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NFL moves Miami Dolphins’ game vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers to Nov. 19

The Dolphins-Buccaneers season opener won’t be an opener after all. The NFL decided Wednesday morning to move the game at Hard Rock Stadium to Nov. 19, the bye week for both teams, because of Hurricane Irma.

>> Read more trending news 

The decision was reached after the league, in consultation with officials from both teams and government agencies, had deliberated since Monday on the best course of action.

The Dolphins canceled practice Wednesday.

The Dolphins’ new season-opener will be at 4:05 p.m. Sept. 17 at the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Bucs game originally was scheduled for Hard Rock Stadium at 1 p.m. Sunday, when Irma would be too close to South Florida for anyone to be outside. The league finally admitted as much Tuesday afternoon, when it issued a statement saying the game would not be played in South Florida this week.

“In the interest of public safety in light of the current state of emergency, the NFL, in consultation with state and local officials as well as both clubs, has decided that playing an NFL game in South Florida this week is not appropriate,” the league said in a statement.

Among the options considered were moving to a neutral site or playing it later in the season. Both teams had a bye Nov. 19, but this now means the Dolphins will play 16 consecutive weeks, something Dolphins players were reluctant to do.

But there were no options that would please everybody. Scheduling it upstate this weekend, perhaps Orlando or Jacksonville, was risky because Irma could affect those cities, too. Moving it out of state would mean taking the players away from their families when some may be experiencing a hurricane for the first time.

“I’m definitely concerned about the community in South Florida, really the whole state, especially with our State of Emergency,” defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said. “Luckily my family doesn’t like me, so they’re up in Portland, Ore., and Detroit and up north. They’re safe for the most part. Myself, we’ll figure something out.”

Quaterback Jay Cutler, who arrived a month ago from Nashville, said, “I’m in a different situation than most of these guys because my family’s not here. A lot of these guys have a lot on their plate, moving their families and your house and your cars.

“I’m one of the few lucky ones that I’ve got a car here and a bag full of clothes, and that’s kind of it. You’ve got a lot of guys in that locker room that are going through a lot of things in their head, and we’ve got to be mindful of that and kind of help them in any way possible.”

Moving the Bucs game out of Hard Rock would have meant only six true home games this season, since the game against New Orleans will be in London.

This is the second time in recent history that weather affected a Dolphins opener. In September 2004, the opener vs. Tennessee was shifted from Sunday to Saturday because of concerns about Hurricane Ivan.

King of the Hill: ACC Power Rankings (Week 2)

Now that we're underway, I wanted to throw out my weekly power rankings for the first time this season. As a reminder, these rankings take into consideration how a team has played all year and aren't simply based on their last game. There is weight given to what a team has done lately, though.

That said, here are my rankings after the first week of action. These typically fluctuate quite a bit for the first half of the season before settling in once we have a better idea of where teams fit.

Regarding Pitt, I don't think they're nearly as bad as the final score of that Youngstown State game showed. But I also couldn't legitimately slot them higher than teams who won their opener by 40 and 50 points, either.

1. Clemson (1-0) - Crushed Kent State, 56-3

2. Florida State (0-1) - Lost to Alabama, 24-7, and also lost quarterback Deondre Francois for the season with an injury

3. Virginia Tech (1-0) - Impressive 31-24 win over No. 22 West Virginia

4. Louisville (1-0) - Close 35-28 win over Purdue

5. Miami (1-0) - Easy 41-13 win over Bethune-Cookman

6. Georgia Tech (0-1) - Lost 42-41 in double overtime vs. No. 25 Tennessee

7. North Carolina State (0-1) - 35-28 loss to South Carolina

8. North Carolina (0-1) - 35-30 loss to Cal

9. Duke (1-0) - 60-7 win over North Carolina Central

10-. Wake Forest (1-0) - 51-7 win over Presbyterian

11. Syracuse (1-0) - 50-7 win over Central Connecticut

12. Pitt (1-0) - 28-21 overtime win over Youngstown State

13. Virginia (1-0) - 28-10 win over William & Mary

14. Boston College (1-0) - Narrow win over Northern Illinois, 23-20

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.

