The following was written by T.J. McAloon, a contributor to City of Champions Sports
This year has a lot of “new” things for the Pitt Panthers football program.
They are starting with a new quarterback, fifth-year senior Tom Savage, new running backs after Ray Graham graduated and Rushel Shell bolted away from the program, and a new conference, the ACC.
However, with all the new surrounding this team, they’re still an untalented group of players that have resulted in three straight BBVA Compass Bowl games.
According to Athlon Sports, the Panthers are predicted to have another season where they struggle to finish bowl eligible with only six wins.
So how can second-year head coach Paul Chryst turn this program around and at least make a BCS bowl?
It’s actually pretty simple: start recruiting players with questionable backgrounds.
Now, I’m not saying go and recruit an entire squad of players who find themselves in a fight while getting a hot dog at three in the morning. I’m saying that throughout the years when you’ve seen a coach hoist the crystal football and the confetti rain down on him there have been some questionable players on their roster.
Don’t believe me?
Let’s go back to the 2002 Ohio State Buckeyes led by Maurice Clarett. Clarett led the Buckeyes that year with 222 rushes for 1,237 yards and 18 touchdowns. Then he helped the Buckeyes win the BCS title with two touchdowns and 47 yards against the Miami Hurricanes.
After the game Clarett would get dismissed from the university, declare for the NFL Draft, get cut in training camp by the Denver Broncos, get arrested and spend time in jail before finally trying to resurrect his football career in the UFL.
The USC Trojans had to vacate their 2004 BCS Championship and their 2005 season due to some players violating NCAA sanctions. If it wasn’t for players like 2005 Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush violating those sanctions, who knows if USC goes on a two-year run with a record of 25-1.
The 2006 and 2008 Florida Gators were heralded for their squeaky-clean quarterback, Tim Tebow, who led the team along with head coach Urban Meyer. However, according to the New York Times, what was swept under the rug was an arrest sheet of 31 players.
One of those players was a tight end named Aaron Hernandez.
Before we get to the three Alabama titles in four years, I have to take a pit stop at the 2010 Auburn Tigers.
That team had Cam Newton, who escaped pressure from the NCAA about as well as he did against pass rushers on Saturday. The Tigers had Newton come onto their team after he was dismissed as one of Meyer’s players. At Florida, Newton allegedly stole a student’s laptop and then threw it from his dorm room window when the cops came to question him.
Along with Newton at Auburn was running back Michael Dyer. Dyer won the MVP award in the 2011 BCS title game and then was dismissed the following season after suspicion of marijuana use and gun possession.
Back to the Crimson Tide.
You could say that in the last two seasons there hasn’t been any NCAA suspicion, or players getting arrested. However, in 2009 Alabama’s top defensive player Rolando McClain finished as an All-SEC first-team selection and the conference’s player of the year
His NFL career flamed out after multiple arrests and blow-ups with the Oakland Raiders coaching staff, which resulted in him getting his playing time reduced and being kicked out of practice.
So as you can see history has been impacted by plenty of players with questionable character.
The Panthers can just take a page out of the Meyer playbook. Just recruit players that will have multiple off-field problems and finish with multiple BCS titles and 10-win seasons.