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(Don't) Bet the Farm: Pitt-UNC Predictions

The Cardiac Hill staff makes their predictions for Pitt's 1st conference game of the year

While Pitt was not successful last week, the Cardiac Hill staff was mostly successful with only one writer getting the wrong pick.

This week, we're more optimistic. This is Pitt's first ACC game, and their second game in a row on the road. Pitt's lost every game to North Carolina since entering the ACC by about a touchdown. Most of the games have been very close, and the staff feels that this is the year the streak stops. James Conner has found success against UNC the first two years he played them, and Pitt is hoping it's enough to push them for a win this time.

Anson - Pitt (3-0)

Chris - Pitt (3-0)

Corey - North Carolina (3-0)

JD - Pitt (3-0)

Jim - Pitt (3-0)

Aron - Pitt (2-1)

Scott Barnes named as potential candidate for Oregon State job

The Pitt athletics director says he’s happy with the Panthers

Usually it’s coaches that Pitt has to be worried about other schools poaching.

Oregon State lost its athletics director, Todd Stansbury, who headed to Georgia Tech. One of the names mentioned to replace him? Pitt AD Scott Barnes.

Barnes is from the pacific northwest, but has no ties to Oregon State. He’s from nearby Washington and went to Fresno State in California. The closest anyone can come to a true link there is that Barnes hired current Oregon State football coach Gary Andersen when he was at Utah State. Seriously, that’s the link.

All of this stems from The Oregonian coming up with a list of potential ‘candidates’. But the articles I’ve read there seem to lay out more why Barnes would be a good fit - not that there’s been actual contact between the two side. They’ve had a few articles on the search and you can find them on their Oregon State page.

Barnes’ stance? As the Trib reported last night, he seems happy at Pitt:

“I was completely unaware of the article and speculation until it was just brought to my attention,” said Barnes, who is with the Pitt football team in Chapel Hill, N.C., where the Panthers meet North Carolina on Saturday. “Obviously, my full focus and energy has been directed at what we have going on at Pitt. “I don't think it is appropriate for me to talk about another institution's personnel search, but I can tell you my family and I feel very fortunate to be in Pittsburgh, and we are incredibly excited about our future here.”

That’s obviously the route that more people take when they are mentioned as a potential job candidate elsewhere - happy where I am without a hard denial in any interest. Frustrating for fans and former Pitt basketball coach Jamie Dixon did this for years.

Could it happen? Sure, I guess. But to me, the job down the road that Pitt fans should probably be more worried about regarding Barnes is Washington. He is from that state and was the Associate AD there. In addition, he was the AD at Eastern Washington immediately before that. For about ten years, he was at both schools before going to Utah State. Fortunately, Washington just hired an athletics director this year so hopefully won’t be looking for a while.

For Pitt, the loss of Barnes would be a setback. While many fans weren’t impressed with the Kevin Stallings hire for the basketball team, Barnes has made a lot of great moves. He’s already begun to improve the mess that has been the Olympic sports programs. Some have thrived in the past but some have been down for many years. He’s made a good commitment to improve those programs, has already brought in a few new hires, and has released the master plan where improving Pitt’s Director’s Cup standings was named as a priority.

He’s made football the clear priority and pumped a good bit of ACC money into things like facilities while giving coach Pat Narduzzi the resources to hire quality assistants. He understands that football is the moneymaker and needs to thrive for everything else to fall into place.

In addition to that, there was also the relaunch of the Pitt script brand across the board. Finally, known as a fundraising guru of sorts, Barnes has made a big push in increasing donations. As mentioned in the master plan, a big part of what he wants to do is re-engage alumni to help raise more money.

Pitt athletics seems like its on the right track and to suffer a loss of the AD at this point would be difficult.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Mariners suspend catcher Steve Clevenger for rest of season over BLM tweets

The controversial tweets of Mariners’ reserve catcher Steve Clevenger have led to his suspension.

Clevenger was suspended for the rest of the season without pay Friday for tweets made this week regarding a recent police shooting in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the Black Lives Matter movement which many found to be offensive.

>> Read more trending stories 

Clevenger’s Twitter account is currently private. Screen shots of the tweets showed Clevenger made disparaging comments about protesters, tweeting, “Keep kneeling for the Anthem” and “BLM is pathetic once again! Obama you are pathetic once again! Everyone involved should be locked behind bars like animals!”

Clevenger was informed of the suspension on Friday. He will lose 10 days' pay from his $516,500 salary in the major leagues, which comes to $28,224, according to The Associated Press.

The Major League Baseball Players Association could challenge the suspension, but has not yet commented on the case.

Mariners Executive Vice President and General Manager Jerry Dipoto released a statement Thursday afternoon:

“The Seattle Mariners are very disappointed at the tweets posted on Steve Clevenger’s account. While he is certainly free to express himself, his tweets do not in any way represent the opinions of the Seattle Mariners. We strongly disagree with the language and tone of his comments. We are currently examining all internal options that are available to us as we determine appropriate next steps. We will have no further comment at this time.”