J.J. Watt’s Harvey fundraising pushes past $20 million

J.J. Watt’s rush to continue raising money for the victims of Hurricane Harvey and the historic flooding in and around Houston that followed the Aug. 25-30 storm broke the $20 million mark, as his online crowdfunding site pushed past that threshold about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to USA Today.

>> George Strait, Beyonce, others to hold Hurricane Harvey relief concert

Watt pledged $100,000 to the Red Cross fund when he started it with the goal of raising $200,000.

>> Read more trending news

“It’s such a testament to the people out there," Watt said Sunday after donations of $1 million from Tennessee Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk, $1 million from Walmart, $200,000 from hip-hop artist Drake and $50,000 from NBA star Chris Paul.

Watt, an all-pro defensive end for the Houston Texans, said Sunday when the total raised was at $17 million. “It’s such a testament to how much good there is in the world.’’

>> Complete Harvey coverage from the Austin American-Statesman

Many NFL owners and players have pledged money to Harvey victims, including Falcons owner Arthur Blank, who has committed $1 million.

Red Sox accused of using Apple Watches to steal pitching signs from Yankees

The Boston Red Sox are facing allegations of cheating in a situation reminiscent of the 2007 New England Patriots Spygate controversy.

>> Watch the news report here

Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski confirmed accusations that the Red Sox had been stealing pitching signs in a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

>> On Boston25News.com: Red Sox, Yankees team up to raise money for hurricane relief

The allegations stem from a Red Sox vs Yankees series at Fenway Park in mid-August when, according to the New York Times, staff members and Red Sox players used Apple Watches as a way to share the signals.

“Do I think sign stealing is wrong? No, I don’t," Dombrowski said. “People are trying to win it however they can. It’s an edge we can gain.”

MLB has not prohibited players from looking at catcher signals and relaying the information to others, but they have said any use of technology to see signals is against the rules.

The Times also reports that the Red Sox have filed a complaint against the Yankees for using broadcast cameras to steal pitching signals, and while he would not go into details, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred confirmed that there were allegations on both sides.

>> Read more trending news

“We actually do not have a rule against sign stealing, and it has been a part of the game for the long time,” he said. “It’s the electronic equipment that creates the violation, and I think the rule against electronic equipment has a number of reasons behind it.”

Manfred said the investigation is not complete into allegations on either side, and that it was too soon to talk about possible discipline. He did, however, indicate that taking away wins was unlikely because it is difficult to determine "to what extent this impacted the outcome of any particular game."

Breaking Down the Two Deep: Pitt at Penn State

Pitt’s depth chart heading into the PSU game on Saturday

Quarterback

  1. Max Browne 6’5” 230 Senior
  2. Ben DiNucci 6’2” 220 Sophomore

Max Browne won his first start in a Pitt uniform, and that’s about all there is to say about that. Browne’s performance was a bit underwhelming, but then again, the whole team’s was. He threw for 140 yards completing 17 of his 24 attempts. Browne was sacked three times and looked inaccurate and unwilling to take shots down field. He did have some nice throws, one that went to tight end, Matt Flanagan down the middle for a big gain and the game winner to Jester Weah.

You would like to see Browne play a little better for the rest of the season. He has a strong arm, it would be nice to see it. Penn State will try to eliminate the rushing offense and Henderson’s touches, so for Pitt to win, Browne is going to have to make some plays.

Running Back

  1. Qadree Ollison 6’2” 230 Junior
  2. Darrin Hall 5’11” 220 Junior

Same set up as last week, with Ollison as the starter and Hall the only reserve listed. Ollison had his moments in week one, for sure. He looks better out of the backfield as a receiver, and he seems a bit lighter on his feet than in prior years. The hurdle over the Youngstown State defender was rather impressive. Still, he lacks that big play threat sometimes. He’s a solid player, but I think there’s a reason multiple running backs will play this year also.

