Do you think Barry Bonds should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame?
Jerry Micco: Before we start, I want to clear something up from last week. I asked @truthinjournalism to clarify an earlier statement in the chat, which he did not by the time the chat ended. But he was kind enough to clarify via email. He indeed is an alum of the Pitt grad school, but attended a small school elsewhere that at the time did not have football. Since he was nice enough to email, I wanted to be fair to him here. Now, on to the chat!
Wild Bill: Hello Jerry, well, hockey's back, but as I said I hoped for last week, the best part is at least 8 years without more labor garbage - or am I missing a loophole?
Jerry Micco: No loopholes. It's actually 10 years, but either side can opt out at 8 years, which in all likelihood they will. But 8 years is a good number.
Wild Bill: I don't get criticism of Bill O'Brien for listening to/talking with pro football teams. He'd be harming himself to slam the door in their faces. What I found most interesting is that his PSU players seem not to have been worried at all. That says a lot.
Jerry Micco: I think O'Brien said more to them than he or his agent said to the media. I'm torn by this. He has every right to seek a job in the NFL and the money that would bring, not to mention the prestige. Shoot, I've worked for 8 newspapers in my career and not been fired from any (knock on wood.) He has a right to do that, but it's a precarious time for Penn State, and the timing was just not good for them. So, fans lashed out. But this is normal. Good college coaches often get asked to talk to NFL teams. O'Brien's shown to be a pretty good coach so far, he's going to get attention. There are no more Paternos, Bryants or Bowdens in college football.
Mr. J: Jerry, why no MLB vets committee enshrinee this year? What am I missing? I know I'm biased but Al Oliver should be voted into Cooperstown.
Jerry Micco: Oliver is a candidate worth considering. I'm not sure why there's not a candidate from the veterans' committee, though.
Chunkles: Jerry, I read in the PG about Paul Martin looking forward to putting last years bad season behind him and moving forward. I thought with the new CBA that teams were allowed 2 Amnesty choices and could tear up players contracts? If that is true, wouldn't they want to do that with Martin and wash their hands of him?
Jerry Micco: Seems Dan Bylsma thinks he's a top 4 defenseman. At least that's what he said yesterday. So I don't think the team will tear up his contract if the coach sees him in that role.
Wild Bill: Maybe Teo's less than great game the other night might cause him to drop in the draft to where the Steelers might get him - or do you think we could do better drafting a linebacker?
Jerry Micco: I think they'll take a linebacker and if Te'o is there, he'd be someone they'd be interested in drafting. I think his stock dropped from top 5 to top 10 to now, top 20. But there's a lot of good tape of him before he tangled with Alabama's great OL. And he's plenty good enough to be a first round pick.
wallguy: If the steelers lose Mike Wallace do you see them using a first round pick on a receiver.
Jerry Micco: No because there aren't any real difference-makers you'd pick in the top 20 or so. Now, they could trade down in round 1 to take a WR, but I'd not do that. They are at 17, which is a good place to pick. They can get a decent WR in round 2 or 3.
Ken: Cowher getting his name out again. But we all know there's a job in the Meadowlands that he covets more than any other. Not the silly tabloid team. The other one that resembles the Steelers.
Jerry Micco: Perhaps, but sources told our Gerry Dulac that he's not interested in coaching for four or five years. If you're out of coaching for 10 years, it's hard to come back. See: Joe Gibbs.
The Dude: Do you think Pitt hoops will play more like they did against Rutgers or more like last night the rest of the season? Are they NCAA tournament material and can they make any noise there?
Jerry Micco: They are an NCAA team, no question. There isn't a dominant team in college hoops this year, so I think if Pitt gets there it can do some damage. I'd think a shot at a sweet 16. Last night showed they can clamp down on people and still produce more than enough offense. Very athletic team this year. I'd like to see them open up even more.
tbone: Jerry, I've heard of drafting QBs to groom for replacing a veteran (Rodgers for Favre, etc.), but have you considered signing a young beat writer to replace Ed Bouchette when he retires? Or are you planning on using Dulac, like the Steelers use Batch?
Jerry Micco: Nope. We do run people in and out of the Steelers beat, but as per my Day 1 proclamation in this chat, I don't openly discuss personnel issues unless we've already made the moves.
