Football Friday: Solving The Great Mystery of the Universe – Pitt Athletics Pt. 1

Posted: October 14, 2011 by dontbeskerritt in College Football, NFL

When Your Best Moment is an Upset Win Over WVU, Something is Wrong

This is a piece that describes the intersection of our expectations and realities.  I got to this intersection after watching Pitt put up a woeful effort at Rutgers, losing 34-10 with our new “high-octane” offense.  At this intersection, which is usually the case in these situations, is Heartbreak Hotel.  We realize that what we had hyped up in our heads for so long is not nearly as beautiful and glamorous as we made it out to be.  As a fan of Pitt Athletics from 2003 until today, I have been honored to be a part of the golden age of Pitt Athletics with Wide Receiver U on the football side, and the success of the basketball team in the Pete on the other.  But with Homecoming for Pitt coming this weekend, I decided that I will come to terms with the fact that   We will always cling to the tradition of our programs (9 National Championships, 8 from before World War II).  But we will always be average, mundane, and just good enough.  I’ll break it down using the two main sports: football this week and basketball next week.

In 2003, I had the honor to cover the Pitt football team for the Panther Sports Network.  I watched Larry Fitzgerald dominate at Texas A&M and catch the game-winning pass in the Virginia Tech game (greatest and coldest game I have ever attended).  But I also saw this team blow games to West Virginia (before they became the WVU of today) and get embarrassed by Miami.  “That’s alright,” I thought, “we will play better for my time at Pitt, even without Fitz.”  That’s how confident I was, how naive I became as a Pitt fan.

The next season, we actually made a BCS bowl, thanks to a terrible Big East without Miami, where an 8-4, 4-2 record helped us get to the Fiesta bowl.  It was the “I love my f*cking football team” Tyler Palko era now.  The Tyler Palko that Pitt chose over…wait for it…Joe Flacco.   Anyway, it didn’t matter because our entire team didn’t belong on that BCS field in 2005 and Utah made sure we knew that.  But with the Loser, I mean the ‘Stache Dave Wannstedt coming into town, I still believed.

At the Meineke Car Care Bowl - 2009

I don’t want to dwell on the ‘Stache era for too long.  To Wannstedt’s credit, he recruited some of the best talent Pitt ever; LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis, Jonathan Baldwin, Jabaal Sheard.  They had a Top 15 finish in 2009 and won the Meineke Car Care Bowl.  They even kept WVU from the National Championship game in 2007…which goes to show you how average things have been at Pitt when you celebrate upset wins over your rivals.

We went to the Sun Bowl in 2008; we lost 3-0.  One of the best teams we ever had at Pitt hosted Cincinnati in 2009 for the Big East title and a BCS bid on the line, we lost 45-44 thanks to a missed extra point.  You heard that right.  And that game came after we could have sealed a BCS bid the week prior but we lost to WVU.  In Wannstedt’s last season, we got blown out at home twice (one to Jacory Harris and Miami, the other to WVU), and lost to frikkin UCONN.  Oh yeah, Donald Brown wasn’t on that UCONN team.  Now we have Todd Graham; and while I was excited that Wannstedt is gone, I slowly come to realize this will be a rebuilding year.  What’s painful is that this team destroyed a ranked South Florida squad, but blew games to Iowa (who lost to Penn State which has no QB) and got run over by Rutgers last week.

These Days May Be Long Gone

I blame my heartbreak on my expectations for Pitt.  While the Pittsburgh area has lots of great talent, talent that chooses to come to Pitt at times, Penn State is still the king of Pennsylvania.  They will always get the most talent from the state.  Ohio State, Michigan, and WVU also steals other recruits that choose to state up north.  But the best of the best go south.  Who wants to go to Pitt, where the football tradition has fallen off with games at Heinz Field instead of old Pitt Stadium, and your playing in miserable weather instead of the sunny south.  Pitt can get lucky to get an up-and-coming coach and a great recruiting class, but it feels like those days have passed us by.  It feels like our program will never have the juice that it takes to become a national championship contender. Pitt is now safely nestled into the slot of programs that can get on ESPN2 consistently, but they will never be the marquee program its fans think that it can be.  Pitt is in the ranks of schools like Maryland, Clemson, NC State, Auburn (before the championship), and Texas A&M.  We will always be the little brother to other schools close by; we will get lucky one year (Auburn), and be down the next (Maryland). But you can always be sure that the Panthers will always be just good enough to let you down.

After the video, it’s the ManCave Lineup for the weekend.  My trap game of the week is Philadelphia vs Washington.  I know Philly is favored, but this game is the trap for the Skins.  In fact, I’m declaring today; I don’t know how they’ll do it, or what their record will be, but the Philadelphia Eagles will make the playoffs.  Fight me if you must, but I believe in this Eagles squad that is 4th in the NFL in total offense.  I believe in Andy Reid and Michael Vick.  And if you believe that this isn’t the biggest reverse jinx in the history of the Mancave, you’re crazier than I am.  Actually, let me stop panicking, my Skins got this!  Oh by the way, LET’S GO PITT!

As always, bold is for the game on the main TV, italics is for the game on your 720p backup TV, and regular is for the game on the TV you stole out of Motel 6.

Saturday

12-3pm: Michigan vs Michigan State (ESPN), Baylor vs Texas A&M (FX), Utah vs Pittsburgh (yeah I know I’m a homer, ESPNU)

3:30-7pm: Oklahoma State vs Texas (ABC or ESPN), LSU vs Tennessee (CBS), Ohio State vs Illinois (ABC or ESPN)

8pm: Arizona State vs Oregon (10:15pm ESPN), Florida vs Auburn (7pm ESPN), Stanford vs Washington State (7:30pm Versus)

Sunday

1-4pm: San Francisco vs Detroit, Philadelphia at Washington, Buffalo vs New York Giants

4-7pm: Dallas vs New England, New Orleans vs Tampa Bay, Houston vs Baltimore

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Comments
  1. LBC says:

    I am really hurt by this not by the post, but by also realizing how mediocre Pitt will always be. After graduation Pitt pride rushed through my blood, and I realize no matter what we do we are exactly what this post speak of. Just good enough to be relevant! that is it nothing more. Definitely looking forward to the next on basketball!!! already have my spaz out prepared!

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