Darrin Hall made some nice runs and provided 52 yards on 13 carries. He seems to have more burst than Ollison, and changes the pace effectively. Beyond the top two, true freshman AJ Davis carried the ball 4 times for 8 yards and a touchdown, and interestingly enough he was in the game during crucial points, including a fourth and short and a goalline touchdown run. I expect to see Davis more and more, and we should see Chawntez Moss this week as well.

Fullback

  1. Colton Lively 6’0” 235 Senior
  2. Erik Sellers 6’1” 230 Sophomore

Pitt employed a fullback in some packages in week one, but Lively did not touch the ball. I still think the position changes without Aston, as he is able to do more than the average fullback.

Wide Receiver

  1. Jester Weah 6’3” 210 Senior // Quadree Henderson 5’8” 190 Junior
  2. Ruben Flowers III 6’3” 205 Freshman OR Aaron Mathews 6’4” 205 Sophomore // Maurice Ffrench 5’11” 190 Sophomore
  3. Rafael Araujo-Lopes 5’9” 190 Junior

The personnel is the same as last week, the only distinction that changes is that there is an “OR” between Ruben Flowers and Aaron Mathews as the top backup to Weah. Seems like an inconsequential move.

Jester Weah only had one catch, but it was a big one. He hauled in a touchdown in overtime to win the game. Weah probably should have had another touchdown, as he was seemingly interfered with in the back of the end zone in the first half. Penn State will look to key on Weah, but he’s proven last year he can still make plays in big games. The big question will be, Can Browne get him the ball?

Quadree Henderson was once again a better rusher than receiver. He totaled 77 rushing yards and just one catch for seven yards. He’s dangerous with the ball in his hands, so Pitt will find ways to get him involved. Beyond that, Araujo-Lopes and Aaron Mathews each recorded a catch, while Maurice Ffrench had three. Someone besides the two starters needs to step up, and I still believe that will be Ffrench.

Tight End

  1. Matt Flanagan 6’6” 260 Senior
  2. Chris Clark 6’6” 260 Sophomore
  3. Devon Edwards 6’4” 275 Senior

Matt Flanagan had two catches for 35 yards, including a nice 30 yard play that set Pitt up inside the redzone. He was not known as a pass catcher coming from Rutgers, but it seems he has the ability to make plays. Chris Clark was used quite a bit, but primarily as a blocker. He has a lot of talent, and it will be interesting to see how he is used this week.

Also seeing action last week was Tyler Sear, the true freshman. Many thought it would be Charles Reeves to see the field among the incoming freshmen, but Sear brought down one pass for 10 yards.

Left Tackle

  1. Brian O’Neill 6’6” 305 Junior
  2. Tony Pilato 6’5” 320 Sophomore

Left Guard

  1. Alex Officer 6’4” 340 Senior
  2. Brandon Ford 6’5” 310 Freshman

Center

  1. Jimmy Morrissey 6’3” 300 Freshman
  2. Connor Dintino 6’3” 315 Junior

Right Guard

  1. Brandon Hodges 6’4” 315 Senior OR Alex Bookser 6’6” 315 Junior
  2. Mike Herndon 6’4” 310 Junior

Right Tackle

  1. Jaryd Jones-Smith 6’7” 320 Senior

Jerry Drake 6’5” 315 Freshman

After serving a one game suspension, Alex Bookser is back and is listed as an “OR” starter alongside Brandon Hodges at right guard. Bookser was a former four-star recruit that started every game last season. After Brian O’Neill, he is probably the second best lineman on the team. His presence will likely be a nice boost.

The line did not play great last week, but still opened some running lanes. Pitt rushed for 208 yards as a team, but it took them 53 carries to get there. They need to be more efficient this week. Browne was sacked three times, and some were his own doing, but Pitt can’t afford to allow sacks this week in what will be a hostile environment.

