Oliver Luck talks Kickoff Game, rising trend in neutral-site openers

Written by Stephen J. Nesbitt on .

West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck spared a few minutes Friday to discuss the details of the Chick-fil-A Game Kickoff Classic contract, which will land both West Virginia and Alabama a $3.2 million windfall, and the rising trend in neutral-site openers.

Luck is coming at this topic from a few different vantage points, being both an athletic director and a member of the newly established College Football Playoff committee, which has stated its early emphasis on strength of schedule. Thought he had plenty of interesting thoughts on the topic, and not everything fit in the story, so here's our Q&A.

Stephen J. Nesbitt: What was your initial reaction when you were first approached about playing Alabama in 2014?

Oliver Luck: "We were excited about it. One of the interesting developments in college football has been these quasi-bowl games at the beginning of the year. Neutral-site games are much more popular now. I actually think it all goes back to the National Football League. If you think about 20 years, take Pittsburgh for an example, old Three Rivers Stadium was run by the county (I think, right?), or the Astrodome in Houston was run by the county. They really had no interest to really maximize the value of that stadium. As these NFL teams all began to take over the leases, they've gotten much more proactive in trying to put together games. The Redskins might be the most proactive group, with all the stuff they're doing at FedEx. Whether it's Dallas or Atlanta, there's always been a kickoff classic going back for years, but there's many more opportunities. I think fans like it. These games have been pretty well received by fans.

"When the folks from Atlanta approached us, we thought, well, this is a great opportunity. Let's see if we can make it work. I forget the details, we may have had to move a team around to make that date available, but that's not uncommon."

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Free tickets to Home and Garden Show today and free seeds too with Doug

Written by Doug Oster on .


blog fred limbaugh 37The late Fred Limbaugh stands over seedlings of his beloved 'Potato Top' tomato. Photo by Doug Oster

It's the official start to the gardening season as the Duquesne Light Home and Garden Show continues at the Convention Center. I'll be there today from 4-6 p.m. giving a presentation on gardening.

I'll also be giving away packets of 'Limbaugh Legacy Potato Top' tomato seeds and other seeds. The tomato is  a favorite around our area and the world. I ask people to grow out the seeds and send some back to me at the end of the season. Here's the full story about the wonderful Pittsburgh Heirloom Tomato.

Email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you would like some tickets.

Hope to see you there.


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Empty Netter Assists - 03-12-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-Dave Molinari's recap from last night's game. Chris Kunitz escaped injury after crashing legs-first into the net.

-The Washington Post's recap. “I’m there to stop the puck and tonight I let in two. It’s tough to win when we don’t score any goals, especially on the road, but I know everybody was trying hard, everybody played hard, tonight just didn’t go our way.” - Capitals goaltender Jaroslav Halak.

-The Associated Press' recap. "Every time we play them, it's pretty intense." - Marc-Andre Fleury on the Capitals.


-The play in which Kunitz was shaken up:

-Brandon Sutter and Washington's Casey Wellman battled for this puck:

-Washington's Marcus Johansson couldn't beat Fleury (or Rob Scuderi, Brooks Orpik or Sutter) here:

-Sidney Crosby speaks:

-Dan Bylsma speaks:

-Lee Stempniak speaks:

-“There has not been a day when thoughts about the Olympics didn’t enter my head, when I wouldn’t remember it. I don’t think anyone is taking it harder than the players. Yes, we didn’t win. And there was a lot of negativity after the Olympics that Ovechkin and I had a rift, that we had one with the coach. This was not the case. It doesn’t feel good to read that. Everyone is upset.” - Evgeni Malkin on Russia teammate Alex Ovechkin and the Olympics.

-NHL general manager voted to recommend teams switch ends of the ice in overtime.

