Bob Smizik: That would appear to be the question of the day in Pittsburgh sports. My gut is that he stays. Many of the teams said to be interested -- Baltimore, NE, Cincy -- probably are not. There's not a great market. Maybe SF. I just think a team will not outbid what the Steelers are willing to pay to keep him.
FantasyTom: How is Pitt Basketball looking for next year?
Bob Smizik: Let me go out on a limb and say better. Can't get much worse, can it? I think center Steve Adams will help make a big difference. He's not going to score a lot but his presence in the middle will solidify things. The most disturbing aspect of the most recent slide has been the decline of Tray Woodall. I'm wondering if incoming freshman James Robinson can beat him out next year. That's not likely in the Dixon system. I think there are still some good complementary players and Pitt will be better next season. It would help if they could get a power forward who can play immediately.
genelamont: 1. Barmes, 2. Barajas, 3. Bedard, 4. McLouth. 5. Burnett. Which was the best and the worst off-season move?
Bob Smizik: Worst is easy: McLouth. What were they thinking when they brought him in as the primary backup to totally unproven Presley and partially unproven Tabata. I don't get that at all. Best: I will call it a tie between Bedard and Burnett.
Jake: Bob do you believe Ryan Braun didn't take PED's?
Bob Smizik: Unlike most people in Pittsburgh, I like Braun as a player. I was shocked when he was charged and heartened by his powerful denial. But now it looks like he got off on a technicality. Unless more information is forthcoming, not guilty but not innocent.
Teke: Bob my prediction for the Bucs is Bedard and Burnett and pray it gets wet ala Spahn and and Sain pray for rain. Gets 90 wins. Whattya think?
Bob Smizik: You are quite the jokester, Teke. They won't reach 80 wins and maybe not 70.
BlueSinsav: Regardless of any trades the Penguins might make today, if Crosby is not put on long term IR, can that be interpreted as a sign he may return before the playoffs?
Bob Smizik: Absolutely a sign he MAY return. You do know that he can return for the playoffs even if he is on LTIR. I don't think they want to do that because they'd prefer he get started up in the regular season. On a percentage, I'd say it's 25-75 on his return.
Dave: Given the way Pitt did not execute in the last minute yesterday and with Dixon saying a play was called and players saying it was not.....Has Dixon totally lost this team?
Bob Smizik: They played hard against a ranked opponent on the road and almost won. I don't think that's a sign a coach has lost his team. I think it's the opposite. Based on what happened yesterday --and I know the final minute was a mess up -- I don't understand how you can broach that subject.
James_Pittsburgh: Are you surprised that Casey Hampton and James Farrior are still on the team?
Bob Smizik: No. Kevin Colbert has said Hampton will be back. As for Farrior and other veterans, there still is time to release them and I think we will see some of them go.
James_Pittsburgh: Do you think Aston Gibbs is largely to blame for Pitt's lack of success? I don't mean by his poor play but it seems that he hasn't gotten the players to mold together.
Bob Smizik: Gibbs played about as well as might be expected until the most recent five games. He's been in single digits in four of them. Prior to that, I think his scoring average was pretty close to what it was last year. Yes, he has been a disappointment and the current plunge might reflect on his attitude. But during the long losing streak that killed the season, he was playing almost as well as could be expected.
Chooch: Do the Pens make any moves today?
Bob Smizik: I will take Shero at his word and say no. Definitely nothing major.
Matt: As you mentioned on your blog today, what a disappointment Ashton Gibbs has been. Instead of the Big Least POY, he should be their Least Improved Player. Considering the last four games, do you think that he has just given up? If so, their biggest problem besides the lack of talent may be their lack of senior leadership?
Bob Smizik: It certainly looks like Gibbs' heart is not into playing right now. He did score 26 vs. Seton Hall four games ago but has scored only 14 points in the past three games. Senior is not the only type of leadership. Others can step up and for a time Woodall, a junior, did. I've seen nothing lacking from Nasir Robinson, the other senior.
Adam: Some people have the Steelers taking Poe in the first round while others insist that nose tackles can be found in the second and third rounds. Don't you think we need to invest a first round pick at this position?
Bob Smizik: Absolutely. If he's the best player on the board at a position of need take him.
Ken: What do you think Tabata's going to do this year? I think he's a key in terms of a productive .280 season being a terrific asset, whereas a .255, dl waiting to happen season being a big problem.
Bob Smizik: His on-base percentage is more key than his BA. Yes, he is important, but they need Alvarez to produce and they cannot afford a second half like McCutchen has last season. Too early to call Tabata brittle.
Adam: Do you think Wallace is capable of developing into a more complete receiver who can run multiple routes and learn to catch the ball at its highest point or do you think he will remain a one trick pony?
Bob Smizik: He should get better. He is not a one-trick pony. His yards per reception is not 35. He catches a lot of short ball. His falloff in the second half was disappointing but I am sure the threat of his speed opened up things for A. Brown.
Adam: Can Antonio Brown develop into a team's number one threat?
Bob Smizik: He might be already. Ranking wide receivers is overrated. What difference does it make if he's No.1 or No. 2? Who was 1 and who was 2 between Swann and Stallworth?
FantasyTom: When do the Penguins have to make the hard decision on Crosby?
Bob Smizik: Not this season. If he's not ready to play next year or misses considerable time, then they have to make a decision.
Adam: Do you think Emmanuel Sanders injury laden season was a blip in the radar of a solid receiver or do you think this will become the trend?
Bob Smizik: Too early to tell but one season does not make a trend.
Adam: Next year, do you see the Steelers keeping Wallace, Brown, and Sanders or do you think they will lose one or more of the young trio?
Bob Smizik: They certainly can't keep three high-priced receivers. They might not be able to keep two. If, when the time comes, Saunders wants better money than a backup WR, he'll leave in free agency.
Matt: If you were a betting man, what are the chances of our Buccos signing either McCutchen or Walker to a long term deal?
Bob Smizik: I could see them signing McCutchen through his arbitration years to attain cost certainty. I think he will want too much to give up free agency. I'd say they have a 50-50 chance of getting something longer done with Walker. He needs a good 2012 season to deserve such a deal.
Matt: Could the Pirates have handled the Coonely DUI arrest any worse? You would think that they would have learned something from trying to hide information from the media? Is it Coonely or Nutting's fault?
Bob Smizik: Should have announced it the day after it happened. For this organization to repeatedly talk about accountability is laughable. On an issue like this, the buck stops with Nutting.
The SteelVA: Now that Arians has been canned, any chance the Steelers will replace their sadly out-schemed defen. coord.?
Bob Smizik: I take it you are referring to the legendary Dick LeBeau, whose defense led the NFL in yards allowed and points allowed. That would indicate sound strategy. No question, there were costly breakdowns. I don't know if all of that fall on the DC.
Bill6: Why is all the talk surrounding a Wallace departure centering around the Pats and Baltimore? To me, a lucrative offer from a team like Chicago or Tampa is more likely and then we'll only see him on MNF.
Bob Smizik: Baltimore has all but ruled itself out of the running. It already has a deep threat in Smith, although he's not as proven as Wallace. I think with Welker, Hernandez and Gronkowski, NE is well set with receivers and would not pay the kind of money needed to attract Wallace. SF looks like a good option for Wallace. You may be right about the Bears.
George: Did you sample the NBA all star game? With all the talk on their relevance, I was wondering if you found any time for this all star spectacle.
Bob Smizik: My 2012 record of not having watched an all-star game remain in tact.
Bob Smizik: Thanks to all for the good questions today. I will be back next week at noon.
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