<b>Poll Question:</b> If you're Ray Shero and the Penguins, what do you do at the trade deadline? <b>Answer #1:</b> Trade for a winger (44.4%) <b>Answer #2:</b> Trade for a defenseman (0%) <b>Answer #3:</b> Trade for a back-up goalie (11.1%) <b>Answer #4:</b> Stand pat (44.4%)
<b>Mat:</b> It is too bad that Pitt does not play Robert Morris every year as they do with Duquesne. It would be a competitive game this year, no?
<b>Jerry Micco:</b> I think RMU would stay close for a half, but Pitt would then pull away. The Colonials are a good NEC team and would be a handful for a while, but Pitt's overall athleticism would be too much down the stretch. I know Pitt has played RMU in some years, but not others. I wish all the area schools played one another, but I guess that's not always in the cards. Too bad. They would probably be competitive games in most years.
<b>jack:</b> If you were drafting for the Steelers this year do you go offense or defense in the first round?
<b>Jerry Micco:</b> Defense, and I may do that the first 2 rounds. I think they have more needs on that side of the ball. However, it'll be interesting to see how free agency goes. I'm seeing reports the cap could be $132-135 million, which is much more than first anticipated. That will help the Steelers and could make them bigger players in free agency. Maybe they will see a defensive player or two they like to fill holes on defense. In that case, you may see them go offense early. But if they don't, they must address defense at No. 15.
<b>JamesinNYC:</b> How terrible is the Yankee spending 52 Mio 4Years for Brett Frickng Gardner? 13 million a year for him??????????? I am surprised we have not heard more about it that really throws the pay scale out of wack.
<b>Jerry Micco:</b> The Yankees have done that type of thing for years. And he's not even going to play centerfield. I saw that and nearly fell over. This guy is way over paid for the number he puts up. But I guess when you have money to blow, you have money to blow. He's paid more than McCutchen.
<b>jack:</b> Does the Gardner contract mean that the Pirates will have no shot at extending Pedro?
<b>Jerry Micco:</b> Just makes it tougher. I'm sure extending Pedro Alvarez is high on their priority list, but it's going to take a lot of money. Power hitters are not easy to come by and the Pirates need them in a lineup that has trouble scoring runs. They have him for a few more years, but I know they'd like to lock him up well into his arbitration years. Or, they can do what Tampa has done: trade guys they know they can't keep and get top prospects. It has worked for them, but it's a constant rebuild.
<b>Mat:</b> Is there a light at the end of the tunnel if you are a Duquesne MBB fan? How would you assess the progress in the Ferry era?
<b>Jerry Micco:</b> Slow, steady. He's had to tear a team down and completely try to rebuild it. That's going to take some time. He's going to need a couple more recruiting classes to do it.
<b>Chunkles:</b> Good article by RC and Bettis. Who do you think holds the role of leader in the Steelers locker room now? It would appear no one or no one who held the clout of Joe Greene or Jerome Bettis?
<b>Jerry Micco:</b> Well, we're talking two guys who had tremendous respect around the league as well as two guys who are (or should be) Hall of Fame bound. I'm not sure that person exists now on the team. Roethlisberger has some leadership skills, but not the type Bettis and Greene possessed. Ryan Clark led in his own way, but I believe he's gone. Polamalu is a quiet guy. Heath Miller, same deal. I think having a guy like Joey Porter around again certainly will help.
<b>jack:</b> Does Aaron Donald get selected in the first round?
<b>Jerry Micco:</b> I thought he was a 2nd-round pick for sure before the Combine, but now he's probably a late first-rounder. He's going to be a very good NFL player and a good 4-3 defensive tackle. But I don't take that from his Combine performance. I take that from watching him play at Pitt. Just a beast.
<b>Mat:</b> I know. But it has been a long time since the Dukes have been in the NCAAs - 1970s.
<b>Jerry Micco:</b> It has been a long time, and Dukes fans have waited a long time to be rewarded. It's too bad, too. When I was growing up around these parts, I was a big Duquesne fan and they were a very good team. Be great to see them join Pitt and RMU, who seem to have success year in and year out.
<b>jack:</b> Why did Dupuis have to wait so long to have his surgery? In most of the other cases they seem to the surgery within a few days after the injury.
<b>Jerry Micco:</b> Sometimes, the knee isn't stabilized enough to do the surgery or they are waiting for other reasons. I can't give you a solid answer. But it sounds like he'll be ready perhaps by training camp.
<b>jack:</b> Does Pitt need to win a few more games to reach the NCAA tournament this year?
<b>Jerry Micco:</b> Certainly. At least 3 of their final 4 games, plus at least one ACC tournament game. One game they cannot lose is tonight's game at Boston College. Losing to a team that is 7-20 is a terrible loss and when you have a resume that includes no really great wins, bad losses can hurt. Pitt just has to take care of business down the stretch, win at least that one tournament game and it'll get that NCAA bid. Then who knows what will happen?
<b>Chunkles:</b> If Bylsma's team falters in the play-off again and Tomlin's team misses them for the third year in a row, who has a new head coach first, the Steelers or Penguins?
<b>Jerry Micco:</b> Probably neither. Though I think the seat is hotter for both.
<b>jack:</b> Any thoughts on Tom Bradley getting hired by WVU.
<b>Jerry Micco:</b> Good hire by WVU. Tom Bradley is a very good coach, who got caught up in the backwash of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal. He belongs in college football and he deserves a chance to coach. For years he was an excellent defensive coach at Penn State and worked for a guy who could be pretty demanding of his assistants. I think he'll do fine at WVU.
<b>Guest:</b> The Steelers 2013 season - Was it more of a case of coaches working with players, players learning positions, rather than any dramatic mid season team wide inspiration?
<b>Jerry Micco:</b> I think they played better the second half of the season, I'll say that up front. But, they also had a much easier schedule. Their six wins were against: Cleveland (twice), Buffalo, Detroit, Cincinnati, and Green Bay (without Favre). None of those teams has a great QB. The Steelers can beat those teams. Their losses were to Baltimore and Miami. So the schedule certainly helped in the 2nd half, but the team also played better across the board.
<b>yinzer in va:</b> Jerry, Do you see some parallel of recent Steeler teams to the late 90's and 2000? Missed the playoffs for 3 years, but some good drafts (Hampton was around a 15 pick) and one of their best FA (Farrior) came in that time.
<b>Jerry Micco:</b> I was thinking about that not long ago. Some parallel, yes. But a couple of those teams were 6-10 type teams, allowing them to draft higher. If you stay 8-8 for too long, that purgatory, and that's not good. You need to go one way or the other. I'm not sure which way the team will go this season, but they need a healthy draft this year because it is a deep, rich draft. I'll bet they wish they had that third-round pick they traded to get up to get Shamarko Thomas last season. Now, they'll probably get some compensatory picks from the free agent signings, but we don't know where they'll fall. And one unknown: Is there going to be a lost pick from Tomlin's antics on the sideline in Baltimore Thanksgiving night?
<b>Guest:</b> Just so we are clear, these are the real Pitt Panthers, aka middle of the ACC, not the fraud we saw rip thru a cupcake nonconf sch? Shouldn't this be a problem for Dixon, he sets the bar high with easy wins and falls apart vs decent teams.
<b>Jerry Micco:</b> Pitt was picked as the fourth- or fifth-best team in the ACC by the coaches and writers preseason, so it is pretty much on schedule. But they need at least 3 of these last 4 games so they can lay claim to fourth place and thus get a bye in the tournament. This team, coming into the season, wasn't expected to do much especially losing a guy like Adams in the middle. Maybe the early wins, including in the ACC, gave people some false hope. But if Pitt can finish strong and have a good tournament, it can be in good shape going into the NCAAs. If not. it could get really ugly.
<b>Guest:</b> Who needs who more, the Olympics need the NHL so people watch or the NHL needs the Olympics to grow the sport? I think the NHL needs to do away with competing, the risk (losing the likes of John Taveras) is too great for the league
<b>Jerry Micco:</b> But when you talk to NHL players, they overwhelmingly want to play in the Olympics. So you have to deal with that, too. I think the Olympics and NHL were made for each other. And I'll be in four years, the league will be back in the Olympics.
<b>Tom:</b> Do you see the NFL not taking away a compensatory pick for the Steelers, but rather lowering one of their picks by a round? That would send a big message to the Steelers since they were counting on gettting a third to replace the one they traded?
<b>Jerry Micco:</b> I know the Rooneys have said they'd appeal losing a pick. What you propose could stymie that appeal. I'm not sure the NFL will penalize the Steelers with any of the picks. What Tomlin did didn't affect the outcome of the game nor did it affect the playoff race. The fine should be enough in that case. I think the Steelers will keep all their picks and will get all the compensatory picks in the slots they are awarded.
<b>Mel Jr:</b> I just finished my mock draft. I have the Steelers trading up to get Marquise Lee. Trading a 2nd round pick in 2014 and 2015 to the Raiders
<b>Jerry Micco:</b> The Steelers would be insane to do that. They might be able to sit tight and get Lee at 15. Even so, in a deep, rich draft, you want more picks, not fewer. If they could find a partner, I'd trade down 5 spots and see if I could pick up an extra third or second. To me, this is a draft you trade down in and pick up picks. But that's going to be tough to do.
<b>Bob Smiziks Evil Twin:</b> My brother Smiz gave the Pirates a 'D' grade in the off season. I think NH is a mad genius. I give him an 'A' for his addition by subtraction moves
<b>Jerry Micco:</b> I'm glad I know your brother, because he's a nice guy. I think Huntington is rolling the dice a bit in RF and first base. We'll see if those guys can hold down the job. I have always like Gaby Sanchez, but he struggles against righthanders. I'm not sure he can be an everyday player. Lambo, in limited time last year, didn't look good. In RF, I've been a Tabata guy, but he can't stay healthy, and he needs to be more selective. Pirates fans hope you're right, but I think it's a gamble.
<b>Ron Shock:</b> Would the Penguins be better off firing Blysma and letting Sidney coach the team?
<b>Jerry Micco:</b> Players play. Coaches coach. I'm sure if you asked Sidney Crosby that question, if he even decided to answer it, which I doubt, he'd pretty much tell you that.
<b>Jerry Micco:</b> OK folks, time to get back to some other stuff. Thanks for taking the time to chat with me today. I appreciate all the terrific questions. I'll be back at noon next Wednesday and we'll do it all over again. Until then, have a great week! Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco