to do with all of these injuries? I mean season ending injuries to some top players in only the first 2 weeks. Steelers OT Willie Colon out for the season with torn Tricep. K.C. Chiefs safety Eric Berry out for the year with an ACL tear, Green Bay Safety Nick Collins out for the season with a neck injury, K.C. Chiefs star running back Jamal Charles out for the year with an ACL tear, and this is just to name a few. Big Ben Roethlisberger had a scare in the Seattle game when DE Raheen Brock rolled up his right leg. Tom Brady has a scare in the San Diego game when someone rolled up his leg. Football is a collision sport and these collisions are high level by players that play fast, are strong, and very powerful. And there are 14 regular season games remaining. The all important remedy is that each team needs quality depth on their rosters. Are the rosters big enough at 53 and a common question that continually arises is: should the rosters be expanded. With all these injuries, is an 18 game season way out of line. Are 4 pre season games too many? Each team is going to play 20 games, whether it be 4 pre season and 16 regular season or 2 pre season or 18 regular season. There is the human element here also and that is the body can only take so much punishment. Is there an answer to all of these injuries. I don't think so. When you have a 350 pound Defensive Tackle like Ravens Haloti Hgata chasing down speedy running backs, the only answer I can think of is hopefully no one gets hurt badly.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
This guy was a local Sports fixture on Channel 11 for a multitude of years. This guy is a sportcaster for Local TV station WPXI, which is Channel 11 after changing its call name from WIIC in 1981. This guy is Sportscaster John Fedko. A little more than a decade ago, Pittsburgh Magazine voted him Pittsburgh's most favorite Sportscaster. John Fedko did receive much criticism for his "goofy, self aggrandizing routine" and many felt it was annoying to watch him on his Sports Broadcasts. But not me. I think John Fedko is entertainment. His enthusiasm doing the WPXI High School football SkyLights is unmatched. Fedko mixes in well with the fans and cheerleaders at every game he attends, and in a unique manner, Fedko is an excellent promoter of Western Pennsylvania high school football. His skits include coming up with nicknames for players along similar lines but at a different level referring to ESPN's Chris Berman's great example"Andre Bad Moon a Rison." Fedko orchestrates songs combined with a high school players' nickname creating a unique verse when watching the individual players high-lights. I do not think John Fedko gets enough credit for what he does especially for his promotion of high school sports in this region. Keep it rolling John Fedko.
Monday, September 12, 2011
As you talk to Pittsburgh Steeler fans across this region, many were in disbelief how the Steelers were handled by the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens had an excellent game plan, QB Joe Flacco played a solid game and took care of the ball, and the addition of Left Tackle Bryant McKinnie for the Ravens is a huge pick up. The Ravens offensive line is very solid. And on the other side of the ball, the Ray Lewis led defense played very well. Ravens DT Haloti Ngata may well be the best defensive player in the entire NFL. This guy is a load, can run, is very physical and strong, and just keeps making plays. ILB Ray Lewis is on a mission. He provides the Ravens with great leadership and enthusiasm and at 36 years old, Ray Lewis is very talented ILB. Lewis caused 2 fumbles yesterday, he is always in position to make plays, and he makes up for his lack of great speed by playing with very good instincts. The Steelers are very resilient and will be a factor in their division. A few years ago, the Steelers were 7 and 5 after 12 games, were the sixth seed in the playoffs, and subsequently won 8 straight games to win the Super Bowl. Hey Steeler fans, there is a lot of football remaining. Put your helmets on and buckle those chin straps because the Pittsburgh Steelers are a bunch of winners and will not let this lose affect them.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Sixty Six and Seventy Nine(66 and 79), here we go for another losing season(19th in a row for the Pittsburgh Pirates). The young people under 20 years old from this area have never seen a winning season from the Pirates. The Pirates record since the All Star break is 19 and 36, a dismal .345 winning percentage.......The Irish of Notre Dame off to a rough start at 0 and 2 with the Michigan State Spartans coming to South Bend this weekend and then the Irish traveling to Pitt on September 24th for a rare noon game time start for the Irish......Hopewell running back Rushel Shell just surpassed 7000 yards rushing for his career. Barring injury, Shell should break the WPIAL rushing record here soon. If you have not seen Rushel Shell play, he reminds me of a former U of Alabama running back who is now with the New Orleans Saints, Mark Ingram.....It would be nice to see the Mylan Golf Classic at Southpointe become a bigger venue. It attracted some decent younger players and 2 veterans in John Daly and Rocco Mediate. The payoff is low but if more revenue was inserted into this Classic, it would attract more good tour players. The Mylan Classic has lots of upside......The Boys in Vegas are projecting the Pittsburgh Steelers to win 11 games. I think the Steelers are very capable of winning more than Eleven regular season games. Today vs the Ravens will be a good test and a great season opener.