Defensive End

  1. Dewayne Hendrix 6’4” 260 Junior OR Rashad Weaver 6’5” 265 Freshman // Allen Edwards 6’5” 255 Senior
  2. James Folston Jr. 6’4” 250 Junior
  3. Patrick Jones II 6’5” 245 Freshman

Not a very impressive day for the defensive ends last week statistically. They were able to get some pressure on the YSU quarterback, but not nearly enough. They have to be better this week. Pitt’s win last year over Penn State was aided big time from Ejuan Price’s performance. He had multiple forced fumbles and really bothered McSorely. Pitt needs to find a pass rush this week if they want any chance of winning.

Nose Tackle

  1. Shane Roy 6’4” 280 Junior
  2. Rashad Wheeler 6’3” 290 Freshman
  3. Jaylen Twyman 6’2” 315 Freshman

Defensive Tackle

  1. Keyshon Camp 6’4” 290 Freshman
  2. Amir Watts 6’3” 285 Sophomore
  3. Kam Carter 6’4” 295 Sophomore

Pitt lists the same six guys as they did last week. Keyshon Camp got banged up a little, but returned later in the game. All six guys were used in a rotation, and they did not have a ton of production. Amir Watts had Pitt’s lone sack last week. Roy and Camp made a few tackles each, but nothing of great significance. Maybe we’ll see an inspired Kam Carter coming up against his former team on Saturday.

Money Linebacker

  1. Elijah Zeise 6’2” 230 Junior
  2. Jalen Williams 6’2” 215 Junior

Mike Linebacker

  1. Saleem Brightwell 6’0” 220 Sophomore
  2. Chase Pine 6’2” 240 Freshman

Star Linebacker

  1. Seun Idowu 6’0” 225 Junior
  2. Anthony McKee Jr. 6’2” 215 Sophomore
  3. Rimoni Dorsey 6’0” 195 Sophomore

All three starting linebackers made some plays last week. Still, this unit will be a work in progress throughout the season. There were multiple breakdowns in coverage against simple things like wheel routes out of the backfield. It will be tough enough to stay with Saquon Barkley as it is, but to blow an assignment against him will be a touchdown every time. This unit has to play better.

Pitt played OK against the run last week. Generally Narduzzi’s strength since coming to Pitt has been selling out against the run. It doesn’t always do Pitt favors against the pass, however. As we all know.

Cornerback

  1. Avonte Maddox 5’9” 180 Senior // Dane Jackson 6’0” 180 Sophomore OR Damarri Mathis 5’11” 185 Freshman
  2. Jason Pinnock 6’0” 190 Freshman
  3. Malik Henderson 6’0” 190 Sophomore

You hate to get too excited, but Pitt’s cornerbacks turned the backs and made plays on the ball last week. Hopefully that’s a trend that can continue. Of all the players last week, I thought Dane Jackson had a very nice performance. He showed some athleticism and ball skills. Again it was an FCS team, but Jackson seems to be a bit better than last year.

Strong Safety

  1. Dennis Briggs 5’10” 195 Junior
  2. Phil Campbell 6’1” 195 Freshman
  3. Henry Miller 6’3” 205 Freshman

Free Safety

  1. Bricen Garner 6’1” 180 Freshman OR Jazzee Stocker 6’2” 190 Sophomore

Dennis Briggs led Pitt in tackles last week, but that does not tell the whole story. He was beat a few times in coverage and did not have a great overall game. Overall, I liked what I see from Bricen Garner. Obviously he had the interception to win the game, but he did some other nice things. It’s still unfortunate Pitt is without Jordan Whitehead, who would likely make a big impact in this game.

