Jerry Micco's sports chat transcript: 1.3.13

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Poll Question:

Who do you think will win the BCS Championship game on Monday?

Answer #1:

Alabama (57%)

Answer #2:

Notre Dame (43%)

The Chief: Jerry, first may you have a Happy and Healthy 2013. Bigger sports disapointement in 2012: Pirate collapse or Steelers not making the playoffs?

Jerry Micco: A very happy New Year to you, too, Chief. I'd say the Pirate collapse because for a majority of the season, people not only thought this team would end the losing streak, but that it would make the playoffs. To have that go down in a sea of losses over the last 6 weeks was tough to watch, and tough for fans to take.

Mike: How is it that Congress can agree on a fiscal cliff deal before the NHL can agree on a new cba?

Jerry Micco: Because at least some people in Congress can stifle their egos enough to get their work done. Not that they did all they could, but they got something done. Next few days will tell whether there is a hockey season. Bettman has a Jan. 11 deadline.

James_Pittsburgh: Happy New Years!

Jerry Micco: Same to you James.

Wild Bill: Hello Jerry, So the Governor is now taking the NCAA to court over PSU sanctions. While I'm glad for the action, I'm very suspicious that it has more to do with the new AG winning big on a pledge to invistigate what the gov did and didn't do while he was AG. Your thoughts?

Jerry Micco: I'm not going to get into politics here because that's not my job at the newspaper, but this complete 180 by the governor is astounding. And he's not just going after the NCAA for the $60 million, it's all the sanctions. He's going to have to explain, and I missed his presser today so my notes are from Twitter feeds, why this didn't happen sooner if he thought the NCAA was out of line. It's going to be a landmark case if it doesn't get thrown out. Of course we'll follow it closely at the PG, but I would think that this suit isn't going to be handled as a frivilous lawsuit. It's the state doing the suing.

James_Pittsburgh: Which Pittsburgh team will have the most succesful 2013 season?

Jerry Micco: If there's hockey, the Penguins have a chance to go very deep. And I'm on record as saying the Pirates will have a winning season in 2013.

Guest: With all the head coaching jobs open in the NFL do you see Todd Haley leaving Pitt, or do you think the organization makes a change and gets rid of him anyway

Jerry Micco: I don't think he's gone because the Steelers fire him. I could see him being a candidate for an NFL head coaching job, but as of this moment, I haven't seen his name bandied about.

James_Pittsburgh: Who will be the biggest suprise on the 2013 Pirates?

Jerry Micco: James McDonald is going to pitch for an entire season, and I think he can win 15-17 games. I can see this guy doing some good things and the Pirates rotation being the reason for their first winning season in 21 years.

The Chief: Jerry, who has played their last game as a Steeler?

Jerry Micco: I think Mike Wallace has, and I think Casey Hampton has, too. At least among the starters. Guys like Will Allen may have, too, but those guys come and go. I'm not sure, though I once thought this, that Harrison was gone, too, but he may come back if he's willing to cut his salary. And Larry Foote may get one more year, but he's more likely to go than Harrison. I think Mendenhall is probably gone, but not entirely sure.

Wild Bill: Going into the final weekend, the Steelers had lost 4 games to teams with a combined 20 under .500 records. I can't see this as anything but a lack of leadership issue, injuries not withstanding. All teams have them. Can't help but think that we would not have lost those games if someone like Joey Porter were still around. What do you think?

Jerry Micco: Sometimes locker room leadership is overblown. Players still have to play. What you need in my opinion, are your leaders such as Ben, Foote, Harrison, to have big games and lead on the field. Didn't see that out of the most important guy -- Ben -- down the stretch. Injury may have had something to do with that, though.

TruthinJournalism: Jerry. If Tom Corbett was so concerned about this, why didn't prosecute Jerry Sandusky when he was AG? He could have helped alleviate alot of this, including GJ investigation. He chose to do nothing, because he had gubernatorial aspirations, and now seems like he wants to courts to clean up his mess.

Jerry Micco: Many people will say this and it is certainly a valid point. What comes from it, I really don't know.

RW: Jerry Happy New YEAR! biggest needs in this years draft for the Steelers are? ( your answer) 2ND Jan._________2013 when the NHL season starts,thanks man.

Jerry Micco: Happy New Year! Biggest need to me is probably outside linebacker, a guy who can really get after the passer. Then safety. Just looking at the draft, there are plenty of both and picking 18th, you can get a pretty good one. Jan. 19, 2013. We'll have hockey.

Mike: Why do the Pirates only seem to target 1B and OF when it comes to position players in trades. Tabata, Snider,Sanchez, Sands, and when you add Jones and Presley in the mix, you have 6 players for 3 positions. Will they ever identify and go after a shortstop of the future?

Jerry Micco: They may have that guy in the low minors, but there are no immediate shortstops. And teams won't give up one for any of the players you mentioned. You have to draft and develop if you're the Pirates and their record on that has been spotty at best. I'm not talking about No. 1 picks, but lower down the draft board. As for why they stock these guys, well it's because none has stepped up in a consistent way to claim a spot. Marte may be a guy who can do that in a year or two, though, and they are hoping Snider does the same.

Wild Bill: I think that the Steelers biggest issue position for next year is linebacker. I think we need to bring at least 2 in, one outside and one inside.

Jerry Micco: And they might. Last time they did that they drafted Timmons and Woodley 1-2. But there's a crying need at safety and you can probably get one in round 2 who could be an impact player in a year or so.

The Chief: Any chance the Steelers bring Russ Grim in to coach the O-Line or does he stay with Wizz?

Jerry Micco: Depends on if Whisenhunt gets a pro job or not. I think the Steelers will look at him, but I don't see him coming here and working for Tomlin.

Wild Bill: After all he had to endure this year, I can't see Bill O'Brien leaving PSU already. So much was accomplished, and leaving would seem so premature.

Jerry Micco: Unless he gets a gob of money thrown at him by the NFL, then he'll likely take that. But his buyout is huge and a lot of owners aren't likely to pay it. If he should leave, would be a devastating blow to Penn State's recruiting. They are putting together a pretty decent class, but if he goes, then a lot of those recruits don't stay, I think. And the job becomes that much harder for the next guy.

RW: Jerry what are the chance % wise that Bill O'Brien stays at Penn State?

Jerry Micco: I think it's 75-25 that he stays. But PSU may have to do some things for him to get him to do that. One might be reducing that buyout clause so he can go when the next round of NFL jobs come open. And PSU should treat O'Brien right and talk with him about what he wants. He did a very good job with that team and represented the school with tremendous integrity.

Hunter: As currently constructed would you have the Pirates 2013 win total over or under 2012's 79 wins?

Jerry Micco: Over. In the 85 range.

TruthinJournalism: Here's the thing about penalties and punitive actions. There are always "innocent" victims. In a divorce, the children are innocent victims who don't deserve their fate. When a man commits murder and is sentenced to prison, his children are innocent victims. I am so tired of hearing about PSU players and fans as innocent victims. I went to a school without football, and we had fun, and an excellent education. There is always collateral damage. Penn State's fans and supporters need to understand they are not above this.

Jerry Micco: I think they do understand this, but they don't like it. And it's not a penalty to Penn State athletics, it's just to the football team. If the problem was institutional, why punish one athletic team? Punish all of them, or punish the university proper and not just athletics. But bottom line, people who like PSU are going to still like the athletics there. And the school. While admissions may be down this year, they are still in decent shape.

James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, you are quite the optimist. I see James McDonald with an ERA over 4+.

Jerry Micco: I just saw too much good stuff for an entire half of a season, his first as a full-time starter mind you, to say this guy can't pitch. You could be right, but I think we'll see a more consistent JMac in 2013.

The Chief: Do the Steelers get rid of Leftwich and Batch and bring in another veteran as backup i.e. Kyle Orton who nows Haley's system?

Jerry Micco: I could see them keeping Batch for one more season. Leftwich is gone, and they'll likely bring in a veteran to back up Ben. Orton might be exactly the type of guy the go after.

Hunter: If hockey does come back will the shortened season be a benefit or detriment to the Penguins compared to other teams?

Jerry Micco: I think it benefits the Penguins because their best player has had more time to rest and get further away from his last concussion/neck issue. And I just think they are primed to do really well in a shortened season.

TruthinJournalism: Would you resign Keenan Lewis at the 5 year, $35 million that he is asking for? Or do you hope Cortez Allen appears to be on track of being a decent player?

Jerry Micco: Good corners are tough to find in the NFL. I think Lewis is a good corner, but the question is, will he get better? If you sink that kind of money into him long term, he'd better be. What I'd rather see if the Steelers franchise him and pay him a big salary for a year. Then, if they see back-to-back good seasons from him, then work on a long-term deal. By then, Allen may replace Taylor at the other CB and you pick up Ike's salary.

TruthinJournalism: My problem with the draft is that this year there is an abundance of defensive linemen. However, with the Steelers 3-4 set (and 2 1st rd picks who certainly haven't set the world on fire) it would be hard for me to go back here. Especially when the Steelers ask their 3-4 DE's to mostly be guys who occupy the OLine, instead of playmakers. What say you?

Jerry Micco: I agree 100 percent. Unless they see a great nose tackle out there because of the 3 DL in the 3-4, to me the nose is most important. Worthy of first-round pick because a good one makes the LBs so much better. When you have to draft DEs in the first round, they'd better be beasts, but in a 3-4, that's not what you ask them to be. On the Steelers defense, secondary and linebackers are the impact guys, particularly outside LBs and corners. You make those guys No. 1 picks.

Wild Bill: Do you hear anything about a good new coach for the Steeler offensive line?

Jerry Micco: No, not yet, but Ed Bouchette has said he think Tunch Ilkin would be an excellent OL coach.

RW: Jerry i say put Cole AND Tallion in the the pen this year,stay with the ups and downs of the rookie lessons learned ,and this will either mature or set them back then management will know what they have in 2014 and act accordingly,what do u think?

Jerry Micco: If/when those guys come up, they should start. They are starters. If they need seasoning, keep them down on the farm. But I think you may see Cole here by mid-year. If he keeps getting better. Still has some work to do.

James_Pittsburgh: Who do you like to win the AFC championship/

Jerry Micco: Well, before the season started my pick was Houston in the AFC. Now, I'm not so sure, but because I should stay true to my pick, I'll say Houston. Though if I could change, it would probably be Denver.

TruthinJournalism: Hypothetical. Say in Mid July the Pirates are 4 games above .500, 5 games out of 1st place, and Wandy Rodriguez is on the Cy Young short list. You get a big trade offer sending a true top 25 prospect and a young MLB ready hitter your you do it?

Jerry Micco: Good question. Have to look at the team overall to see if you think they can contend for the playoffs. If they can, then you keep guys and try to win right now. If you see the team fading -- again -- then you make that deal.

steeler5555: Penn State supporters still don"t get it. Led by Board of Trustee member Gov Corbett, they refuse to face reality. they are a disgrce!

Jerry Micco: How so? I think the supporters, by and large, have comported themselves very well. They aren't bringing suit, the state is. Of course, they have fringe elements, every fanbase does, but what is it they don't get? I hear that thrown around all the time, but what did supporters of the university do to merit that criticism? If you're upset because the state filed suit, then write the governor's office. I think you can find it on the Web.

Wild Bill: I have mixed feelings about the hockey season. I'd like to have one, but only if we arent' going to have to go through this doo doo again in just a few years.

Jerry Micco: Agreed. I'd like to see a 10-year agreement.

The Chief: Jerry, who do your like in the Wild Card Weekend games?

Jerry Micco: Some pretty good games, but here are my picks: Texans, Ravens, Packers, Seahawks. Best game should be Redskins-Seahawks.

James_Pittsburgh: TruthinJournalism, the only problem is that penalties and punitive actions have not proven to stop people from doing herendous things. As long as their are billions of dollars in college football, people will do things to keep their share of the money.

Jerry Micco: And the folks at Penn State that are currently charged with crimes (Spanier, Curley, Shultz) are accused of doing exactly that. Trying to prevent a multi-million dollar cash cow from going under by reporting a possible pedophile, now a convicted one, around their university. Big money can make you do bad things. Not saying that's the case here, juries will decide that, but when you talk about that kind of money, it can lead to problems. Good point, James.

Jack Splat: Happy 2013, Jerry! Tomlin made a number of mistakes in 2012 including firing Al Everest and attempting 50+ yard field goal in the Tennessee and Cincinnati games. That being said the 2 biggest disappointments for the Steelers were the fact that the offense did not produce - ranked 22 in the NFL and Woodley was a huge non factor on defense,How do those things get fixed for 2013?

Jerry Micco: Everyone in the organization, including Tomlin, has to do an honest assessment of their job in 2012 and see what they can do to resolve any issues for 2013. Woodley looked slow and out of shape. And they need him to play really well to be successful. Tomlin made some bad decisions, and the team didn't look ready to play in some cases, that's on him. And the players need to look in the mirror and do the things necessary to win. None of the above is easy, but neither is winning a championship.

dann: What would it take for the Steelers to make major changes, in either GM and coaching, or in philosophy?

Jerry Micco: Several losing or non-playoff seasons in a row. Just one 8-8 isn't going to do it. And they are maybe the most patient owners in the NFL.

TruthinJournalism: Yesterday showed the best and the worst of college bowls. The Worst, the two noon games with some really bad, mediocre teams like Purdue (ugh) and Miss State. But the 1:00 games and the Rose Bowl was as good as college football gets. I found myself torn between rooting for the usual Big 10 meltdown and the SEC getting chinks in their invincibility.

Jerry Micco: I agree, the bowl lineup on NY Day was mixed. The Orange Bowl was a snoozer, too. Watched the Cap One bowl and Rose Bowl and thought both were good games. Saw the last few minutes of the Outback and that was terrific.

The Chief: Jerry, with the new interleague every day schedule for 2013, what has replaced the Pirates 18 games against the Astros?

Jerry Micco: I'm not sure how the schedule balanced, but they have 18 interleague games this season.

James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I think the Vikings are going to pull off the upset of the weekend. I pick Minnesota, Seattle, Houston, and Baltimore to win.

Jerry Micco: We'll see. Packers always tough in Lambeau, but Giants beat them there last season so you never know.

Wild Bill: I'd like the anti PSU guys to think about this scenario: One of the city's pro teams has a major figure who commits a similar crime on team property. They get prosecuted, but the sport commissioner steps in and docks our team several draft choices for several years and bans us from post season play. How would you guys feel then?

Jerry Micco: Depends on who knew what when, and how it was handled. The Red Sox have had no such problem despite the issues with a long-time clubhouse attendant. Syracuse has had no issues because of Bernie Fine. Because I went to PSU, I'm often called a PSU apologist. I think, though, that if the president of a university hears there was some "incident" in a university building involving a child and a retired employee who had access to that building, you might want to call in the authorities. Or, if you're a grad assistant and think you saw a child being assaulted, you call 911. Those 2 actions would have saved a lot of Sandusky's victims a lot more agony. But now you have upcoming trials, and you need to hear all sides of this issue. There is more to come.

The Chief: Jerry, who you got on Monday night; The Tide or the Fightin' Irish?

Jerry Micco: My head says Roll Tide. My heart says, Wake up the Echoes.

Hunter: So Ray Lewis said he's retiring after the season. Should Steelers fans be happy or sad we will never have to watch him play the Steelers again?

Jerry Micco: Sad. Even if you hate a bitter rival, the games are better when those guys play.

TruthinJournalism: Tom Corbett said that this is damaging to the people of the Commonwealth. I am a "people of the commonwealth, I am not damaged." If he is talking about economic damage, then isn't the NHL lockout damaging to the economics too? When is that lawsuit? If Pitt would have been passed over by the ACC, would Corbett have a similiar lawsuit? As a Pitt fan and alum, I find this to be frivolous.

Jerry Micco: But the NCAA isn't taking $60 million and using it how they want. Believe me, this is rooted in the money involved, not the other sanctions. But what if the NCAA came to Pitt and said, "you left the Big East early and you can't negotiate a way out. And if you do, we'll make you stay the entire time and pay every dime of the buyout?" That's not fair to Pitt, who threw warnings at the Big East about football issues, but the NCAA decides that it's playing big brother here. I think some of this is seeing if the NCAA can regulate schools on legal matters, not just athletic matters. And again, the governor's office should hear from folks like you, too, who think this lawsuit is frivolous.

Jerry Micco: @TruthinJournalism: Earlier in the chat you said you went to a school without football and you still had fun. A Pitt alum and fan? Last I checked, Pitt played football. You can always amend your remarks, of course.

Wild Bill: One of the reasons the member schools of the NCAA will continue to have so little to say about the PSU situation is that they all know that the same nightmare could happen someday to any one of them.

Jerry Micco: Let's hope it never does, but if it does, that school administrators, coaches, etc., handle it better. Again, we still have trials coming up for three key people and you never know what's going to come out, but from what we know, this was an abysmal failure on a few people's part and it led to some horrific decision-making.

James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, you do realize that some people attend more than one school. Maybe a small school for their B.A. and Pitt for a Master's degree.

Jerry Micco: I do, of course. But if you're an alum, you got some degree there, right? No big deal, just like to know why you'd even say the former. People don't need qualifiers here to have an opinion.

Jerry Micco: OK folks, need to head back to some other stuff. Thanks, so much, for all your terrific questions today. Great chat! I'll see all of you next Wednesday at noon. Until then, have a great week and enjoy the NFL playoffs and BCS title game. Maybe we'll have more hockey to discuss, too. Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco

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