Friday, September 9, 2011
Twenty Five players from the W.P.I.A.L. in the National Football League. There are close to 16000 high schools in this great country of ours that play football and 134 of those are WPIAL schools. There are 1696 players in the NFL on active rosters and 25 are from the WPIAL and 7 are from Woodland Hills HS, probably the most from one high school in the NFL. This is a tribute to what type of high school football that is played not only in this region but across the state of Pennsylvania. Western Pennsylvania has been famous for quarterbacks and there are 3 now in the league in West Allegheny's(Pitt)Tyler Palko with the KC Chiefs, Seton LaSalle's (Toledo)Bruce Gradkowski with the Cincinnati Bengals, and Steel Valley's(Eastern Michigan)Charlie Batch for our Pittsburgh Steelers, but wait there would have been a 4th but his family moved away because of a job transfer. This is Matt Schaub who was ticketed to go to Pittsburgh Central Catholic but played at West Chester, PA East(Virginia)and now with the Houston Texans. This small area of America is really pumping out the football players and a lot of the credit not only has to go to the players who work hard and love the game but to the coaches in this region who are preparing these high school players for college and beyond.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
How about California University of PA. having not one, not two, not three, but Four, I mean 4 former players make active rosters this 2011 season in the National Football League. Cal U is the shortened name for California U. of PA, 40 miles South of Pittsburgh right on the Monongahela River for those of you who do not know where it is. It is halfway between Charleroi and Brownsville. The football program has really taken off recently under the tutelage of veteran Coach John Luckhardt, who came to Cal U from Washington and Jefferson University in Washington, PA. after taking a short hiatus. These Four players are QB Josh Portis, who was an undrafted free agent signed by the Seattle Seahawks, Defensive Back Tommie Campbell who was drafted in the 7th round back in April by the Tennessee Titans, Corner Terrence Johnson, first year NFL player who signed with the Indianapolis Colts after a short stint with the Patriots, and special teams guru/wide out Dominique Curry who plays for the St. Louis Rams. Tommie Campbell was the first player drafted from Cal U since the 1950's. Cal U has more active players in the NFL than a good number of Division 1 programs. Hats off to Coach John Luckhardt and his staff for recruiting and coaching these players.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
What is ScoutingPA.com? It is a web site that I have partnered up with. ScoutingPA is an addition to the original web site ScoutingOhio.com. Scouting Ohio is based in the Youngstown OH area and football scout Mark Porter covers Ohio doing a great job. I have partnered up with him and now run ScoutingPA.com. Recruiting fans can look at the web site and see first hand on film what some of the Pitt and Penn State recruits look like. Take for example, recent Pitt recruit, DT Tyrique Jarrett from Pittsburgh Allderdice, footage is on there and it has gotten 200 views since he committed to Pitt last week. Penn Hills WR Cory Jones committed over the weekend and his highlights are on there. Just call him up on the search name area. Penn State double linebacker commitments are on the site. they are Shaler's JP Holtz and Archbald Valley View's Nyeem Wartman. It is Free. Fans will enjoy watching these players' highlights and can keep track of the commitments on players from Pennsylvania only. Remember, these are highlights from the players' Junior season. Let me know what you think.
