Inside Conditions…Jet lag

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AubreyBruceBox

Leading up to the Steelers, Jets matchup last weekend there was all sorts of useless verbiage being spewed regarding the Jets and their willingness to come into Heinz Field and mix it up with the cousins of “bad, bad, Leroy Brown” the mighty Steelers. The Jets won the game 22-17 on sheer willpower along with “horrible” special teams coverage combined with questionable offensive play calling by the Black and Gold around the goal line that ultimately ended in a safety for New York.

Those two points and the extra possession by New York caused a loss that may be more troublesome for the Steelers than they realize as they march into the post season. The Steelers were victimized, not so much by the Jets, but once again by the knuckleheaded play calling of offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. His strategy inside of the 5 yard line did not make sense. In my opinion a simple dive play with the fullback hitting the 1 hole or the tailback hitting the 2 hole would have gained a yard just by the fullback or tailback falling forward. There cannot be any lateral movement behind the plane of the goal line by any back, period. Why would you use Mewelde Moore, your third down tailback, for such a crucial play instead of your first string tailback or fullback? When asked about the play, Mike Tomlin had a very cerebral and intellectual answer. “We didn’t come off the back side free technique. He [Jason Taylor] got penetration. He was very disruptive of course, and he had a tackle for a loss right there,” he said. Ah, excuse me Monsieur Tomlin. If the play had never been called, the safety would have never happened. Even ole Ben Franklin knew that. Remember he said “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” you dig.

Even though the Black and Gold lost the game the team was informed by the NFL’s resident mathematical geniuses that they had mathematically secured a playoff spot.

Rule rather than the exception.

Extra, extra read all about it. Michael Haywood installed as Pitt’s next head football coach. This is such a hunky dory, feel good story. To quote the old gospel hymn, “I said I wasn’t gonna tell nobody but I couldn’t keep it to myself.”  The Haywood hire bodes well for the University of Pittsburgh.

However, Haywood is also going to have to be a fireman over, around and near the “Cathedral of Learning.” There are a few embers smoldering over at the football program. Those hot ashes better be extinguished quickly and the “Phoenix” had better be rising from those ashes sooner than later. There have been a comparable amount of  “newsworthy” stories written concerning the Pitt football team off the gridiron as there have been about Panthers victories on it especially concerning the behavior of a few of the student-athletes who were or still are members of the student body and/or the team.

Flight BS 1 now departing the terminal. Please reach up into the overhead compartment and grab me a barf bag will ya? It is almost 150 years since slaves were emancipated yet we are still forced to remove the “shackles of perception” to get around the “barriers of normalcy” in order to achieve artificial “firsts” as African-Americans. It has been 147 years since the chains of bondage were removed from Americans of African descent, yet Michael Haywood is the first Black head coach to reside in the lair of the University of Pittsburgh men’s football program. Where have they been?  In my opinion, the focus on Haywood’s hiring merits acclamation but also may be a bit shameful. Pitt was forced to do something drastic. Nothing else was working. Flashing his Super Bowl rings helped ex-Pitt Head Coach Dave Wannstedt  as a recruiter but he grossly under achieved as a coach, teacher and motivator because very seldom were his athletes able to transfer their preparation from an X and 0s standpoint to being mentally sharp enough to win the big game. Also, hiring coaches and awarding scholarships because of their “Pittsburgh pedigree” is good for public relations purposes only.

It is a travesty that in the year 2010, there are elements of our society that will not perform certain actions unless they are pushed into a corner. It is being said that some of Pitt’s fan and alumni base are not very pleased with the choice of Mr. Haywood.  Is it possible that the powers-that-be felt that the program could only get better? It sure could not get any worse.

Black head coach or not, Pitt like all of the rest of the NCAA Division 1 football programs would be better served hiring Haywood and others like him because they are good coaches and evaluators of talent, not because they may relate to or be more compatible with the large pool of African-American athletes that are a part of the NCAA “system.”

(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at:  abruce@new­pittsburghcourier.com or 412-583-6741.)

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