On Thursday night, MLB on FOX reporter Ken Rosenthal shared a statement from Clevenger, who apologized for "the distraction my tweets on my personal Twitter page caused when they went public.”

"I am sickened by the idea that anyone would think of me in racist terms," continued Clevenger's statement. "My tweets were reactionary to the events I saw on the news and were worded beyond poorly at best and I can see how and why someone could read into my tweets far more deeply than how I actually feel."

Statement from Steve Clevenger    "First and foremost I would like to apologize to the Seattle Mariners, my teammates,...Posted by Ken Rosenthal on Thursday, September 22, 2016

Clevenger appeared in 22 games for the Mariners this season. He has been on disabled list with a fractured hand since June 30. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Going Scouting: Marshall Thundering Herd

Get ready to tune in for Pitt’s next opponent, because Marshall isn’t someone we’ve seen a lot of lately.

For the second time in three weeks, Pitt will play an opponent for the first time in school history. Oklahoma State had not met the Panthers on the gridiron previously and now it’s Marshall’s turn. Despite being only a few hours down the road, Pitt and Marshall have never met in football. That will change one week from tonight, but before that happens, how can you get a look at the Thundering Herd?

Well, it just so happens, that if you get the CBS Sports Network (not CBS, but the CBS Sports Network), you can flip right to their game tonight, after Pitt is done tangling with North Carolina. Not only will you get a look, but it is an intriguing game, as well. Marshall will be at home, with an 8:00 p.m. kickoff, against the newest college football darling....Louisville!

Yup, you read that right: Louisville is traveling to Marshall. The Thundering Herd have a great history, but they did give up a lot of points in their lone loss to Akron, so Louisville could have some fun. At the same time, Louisville has Clemson one week from today and this is a big home game for Marshall, so could they catch the Cardinals in a trap game? Head coach Doc Holliday certainly hopes so and so does the home crowd at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

Marshall has the ability to strike fear against power 5 teams and Pitt doesn’t want to get caught looking ahead next week. They will hope to learn from the Louisville game just what they will be in store for when the Herd comes to Heinz Field. You can find out early. Just tune in.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author@BrunoPittsburgh

Pitt vs. North Carolina: How to Watch, Schedule, Game Information

Here’s the key information for today’s contest

Pitt opens ACC play today against North Carolina as they’ll travel on the road for an afternoon kickoff. The Panthers are hoping to rebound after last week’s loss against Oklahoma State and you can bet that both teams will be fighting hard to start conference play with a 1-0 record.

The Panthers’ defense will need to step up and put last week behind them. Unfortunately, the Tar Heels sport a pretty good offense and are multifaceted with strong passing and running games. In other words, slowing them down will be no easy task and Pitt will need to make sure their offense doesn’t stall out, either. This could be another one of those shootout games that Pitt has found itself in for the past two weeks, so hopefully they’ll be able to keep up again.

Here are the game details for today's contest against the Tar Heels:

Date: September 24, 2016

Time: 3:30 p.m.

Location: Chapel Hill, NC (Kenan Stadium)

TV: ESPNU (national telecast)

Radio: 93.7 FM The Fan

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Dodgers pay tribute to longtime broadcaster Vin Scully

The Dodgers paid tribute to Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully on Friday, and a crowd of 52,320 roared its approval during an hourlong ceremony on his appreciation night before Los Angeles’ 5-2 victory against Colorado.

Scully, holding hands with his wife, Sandi, walked from the dugout to home plate for a ceremony honoring his 67 years in the Dodgers’ broadcast booth. The 88-year-old Scully is retiring next weekend after Los Angeles concludes its regular season in San Francisco.

>> Read more trending stories  

"Hi everybody and a very pleasant good evening to you," Scully said in his signature greeting. "I thought I'd get that out of the way right away."

Scully thanked Dodger fans for making him feel like a child again.

"When you roar, when you cheer, when you are thrilled for a brief moment I'm 8 years old again," he said. "You have allowed me to be young at heart. I owe you everything."

The first 50,000 fans in attendance received a typed letter signed by Scully containing recollections from his career, which began in Brooklyn with the Dodgers and continued when the team moved west to California for the 1958 season.

"You were simply always there for me," Scully wrote. "I have always felt that I needed you more than you needed me and that holds true to this very day. I have been privileged to share in your passion and love for this great game."

Actor Kevin Costner, baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax and Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw were among the speakers paying tribute to Scully.

Scully joked that he is often asked about his future. He turns 89 in November.

"I'm going to try to live," he said. "I'm looking for a much smaller house and a much larger medicine cabinet."

