Is Pitt Football A Sleeping Giant That Will Soon Awaken?


Jul 1, 2013; New York, NY, USA; (L to R) Pittsburgh panther mascot, ACC commissioner John Swofford and former Pitt football all-american Larry Fitzgerald before the NASDAQ stock market closing bell ceremony after the ACC press conference at the NASDAQ Marketsite. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

When you attend a Pitt football game at Heinz Field and watch the introductory video prior to the game, aren’t you impressed with the accolades of former players?

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Yes, Pitt has been struggling over the years, especially amid a never-ending coaching carousel the past four years.  My friends ask me why I continue to hope and cheer for a team that is not nationally relevant in their eyes.

I constantly get into arguments with fans from WVU, Penn State, and Ohio State.  The truth is, Pitt has been disappointing in my eyes, but I know this program can be great.  Lately, it has been really hard being a Pitt football fan, with constant disappointment, such as upsets to Youngstown St, Akron, and always being invited to a mediocre Pizza Bowl.

But is it disappointment when the football program isn’t given all the tools necessary to succeed?

The administration was not “all-in” with football as of late, as recent head coaches were not given the full support to appropriately pay assistant coaches at a level necessary to recruit the best talent and seriously compete for another title.  Former head coach Dave Wannstedt, who was forced to resign, indicated that Pitt would succeed IF the administration backed up head coach Paul Chryst at the time and let him do what he needs to do.

Pitt’s head coaching position salary was ranked 59th in college football.  You get what you pay for, right?  Pitt has been hovering around 6-6 that past few seasons.  There are 64 teams in the so-called Power 5 Conferences, so Pitt has been paying out way below the average.

We all know that Chryst decided to go home to Wisconsin.  This move also cost athletic director Steve Pederson his position, as Pitt was ready to start over.

Chancellor Mark Nordenberg has given the position to Patrick Gallagher, which began last August.  Gallagher has reaffirmed a commitment to Pitt football, indicating that in order to be considered a top-notch university, the football program needs to compete for championships.

Pitt claims nine national championships, and the Panthers are among the top 20 college football programs when it comes to all-time wins (695-508-42).   Pitt has the fifth-most College Football Hall of Fame Inductees (24), the twelfth most consensus All-Americans (50), and the fourth most Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees (8).

Pitt football showed a positive sign in the hiring of Pat Narduzzi from Michigan State.  Narduzzi is well-respected in the college football world, and he has hired a top-notch staff filled with recruiters and energy.

FINALLY, Pitt football seems serious.  Has Pitt been a “sleeping giant” that is about to awake?

How is Pitt a sleeping giant?

First off, look at tradition and the past players who have been associated with the program.  From Ditka to Dorsett to Marino to Green to Fitzgerald to Revis to McCoy, the list is impressive.  Miami University may be the only other school that is comparable with Pitt with regards to talent and successful NFL players.

Second, look at location.  Pittsburgh is situated in an area filled with Division 1 talent.  The WPIAL is constantly providing talent to Division 1 schools, whereas Ohio, Virginia, Maryland, eastern Pennsylvania, and New Jersey are nearby.  Now that Pitt is in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the university is now exposed on the entire eastern coast.

Third, look at the university and facilities.  Pitt is one of the top research universities in the world.  Pitt’s academics are impressive.  Aside from football, you will get a degree that can help you in the future.

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  • Who wouldn’t want to share practice facilities and a stadium with the best NFL franchise in the country?  The young players could learn from some of the best on what it takes to make it to the NFL.

    Another benefit of Pitt is that the campus is not directly in the city itself, but Pittsburgh is a quick bus ride away.  Several nearby parks offer a getaway from an urban environment.  Pitt offers the best of both worlds.  (My only gripe about living here is the lack of a beach.)

    There aren’t many programs that can top Pitt if you really think about it.

    There is no reason that Pitt should be out of the Top 25 as much as it has been.

    In its third year in the prestigious ACC, is the sleeping giant ready to awaken? 

    With the ACC player of the year in James Conner, one of the best wide receivers in the country in Tyler Boyd, and a team that had the highest proportion of freshmen and sophomores last seasons, this team is poised to turn the table.  The defense struggled at times, so Pitt has brought in a defensive specialist in Coach Narduzzi.

    We’ve already seen impressive work from the new staff, as they secured and retained players from Florida, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas, and western PA in only three weeks of recruiting.  Imagine what this staff can do in a full year.  With only one day of recruiting for the Class of 2016, this staff has already targeted the top prospects across the nation.

    The turnout at Heinz Field for Signing Day was the biggest ever.  Fans are excited.  Fans are ready to support a winner.

    One last argument from my non-Pitt fans is that Heinz Field will never be full.  I 100% disagree, as a winning team will lure in fans.  If Pitt reaches a record of 6- or 7-0, and a Top 15 ranking, the fans will fill the stadium.

    With the previous administration, scheduling Ohio, Youngstown State, and Akron was sufficient, but this could only cause harm to a program.  I understand beating up a cupcake like Delaware, but there shouldn’t be more than one.

    The previous administration failed to listen to the fans, but I think the new administration is willing to listen and adhere to what the fans want (i.e. The Pitt script).

    I may just be a homer, but I think “PITT IS IT.”

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