-Happy 62nd birthday to former Penguins forward Ed Gilbert. Acquired from the Kansas City Scouts midway through the 1975-76 season along with Simon Nolet and a and a draft pick in exchange for Steve Durbano, Chuck Arnason and a draft pick, Gilbert spent parts of two seasons in Pittsburgh. In 1975-76, he appeared in 38 games and scored two points. During 1976-77, he was limited to seven games and no points. In the 1978 offseason, he signed with the Cincinnati Stingers of the WHA.

-Today would've been the 77th birthday of former Penguins and Pittsburgh Hornets goaltender Roy Edwards. Edwards was originally claimed by the Penguins from the Blackhawks in the 1967 expansion draft but was traded to the Red Wings in exchange for Hank Bassen prior to the start of their inaugural season. In the 1971 offseason, the Penguins re-claimed him off waivers from the Red Wings. In 1971-72, he would go 2-8-4 with a 2.55 goals against average in 15 games before retiring in December due to stress. Having recovered, he was traded back to Detroit prior to 1972-73 in exchange for cash. He passed away at the age of 62 in 1999.

-Happy 37rd birthday to current Peguins goaltender Brent Johnson (right). A free agent signing in the 2009 offseason, Johnson spent three seasons with the Penguins. In 2009-10, Johnson went 10-6-1 with a 2.76 goals against average and .906 save percentage. He appeared in one playoff game last season. He had no record, a 1.94 goals against average and .857 save percentage. During the 2010-11 campaign, Johnson had a 13-5-3  record with a 2.17 goals against average, .922 save percentage and one shutout (and two fights). That postseason, he saw action in one game, didn't record a result and had a 7.06 goals against average as well as a .636 save percentage. In 2011-12, Johnson appeared in 16 games and had a 6-7-2 record with a 3.11 goals against average and .883 save percentage. He saw action in one postseason game that spring and had a 6.00 goals against average and a .667 save percentage. He was not re-signed following that season In 62 regular season games with the Penguins, Johnson is 29-18-6  with a 2.61 goals against average, .907 save percentage and one shutout. In two postseason games, he has no record, a 4.94 goals against average and .708 save percentage.

-Happy 34th birthday to former Penguins defenseman Douglas Murray.  Acquired near the 2013 trade deadline in a deal which sent draft picks to the Sharks, "Crankshaft" spent the latter stages of the 2012-13 season with the Penguins. In 14 regular season games, he recorded three points. Murray saw action in 15 postseason games and recorded three points. This past offseason, he joined the Canadiens as a free agent.

-After the jump: Matt Cooke (legally) hits a milestone.

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PIAA highlights: Strong 4th quarter propels Central Valley

Written by Mike White on .

Roundup of PIAA second-round boys and girls games from Tuesday night.

Central Valley came up with a big fourth quarter and turned back Thomas Jefferson, 61-51, in a PIAA Class AAA boys quarterfinal game at Chartiers Valley.
Thomas Jefferson held a 40-38 lead after three quarters, but Central Valley came on strong in the fourth, outscoring the Jaguars, 23-11. Central Valley also beat Thomas Jefferson in the WPIAL semifinals.
Four Central Valley players scored in double figures, led by Tony Gates and Mike Sims with 14 each. Matt Kline scored 11 and John George 10. Zach Talley had 15 for Thomas Jefferson.