Jack Splat: Hi, Jerry. What is wrong with Steelers drafting a WR in first round? Let Wallace walk and use that $ on a first rounder. The performance of the WR group this year points to the fact that the unit needs a talent upgrade (at least a talented group that produces!).
Jerry Micco: I think a healthy Antonio Brown along with an Emmanuel Sanders that has a full year playing nearly full time under his belt is a 1-2 punch that needs at least another year to see what they can do. And you do have Cotchery as a good veteran No. 3. And how about Burress? Worth keeping at a good price for a year? I just think there are greater needs than WR for a first-round pick.
RW: Hey Jerry who is the weakest link on the Pens besides Paul Martin and where do u see the Pens finishing this season,thank u.
Jerry Micco: I think while they have depth at defense, they are not very physical there outside of Orpik. I don't know that I can point to any one guy because they've not even played this season. Hard to know who has improved over the past few months, or who is now injury free and maybe plays better. I think the Pens are good enough to win a Cup. I really do. We'll see.
Will: Hey Jerry. Things that could be better in the NFL? How about Nantz and Simms/Buck and Aikman. Buck and Aikman are vanilla and Nantz thinks he's at the Masters, while Simms' time has passed. What do you think.
Jerry Micco: I don't listen to broadcasters all that much, so I'm the last guy to say who CBS or Fox should hire/fire. They know their business more than I do. But I do like Dan Fouts as an analyst. Always thought he was underrated.
Wild Bill: I wouldn't mind seeing the Steelers get a crack at Lacy for the second round - he looked like an animal running the ball.
Jerry Micco: I think RB is an area they will address IF they don't resign Mendenhall. Do not be surprised if they do. It may be a 1-year deal, but in my mind he's still the best all-around back they have. And he won't be coming off a knee injury if they keep him. Not everyone goes all Adrian Peterson when they come off a knee injury.
Chunkles: Jerry, if the Steelers miss the play-offs next year do you see the Steelers doing something really rare and firing their head coach?
Jerry Micco: No, I don't think so. I think if they go 6-10 or something like that, they may pressure Tomlin to make a lot of changes on his staff, though.
kibab1979: For Chunkles, the 2 amnesty buyouts cannot be done until the end of the season, so still a chance that Martin will be bought out, but not until the summer
Jerry Micco: Thanks @kibab1979 for that info.
Wild Bill: Have you heard/seen anything about how ready the Flower is for this season? I think he's the biggest factor in how far the Pens go.
Jerry Micco: You cannot go very far in the postseason without consistent play in goal. Just look at last year's Flyers series for proof of that. I'm assuming Fleury is ready to go and he's going to get a bit of a push from Tomas Vokoun, who I hope will get perhaps 10 starts in the shortened season.
Jack Splat: I don't know if Cowher is head and shoulders above coaching candidates now. He was a good coach for the Steelers. He embodied the team. I never would call him a great coach,however.
Jerry Micco: I'd say a very good coach, who made a lot of conference championship games and two Super Bowls, where he went 1-1. That's not too bad a record. I think he's a sexy name and for some teams, that will resonate.
RW: Jerry once Khan does his magic on the Salary do u see the Steelers signing any FA'S,hopefully on Defense as i see it the offense is set except for WR and RB which should be taken care in the draft,your thoughts are welcomed,thanks.
Jerry Micco: They have not been big players in free agency the past few years, and I doubt they will be this year. You may see them look for special teams type guys, but they'll draft and develop to get where they want to go. I see OLB and ILB being need areas as well as safety. All of those players are available in the first couple of rounds of the draft. On offense, WR and RB are need areas depending on who they sign. And don't discount not having a healthy Heath Miller by the start of the season. Pretty nasty knee injury he sustained at the end of the season.
walt: Golden Globes on Sunday night - who you got? Homeland? Mad Men? or Breaking Bad?
Jerry Micco: I'm such a boring guy. I don't watch any of those shows. I did watch Mad Men some when it first came on, and think it's a very well-done show. I'll probably ask for the box set for my birthday at some point.
Wild Bill: What is supposed to be the deepest position or two for the coming NFL draft - the ones you can get someone good in the later rounds?
Jerry Micco: Seems like a lot of DL and LBs are available. Also, some quality OL early on. I don't see a lot of high quality RBs and WRs out there, but there is some depth in later rounds.
Herb: C'mon people. You know the Steelers calling card. It's linebackers. Get an explosive one to replace Foote and we'll be playing in January again.
Jerry Micco: And maybe an OLB to replace Harrison. And it would help if Woodley was 100 percent. Makes the guy opposite him that much better.
Wild Bill: Saw an internet article on NHL winners and losers that named Crosby as one of the winners out of the mess. Nice to see him get that credit; jealousy is often an ugly thing.
Jerry Micco: Crosby is all about the game. I think he's going to be loved by some, hated by others. Very little gray area. But he's a good ambassador for hockey and plays the game with fury.
The Chief: Jerry, your thoughts on RGIII gate in DC?
Jerry Micco: I'm tired of seeing it, frankly. All players want to play. If the doctors say you can play, then you play. If not, you don't. Robert Griffin is a very good player. But a running QB in the NFL is a moving target. He's a good enough pocket passer to be a very good NFL QB. His legs can still be utilized, too, but he's so valuable that the more shots he takes, the more his stock goes down. I didn't see the game, but if he was limping around as folks said he was, he probably should have been taken out. But just ask the Steelers how hard it is to take out Ben when his ankle was hobbling him. Franchise type players, both.
The Chief: Jerry, to me the 48 games season is all about how Flower plays. If he display the same goaltending he did against the Flyers when does Vokum become the guy?
Jerry Micco: I think it's going to take a lot to supplant Fleury. He's won a Cup as a goalie and won many big games during his career. Vokoun is a terrific backup and can step in when needed. I think unless Fleury goes completely into the tank, it's his job to keep.
Jack Splat: What is up with Woodley? He missed half of last year with injuries and was a non-factor this year. Is it simply conditioning?
Jerry Micco: I'm not sure what it is. Guys get hurt, but he can't seem to stay healthy, at least the past couple of seasons. I can't say he was out of shape or his conditioning was poor. Reporters around the team would get wind of that. I just thought he looked heavier and slower this year, and wasn't close to the player he was in early 2011.
Wild Bill: Care to name any of your favorite brews, ala Peter King?
Jerry Micco: Not much of a drinker these days, and I rarely drink craft beer. Amstel Light is as fancy as I go, so that tells you something.
LarryG: I am a Penn State alum and have no problem with O'Brien "talking" to the NFL. Without knowing the particulars of the the events leading up to the discussions, what's not to say he just did it as a courtesy? I know it looks bad to the fans and media, but I don't see it as him using that as financial leverage or anything other than exploring his options. I've interviewed at other companies without being unhappy of where I was...it's part of the business.
Jerry Micco: O'Brien outlined that at a press conference the other day in which he took a very defensive posture from the start. People were going to question his commitment because he did have discussions with NFL people after just one year at PSU. He'd asked a lot of people to commit to him and the team, and some felt a bit betrayed. But this is a business, and I had no problem with him talking to NFL folks. You almost need to do that. Shoot, Paterno talked to a couple of NFL teams early in his career, too.
wallguy: Rothlisberger was having a good season until that injury in KC when he came back he was not the same did he come back to soon do you think?
Jerry Micco: He was cleared to play, but you're right, he didn't look 100 percent, which I'm sure he wasn't. Hard to keep him off the field, though.
Bill L: Jerry, you mean to tell me that a producer didn't point out the quarterback's girlfriend before the game and said to Brent "you know what to do". I mean, remember the Greek and Brent's fist fight? Publicity rules. Now people remember the otherwise forgotten Musberger.
Jerry Micco: I think that was a major over-reaction on ESPN's part to issue an apology. Not a new story who McCarron was dating. Had been out there for a while. What he said, to me, was pretty innocuous. Some other commentators on ESPN have said much worse. And if they were so ashamed of what Musberger said, why did they keep showing the young woman? You comment on what you see, right?
LarryG: In one of Ed B's articles, he has our OLine looking like this: Gilbert-Beachum-Pouncey-DeCastro-Adams, with Colon, Starks and Foster likely gone. Agree? If not, who do you see as our starting OLine for next season, assuming everyone is healthy and stays that way?
Jerry Micco: I think at least four of those are locks. All except Beachum, who if they think Colon can stay healthy, will be a backup. I do think Starks and Foster are gone. Gilbert prefers to play LT and Adams prefers RT, so this actually works out.
The Chief: Your thoughts on the Tide vs Irish debacle on Monday night?
Jerry Micco: I was happy the game wasn't on FOX because the local FOX affiliate here has "Seinfeld" at 11 p.m. I didn't have to miss it. Alabama was ready to play and they've been there so many times that it showed on the field. Notre Dame isn't as bad as they played in that game, but were totally overwhelmed by Bama. And I think any team in the country would have been, too.
Jack Splat: Micro brews are overrated!
Jerry Micco: They are OK, but I like beer that doesn't fill you up after one glass.
The Chief: OK, we are down to eight teams in the tournament; who you got this weekend?
Jerry Micco: All the home teams: Broncos, Pats, 49ers and Falcons. The most intriguing matchups are definitely in the NFC. Either visiting team could win and those games should be close. The AFC games could be routs, though I don't see Houston laying another egg up in New England. It likely will lose, but not by a big score. The Ravens will get killed by the Broncos.
RW: Since i have already covered Hockey and Football in this Chat with my questions my final question is on Baseball do the Buc's keep Liriano considering he was hurt when they signed him,thanks.
Jerry Micco: I think they have to look at the extent of his injury, which is unknown. If it's something that clears up by camp, no problem. If it's an injury that could linger or is ligament related, then you don't even think of signing him. I'd have to know more before I could make that decision.
Wild Bill: Not much comment here today about Pitt and the Compass Bowl. What do you think is fair in describing Pitt's football program?
Jerry Micco: Mid-level in a bad conference. Needs stability and will get it with Chryst. Conference they are going to is going to be tougher, so they will need to step it up. They need a good QB to take over for Tino. They have some good RBs and DBs. And they are having a very good recruiting year. They may be 6-6 next year, too, but it'll be against tougher competition. And I like Paul Chryst. I think he's a very good coach who needs a bit of time to put his mark on the team. Pitt fans need to be patient.
Guest: I think the Steelers should tag Wallace so they can at least trade him for a 3 or 4 th round draft pick. What do you think?
Jerry Micco: A team may not want him at the tag value. I think the goes and the Steelers get nothing for him. But he won't get the huge money he seeks. He'll get Antonio Brown money.
Mr. J: Where do you put Ray Lewis on the all time defender list. I say around #7 with Lambert ahead of him.
Jerry Micco: Lewis and Lambert are similar in some ways, though Lewis is much bigger and heavier. He's certainly in the top 15 all time, if you consider all defensive players.
Jim in VT: The baseball HOF allows "recent" players who fell off the main ballot to be voted on by theVertans Committee in even numbered years. in odd numbered years, it's restricted to ancients, owners, managers, GMs contributors and umpires
Jerry Micco: Thanks for the clarification, @Jim in VT.
Wild Bill: I've had trouble continuing my dislike of Ray Lewis in the past year or two, and now - like Hines - I feel good for the credit he's getting as he goes out. Am I losing it as a Steeler fan?
Jerry Micco: No. Feelings sometimes mellow with time. Ron Cook did an outstanding column for Ravens-Steelers game 1 this year about how the game is different without Hines and Lewis playing in it (Lewis was hurt at the time). He's right. You need that hero/villain, depending on what side you're on, to give the game a dramatic storyline. That's missing a bit now for Ravens-Steelers, which to me is still a great rivalry.
Ken: @Jim in VT. So why no Torre or Marvin Miller types this year?
Jerry Micco: Is Torre eligible? Has he been out as a manager for 5 years? I'm not sure on all the rules that go with HOF voting, so I can't speak to this.
Wild Bill: Favorite for Super Bowl champ? I take Denver.
Jerry Micco: Probably the popular choice. I still, for some reason, like the 49ers. That defense is excellent, and I think they have enough offense.
Jerry Micco: OK folks, time for me to get back to some other stuff. Thanks for taking time to chat today. Many excellent questions, and I appreciate the company. I'll be back next Wednesday at noon and we'll do this all over again. In the meantime, have a terrific week everybody! Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco