Pitt coach Chryst monitoring accusations against three players
Pitt running back Ray Graham was charged with misdemeanor assault last week but was in the Panthers' lineup against Notre Dame.
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When news broke Thursday night that Pitt players Ray Graham, Devin Street and Lafayette Pitts faced misdemeanor assault charges, one of the first questions was whether the three starters would be suspended for Pitt's game at No. 4 Notre Dame.
Graham, Street and Pitts -- who were charged with simple assault and conspiracy stemming from an Oct. 21 incident -- were not disciplined and all assumed their regular starting roles.
"At this point, with the knowledge that we have and had at the time, we felt like it was the right thing to do," coach Paul Chryst said. "I feel really good whatever happens, we want the truth to come out and we want to be able to handle everything the right way."
Before Pitt's opener against Youngstown State, Chryst suspended six players for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
Graham finished the game Saturday with 172 rushing yards and a touchdown. Street had three catches for 35 yards. Pitts played the entire game at cornerback and registered six tackles and two pass breakups.
Pitt's athletic department released a statement Friday announcing that the three players would remain active members of the team and said that all three denied any involvement with the alleged incident.
"We take matters of player discipline very seriously and will continue to cooperate with any investigation," the statement said, in part. "However, we will not, and hope others will not, rush to judgment on these misdemeanor allegations."
Chryst said he and the rest of the athletic department will continue to monitor the situation.
"We're always trying to find out and right now haven't heard anything more," Chryst said. "We're not just going to put our head in the sand. If we hear anything like that, we're always going to try and be as proactive as we can."
Chryst submits a video of plays to the Big East each week for official review, and this week's reel will include some key plays.
One of them is a questionable fourth-and-4 pass interference call against K'Waun Williams early in the fourth quarter. Williams was guarding Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert and was flagged for defensive pass interference, giving the Irish a first down. Notre Dame scored a touchdown on the next play.
Chryst also said he included Kevin Harper's missed 33-yard field goal attempt in the second overtime that kept the game alive. Replays indicate Notre Dame had two players -- wide receiver Chris Brown and cornerback Bennett Jackson -- wearing No. 2 on that play. Officials should have called a penalty, which would have given Pitt a first down.
The most Chryst will get from the Big East is an apology, and he made clear that he didn't single out either play as a reason for the loss.
"There were 200-something plays in that game," Chryst said. "We had our opportunities to win that game and we didn't. The biggest thing I think we can focus on is the things we can control."
Quarterback Tino Sunseri caused waves Saturday night when he cited Harper's missed field goal in double overtime as the reason for the loss.
Harper pushed what would have been the game-winning 33-yard attempt wide right and the Irish went on to win in the next overtime period.
"We missed a field goal," Sunseri said after the game. "That's why we lost the game. It came down to a special teams play, we didn't make the play."
Chryst said Monday that he disagreed with Sunseri's assessment of the game.
"[I] don't agree with the comment," Chryst said. "I think there are a lot of plays. A lot of guys made plays to put us in position to win that game and we all did some things that led to us not winning. It doesn't fall on one guy."
Chryst said he will talk to Sunseri about the comment.
According to NBC Sports public relations, the game Saturday was its highest-rated Notre Dame broadcast this season, pulling a 4.3 overnight rating.
It was the highest rating for a Notre Dame game on NBC since 2010 (Michigan) and highest for an opponent other than Michigan or Southern California since the Irish played Penn State in 2006.
First Published November 6, 2012 12:00 am