Fan Revolt: The Ultimate Pitting


Ever since it was reported that former Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings was extended an offer, the Pitt Panther fan base erupted like a Yellowstone supervolcanic eruption, and rightfully so.

In 17 seasons at Vanderbilt, he amassed an overall record of 332-220 with a 138-142 record in a subpar SEC. Plus, in those 17 seasons, he only developed two NBA players.

His best season was the 2011/12 season when Vanderbilt went 25-11 (10-6) winning the SEC regular season title and the conference tournament and only reaching the round of 32.

And it gets worse, his teams only reached the Sweet 16 twice, and regularly got bounced in the first three rounds.

Let’s go a step further, when AD Scott Barnes stated that he was a more fan friendly style of play and a high character guy, Stallings is everything but that. His offensive style is even more bland than Dixon’s, plus he was taped threatening to kill a player during a handshake line.

The vitriol aimed at Barnes and Stallings’ direction is certainly warranted, and it’s not only fans claiming that this is a terrible (potential) hire, local and national media are chiming in.

It’s gotten to the point that Pitt fans would rather see assistant coach, and former player, Brandon Knight get hired (whom Pitt fans wanted no parts of 24 hours ago due to his inexperience).

Perhaps this is only a knee-jerk reaction, but fans are revolting and threatening to not purchase season tickets. Money is the lifeblood of any collegiate program; therefore, hopefully Barnes is listening to the people screaming with pitchforks and having their tar & feathers ready.

The only adjective I can thing of for this situation is “ugly!”

Ugly it is!

The Road to Rebuilding Myself

road-to-recoveryFighting this depression battle isn’t  a fun battle. I’ve been prone to isolate myself from the world around me and vicariously live my life on the internet. In a way the internet has kept me sane. There has been a great amount of people in my social network (that has become real life friends) that has helped me along in this process of rebuilding myself.

Being suicidal and wondering how you reached such a low isn’t a fun place to be. The the fight in me has certainly begun; I realized if I’m no longer here, who is going to be there for my grandmother on a daily basis? I can’t lie to the world surrounding me that knows about about my current state, since my last blog I have had those thoughts a few times between now and then.

With that said, the last blog lifted a lot of weight off of my shoulders and I ultimately feel like I’m on the right path. I’ve chatted with my Reverend from my childhood church and showed him this blog.

He definitely gave me words of encouragement and such.

The New Year couldn’t have come at a better time for me. It’s definitely a time to put a close to what’s been happening and looking ahead towards my future, and it’s a bright future at that. I’m a year away from earning my degree in Political Science, and I still have aspirations to go law school.

I feel as if I’m on the right path to being back to me again. I have to reach out to my friends when I’m feeling low. I know I have a great circle of friends and an even better family. I realize that the struggle isn’t over, just yet. And I still have a long road in front of me.

“We don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.” Barbara de Angelis

I hope everyone enjoys their Christmas holiday and has an amazing New Year!

*note: I tried reaching out to the female I mentioned in the last blog. She ignored my texts and such. I believe that it’s a lost cause and I’ve done all that I could do to throw water under that bridge. It’s unfortunate that she’ll forever believe that I’m an asshole.*


The Road to Depression


This will be a 2 part series starting with The Road to Depression and finishing with The Road to Recovery. This is deeply personal and is a view of the world through my eyes.

I don’t want to completely blame my childhood for my experiences as an adult, but those experiences molded me into the person I am today. My parents weren’t god awful parents. They ensured food was on the table, cloths were on my brother and I’s back, and there was a roof over our heads. They were there for my brother as he did his duties for the high school band, and were chaperons for the band as well as school dances.

My step-father (adopted-father) worked as an over-the-road truck driver and my mother worked odd jobs like in Sears, McDonalds, and as a gas station attendant, and sometimes she worked two of those jobs at the same time. Due to them living busy lives, it was really up to me to ensure my brother and I did our homework and our daily chores.

Granted that’s a macro-view of our lives and some would say, “what’s the problem here?” I get that. I really do.

The thing is, when they were home, they constantly argued with each other and anytime myself or my brother had issues, those issues were very much ignored; therefore, I had to come up with my own ways to vent out my frustrations as a youth. One of those outlets was writing poetry, but as time went on, I simply just bottled in my frustrations with life and think they’d just go away.

After high school I moved to Florida and tried to do the college thing. It wasn’t that effective, and my grandfather talked me into joining the Navy.

My time in the Navy was very good, although I did experience times of depression as I missed my friends in Pittsburgh and hearing about some childhood friends passing away. I think a lot of my issues of depression could’ve been avoided if I knew how to reach out for help; I felt if I was disregarded as a kid the same thing would happen as an adult.

