With the regular season ending and a first-year head coach, there's always an onslaught of news bound to happen. We've already seen a potential transfer brewing with backup quarterback Chad Voytik, the expected departure of backup running back Chris James, and the loss of backup safety Pat Amara.
Then, well, this from FootballScoop.com:
Georgia: Sources confirmed to us Pitt offensive coordinator Jim Chaney will be the offensive coordinator at Georgia. We Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman to join him.
Locally, the Trib's Jerry DiPaola confirmed that afterwards.
Under Chaney, we saw the passing game open up this season. Pitt didn't throw for a ton of yards, but as I talked about a little yesterday in the news of Voytik's potential departure, new quarterback Nathan Peterman utilized the tight ends quite a bit and also turned Dontez Ford into a legit No. 2 receiver.
He also did some good things integrating Tyler Boyd and safety Jordan Whitehead into the offense, giving that unit a nice wrinkle. Plus, while it was criticized at the time, he certainly made the right call in anointing quarterback Nathan Peterman as the starter over incumbent Chad Voytik.
Chaney, though, had his fair share of miscues.
Most notably, perhaps, was the dustup between he and head coach Pat Narduzzi at the end of the first half against North Carolina when the team couldn't get plays onto the field quick enough before time expired. The play-calling this year, while effective at times, also left a lot of people scratching their heads. And in terms of overall philosophy, Pitt seemed to do too much passing for my liking early in games. A blatant example of that came against Miami when the Panthers were facing a weak Hurricanes run defense and opted to pass quite a bit early on, putting them in an early hole. That included a curious decision to throw a pass on 3rd and 1 (while being successful on that drive in running the ball), ending a drive. There were several such examples of odd decisions considering the down and distance as well as the opponent scattered throughout the season.
For a program like Pitt, Chaney was a big hire as it was a program coming off of four 6-6 seasons. The expectations were markedly less than they will be at a place like Georgia. If nothing else, I'm interested to see how this plays out against a fanbase there that expects much more than what was expected of the Panthers this year.
To be fair, Chaney (like most coaches) was a little good and a little bad. How this works out for Pitt largely will depend on who they can find to replace him. Narduzzi, I'm sure, expected to lose some players after this season. But losing a coordinator after only one year (who is leaving for another coordinator job) isn't something he probably envisioned.
An interesting thing to watch here is Pitt's quarterback situation. Peterman, recruited by Chaney at Tennessee, was clearly a Chaney guy. It's hard to imagine that Pitt would have gotten him here without that connection. As a result, Voytik was demoted and is possibly looking to transfer. Does this change any of that? I don't know. My thought is that Peterman would still remain the starter and he only has a year left. Personally, I don't see anything changing there, but it's something to watch based on a new hire.
Also something to watch is the recruiting front. The somewhat good news here is that, while Chaney is reported to have a hand in landing quarterback Tom MacVittie as well as running back Chawntez Moss, Rivals cites offensive line coach John Peterson as being the recruiter for all of Pitt's offensive talent for next year's class. Chaney may be a fine recruiter, but on the surface, it doesn't appear as if the Panthers' class as a whole will have a ton of impact. What we don't know is how his loss may affect uncommitted players still on the fence about coming to Pitt, but overall, Narduzzi's staff knows recruiting, so in the long-term, I expect them to be fine.
The good thing here is that with the additional funds that have come from the ACC as well as a Chancellor/athletic director that have given him some leeway for spending, Narduzzi will be poised to offer an attractive package. I can't imagine that Chaney came to Pitt cheap since he had quite a bit of experience and Joe Starkey wrote the same after his hire. Pitt should have the funds to attract a very good coach.
My inclination is that Pitt will come out of this fine, but again, it is dependent upon finding the right candidate. This isn't a case where just anyone would be an upgrade as Chaney brought some good things to the table. However, it's also not a situation where the program has to settle for a downgrade, either. For me, Chaney was about as middle-of-the-road as they come.
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