Sunday, September 4, 2011
The Indiana State University Sycamores traveled to State College to play the Penn State Nittany Lions on Saturday. Why would Penn State play a 1AA(Missouri Valley Conference)team like Indiana State. I do not think that fans realize that during the 2007 season Indiana State was 0 and 11, in 2008 Indiana State was 0 and 12, and in 2009 Indiana State was 1 and 10. So during those 3 seasons 2007-2008-2009 Indiana State won 1 football game and lost 33. 1AA football is much better than it used to be. Yesterday(Sat. Sept. 3rd)1AA Richmond beat the Duke Blue Devils and unheralded 1AA Sacramento State upset Oregon State. But Penn State should have scheduled a better game than Indiana State especially with the Alabama Crimson Tide coming to State College this Saturday. What is wrong with being like Boise State and opening up with Georgia this year and Virginia Tech last football season. This all the more relishes my thoughts on playing a 13th game in college football. If you want to play 1AA Indiana State, play them in late August right when college classes begin, then play your twelve 1a opponents . I still firmly believe that no schools should play in a post season bowl game with a .500 record(6 and 6)especially when one of the victories was against a 1AA opponent. A team should be 7 and 6 to participate in a bowl game. One more game very early in the season when classes are just beginning is not going to cut in classroom time.
As the football world turns. Some twists on the first weekend of college football. How can some colleges on the first game of the season look like they are in mid-season form coming out of pre-season camp with no scrimmages vs. other opponents and no pre-season games? Why does the NFL have Four pre-season games and risk injury to some of their top players on games that do not count. This can be talked about for a long time, but the NFL needs to increase their schedule to 18 regular season games or even 17 and modify these pre-season games. The Post Gazette reports these local rookies made initial active rosters which is excellent for this area. Aliquippa's Tommie Campbell(Cal. U)made active roster for the Tennessee Titans as a DB, North Allegheny's Tom Keiser(Stanford)made Carolina's active roster as an undrafted free agent DE/OLB, and Seneca Valley's Brandon Fusco(Slippery Rock)made Minneosta's active roster as a Center. But the Post Gazette missed a few. Thomas Jefferson's Don DeCicco(Pitt)made the Chicago Bears active roster as an undrafted free agent linebacker, Woodland Hills Terrence Johnson(Cal. U)who slipped way under the radar locally, made the Indianapolis Colts roster as a corner(first year player), Woodland Hills Darrin Walls(Notre Dame)made the Falcons active roster as an undrafted free agent corner, and another Woodland Hill product Monte' Simmons(Kent State)who is a total unknown around these parts, made the San Francisco 49ers practice squad as an OLB/DE. A lot of credit has to go Woodland Hills H.S. Coach George Novak and his staff for their coaching and preparation of the football players that come out of the Woodland Hills program. Right now, Woodland Hills has more players in the NFL than any other high school program in the entire country.
Friday, September 2, 2011
Since July 24th, the Pittsburgh Pirates have been on a downward spiral since being in frist place in their division for a few days. The Pirates were 54 and 54 wirth 54 games remaining and since that point have gone 8 and 21 for a dismal 62 and 75 record. The team batting average has dropped to .243. During the embarrassing 2010 season, the Buccos batting average was .242 when they lost 95 games. Right now the Pirate pitching staff has the 13th best ERA in baseball but as always, the Buccos are having difficulty scoring runs consistently. The Boys in Vegas do win totals for all 30 teams in baseball and the Pirates win total for this 2011 season is 68. Six weeks ago, people laughed at this total but now the Boys in Vegas may be correct.During the 2010 season the win total was 72 and the Buccos won 57, but this season the the Vegas guys may be right on the button. The Pirates have 25 games remaining, and to reach that total of 68, the Pirates need to go 6 and 19. The way the Pirates are playing right now, it is definitely possible for them to go 6 and 19 for the remainder of September. The Pirates look sluggish, there bats are weak,, the intensity and enthusiasm looks marginal, and it appears that the Pirates are anxiously awaiting for the season to end. The Buccos have only 91 home runs and are on a pace to have less than the 2010 season. The New York Yankees have more than double the Pirates home run total It looks like another losing season(will be 19 in a row)unless the Buccos do a total turn-around in the month of September. Is this possible? I question the turn-around especially after losing 3 in a row to maybe the worst team in baseball, the Houston Astros.