Dodgers chairman Mark Walter, former owner Peter O'Malley and former managers Tom Lasorda and Joe Torre, now an MLB executive, were among those on hand. O'Malley's father, Walter, first owned the team and was instrumental in bringing the Bronx-born Scully west when the Dodgers relocated to the vast Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Walter said the team would add Scully’s name to the stadium “ring of honor,” next to the retired numbers. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti gave Scully a key to the city. Manfred said the league would donate $50,000 to the Jackie Robinson Foundation in honor of Scully.

Costner starred in the 1999 baseball movie "For Love of the Game," in which Scully narrated the play-by-play of his character's perfect game.

"We're all taking deep breaths, Vin," Costner said. "We're all struggling with our own emotions as we admit we're down to our last three outs with you. You're our George Bailey and it has been a wonderful life. You can't blame us for trying to hold on to you for as long as we can. And shame on us if you ever have to pay for another meal in public."

At the end of the tributes, Scully returned to the microphone.

"It's time for Dodger baseball," he said.

Against the Odds: Pitt solid underdog to North Carolina

The Panthers head into another road matchup where they won’t be favored

For the second straight week, Pitt heads into a game where they won’t be favored.

The Panthers travel to North Carolina this weekend for their first ACC game and it’s expected to be a difficult one. Oddsmakers have Pitt as the clear underdog here so if they’re to win, it will look like an upset.

The line started out with the Panthers as seven-point underdogs and things haven’t budged, really. A couple of places have them at +6.5 but many still consider them +7.0.

I don’t think winning would be a colossal upset and I expect they’ll come to play. They have plenty of motivation after a disappointing ending to the Oklahoma State game and also since it’s a matchup between two teams that seemingly could win the Division. But on the road, Pitt clearly has their work cut out for them.

What do you think about the line? Too high/low or just right?

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Kaepernick 'most disliked player' in NFL, but makes Time cover

Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest has polarized the nation, drawing vocal supporters and critics.

In a poll taken last week by E-Poll Marketing Research, the 49ers’ backup quarterback was “disliked a lot” by 29 percent of those polled, beating out over 350 players named in the survey. Among NFL fans, the dislike was stronger, with 36 percent saying that they disliked him a lot.

>> Read more trending stories

But while Kaepernick has taken his share of criticism for kneeling during the national anthem at games in protest of police brutality of African-Americans, he has also gained a good deal of support. The poll showed that 42 percent of African-Americans like Kaepernick “a lot.”

Kaepernick’s jersey became a best-seller after the backup quarterback began his public protest.

Kaepernick has received another honor: He is featured on the latest cover of Time magazine, which hit newsstands Friday.

Seahawks’ Baldwin calls for change after shootings

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin is calling for a review of training policies for law enforcement across the country, saying the message NFL players are trying to send with their actions during the national anthem now needs some follow-through.

>> Read more trending stories  

Baldwin gave a prepared statement on Thursday, similar to what teammate Richard Sherman did Wednesday. Baldwin said the situation has reached a point where action is needed. Baldwin said he has consulted with his father, a police officer, to gather information. "The situation that's upon us right now, what's going on in our country, it's devastating. ... We cannot tolerate this," Baldwin said.

Doug Baldwin begins his news conference reading from the US Constitution & calls for accountability. — Cale Ramaker (@CaleKIRO7) September 22, 2016 Doug Baldwin: demanding all 50 state Attorneys General review police training & emphasize deescalation over order. — Cale Ramaker (@CaleKIRO7) September 22, 2016

>> Related: Richard Sherman says anthem protests message getting lost

#Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin opened his availability today with a statement similar to teammate Richard Sherman pic.twitter.com/pcz1UUBYMT — Tim Booth (@ByTimBooth) September 22, 2016

Washington’s attorney general reached out to Baldwin on Twitter after the news conference.

.@DougBaldwinJr Watched your press conference today with interest. I’ll be reaching out soon to see if you'd like to sit down and chat. -BF — WA Attorney General (@AGOWA) September 22, 2016

Baldwin and Sherman's statements came in the wake of a pair of police shootings this week, one in Charlotte, North Carolina; and another in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Tyler Boyd making early impact with Bengals

We all know about Pitt’s big name guys in the NFL - Lesean McCoy, Larry Fitzgerald, Aaron Donald, and Darrelle Revis, to name a few. It might not be too much longer before we can add another legitimate star.

Wide receiver Tyler Boyd.

To be fair, Boyd isn’t a star yet. But only two games into his rookie season, he is already making an impact with his new team, the Cincinnati Bengals. Boyd was limited in his debut, but still caught two passes for 24 yards. He stepped things up against the Steelers last week, grabbing six catches for 78 yards. On the season, he ranks fifth among rookies in receptions and sixth in yardage.

Against Pittsburgh, he actually had the most catches and yards of any wide receiver on the team - even easily outperforming A.J. Green, who was limited to only two catches for 38 yards. He did have a fumble in the game, but even that looked pretty questionable.

What’s great to see is that Boyd is being targeted quite a bit, including eight times last week. He still has a ways to go, obviously, but at only two games into his career, he’s already off to a solid start to the season and is contributing early.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

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