*Farrell 86, Uniontown 72: Farrell (24-3) outscored Uniontown, 17-3, in overtime to pull out the win at Penn Hills. Uniontown (22-3) was 1 of 7 from the field in overtime while Farrell was 9 of 14 from the free-throw line. Farrell made 30 of 46 free throws for the game while Uniontnown was only 16 of 26. Five Uniontown starters fouled out.
Farrell opened up a 63-54 lead with a little less than two minutes left in the game, but Uniontown came back to tie at 67-67. After Jamel Brown scored on a layup with 20 seconds left, Uniontown's Lyric Ellis was fouled with 14 seconds remaining. Ellis was hurt and couldn't shoot the free throws, so Rodney Harris came off the bench and made both to tie the game. But Farell dominated the overtime. Jamel Brown led Farrell with 23 points, 15 in the fourth quarter and overtime. Ike Jones had 20 points and 14 rebounds. Joe Campbell had 19 points and 12 rebounds for Uniontown while Jordan Pratt added 15 points and 11 rebounds.
*Lancaster Mennonite 68, Chartiers Valley 64: Chartiers Valley, the WPIAL runner-up, saw its season end after a loss at Bedford High School. Chartiers Valley (25-3) lost despite 32 points and 11 rebounds from Matty McConnell. A junior guard, McConnell scored 23 points in the first half to help the Colts take a 35-34 lead into the break. But Lancaster Mennonite (22-7) opened up a 60-50 lead in the fourth quarter. Chartiers Valley cut the deficit to 65-63 with 50 seconds left, but the Blazers hung on for the win. Julian Collazzo, a junior guard, led Mennonite with 22 points, seven above his average. Chartiers Valley's Jerrad Tuite, who averages 16, scored only six.

*Vincentian 94, Homer-Center 66: Vincentian (24-3) broke the 90-point mark for the third consecutive game and rolled to the win at Hempfield. Vincentian led by 18 points in the second quarter but Homer-Center (23-4) cut the deficit to 61-56 in the third quarter before Vincentian went on a 13-0 run to take control. Ryan Wolf scored 30 points and Jay Cortese had 25 points, and 12 rebounds.
*Lincoln Park 81, Forbes Road 28: Lincoln Park (27-1), the No. 1-ranked Class A team in the state, jumped to a 30-11 lead after the first quarter and breezed to the victory over Forbes Road (17-9) at Hempfield. Sophomore guard Maverick Rowan led Lincoln Park with 23 points, Ryan Skovranko had 20 and Antonio Kellem 18. The win sets up a long-awaited showdown with Vincentian.
*Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic 58, Ridgway 43: Leading by only three after the third quarter, North Catholic (17-10) went on a 10-2 run to start the fourth en route to the win at Clarion University. Ryan Kirby scored 21 points and Dominic Robb 16 for North Catholic while Jeremy Breier had 17 for Ridgway (21-6).
*Bishop Carroll 69, Monessen 65: Undefeated Bishop Carroll (26-0) used a 22-0 run in the second half to overtake Monessen (21-7) at Gateway. Monessen led, 53-50, after the third quarter, but Bishop Carroll opened up a 63-53 lead as Monessen went almost six minutes without scoring in the fourth. Brandon Martinazzi led Bishop Carroll with 28 points. Javon Brown had 19 for Monessen.

*North Allegheny 58, State College 44: The Tigers (23-2) advanced with a win against District 6 champion State College Tuesday night at Indiana High School. Against State College (18-8), sophomore Abby Gonzalez had 18 points, 7 assists and 5 steals.
*Hempfield 54, Fox Chapel 44: Monica Burns scored 26 points for Hempfield to set up a rematch with North Allegheny. Hempfield beat NA in the WPIAL semifinals. Duke recruit Erin Mathias had 18 for Fox Chapel.

*Bishop Canevin 64, Karns City 40: The Crusaders (21-6) will get their fourth chance at knocking off Seton-La Salle this season in the PIAA quarterfinals after disposing of District 9 champion Karns City (24-2) at Clarion University. Canevin jumped out to a 12-0 lead and never looked back. Johnie Olkosky led the way, turning in a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Gina Vallecorsa added 17 points for the Crusaders.
* Seton-La Salle 61, Greensburg Central Catholic 43: The Rebels (24-4) will be returning to the PIAA quarterfinals for the fifth year in a row after defeating Greensburg Central Catholic (20-6) at Chartiers Valley. Seton-LaSalle held Greensburg Central to only six field goals in the first half. Cassidy Walsh scored 16 points, 12 in the first half on four 3-pointers, for Seton-LaSalle.
*Burrell 34, Bellwood-Antis 29: Sophomore Natalie Myers led the Buccaneers (27-1) back to the PIAA quarterfinals for the second year in a row with a win against Bellwood-Antis (24-4) at Indiana High School. Myers continued her postseason tear with a double-double — 16 points, 13 rebounds — and iced the victory from the free-throw line, going 7 for 7 in the fourth quarter. Burrell will play General McLane in the quarterfinals.

