Swofford wraps up 2014 ACC meetings

Written by Sam Werner on .

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. — ACC commission John Swofford sat down with reporters today to put a bow on the 2014 ACC meetings. Here are a couple of notes on items passed this week as well as some thoughts from Swofford on the overall state of the league...

- The biggest news, obviously, was the decision to stick with eight conference games for football. This was pretty much expected to happen going into the meetings, and one of the main reasons was that teams like Clemson, Florida State and Georgia Tech already have traditional power conference rivals, and were hesitant to lock in their schedule any more.
"One of the reasons for staying at eight but having this minimal additional requirement is to give schools some flexibility in their scheduling," Swofford said. "I don't think it'll change a whole lot from where schools have scheduled in the past. People have a pretty good idea of where their program is competitively at given points in time, and I think they'll generally try to schedule to that."

- The ACC will experiment with a 30-second shot clock in its men's basketball exhibition games this year. This was something most of the coaches were in favor of, so the league is going to try it out.
"Our coaches and ADs both felt that would be an enhancement to the game in today's world," Swofford said. "Obviously it adds more possessions and potentially would speed up the game."
After this season, coaches will give their feedback on how it went and determine if this is something the ACC should look into further moving forward.

- The league voted to add an eighth on-field official for all conference football games this year. This is only for conference games, and the new official will likely be lined up in the offensive backfield, according to Swofford. The SEC and Big 12 have done this in the past, and the main goal is to help teams that run up-tempo offenses, as an extra official will be able to keep the pace of the game moving and spot the ball quicker than just seven officials on the field.

- At the behest of football coaches and ADs, Swofford will push the Collegiate Commissioners Association (CCA) to add an early letter-of-intent signing period for football. The proposed date would be August 1, at which point players who want to can sign their LOIs for the following year (as opposed to the regular date which is the first Wednesday in February).
"Our feelings are that would be a healthy thing for the recruits, for the student-athletes in the sense that it gives them an opportunity to make their decision, fully commit to it and sign, then being able to play and study during their senior season without the distractions of the recruiting process, which can be very significant," Swofford said. "Our feeling is that if a player knows where he wants to go and is ready to make that commitment, it really enhances the situation for that player first of all and also for the institutions as well."
Most coaches have been pushing this for a while, but there has recently been some pushback (notably by Stanford coach David Shaw) on the issue. This is one that I really could see going either way, and it'll be interesting to see how it progresses.

- The ACC women's basketball tournament will stay in Greensboro, N.C., through 2022, and the baseball tournament will move to Durham, N.C., and the Durham Bulls' facility from 2015-18.

- Swofford said he was pleased with how the NCAA governance reform is progressing, a topic I wrote about in today's PG. Specifically, he likes that the proposed reform would include the athletic directors, who he referred to as the "day-to-day practitioners," more in the process.
"The processes that we have now, as an unintended consequence, really weren't utilizing the expertise of the athletic directors nearly to the degree that we felt like needed to be," Swofford said. "That's being addressed very directly, also. This ultimately I think will turn out to be a very, very significant change."
As for the supermajority threshold that has been panned by some (such as Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby) and enthusiastically supporter by others (like Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick), Swofford didn't really give a firm position either way.
"I think that we need to continue the conversation on that," he said. "The things that are in autonomy are important issues.
"On the one hand there needs to be significant support for autonomy issues. On the other hand you don't want it to be so high that the system is ineffective in bringing about change. I think that's one reason for the continued discussion period. Hopefully in the end, we'll hit the sweet spot."

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City releases resume for new public safety pick

Written by Liz Navratil on .

Pittsburgh officials today released the resume for Stephen A. Bucar, the mayor's selection for public safety director. Much of it repeats information that was already released after the announcement about his selection Wednesday, but the last page had more detail about his work experiences.

Specifically, it says that highlights of his career include;

Participation as a State Trooper in regaining control of the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill, Pennsylvania during the riots of October 1989. Inmates held 17 people hostage and destroyed 14 of the 31 buildings at the facility. Over 200 Troopers were detailed to Camp Hill from throughout the state to regain control of the facility. In addition, as an FBI agent, among other investigations, I was involved in the investigation into the 1993 firs[sic] World Trade Center terrorist attack, the second terrorist attack of the World Trade Center in 2001 and the attempted vehicle borne improvised explosive device attack in Times Square in 2010.

Still unclear -- Exactly what role he played in each of those investigations. Officials at the FBI have said they will not talk about Mr. Bucar's work until after he leaves the bureau. His final day there is unclear. The mayor's office has said Mr. Bucar is not available for interviews because he is still busy with work for the FBI.

Want to see his full resume? Here's a link.


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Outtakes on the new public safety director

Written by Liz Navratil on .

