Thursday was kind of real light, real quick practice but the most important thing that happened today is this - the Panthers beat SMU in the bowling challenge so they defended their title as last year, they won the bowling challenge against Kentucky.
Now why is this significant?
Because this is the fourth year in a row Pitt has gone to a bowl game and the Panthers are 2-1 in their previous three. And in the two years they won the game (2009 in Charlotte, 2010 in Birmingham), they also won all of the challenges against their opponent during the week leading up to the game. In El Paso in 2008, however, they lost all of the challenges to Oregon State and well, we all know how that Sun Bowl game turned out.....
So it is a simple formula - Pitt wins the challenges, it wins the game.....
** A number of seniors have been selected to All Star games:
Offensive lineman Lucas Nix - Has been invited to the Senior Bowl, which is the biggest and best of the All Star games, so if he does well during the workouts leading up to the game he should solidfy his status as a draft pick.
Linebacker Max Gruder and defensive end Brandon Lindsey - There is still a possibility that Lindsey could get bumped up to the Senior Bowl, but for now, both of these two are going to play in the East-West Shrine game, which is also a prestigous game and one that could help theiir draft stock.
Defensive end Chas Alecxih - Will play in the Players All-Star Classic in Arkansas, the game is the same one that launched Dom DeCicco last year and it pits players from Texas versus players from the rest of the Nation.
Cornerback Antwuan Reed - Will play in the Casino Del Sol Classic in Arizona.
Linebacker Greg Williams - Will play in either the The Battle of Florida or the Casino Del Sol All Star games.
** A couple people have asked me about Jarred Holley and whether, because he has graduated, he is leaving to go to the NFL even though he has a year of eligibility left. He laughed when I asked him and said that he put his paperwork in with the NFL but hadn't yet got his evaluation back. He said unless he is blown away by what they tell him - in other words, he isn't expecting to hear he is going to be a first rounder or whatever - he will be back next year to finish his eligibility.
** People have asked me about coaching updates and here is what I have on some of the guys who may stay and one who may come:
Joe Rudolph - Wisconsin tight ends coach and Belle Vernon native - is still possibly coming to Pitt with Paul Chryst in some sort of co-coordinator capacity but apparently Wisconsin coach Brett Bielema would like to keep him and they are working on some arrangement where he could add some sort of co-coordinator type title to his current duties. Bielema has been turned down by both Jay Norvell and Chuck Long for Chryst's old position of offensive coordinator.
Spencer Leftwich - Said he has a number of opportunities to sort through and hasn't made a decision. One source said he could end up at Arizona, which would make sense, but he said he has a lot of things to consider. Like I wrote on Twitter, however, his wife and family - inlcuding his oldest son, Mack, who is an outstanding quarterback at North Allegheny, are going to stay in their current house until Mack graduates next May. That means Mack will be back to quarterback North Allegheny in the fall regardless of where Spencer ends up. Arizona State is still apparently a possibility as well but again, he said he has some decisions to make.
Todd Dodge - Have heard he has an opportunity perhaps at Houston (as in, the Cougars) as well as several big high schools in Texas. Remember, before he was the head coach at North Texas, he was like some kind of legendary high school coach in the state so it wouldn't shock me if he ends up at a high school (I've seen several different ones he is a possibility at). He said he will take his time and find the right fit, but like Leftwich, I am thinking he'll make a decision very quickly over the next day or two.
Paul Randolph - It seems like he is the most likely of the leftover assistants to end up at Arizona State with Todd Graham and I think he will unless he can get a defensive coordinator position somewhere.
Keith Patterson - Already announced he is headed to Arkansas State as defensive coordinator.
Shawn Griswold - Actually, I lied when I said Randolph is the most likely to end up with Graham at Arizona State because Griswold, the strength coach, is almost a definite to head out there once the game is over Saturday.
Randall McCray - Didn't get to talk to him today and last time I did, he had a few things on his plate but nothing definitive in terms of an actual plan. Again, I'm sure it will change quickly once the season is over, but he's the one guy I didn't get to talk to today.
Tom Bradley - Hey, can't have a coaching update involving Pitt without mentioning the eternal candidate - at least according to a certain group of people who seem hell bent on getting him hired at Pitt. There has to be something he can do, right?
** In case you missed it - Lucas Nix is the latest Panthers player to have a scrape with the law.
Basically, on Dec. 26th, Nate Nix was at the house of West Virginia lineman Pat Eger - who, like the Nixes, is a former Thomas Jefferson player - and some sort of dispute broke out between Nix, Eger and West Virginia lineman Joe Madsen.
Nix, who is a former defensive end for Pitt, apparently called his younger brother, Lucas, who is obviously a lineman for Pitt, for some help and Lucas came to the house and ripped the front door off of it. There was then a shouting match of some sort, but Lucas left without further incident and there was no altercation, no punches thrown, nothing much more than some guys who had a few too many pops having words.
The Pleasant Hills police - the incident took place in Pleasant Hills Borough - were called to the scene, investigated the incident then filed charges against Lucas Nix - three summary charges of public drunkeness, crimminal mischief and disorderly conduct - and those charges were mailed out today.
Pitt, along with Nix, just found out about these charges today and the response from the school about Nix's availability for the BBVA Compass Bowl Saturday is still unclear.
Pitt interim coach Keith Patterson issued the following statement:
“I was informed tonight of an incident involving Lucas Nix during the holiday break. Before any determination is made on his status for Saturday’s bowl game, I want to make sure I have all the necessary information about the occurrence to make the right decision. Lucas was not arrested and just learned of these summary charges tonight.”
Nix apparently will meet with Patterson and athletic director Steve Pederson about the incident either tonight or in the morning and then a decision will be made about whether or not he gets to play Saturday.
So that is about as up to date on this thing as we are right now.