Matt: If you owned the Pirates, would you bring back Frank, Neil and/or Clint?
Paul Zeise: This is always a good place to start. I think I would bring back Clint Hurdle as I don't think the collapse has been his fault. He would, however, be on a shorter leash next year than he has been. I would not, however, bring back Neal Huntington, Frank Coonley or Kyle Stark as they are the ones most responsible for putting together this team and contrary to what they would like us to believe, there isn't any guarantee that this team will be better than it was this year, next year. Just look at the likely pitching rotation for exhibit A as to why you will get the same thing next year that you got this year. The minor league system is not full of all this depth and talent as we are led to believe and do you have any faith in those two to make the right decisions on who to add in the offseason?
Will: Paul, is FC's proclamation that "everyone's staying" another absurd gaffe? Why can't he just say "we're evaluating everyone and everything to create a winning team"?
Paul Zeise: Because these are the Pirates and I can't imagine there is a worse organization at managing public relations and understanding the fan base and what the fan base wants to hear. And I think they've convinced themselves that they really have built some deep organization.
JamesinNYC: Welcome Paul thanks for picking up the chat from Mr.Smizik, we will miss him for sure. What will your format be subject wise?
Paul Zeise: Whatever you wish to discuss, we will talk about it. I don't have any preference, to be honest. Just fire away.
Ken: What's happened to Lawrence Timmons between the first half of 2010 and now, other than a fat contract?
Paul Zeise: You know that is a great question. He seems to be a guy who has all the tools to be a star but hasn't put it together. You can live with some missed tackles or whatever from a guy like that as long as you get the high impact, game-changing plays as well. But he hasn't delivered any of that and he seems to be regressing. Sometimes a guy arrives and stops working. I am not saying that is the case, but it could be.
Guest: Paul, is there any word on where ex-Penn State QB Paul Jones will transfer to and if Paul Chryst is trying to lure him to PITT?
Paul Zeise: Haven't heard anything yet. It sounds like he wants to consider Pitt but I am not sure if there is mutual interest. He wants to play quarterback and Pitt already has two young QBs as well as a veteran - Tom Savage - so I am not sure how much room there would be for him here. He is a classic example of a kid who got caught in a coaching change, which is tough.
MD: I know this is highly unlikely, But suppose Penn State runs the table the rest of the way, do you think Bill O'Brien deserves a mention as coach of the year? Love his offense over what we have gone through in the past.
Paul Zeise: He should win coach of the year if this team goes 10-2 even, given all that has gone wrong, given the offseason, given everything that he has had to do to put that program back together and given all the players he has lost. There were so many distractions and so many built in excuses for this team yet all he has done is found a way to rally them, get them to come together and go win some games. And you are right, once he gets his quarterback in place this offense will be a lot of fun to watch.
BillL: Are you a Steve Sabol should be in Canton guy? I am. I can't tell you how exciting it was to watch Ken Stabler riddle the Chargers before cable and the internet and multiple highlights.
Paul Zeise: He absolutely should be in the Hall of Fame. He changed the way football is presented, filmed and broadcast. NFL Films changed the way the game was perceived and made it an art form. He has as much to do with the NFL's rise in popularity as anyone, including guys like Pete Rozelle, Art Modell and Art Rooney.
Matt: There have been A LOT of comments about the players quitting on the team over the past few weeks. Although this is almost impossible for the average fan to determine, do you think there is any truth to it?
Paul Zeise: I assume you are talking about the Pirates. I don't think quit is always the right word. I think the guys at Arkansas, yeah, they have quit. But what happens with a team like the Pirates is, early in the season their edge was they were focused and they were really sharp and intense. But once they started losing some games, I think maybe a few of them lost that edge, that desperation, that hunger you need to play with in order to win at any level. That's different than quitting but it speaks to a lack of mental toughness or perhaps mental maturity.
Ray Ray: Biggest Marketing blunder goes to the Buccos. After announcing the significant ticket price increases while the Pirates still looked good and now establishing special premium game pricing (Fri/Sat Games), do you see any backlash with Pirates Season Ticket holders?
Paul Zeise: Yes, I think some will give up their tickets and it won't shock me if there is some sort of public protest. But at the end of the day, fans will come back and buy tickets because they always do and the Pirates management will get over again.
Matt: Can the Steelers still salvage this season? Do you see them making the playoffs this year?
Paul Zeise: Salvage? They are only 1-2. There is a ton of football left to be played and a lot of bad teams out there for the Steelers to feast on. I think they will be fine. They aren't a Super Bowl team but I think they are a playoff team - though they need to get some things solved on that defense. If they can get the defense to the level of competent, even, with that offense and the way they are capable of scoring points they should be able to win a lot of games.
MD: I am sure they cannot control this but why would Pitt agree to an 11am start for a game that might be the biggest of the season for them against Louisville. They have a hard enough time with attendance. I am sure this won't help matters.
Paul Zeise: I guess the Big East wanted Louisville on national television and this was the only time slot available. That's the way it goes in the Big East which is why Pitt needed to make the move it did to the ACC. It isn't about which league is better, it is which league is more stable and perceived to be better.
Matt: Your thoughts on WVU and the 70-63 defensive battle?
Paul Zeise: I thought Geno Smith and company were fabulous but Baylor played a really stupid defensive game if you ask me. They did a lot of three-man and four-man rush and that allowed Geno Smith to stand back there and pick them apart. I don't care if you have Rod Woodson and Deion Sanders playing corner - you aren't covering those two receivers for six, seven, eight seconds at a time. It just isn't realistic as they are both just way too good. Baylor should have went after them more, tried to hit Geno more and mixed up the zone and man blitzes. You have to try and get him out of his comfort zone. That's the good news for Baylor - I think they can do some things schematically better. WVU, on the other hand, may have a personnel issue as it seemed like they threw everything they had and then some at Baylor and still couldn't stop them. I mean think about this - if the one kid doesn't make a one-handed grab on second-and-10 on the final drive, WVU, despite scoring 70 points, would have been facing third-and-long to secure the game.
Mr. Z: Too bad about Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum. Are you enjoying the NYJ demise as much as I am?
Paul Zeise: I have said it before - I believe coaches like Rex Ryan (and his dad for that matter) who are all psuedo-tough guy, mouth and emotion, seem to have a life of about three years before the players tune them out and get tired of their act. At some point you need to know how to coach. I also think Mark Sanchez is just not good and as long as he is there, that team will be mediocre.
Jeff King: Being that Bob Nutting's name was on the Coonley release, do you think there is a possibilty that when he is re-evaluating this epic collapse that he will fire Neal and others.
Paul Zeise: No, I can't see that. I think you will be stuck with the same management team next year and the same team next year.
Jeff King: The more I watch the Pirates play, the more I believe they lack the mental toughness to play a 162-game baseball. While other teams rise above adversity, it seems the Pirates just fold, I don't want to say they choked but for this to happen two years in row sure makes me think they are. They just seem to be content with losing.
Paul Zeise: I think a losing culture is hard to shake. And I do think it is about mental toughness to endure the grind.
JamesinNYC: You know I bought my Z tshirt on my trip to PGH in August, I thought the end was finally near. Bottom line they don't have enough good players to make it work, for all the noise they make about wanting to win the only solid proof of that was the extension of Cutch. the best management team in baseball has to go for this team to ever compete no? The Pirates are becoming where all the guys come to play their last year before retirement.
Paul Zeise: I think the Pirates management has this deadly combination of things going on 1) Don't know how to win 2) Not really that interested in winning and 3) Too arrogant to realize No. 1 and too delusional to admit No. 2. There is no excuse for this team to be in this state five years into the plan.
Chuck: Everyone has their low point, but how about after getting swept by the Padres on the Coast and then "All right wake up. I need 10 guys to go 7 Springs and do some skeet shooting". Priorities.
Paul Zeise: I think clay pigeons and Navy Seals are only a story because the team is losing. I think that teams that win do plenty of charity work and community events and nobody says a word about it being a distraction. This team needs to learn how to win and the organization needs to learn how to win.
Paul Zeise: OK folks, that's it for this week, I appreciate all of the questions, let's do this again next week and the week after and week after and try and make this something that is productive and informative. Also, check out my PG + Blog - Zeise Out Loud as my weekly college football wrap will be posted in about a half hour.
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