Fast-forwarding to today: For the past month, or two, I’ve been in a deep depression. I can’t pinpoint the exact reason for me me falling into the pits of darkness. I had a few things go down these past few years, from my mom passing away to my step-dad passing away (this year), and simply being frustrated with my life in general. I’m thirty-three with no wife, no kids, or even in a relationship that’s heading in that direction. Plus with me attending Pitt and driving to and from there, I’m dealing with being completely out of money. Then adding in those factors, I dealt with some car issues, a tube busting, and needing new tires.

Because of my depression, I pushed away a good girl. I practically treated her like shit (for a lack of better words). I reacted the wrong way and literally left her at the arena Pitt plays their hoops games in (Peterson Event Center). I felt awful for letting my personal life just push her away.

In-between the car issues and that occasion where I left that girl hanging, I self medicated via the usage of alcohol. I went to the point of completely blowing off my classes simply to “drink the pain away.” I knew I was doing wrong and felt guilty about it. It wasn’t until Thursday that I had my “wake-up-call” and I reached the darkest point of my life. I contemplated suicide and actually thought of the means of how I’d carry it out.

It was that moment that scared me. I hit up some friends in a group chat on Facebook and let them know what’s going on. All of them in the chat has been really supportive. From there I wrote a generic message on my Facebook wall and had tons of people reach out in support. It will be a long road to fixing myself. Since then I’ve been alcohol free and I’m started to reacquire an appetite. I will be myself again, it’s going to be a long road, but then again, me writing this has already lifted some of the burden off of my chest. Also I plan on getting counseling as soon as I can. I do need to learn how to be more open about my issues, and not letting things get to this dark place. The light is getting brighter, but yet it’s so far away.

(Note: to the woman I left at the Peterson Event Center, I hope you understand I was in a dark place and find a way to forgive me for what I did.)

Joe Niklas

Twitter: @JoeNiklas

4-Quarters is Great, But It’s Not Enough

I can understand how people would instantly assume I’m going to be taking shots at the Pitt students here. Yeah, it was great that they showed up in nice numbers, waved towels, and actually stayed the whole game.

But that’s not enough for a distinct home field advantage.

What about towels for all of the fans in attendance? Are these rally towels going to be a one-off thing that everyone forgets about come the North Carolina game on October the 29th at 8PM?

I see fan bases across the SEC, B1G, and even the ACC waving some plastic thing, and it creates a wild scene. Then I look to our North Shore neighbors, and I’m like if there’s a tradition that Pitt can borrow/steal, why not steal the towel waving tradition of the Steelers.

Almost all fan traditions are borrowed from another fan base. “Sweet Caroline” was borrowed from the Boston Red Sox.

From a revenue standpoint, why not give away rally towels, and then sell the towels as another revenue stream. Then in the off-season have members of the Panthers Pit name the towels.

Football is a sport that requires a ton of fan interaction and rowdiness. Football isn’t a ballet.

The football team is stepping up, and the students are starting to do their part. It’s really time for the alumni to be loud and proud, from the opening kickoff until the last play of the 4th Quarter.

Waving towels, like Steelers fans, isn’t totally the answer.

But it’s a step in the right direction.

President Obama Is In a No-Win Situation

Credit to BBC for the image

So President Obama sent a Bill to Congress to declare war on ISIS (err ISIL err IS, or whatever they want to be called on this given day) this morning.

Problem is, this so called declaration is only for ground troops in Search and Rescue missions.

IS has an abundance of enemies from the terror cell Hezbollah (who is funded by Iran), Syria, the Syrian Rebel Forces, Iraq, Jordan, and the UAE. (United Arab Emirates).

IS been a brutal terrorist organization that has conquered land, stole arms from from the enemies (that happened to be American produced arms), and brutally murdered anyone that they has captured.

President is really in a lose-lose situation in dealing with IS:

Doing nothing could equal to this group increasing their terror and conquering even more territory, thus potentially being able to target the United States homeland. Doing things half-assed equals to putting American lives in danger and ultimately losing. Going in with a full out assault totally destroying everything in site could potentially backfire on the home-front due to the American population sick of being in war.

Here’s the the million-dollar question, would the American populous, and the world for that matter, stomach what it would take to defeat IS?

A war against IS is not a war against Muslims, it would be against an extremist and perverted form of Islam. My other question is: how do you defeated this ideology within the Muslim world?

I don’t know the answer to this problem; however, one solution may be totally eradicating it from the Muslim population.

Unfortunately, this kind of assault on an ideology is genocide, thus would be considered war crimes in the civilized world. But that is what it’s going to take to destroy IS and potentially prevent future groups like an IS from gaining this kind of power. The US would need to come in full force and publicly show the images of IS members being eliminated.

On top of facing the reality of needing to destroy IS is the fact that our troops will be standing side by side with Syria, the Syrian Rebel Forces, and Hezbollah (you know, the same Hezbollah that sends Rockets into Israel every other month).