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'They deserve better': Robert Morris falters in NEC title game

Written by Craig Meyer on .


If things went right, the situation was supposed to play out like a dream for Robert Morris.

The team that played with and somehow excelled with eight players for two months was a game away from an NCAA tournament berth that once appeared improbable in a lost season.

By the time the final buzzer sounded, that dream wasn’t necessarily a nightmare, but instead, a cruel twist of fate -- the team that had defied the numbers the entire year was not able to do so one more time.

Mount St. Mary’s got off to a hot shooting start, one that it never entirely strayed away from, as it buried 60.4 percent of its field goals to defeat Robert Morris, 88-71, in the Northeast Conference championship Tuesday at the Sewall Center.

After the game, sitting before the media, Colonials coach Andy Toole was asked about what his eight-man group meant to him.

The sounds of celebrating Mount St. Mary’s players reverberated from the floor below, a stark reminder of what had just happened. With that noise in the background, Toole’s answer was simple.

“The eight guys that are in the locker room right now that are crushed were incredible to coach,” he said. “The efforts they gave on a daily basis really didn’t show tonight and that’s what’s so upsetting, because they deserve better. They deserve better.”

The win by the Mountaineers (16-16) marked the second consecutive year that they eliminated the Colonials (21-13) from the NEC tournament. With the loss, Robert Morris has fallen in three of the past four conference championship games.

Despite the loss, the Colonials’ season is not over, as it automatically qualifies for the National Invitation Tournament by virtue of winning the conference’s regular season title.

Mount St. Mary’s had five players finish in double figures, led by 20 points from guard Rashad Whack.

Guard Karvel Anderson, the NEC player of the year, had a team-high 21 points for Robert Morris. Forward Lucky Jones and guard Charles Oliver added 11 points apiece.

From the game’s opening moments, the Mountaineers had little trouble against Robert Morris’ 2-3 zone, a scheme which had become so effective over the past month.

Mount St. Mary’s made 14 of its first 19 shots of the game, jumping out to a 37-17 lead by eviscerating the gaps in the zone for easy looks that ultimately turned into points.

By halftime, the shooting numbers and lead were largely the same, as the Mountaineers made 69.2 percent of its shots and had a 48-32 advantage.

“They put their three best players – [Julian] Norfleet, Whack and [Sam] Prescott – two guys high and Prescott at the foul line area and made us make choices,” Toole said. “Unfortunately, it seemed like every choice we made was the wrong one.”

The Colonials threatened that lead occasionally in the second half, trimming its deficit to as little as 10 with 12:44 remaining. Any momentum, however, ultimately proved to be short-lived as they began to force shots and kept trying to make what Toole described as “10-point plays.”

Mount St. Mary’s quickly pushed its lead back to 17 points and from there, the Colonials did not present a formidable challenge for the remainder of the game.

“We won this championship through the regular season by playing a tough non-conference schedule, by sticking together through tough times,” Mount St. Mary’s coach Jamion Christian said. “I think today, you got the chance to see a team that just really connected.”

Robert Morris’ senior class becomes the first since 2008 to go through school without ever making the NCAA tournament.

The theme of Toole’s postgame message routinely went back to those players, the ones who gave him and the program so much during the season, only to fall short of their season-long goal.

“I’m just disappointed for our team because I just wish we would have played better so we would have given ourselves a chance because I thought they deserved that,” Toole said. “It’s just disappointing.”


Craig Meyer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG


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