As always happens when someone is appointed to a high-profile position in the community, we reach out to a large number of people for reaction. Sometimes, we run out of space to include all of them in print. The appointment of Stephen A. Bucar as Pittsburgh's new public safety director -- a position that some have called the most crucial vacancy Mayor Bill Peduto needed to fill -- was no exception.

Here are new, or in some cases extended, versions of what locals had to say about the selection of Mr. Bucar.

Elizabeth Pittinger, executive director of the Citizen Police Review Board, said uniting the city's public safety bureaus will be among Mr. Bucar's biggest challenges.

It's not just police, it's not just fire, it's not just some collective bargaining unit. It's about providing the most efficient public safety response that we can...The turf has to be dealt with.

Scott S. Smith, special agent in charge of the Pittsburgh FBI office, issued this statement through a spokesman:

We look forward to working with Mr. Bucar in his new role as the City of Pittsburgh's Public Safety Director. I understand that he has over 30 years of federal, state and local law enforcement experience to bring to the City of Pittsburgh.

We had room for a partial statement from Ralph Sicuro, vice president of the Pittsburgh firefighters' union, who said he hopes Mr. Bucar brings "fairness, open-mindedness and the willingness to work with everybody that's out there."

We're looking forward to meeting with him, getting a chance to build a relationship with the man. Let the future begin.

And here's the full statement from Officer Howard McQuillan, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 1:

As members of the City's Police Department who have for too long been without leadership or direction, we are relieved that Mayor Peduto has made a decision in regards to the position of Public Safety Director.
Based on his vast experience in Law Enforcement, it would appear Mr. Bucar would have been an excellent choice as police chief, however, we will welcome Mr. Bucar as Public Safety Director and look forward to working with him.
We are sure his first duties will be fact finding in nature regarding the culture and conditions within Public Safety here in Pittsburgh. But once he is settled in, we sincerely hope he is willing to hit the ground running with an J. Edgar Hoover brand of leadership that demands unqualified efficiency, honesty and integrity. Difficult decisions will need to be made to include a new Police Chief, the ousting of incompetents, political hangers-on and formation of a roadmap for the future of Public Safety in Pittsburgh.
Here is to you Mr Bucar for taking on the challenge.

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Julianne Moore trades red hair for gray in next Hunger Games

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

Julianne Moore will appear without her signature red hair to play President Alma Coin in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1,” as his photo shows. 
New promotional material for the movie also provides assurance to fans of Philip Seymour Hoffman that he will not be represented by a digital or robotic version. The actor died unexpectedly in early February.
Director Francis Lawrence says, “We finished the majority of his work. I think he might have had 8 to 10 days left on our schedule. In most of those scenes, Phil didn’t have any dialogue. We are going to put him into those scenes, but we’re only using real footage. We’re not creating anything digital or a robotic version of him.” 
That is part of a digital first look at the movie, not due in theaters until November. 
Series #1 features an exclusive look at District 13’s President Coin, along with a video interview with Moore and a Q&A with director Lawrence, producer Nina Jacobson, and screenwriter Peter Craig. 
Additionally, there are first look images and behind-the-scenes stills, an interactive sneak peek at a page from the film’s script, and the official motion poster.
mopo color - Copy

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Outsmarted by a rabbit...again!

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog bunny hides behind the straw"I can see you," is what I said as this rabbit hiding behind a bale of straw filled with blooming dianthus. Photos by Doug Oster

Imagine my surprise while walking out to the fenced in vegetable garden to see a rabbit sitting inside the cold frame enjoying my overwintered greens.

The day before the bunny was actually up on a bale of straw eating radicchio.

You can't blame the rabbit, blame the idiot who left the gate open, guess who?

This particular rabbit isn't really afraid of people. I wanted to make sure there wasn't a hole in the fence so I walked into the garden to see where it would run.

It basically ran right by my through the gate (which was closed), there was a small enough gap for an escape. It lives under my tool shed and I certainly would never do anything to harm the little bunny.

But I'm shoring up the fence and using my Bobbex Animal Repellent. There are lots of sprays on the market, and they all work pretty well. This one really smells, which is a good thing. Hopefully it will save my peas and allow them to rebound and flower.

Whether it's rabbits, deer or dreaded groundhogs looking for a free meal, there are ways we can try to keep them at bay.

Physical barriers are first. Fencing an area or the plant itself works pretty well. The granular and spray deterrents are very effective. They usually need to be applied again after a rain.

I'm testing a product called Green Screen. The folks at Penn Hills Lawn and Garden say they are selling it by the case and keep it in stock. That's a good indication. The product is in small bags which are hung around the garden. "No more spraying," said owner Jayme Visnesky as I walked away.

It will be fun to see how it works.

The other thing to try is growing plants the four legged pests don't enjoy. That can be challenge, but once you find something which works in your garden, you'll be relieved.

I really don't mind sharing a little of the bounty, but on principle, I need to keep that rabbit out.

Blog bunny coldframe2Help yourself, I just spent most of the spring nursing those plants along.




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