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Pitt link dump and college football open thread

Had sort of a hectic week so Pitt's bye came at just the right time for me. The Panthers are off today but I wanted to throw up an open thread, anyway, since I imagine many of you will be watching other games.

Also today is the basketball team's open scrimmage up at The Pete. Like I mentioned earlier, it's a great idea to give fans something to do with the football team off.

The next game for Pitt is obviously a big one. And Virginia Tech has looked terribly impressive this year. Short of an unlikely two-touchdown loss to Syracuse and the loss to Tennessee earlier this year, they've dominated everybody else, including North Carolina and last week, Miami.

A few other quick hitters related to Pitt this week:

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Charlie Sheen won’t throw out first pitch at World Series

“Wild Thing” has been relegated to the bullpen for the World Series.

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Actor Charlie Sheen, who played Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn in the 1989 movie "Major League," offered to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before one of this year's World Series games. But Major League Baseball said the choices already have been made.

A spokesman told The Associated Press on Friday that MLB has worked with the Indians to identify "former franchise greats" to throw out the first pitch for the games in Cleveland. An announcement is expected early next week.

The Indians host Games 1 and 2 on Tuesday and Wednesday. If necessary, Cleveland will host Games 6 and 7 on Nov. 1-2.

Fans had suggested on social media that Sheen throw out a first pitch and be part of pregame ceremonies. Sheen responded on Twitter, posting a photo of himself as Vaughn in an Indians uniform. He wrote that he would be “honored” to participate.

"Major League" is a fictional account of the Indians finishing in first place with an unconventional group of players including Vaughn, who couldn’t find the strike zone and warmed up to "Wild Thing," a No. 1 hit song in 1966 by The Troggs.

National anthem singer takes knee before Miami Heat game

The Miami Heat were caught by surprise Friday when the national anthem singer took a knee at midcourt at AmericanAirlines Arena before their preseason NBA game with the Philadelphia 76ers.

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The performer, listed by the Heat as Denasia Lawrence, also opened her blue blazer to reveal a shirt that read “Black Lives Matter,” before she knelt to sing the anthem.

The Heat issued a statement near the end of the Sixers’ 113-110 victory that read: “We were unaware of it ahead of time.”

Heat players and coaches stood on the court with arms links and most with their heads bowed, as they have done most of the preseason, while Lawrence sang. Coach Erik Spoelstra said he noticed Lawrence on one knee toward the end of anthem.

“I just noticed when she was finishing up,” Spoelstra said. “We felt as a basketball team we would do something united so that was our focus. Throughout all of this I think the most important thing that has come out is very poignant, thoughtful dialogue. We’ve had dialogue within our walls here. And hopefully this will lead to action.”

Fans did not react one way or the other toward Lawrence.

“I saw her kneel and I understand where she’s coming from,” Heat forward Justise Winslow said. “I understand her opinion on it, but as a team we tried to show unity and respect for the flag. We also know there are social changes that need to happen in our community, but as a team we felt (we wanted) to pay respect to the flag while also showing unity and raising awareness for the issue at the same time.”

Said guard Wayne Ellington: “If she feels that the way she wants to stand for it, then more power to her.”

Lawrence is the second anthem singer during the NBA preseason to kneel joining Leah Tysse, who got down on one knee as she finished singing at a Sacramento Kings game.

Several NBA teams have taken a stance during the playing of the national anthem by players and coaches locking arms.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver addressed the issue Friday following the league’s board of governors meeting.

“All I can say is what we’ve seen in multiple preseason games so far is our players standing for the national anthem,” Silver said. “It would be my hope that they would continue to stand for the national anthem. I think that is the appropriate thing to do.”

The NBA and the union have had talks about the issue.

“We have had very constructive discussions about meaningful action that we can take collectively in our communities to help build trust between police officers and members of the community looking for constructive ways to address racial injustice, economic injustice,” Silver said. “I am very proud of the relationship we have built with the union, with the players on these issues. My expectation is that we’ll see into the regular season more of what we have seen in the preseason, which is a sense of, let’s deal directly with these important issues.”

The issue has become a hot button topic since San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem during a preseason game as a protest against some of the country’s social and racial injustices. Other NFL players have followed by taking a knee or raising their fist.

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MMA fighter who died in hit-and-run had CTE

Jordan Parsons, the MMA fighter killed in a hit-and-run accident in Delray Beach in a hit-and-run accident last May in South Florida, has been posthumously diagnosed with CTE, according to the Boston Globe.

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It is the first time the disease, which has been found in late former NFL players, has been diagnosed in a mixed martial artist, the Globe reported.

The Globe learned of the diagnosis from Dr. Bennet Omalu, who first discovered the disease in a former football player in 2002 and was the subject of the 2015 film “Concussion.”

Parsons, 25, died May 4 after he was struck by an SUV as he was crossing a major highway in Delray Beach during the early hours of May 1. Omalu said it was “impossible” for Parsons’ CTE to have been caused by the accident.

CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including concussions.

A Boca Raton man was arrested on May 7 and charged over the hit-and-run crash, in which he was alleged to have been driving his mother’s Range Rover Sport on a suspended license at speeds of 116 mph.

Police said friends of Dennis Michael Wright, 28, urged him not to drive that night after he had spent the day at Sunfest and then visited bars in Delray.

Parsons’ family has filed a wrongful death suit against Wright, who was denied reduced bond in August and is on home confinement.

Pitt Recruiting: Donovan Jeter de-commits from Notre Dame

A local standout reopens his recruitment

After praying and thinking about it I've decided to decommit from Norte dame but they are still my top school. I am opening my recruitment — Donovan Jeter (@__5god__) October 18, 2016

Earlier today, four-star Donovan Jeter announced he is no longer committed to Notre Dame. This is a pretty notable action for Pitt’s recruiting efforts. Donovan Jeter is a 6’5” 255 Defensive End/Tackle. He is rated as a four-star by all four major recruiting, and was considered to be one of Pitt’s highest priority recruits until he committed Notre Dame last month.

His commitment to Notre Dame was a bit shocking, truth be told. He was widely considered a Pitt lean by many for a variety of reasons. His brother is Sheldon Jeter, a senior on the basketball team. He is from nearby Beaver Falls High School in Beaver County, an area that has been considered a pipeline. Perhaps most importantly, he generally spoke highly of Pitt and Pat Narduzzi, especially in the months leading up to his Notre Dame decision.

Obviously Jeter reopening his recruitment should get Pitt fans on notice. I’m not sure it is a slam dunk to Pitt, though. His offer sheet is as impressive as it gets. He holds offers from schools like Alabama, Michigan, and Ohio State. In fact, he announced via Twitter today that Oklahoma had offered him. So obviously, the competition for Jeter will be pretty fierce. He also said on Twitter that Notre Dame is still in the mix as well.

It’s hard to say what will happen in the recruitment of Donovan Jeter from here on out, but it’s one worth monitoring. Jeter is one of the best players in the state and country for that matter, and Pitt had prioritized before, and knowing he’s back on the market he will be highly prioritized once again.

Cardiac Hill welcomes a new contributor in photographer Matt Hawley

Hi everyone, my name is Matt Hawley. I am a senior at the University of Pittsburgh and I hope to be attending Katz Graduate School of Business here in the spring. Recently for Cardiac Hill, I covered the Georgia Tech/Homecoming game with this photo gallery. I'll be shooting other events for the site on occasion as opportunities present themselves.

I currently work as a staff photographer with The Pitt News and I have also freelanced with Panther Lair recently. I am a student manager with the women’s basketball team and I am also one of the current leaders of the Panther Pitt, so I am very actively involved with sports on campus.

I grew up in a small city outside of York, PA. I wasn’t really a fan of any specific collegiate team growing up, but I still enjoyed watching college basketball and football. Pitt was the only school I applied to in 2013, and from that point on I became a huge Pitt fan. Through my few years here I have come to love this University and city. While there have been some heartbreaking losses in basketball and football recently, I have gotten to enjoy some incredible experiences.

In my junior year I started working with The Pitt News as a staff photographer and my love of photography grew. Sports are one of my main passions in life and I chose to combine that with my love of photography. I began shooting Pitt sports such as baseball and soccer. Once I started making more connections, I have now shot some high profile events such as Pitt basketball/football, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, two Pirates games, Steelers training camp, and two Steelers games so far.

I’m not really sure if I want to try and do sports photography full time, but I definitely want to be involved in a collegiate or professional sports team in some fashion. In the meantime, I’ll occasionally be contributing photo galleries to this site while hopefully obtaining my MBA here at Pitt. Please feel free to check out my Twitter and Instagram, both @MattHawleyPhoto.

Jordan Whitehead, Quadree Henderson win weekly ACC awards

Following Pitt's win against Virginia on Saturday, two players won weekly awards from the ACC - Jordan Whitehead and Quadree Henderson.

Whitehead secured the Defensive Player of the Week award and Henderson was the Specialist of the Week.

Whitehead no doubt won the award after his big play that changed the complexion of the game. With things tied just before halftime, the Pitt safety grabbed an interception and returned it back for a touchdown to give the Panthers the lead. He also had four tackles on the day and even made some plays on offense, running for 28 yards.

Henderson had a huge kickoff return for a touchdown as well as a key punt return. That, of course, was in addition to his regular work on the offense as a wide receiver. For the first time this year, he didn't record a catch. He did have a run that went for six yards, but most of his damage was done on special teams.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

King of the Hill: ACC Football Power Rankings (Week 7)

Here are the most recent rankings after this week's ACC action. We're starting to settle in a little here. There's movement, but the top half of the conference is mostly separated out from the second half at this point. There's a chance for the Wolfpack to move up and maybe a team like Pitt or Virginia Tech moves down.

The big move up this week comes from North Carolina after they beat Miami. They climbed three spots after Virginia Tech threw everything out of whack with an upset loss to Syracuse. They own a head-to-head win over the Tar Heels but North Carolina had to be ranked higher since they beat Florida State, just had the big Miami win, and the Hokies suffered an ugly loss. And as a result, Syracuse climbed several spots and out of the basement with the Virginia Tech win.

Locally, Pitt moves up a spot with their win over Virginia. Hard to put them any higher than No. 6 right now and, obviously, teams like Virginia Tech and North Carolina State could prove to be better teams.

The previous week’s rankings are in parentheses and as always, let me know what I got right/wrong in the comments.

  1. Clemson (1) / 7-0: Wasn't easy, but Clemson pulled out a 24-17 win over North Carolina State
  2. Louisville (2) / 5-1: Also not easy, but Louisville beat Duke, 24-14
  3. North Carolina (6) 5-2: Beat Miami on road in big 20-13 win
  4. Florida State (3) / 5-2: Sensing a theme here? Not easy, but beat Wake Forest, 17-6
  5. Miami (4) / 4-2: Down a spot after loss to North Carolina
  6. Pitt (7) / 5-2: Up a spot after 45-31 win over Virginia
  7. Virginia Tech (5) / 4-2: Upset by Syracuse, 31-17
  8. North Carolina State (8) / 4-2: Played well in relatively close loss to Clemson
  9. Wake Forest (9) / 5-2: Hold steady at No. 9 after decent showing against Seminoles
  10. Georgia Tech (10) / 4-3: 35-24 win over Georgia Southern
  11. Syracuse (14) / 3-4: Out of basement with win over Hokies
  12. Virginia (11) / 2-4: Down a spot with Pitt loss
  13. Duke (12) / 3-4: Down a spot with loss to Cardinals and Syracuse win
  14. Boston College (13) / 3-3: We have a new basement team after the Eagles' idle week
Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Former Pitt quarterback Chad Voytik struggling to make impact with Arkansas State

After losing his starting job at Pitt, quarterback Chad Voytik decided to transfer with the hopes of more playing time. So far, that hasn't exactly worked out.

Voytik opted to stay in Division I, but dropped to a non-P5 program in joining Arkansas State in the Sun Belt. He initially was reportedly headed to Eastern Kentucky, but then settled on Arkansas State. As I wrote at the time, it looked as if getting playing time at Eastern Kentucky might be difficult. Arkansas State's situation looked a little better and that's where he headed.

Early on, it appeared as if he made a good choice. He was the team's starter for the first three games and was given the opportunity he wanted. He talked openly about being glad to play in what he felt was more of a college town and the pieces were in place for him to play this year.

Unfortunately for him, things have sort of gone downhill. Under his command, Arkansas State got off to an 0-2 start. Now, to be fair, the competition wasn't bad as they faced 5-1 Toledo and then traveled on the road to face Auburn. And while Voytik didn't play particularly well against Toledo, he was solid against the Tigers (15-21 passing for 215 yards). But after going 2-6 against Utah State and throwing a pick, Voytik was sent to the bench in the middle of his third game.

That's where he's stayed for the most part in the team's last three games. He's only been used in some running situations and has given way to a former four-star recruit and Oklahoma transfer, Justice Hansen. Hansen came in during the Utah State game and threw for 277 yards, pretty much sealing Voytik's fate. Considering Hansen is a redshirt sophomore and the future of the program, it will be difficult for Voytik to reclaim his starting job without an injury.

It's sort of a shame that his career could seemingly end with him being benched for most of his final two seasons. He had a decent year for Pitt in 2014 and his future looked somewhat bright. But with the emergence of Pitt quarterback Nathan Peterman and now Hansen at Arkansas State, he's now facing another season when he lost his starting job and may not get much of an opportunity to play.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

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