John Steigerwald

Column John Steigerwald

John Steigerwald has been a fixture of TV, radio, and newspaper sports in Pittsburgh, and has a Sunday column in the Observer-Reporter.

Chryst’s actions should have Pitt players’ attention

Chryst’s decisive actions should have attention of Pitt players

August 24, 2013

Good for Paul Chryst.

On Friday, Chryst, Pitt’s second-year head football coach, told freshman Tra’Von Chapman, a four-star quarterback recruit from Kent, Ohio, to take a hike. Chapman spent three days in jail this summer as part of a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to a reduced charge of assault relating to an incident last April.

He plead guilty to roughing up his girlfriend. The judge reduced the sentence by 87 days, but he also gave Chapman 40 days of community service.

Chryst wasn’t feeling as merciful as the judge. He could have reinstated Chapman to the football team and suspended him for a few games, but he chose to dismiss him.

If Chryst hasn’t gotten the attention of his players, he has a lot of inattentive football players on his roster.

Earlier this summer, Chryst told his top recruit from a year ago, Rushel Shell, he wasn’t interested in bringing him back to the team after Shell walked out on Pitt then decided that UCLA wasn’t for him.

In April, Chryst dismissed tight end Drew Carswell and defensive back Eric Williams after they were caught in a drug raid and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.

Both players would have seen lots of playing time this season.

Chryst obviously isn’t big on second chances.

His intolerance for discipline problems will more than likely cost him a win or two in the short term, but he’s probably already reduced the number of future discipline problems and embarrassing headlines.

Whether gaining a reputation for being a no-nonsense coach will be a net positive when it comes to recruiting remains to be seen. There is a popular theory out there that says in 2013, a college football team can’t win without at least a few criminals on the roster.

I’m sure the Pitt boosters will be patient with Chryst and trade wins for respectability.

Until, say, 2015.

• Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster got off easy for his gutless display at Fenway Park last Sunday night. He took it upon himself to punish Alex Rodriguez for being, well, Alex Rodriguez. After just missing him with the first three pitches, Dempster plunked A-Rod on the elbow on a 3-0 count.

A couple of days later, Dempster, who’s a starting pitcher, was suspended – with pay, of course – for five games. Because of an off day, it amounted to a five-day paid vacation and really had no effect on Dempster or the Red Sox.

What is more gutless than a pitcher, in front of 38,000 people and a national TV audience, trying to be a hero by throwing a ball at a defenseless hitter?

The Red Sox fans cheered, of course, and that’s what Dempster was looking for. If Dempster felt a need to punish A-Rod for everything he has done to the grand old game of baseball, the manly thing would have been a sucker punch in the clubhouse runway with nobody there to break up the fight.

Too bad Major League Baseball doesn’t allow NHL-style fighting. A-Rod could have dropped his bat and charged the mound. Dempster could have shaken off his glove and assumed a boxer’s stance. No third man in, just two guys wailing on each other until one of the umpires thinks the fans have been sufficiently entertained and breaks it up.

A little too barbaric?

Maybe, but it would greatly reduce or eliminate gutless acts like Dempster’s.

• Think the Baltimore Ravens are going to miss Ray Lewis’ fiery speeches? Not the quarterback, Joe Flacco. He told, “I love Ray, and I loved the way he always spoke from the heart, but if you listened to those speeches, a lot of them didn’t even make sense.

“He meant everything that he was saying, but I didn’t know what he was talking about 90 percent of the time.”

It was Ray’s eloquence that got him his new gig as an analyst with ESPN. I think that’s what Howard Cosell was warning us about when he talked about “The Jockocracy.”

• Maybe Felix Jones, the running back picked up in a trade with the Eagles Friday, will resurrect his career in Pittsburgh, but the fact the Steelers would take a flier on him two weeks before the start of the regular season is not a good sign.

How many player-for-player trades have the Steelers made since Chuck Noll showed up in 1969? It’s not what you would call part of the “Steeler Way.”

• Then again, maybe it was Ray’s dance that got him that ESPN gig.

• Did you get a chance to catch any of the first week of Fox Sports1, the new 24-hour sports network that is going after ESPN?

If you didn’t, don’t fail to miss it this week.

• I can’t decide which was a worse casting decision, Regis Philbin as the lead host on an afternoon, network sports show, or Robin Williams as Dwight Eisenhower in “The Butler.”

I’m leaning toward Williams.

John Steigerwald writes a Sunday column for the Observer-Reporter.



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