Kicker - Alex Kessman 6’3” 190 Freshman

Punter - Ryan Winslow 6’6” 225 Senior

Long Snapper - Cal Adomitis 6’1” 210 Freshman

Alex Kessman was 0-2 from field goals, including won that would have won the game in regulation. Both misses were from under 40 yards, and that’s very concerning heading into Saturday.

Kick Returner - Quadree Henderson // Maurice Ffrench

Punt Returner - Quadree Henderson // Avonte Maddox

As expected, Henderson was pretty good in the return game. He did not break a deep one, but had a few nice returns that set Pitt up with good field position.

Against the Odds: Pitt heavy underdog against Penn State

Pitt faces Penn State this weekend in Happy Valley and you don't need me to tell you that they're big time underdogs.

Back in May, a line was released that had the Nittany Lions favored by 19 points. That seemed high for some people that considered it a rivalry contest that would be played much closer but now, with the game days away, the line is actually higher than it was before.

NCAA Sportsbook TopBet has the odds with the Panthers as a whopping 20.5-point underdog for this week's game.

That might seem high but the Panthers probably didn't do themselves any favors if they wanted to lower it after the first week of the season. Pitt grabbed an early 21-0 lead against Youngstown State but allowed the Penguins to come back and tie it before defeating them in overtime. Penn State, meanwhile, faced a higher-level opponent in Akron and pitched a shutout, winning handily, 52-0.

The odds for the Pitt-Penn State game are among the highest on the board in college football this week. NCAA Sportsbook TopBet has them as the 12th largest of all of the D-I games out there.

Pitt will have its hands full but, as we saw last year with the Clemson game, the Panthers have faced big odds on the road against a top team and pulled off an upset. Those odds?

Some books placed them at exactly 20.5 points.

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.

Hurricane Irma threatens Miami Dolphins’ season opener

One of the chief requests the Miami Dolphins made when the NFL was assembling their schedule this year was to open the season at home. They got their wish, but suddenly it’s in jeopardy as Hurricane Irma threatens South Florida.

>> Read more trending news

The team and the league are monitoring the storm, but there’s been no official word about contingency plans. If Irma hits Florida, it likely would be Sunday. The Dolphins are scheduled to host Tampa Bay at 1 p.m.

>> Hurricane Irma: Live updates

“You’re definitely following it, but it doesn’t affect your preparation,” cornerback Bobby McCain said. “You go out and prepare every day like the game is tomorrow. Unfortunately, with the hurricane looming over the waters, we may have to play earlier or later. But we have to get the job done regardless of when we play.”

Dolphins cornerback Byron Maxwell plans to get his job done but said if Irma gets too close to South Florida, he’ll leave, then catch up to the team for the game.

“It’s your life,” said Maxwell, who has been closely following news coverage of Hurricane Harvey.

A Dolphins spokesman said there’s no update from the organization other than that management is “closely monitoring the situation.” Hosting an NFL game at Hard Rock Stadium requires police staffing and more than 1,000 workers.

The University of Miami does not play at Hard Rock Stadium this week. The Hurricanes are at Arkansas State on Saturday.

There is flexibility to move the Dolphins up as early as Thursday or push it back to Monday, and another option would be playing it in Tampa. There are also open neutral-site venues in Orlando, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Atlanta and New Orleans. None of the teams that use the major football stadiums in those cities is playing at home Sunday.

“That’s a little bit out of my department,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said of the logistics. “I’m being updated when I need to be updated about certain things. But that’s kind of out of my hands right now. I’m just kind of going along with what I’m being advised with. We’ll be ready to go. We always kind of have an idea of what we can do and what we can’t do. Things like that are kind of out of our control. We just kind of wait and see.”

The Associated Press reported Monday afternoon that the NFL is considering having Miami and Tampa Bay play Thursday or Friday night, and alternate sites are being evaluated.

“I could speak for everybody on this team,” defensive back Michael Thomas said. “We’re going to be ready. Whenever we’ve got to play, we’re going to be ready.”

Coincidentally, the Dolphins and Buccaneers both have their bye in Week 11, though it’d be highly unusual for the NFL to ask teams to play 16 straight weeks without a break. Tight end Julius Thomas said he would be completely against that idea because players count on that break to heal from nagging injuries.

“Without that bye week, you’re going to put the bodies through a lot,” he said. “I’d rather play Thursday than do that.”

If Maxwell evacuated, he likely would head for his hometown of Charleston, S.C., and fly to join the team for its game if it ends up being played.

“If it comes, I’m going to try to get out, to be honest with you,” he said. “I mean, it’s your life. You’ve seen what it’s done to New Orleans and Houston, so it definitely could happen to Miami and I don’t want to be in that situation.

“Yeah, I’m gone. That’s life and death right there. … That’s just what it is. You’ve seen what happens. I’m not sitting around waiting for that.”

Many Dolphins players were discussing the hurricane in the locker room Monday, with many saying they heard speculation the game would be moved to Friday.

“I’ve never been involved in a hurricane,” Dolphins linebacker Rey Maualuga said. “Earthquakes are the thing in California. I live on the 18th floor, so hopefully, the building doesn’t sway side to side or my windows don’t cave in.”

Defensive end Andre Branch said he’d be ready to play at a moment’s notice. If the league had asked the teams to meet up Monday night for a game, that sounded fine to him. “Line us up, put the ball down and we’re gonna play regardless of what’s going on.”

Hurricane Matthew threatened South Florida last year, though it ultimately hit farther north and had minimal impact on this area. The Dolphins closed their facility the Thursday of that week, but were able to play at home against the Titans with no issues.

Irma was classified as a Category 4 storm Monday night. The canopy at Hard Rock Stadium is designed to withstand Category 4-force winds.

“We don’t have to do anything to prepare the roof for a major windstorm event,” Bill Senn, senior vice president of stadium renovations, said while the facility was being upgraded.

Senn said the canopy is anchored by 5 1/2-inch cables embedded 90 feet down.

The Dolphins were forced to keep a close eye on forecasts during the 2004 season, when a game against Pittsburgh was moved back a day because of Hurricane Jeanne. In the interim, the Steelers were at a Fort Lauderdale hotel that lost power. They still won 13-3.

Jeanne was the third hurricane within a month that threatened South Florida. The Dolphins’ opener vs. Tennessee was moved up one day, to a Saturday, because of Ivan. The Dolphins also had to travel to New Orleans for a preseason game while Frances approached.

In addition, a Monday night road game against the Chargers was forced out of San Diego because of fires. It was moved to Tempe, Ariz.

If the Dolphins are in one of those types of situations again this week, they’d prefer to know as soon as possible.

“You can prepare your body and prepare your mind for what’s coming, but it’d definitely be nice to know,” McCain said. “Unfortunately, this is just the way it falls, and we’re waiting just like everyone else.”

Arizona’s J.D. Martinez ties MLB mark with 4-homer game

J.D. Martinez tied a major-league record with four home runs in a game Monday as the Arizona Diamondbacks routed the Los Angeles Dodgers 13-0 for their 11th straight victory.

>> Read more trending news

Martinez became the 18th player in major-league history to hit four homers in a game, and the 16th in the modern era. He hit a two-run shot in the fourth inning, added a solo homers in the seventh and eighth, and finished with a two-run homer in the ninth.

The last player to hit four homers in a game was Cincinnati’s Scooter Gennett, who connected against the St. Louis Cardinals on June 6, 2017.

Penn State no ordinary opponent for Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi

Judging by Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi's approach with restricting media access to his players, it's clear that he doesn't consider the Penn State game like any other. On Monday in his weekly press conference, he talked more about the rivalry with the Nittany Lions. While acknowledging that every game is in its own right a big one, there's little question that the Penn State one means a little more to him.

"Penn State game is a big game because it's an in-state rivalry game," explained Narduzzi. "It's important not only to the guys that sit in this room but the community out there, the state of Pennsylvania, to the city of Pittsburgh. It's a pride thing, and that's why it's big."

Narduzzi talked up other games like Oklahoma State and Youngstown State. And that's not even touching on the conference games, which are arguably the biggest of all. But the game against the Nittany Lions has all sorts of factors, including recruiting, the team's overall record, and just plain old pride.

And in case you weren't convinced where Narduzzi stood about the question of a rivalry from that first quote, he spoke more about it later in the presser.

"I'm not going to speak for them," Narduzzi said, regarding Penn State. "I know it's a rivalry game for us, but some people think it's a rivalry game, some people don't. It doesn't matter what they think. It just matters what we think, and if we think it is, then it is for us, and it doesn't have to be for them. It really doesn't. Everybody has different rivalries."

There's a lot to be said for that. Rivalries don't always have to be a two-way street. And, even though I think it's foolish of Penn State fans that don't consider Pitt a rival, at the end of the day, none of that matters. Pitt is clearly Penn State's biggest rival historically and, even if their side doesn't acknowledge it, it doesn't really change that fact.

Rivalry? Yes. Hatred? Narduzzi wasn't willing to take things that far.

"We're just going to play the game," he added. "We're just going to play football. There's no hate here. I know that. But I don't think there's any hate there, either."

I sort of chuckled when I heard that line and I'm doing the same now even as I think about it again. Do I buy that? I don't know. I guess there's a thin line between hatred and having a healthy dislike for a program.

My guess is that, ultimately, Narduzzi feels the way most Pitt fans do. We just really, really don't like the Nittany Lions. Do we hate them? Ask me Saturday.

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.

Pat Narduzzi discusses his decision to cut off media access for Penn State week

On Sunday, Pitt sent out a press release indicating that players would again not be available to the media for this week in advance to the Penn State game. That, of course, was met with complaints by the media and as I said earlier, I get all of that. Ultimately, though, I don't think it impacts the everyday fan very much, as I outlined in depth here.

In Monday at his weekly press conference, Narduzzi addressed the issue.

"Understand this has nothing to do with you guys, either," the Pitt coach said. "I love you guys. It has nothing to do with keeping you out, it's just keeping our kids tight. It has nothing to do -- as a matter of fact, after the game we'll give you more guys, win or lose. That's what we'll do. So it's not a matter of anything you guys did. I respect you guys."

Narduzzi also indicated it wasn't based out of a fear of his players saying the wrong thing.

"EJ (Borghetti) does a good job just teaching them how to talk to the media, and I don't worry," he continued. "If there's a guy that I would worry about something they'd say, I wouldn't let you have them anyway, so we could control that and I could just give you all the guys that I wouldn't worry about, but no, it has nothing to do with that, either.

I believe that. Now, I do think that by shutting off access to players, you avoid that entirely, so I think it's an added benefit. And as I said before, even if you don't believe a player will say something foolish, there's always that chance. But I take Narduzzi at his word when he says it's not really about that aspect.

Overall, Narduzzi says he just wants to keep the guys focused and, whether or not cutting off media access does that, he's well within his right to take that approach.

Now, one thing Narduzzi added, which will draw some ire is that, this may not even be a one time deal. If Pitt finds itself up against a big ACC game, for example, Narduzzi says he may take the same approach.

"There might be a real good chance of that, yeah," said Narduzzi when asked if the media could be blocked out again. "You know, why not? I didn't say it was -- I didn't give you a rule that we could only do it once a year. It's not like one and done. But yeah."

Essentially, I'm fine with the approach. But what I wouldn't want to see is this happening with any sort of regularity. Narduzzi owes it to the media that cover the team relentlessly to have some access to players. If this is happening week after week, that's a problem. And even beyond that, you're cutting off players' ability to learn how to work with the media, which some of them will need if they play in the pros. But do I have an issue with this on an irregular basis for a big game or two a year? Not really.

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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