Perhaps there’s some other solution………………….. hmmmmmm…………………………….

Did I mention that Hezbollah is funded by Iran, and that Iran is an enemy of IS?

Perhaps a “False Flag” is in order!!! (you know, what those conspiracy nuts take to the extreme)

Framing IS for the murder of an Iranian solder makes a ton of sense to me. Think about it. This would allow to handle our dirty work for us and “keep our hands clean” of any war crimes Iran may commit against IS. On top of that, our enemies would be destroying each other without needing the United States to fire a single shot. While we’re talking about False Flags, why not frame IS for the murder of someone from Turkey and have the entire Muslim world against IS.

OK, yes, President Obama will not stoop to the levels needed to eliminate IS. And that’s ultimately why I’m against any action taken against IS by American forces.

Pitt Fans: Put Up, or Shut Up

Today marks a new day in Pitt football.

Pitt hired one of the best defensive coordinators in the nation to become head coach. But that comes at a price if you want Pitt to compete for ACC and National Championships, like Head Coach Narduzzi is proclaiming that is he expects at Pitt.

Pitt football needs money from boosters, revenue sales and so on.

It’s really up to the consumer to make this possible.

Pitt fans, alumni and students are notorious for not showing up to games and leaving the games well before the final snap of the game. And the worst case of this is when students leave right after the rendition of “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond. Sadly, the above picture sums up the role of the fans at the games the past several years.

The days of 25K or less showing up to games must end if you want Pitt to take that next step as a football program.

Chancellor Gallagher is showing a commitment to Pitt football simply by firing former Athletic Director Steve Pederson and Interim Athletic Director Dr. Juhl stated this today at HC Narduzzi’s Press Conference, “if Pitt can help cure polio and invent CPR, it sure as hell can win 10 football games”.

Dr. Juhl is 100% correct in stating that Pitt can certainly win 10 games a year. The WPIAL and Eastern Ohio is tremendous recruiting grounds. And with proper financial support in recruiting, Pitt should be able to snag a few kids from states like New Jersey, Maryland, Deleware and Florida.

It’s really time for the fans to put their money where their mouth is. The fans want to win and they want the program to provide financial support to the football program, but this money has to come from somewhere.

Yes, winning will beget more fans showing up to games, but if Pitt is 5-5 when Miami comes to town, how many fans will realistically show up?

And that’s ultimately the problem.

Even if Pitt is 5-5 when Miami comes to town, there needs to be at least 55K in the stands.

Because 4 years down the road, let’s say HC Narduzzi is exploring options outside of Pitt, there could potentially be potential income to keep him in town.

But let’s say he leaves, Pitt fans will whine and dine about the potential of Pitt being cheap when it comes to hiring coaches. What do you expect when attendance is poor and there isn’t enough revenue being generated to not be cheap?

I won’t tell people how to spend their money. Spend your money as you please. But don’t say the program is being cheap when it’s at least attempting to produce a strong and viable football program.

The school and athletic department is doing their part in supporting the football program. Now it’s the fans, alumni and boosters to do their part.

Does Chryst Stay or Does He Go?

The second Oregon State announced that they hired former Wisconsin Head Coach Gary Anderson as their new Head Coach the social media and talk shows went ablaze.

Pitt fans have every right to be a little paranoid considering the epic failures of Pitt football since Dave Wannstedt resigned on December 7th 2010, plus Head Coach Paul Chryst is a native of Wisconsin, played football at Wisconsin and he started his coaching career at Wisconsin.

Let’s face it, Paul Chryst is a Wisconsin man, and maybe going home could be the right thing for him, and then again, perhaps he stays. There is one thing to remember, his daughter attends Pitt and he’s made Pittsburgh a second home.

Could that be enough to entice him to stay?

If I’m Paul Chryst I’m using this as an opportunity to force the admin of Pitt to feed more money into his coaching staff, and earn a contract extension. That doesn’t mean that needs to fire DC Matt House, for example, either. Just that there needs to be some upgrades on the staff.

If he is indeed heading home, we’re likely to be finding out the breaking news before Monday, if not sooner. Does he really need to be interviewed? Barry Alvarez (Wisconsin AD) was the Head Coach of Wisconsin when Chryst was starting his coaching career. Alvarez went above and beyond to help get the coaching gig for Chryst at Pitt.

Chryst is building a solid program at Pitt, from the bottom up; however, his overall resume isn’t exactly impressive, going 19-19 in three seasons.

Lets say he takes the Wisconsin job, what is next for Pitt?

A guy like current Pitt OC Joe Rudulph has to make some sense. He’s from Pittsburgh, and he adds some continuity to help keep the current recruiting class together. An outside option could be former Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini.

Personally, I don’t think Paul Chryst is going anywhere. But if he does, asking Athletic Director to lead another coaching search just may be too much to ask.