Will Pitt become Pat Narduzzi’s destination job?

Not since John Michelosen in the late ’60s has a head football coach stayed at Pitt for as long as a decade. I’m not one of those that believe current head coach Pat Narduzzi will stay very long either, but one never knows.

The article I wrote back in 2014 about that can be found at: http://www.groundreport.com/will-pitt-become-narduzzis-destination-job-2/

John Baranowski is a Sports Historian and contributor to newspapers, sports publications and sports websites.


Pitt Football in the ACC: How do the Panthers stack up?

When Pitt was about to join the Atlantic Coast Conference I wrote about Pitt’s chances for success in football after playing in the Big East Conference which was often called the Big Least Conference.

My article from 2013 can be found at: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1592151-pitt-football-in-the-acc-how-do-the-panthers-stack-up

Photo credit: Thomson20192 via Visualhunt /  CC BY

John Baranowski is a Sports Historian and contributor to newspapers, sports publications and sports websites.

Want to Win a Super Bowl – Better have a Hall of Fame Quarterback

Looking back at past Super Bowls, one can easily see that many teams that won a Super Bowl were quarterbacked by a future Hall of Fame quarterback. Now does winning a Super Bowl help that quarterback get considered for the Hall of Fame? Certainly, but in many cases the Super Bowl victory just cemented that quarterback’s selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The article I wrote back in 2013 can be found at:  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1466338-want-to-win-a-super-bowl-better-have-a-hall-of-fame-quarterback

Photo credit: Jeffrey Beall via Visual Hunt /  CC BY-SA

John Baranowski is a Sports Historian and contributor to newspapers, sports publications and sports websites.

Third time the charm for Rex Ryan and the NY Jets? Don’t Count on it

History shows that the chances are slim for a pro football team to make a third consecutive conference championship game. After the New York Jets made it to two consecutive AFC championship games, I wrote about how slim their chances were. Turned out I was correct.

My article from 2011 can be found at:  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/763232-third-time-the-charm-for-rex-ryan-and-the-new-york-jets-dont-count-on-it

Photo credit: Marianne O'Leary via VisualHunt.com /  CC BY

John Baranowski is a Sports Historian and contributor to newspapers, sports publications and sports websites.

Baseball HOF Voting – Some Writers don’t deserve the privilege

You would think being a voter for the Baseball Hall of Fame would be taken seriously by those that vote for players. For some, it’s a downright joke. How can all-time greats like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Stan Musial and other all-time greats not be unanimously voted into the Hall of Fame?

Conversely, some voters have voted for players who don’t even belong on the ballot for consideration. They are making a mockery of the process.

I wrote about this back in 2015. My article from 2015 can be found at: http://www.groundreport.com/baseball-hall-of-fame-voting-some-writers-dont-deserve-the-privilege/

Photo credit: candyschwartz via Visual hunt / CC BY

John Baranowski is a Sports Historian and contributor to newspapers, sports publications and sports websites.


Why Wisconsin-TCU is the most intriguing BCS bowl game

The 2011 Rose Bowl was one of great interest not because of Wisconsin being there, but because of TCU making it. TCU was just emerging on to the national stage of college football. Could they play with the big boys from the Big 10. That is what made the match-up a compelling one to watch. It turned out to be quite a game.

The article I wrote can be found at: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/541768-why-wisconsin-tcu-is-the-most-intriguing-bcs-game

Photo credit: eytonz via VisualHunt.com /  CC BY-NC-SA

John Baranowski is a Sports Historian and contributor to newspapers, sports publications and sports websites.

NFL Playoffs: Pats no Super Bowl shoe-in

During the 2007 football season, the New England Patriots went undefeated and set an all-time scoring record with points scored. They looked unstoppable and looked to be a sure thing going into the Super Bowl to be the first team in NFL history to go 19-0.

Well, I didn’t think so and cited a few instances when a team winning looked like a sure thing and it didn’t happen which led me to write this article before the Super Bowl. Turned out I was right.

My article can be found at: http://www.pittsburghsportsreport.com/PSR-News/show_news.php?subaction=showfull&id=1200077353&archive=&template=PressRoom

PSR Press Room

NFL Playoffs: Pats no Super Bowl shoe-in

By John Baranowski

For fans and media alike who are ready to coronate the New England Patriots as undefeated Super Bowl champions and the greatest team ever, as ESPN analyst Lee Corso so aptly puts it, “Not so fast my friend.”

Granted the Patriots are the first team in NFL history to go 16-0 during the regular season. Yes, they defeated their closest rival in the AFC the Indianapolis Colts in Indianapolis, and the NFC’s best team Dallas in Dallas, as well as the Chargers and Steelers at home. There’s no doubt they deservedly will be the clear cut favorite to win Super Bowl XLII, but many have forgotten about other heavy favorites who have faltered on their way to the Vince Lombardi trophy.

The ’98 Minnesota Vikings, under head coach Dennis Green, had a 15-1 regular season. Their only loss that season was by three points, and 12 of their 15 wins were by 10 points or more. They had home field advantage throughout the playoffs, and the league’s all-time highest scoring offense under offensive coordinator Brian Billick.   That was when Billick’s offenses weren’t offensively challenged. The Vikings scored a record 556 points led by quarterback Randall Cunningham throwing to the receiving tandem of Cris Carter and Randy Moss. Yes, Randy Moss, in his rookie season, had 17 touchdown receptions.

In addition, the Vikings had three All-Pro offensive linemen and a kicker who had not missed a kick the entire regular season. Not a miss until it mattered most – in the postseason. Gary Anderson had made all 35 of his field goal attempts in the regular season, but missed a 38-yard field goal in the NFC Championship Game against Atlanta that most likely would have put the game away and sealed a trip to the Super Bowl for the Vikings. Their dream season ended a short time later in overtime, losing 30-27 to the Falcons. Upsets happen – all the time.

One might counter that the Vikings’ head coach and quarterback had never won a Super Bowl, and Minnesota’s coach and quarterback tandem were far less than that of Bill Belichek and Tom Brady of the Patriots. When you have a coach and a quarterback who have won a Super Bowl, they know what it takes to win. Who can match Belichick and Brady in terms of game planning, playoff success and quarterback play?

So surely this year is again going to belong to Belichick, Brady and the Patriots. Well, may I remind you of the ’87 San Francisco 49ers.

The ’87 Niners were coached by Bill Walsh and quarterbacked by Joe Montana, maybe the only coach and quarterback tandem in NFL history the equal or greater than Belichick and Brady. Walsh and Montana had already won two Super Bowls. This was to be their year – again. The ’87 Niners were favored to get to and win their third Super Bowl in seven seasons.

Going into the playoffs, San Francisco had the best record in the league at 13-2 and were the NFL’s top scoring team, along with the No. 1 scoring defense in the NFC. Montana led the league in passing efficiency with a 102.1 rating and Jerry Rice had a record 22 touchdown receptions. One of every three balls he caught that season resulted in a touchdown. Great coach, great quarterback, great wide receiver, best record in football – sound familiar?

The 49ers’ playoff opponent in the divisional round that year was the 8-7 Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings had the worst record of all the teams in the playoffs and only scored one more point than they gave up that season (336-335). The 49ers were a 10-½ point favorite at home. Talk about a walk in the park…

It was anything but. In front of a stunned home crowd, the Vikings shocked the 49ers, 36-24, led by Anthony Carter’s 227 yards receiving.

So despite having the best record in football, home field advantage throughout the playoffs, the league’s top scoring offense, arguably the greatest quarterback ever, a future Hall-of-Fame head coach, the greatest wide receiver in the game’s history, and playoff and Super Bowl experience… the best team in the regular season didn’t win the Super Bowl that year.

That could describe this year’s Patriots. Another seemingly unbeatable team with an unstoppable offense upset in their dream season.

So please, let’s not coronate the Patriots as Super Bowl champions and the greatest team ever until that crown is earned.

John Baranowski is a sports historian and contributor to newspapers, sports publications and sports websites.   

Jan 11 2008 by Tony DeFazio


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John Baranowski is a Sports Historian and contributor to newspapers, sports publications and sports websites.

Looking through Pitt Blue-and Gold Tinted Glasses = Misperception

If a person’s perception is usually what they believe, and that is based on what they hear, see and think, apparently Chris Dokish, writer for Panther’s Prey Blog, is in need of getting his hearing, vision and thought processes checked.

In Dokish’s article, Why Pitt football recruits at the level they do, http://panthersprey.blogspot.com/2016/09/why-pitt-football-recruits-at-level.html, to his credit he listed as the blue bloods of the college football recruiting world: Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Clemson, Florida State, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Notre Dame, USC, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn and LSU as being the elite level. They also happen to all be in the top 20 in winning percentage for the last 30 years.

However, Dokish also wrote in his article, “In the second group we have very good programs that could flirt with top 10 status with the right coach. That group includes Louisville, Virginia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Stanford, Washington, Oregon, UCLA, Arizona State, Utah and Texas A&M. None of these programs are always excellent, but they’ve proven that they are good enough programs that with an excellent coach they can be among the elite.”

Shall we examine Dokish’s thinking? Like Sergeant Friday said on Dragnet, give me the facts and just the facts. I believe everyone would agree that 30 years of statistical data more than qualifies as a fair assessment. After all, a lot can happen in a 30-year time span and let us use the past 30 seasons 1987-2016. To put that in perspective, a graduating college senior in 1987 would be older than 50 years old today. No Pitt alum under the age of 50 has experienced Pitt finishing in the top 10 or winning a major bowl game.

The schools Dokish listed in his second group have combined to make the top 10 in the last 30 years a grand total of 76 times. Each of them has appeared in the top 10 final AP poll at least once, with one exception, that being the University of Pittsburgh. Pitt is the only school on Dokish’s list that has not appeared in the top 10 at least on one occasion within the last 30 years.

That same group of teams has finished in the top 20 at season’s end a combined total of 154 times. Pitt’s contribution to that – a robust three. By my math, that is an average of finishing in the top 20 once every 10 years. Yes, once every 10 years. Flirting with top 10 status you say Dokish?

Does that lead one to believe that Pitt can be among the elite of college football?  Evidently it does to Dokish.

Let us delve even further, shall we?  That same group of teams appeared in the five major bowl games (the Cotton, Fiesta, Orange, Rose, and Sugar Bowls) a combined total of 81 times. Pitt contribution to that total is a whopping one, that being the 2005 Fiesta Bowl.

That same group of teams over the past 30 years won those five major bowl games a combined total of 41 times. Pitt’s contribution to that total is – zero.

Still think Pitt should be in Dokish’s group that flirts with top 10 status? Among the elite?

That same group of teams combined for 120 10-win seasons in the last 30 years. Pitt’s contribution to that is one. I repeat, one 10-win season in the last 30 years.

How close has Pitt come to flirting with top 10 status?  In that 30-year period, the highest Pitt has been ranked in the final AP Poll was 15th back in 2009. To put that in perspective, the following list of schools have finished 15th or higher in a final AP Poll within that same time frame: Air Force, Arizona (2x), Boston College (2x), California (3x), Central Florida, Colorado State, East Carolina, Houston (3x), Illinois (2x), Kansas (2x), Marshall, Maryland (2x), Miami of Ohio, Mississippi (3x), Mississippi State (3x), Nevada, North Carolina State, Oregon State, Purdue (2x), Rutgers, Southern Mississippi, Syracuse (5x), Tulane, Virginia, Washington State (5x) and Western Michigan. All those schools finished higher than Pitt ever did in the last 30 years but somehow Dokish omitted them from that second group just below the elite of college football.

What about winning percentage over the last 30 years? Care to guess which school Dokish listed has the lowest winning percentage?  If you guessed Pitt, you are correct!

Here is how the teams rank among Division I FBS schools in winning percentage:

  5. Miami .732
16. Oregon .674
21. Virginia Tech .664
22. Texas A&M .651
23. West Virginia .634
24. Utah .628
25. Wisconsin .627
28. Louisville .616
31. Iowa .593
35. UCLA .577
36. Washington .574
37. Michigan State .571
41. Oklahoma State .558
43. Arizona State .550
47. Stanford .546
62. North Carolina .512
65. Pitt .507

In case you were wondering, Pitt’s record in the last 30 years against those teams Dokish listed as part of the next group, 26-64-1, a winning percentage of .291.

This leads me to believe that Dokish certainly looks through thick blue-and-gold colored glasses in hoping to sway his audience to believe what he writes and preaches. Facts?  He doesn’t need any stinking facts. Based on the above factual and statistical analysis Dokish certainly has a myopic view of Pitt’s football program and where they stand amongst college football programs.

What about Pitt’s two closest schools that Pitt feels equal if not superior to? Penn State has been to six major bowl games, winning four. The Nittany Lions have nine 10-win seasons and have a winning percentage of .678 that ranks 14th and finished eight times in the top 10 and 15 times in the top 20.

West Virginia has been to five major bowl games, winning three. The Mountaineers have seven 10-win seasons and have a winning percentage of .634 that ranks 23rd and finished five times in the top 10 and seven times in the top 20.

Obviously, Pitt’s success in the last 30 years pales in comparison to its neighbors Penn State and West Virginia. Pitt’s record against Penn State and West Virginia during the last 30 years is 12-23-1, a winning percentage of .347.

So which schools should be Pitt compared to when talking about college football programs over the last 30 years? For comparison sake, let’s use Arizona State and North Carolina from Dokish’s list and add Boston College, Cincinnati, North Carolina State, Northwestern, Syracuse, and Virginia into the mix.

Looking at the major bowl games appearances: Syracuse 3, Cincinnati 2, Arizona State, Northwestern, Pitt, and Virginia 1 each, and Boston College, North Carolina and NC State each with zero.

Looking at major bowl victories: Syracuse one and the rest zero.

Comparing the amount of 10-win seasons:

5 Cincinnati
5 Syracuse
4 Arizona State
4 North Carolina
3 Northwestern
2 Boston College
1 North Carolina State
1 Pitt
1 Virginia

Looking at top-10 seasons:


3 Syracuse
2 North Carolina
1 Arizona State
1 Boston College
1 Cincinnati
1 Northwestern
0 North Carolina State
0 Pitt
0 Virginia

As for top-20 seasons:

6 Arizona State
6 Syracuse
5 North Carolina
4 Boston College
4 Virginia
3 Cincinnati
3 Pitt
3 North Carolina State
3 Northwestern

As for those schools ranking for winning percentage among Division I FBS schools:

43. Arizona State .550
45. Syracuse .547
46. North Carolina State .546
48. Virginia .543
55. Boston College .527
62. North Carolina .512
63. Cincinnati .511
65. Pitt .507
83. Northwestern .448

When comparing Pitt’s last 30 years with Arizona State, Boston College, Cincinnati, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Northwestern, Syracuse, and Virginia, Pitt is the bottom half of virtually every category. Pitt’s record against those schools since 1987 is 32-42-1, a winning percentage of .433.

Perhaps Mr. Dokish needs to take off those blue-and-gold tinted glasses and try to objectively look at the facts and convey the truth instead of propaganda.

John Baranowski is a Sports Historian and contributor to newspapers, sports publications and sports websites.

Paterno to O’Brien to Franklin: Is history on Franklin’s side?

Is it true that it is better to be the coach who follows the coach that followed a coaching legend rather than the coach who followed the coaching legend?

My article from 2014 that discusses that can be found at: http://www.nittanyturkey.com/author/johnbaranowski/

John Baranowski is a Sports Historian and contributor to newspapers, sports publications and sports websites.

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