Saturday, January 03, 2009

Clarification on Football Article

By Chris Dokish

I received a few emails since my post on Friday, so let's look at this further, since there is a lot of evidence to back up just where the Pitt program is.

With Dave Wannstedt, Pitt has good talent and there's no reason to think that, when healthy, he shouldn't be able to produce anywhere from 7-9 wins. That's not me piling on or being negative. That's just being realistic. It's a fact that Pitt, under Wannstedt, has gone 25-23. It's a fact that they are 17-20 against BCS teams. And it's a fact that they are 14-14 in the Big East. In Wannstedt's first four years, the average record is 6-6, so saying he will win 7-9 games annually is actually giving them the benefit of the doubt.

The bottom line is, even if they win 9 or 10 teams in the Big East, that does not make them an elite team. It means they are the best of a bad conference. Winning the Big East doesn't mean you are guaranteed to have a team that can't compete, and if West Virginia could have played for the National Championship when Rich Rodriguez was there, they may have won it all. But, on the other hand, Cincinnati won the conference this year and couldn't even beat Virginia Tech, who has not had an elite team in years. And does anybody really think that won't be the case, more often than not? Is the winner of the Big East going to be a National Championship contender?

Let's compare Pitt's starters this year with the starters of Penn State, an excellent team that is borderline top 10. The capitalized team has the advantage.

QB- Bill Stull or Daryl Clark. PENN STATE
HB- LeSean McCoy or Evan Roster. PITTSBURGH
WR-Oderick Turner/Derek Kinder or Derrick Williams/Deon Butler/Jordan Norwood. PENN STATE
TE- Nate Byham or Mickey Shuler. PITTSBURGH
OG- John Malecki/CJ Davis or Rich Ohrnberger/Stefen Wisniewski. PENN STATE
OT- Jason Pinkston/Joe Thomas or Gerald Cadogan/Dennis Landolt. PENN STATE
C- Robb Houser or A.Q. Shipley. PENN STATE

DE- Greg Romeus/Jabaal Sheard or Aaron Maybin/Josh Gaines. EVEN
DT- Rashaad Duncan/Mick Williams or Jared Odrick/Abe Koroma. EVEN
OLB- Greg Williams/Austin Ransom or Navorro Bowman/Tyrell Sales. PENN STATE
MLB- Scott McKillop or Josh Hull. PITTSBURGH
CB- Aaron Berry/Jovani Chappel or Tony Davis/Lydell Sargeant. PENN STATE
S- Eric Thatcher/Dom DeCicco or Mark Rubin/Anthony Scirotto. PENN STATE
PK- Conor Lee or Kevin Kelly. EVEN
P- Dave Brytus of Jeremy Boone. PENN STATE

Final total: PITTSBURGH 3

Now let's look at how well Pitt did in the Big East statistically:

Scoring Offense 1st (only first place the team had)
Total Offense 6th
Passing Efficiency 5th
Passing Offense 4th
Rushing Offense 6th
Scoring Defense 6th
Total Defense 4th
Pass defensive Efficiency 5th
Rushing Defense 4th
Passing Defense 4th
Turnover Margin 5th
Sacks 3rd
Tackles For Loss 4th
Passes Intercepted 4th
Kickoff Returns 7th
Punt Returns 6th
Net Punting 4th

Not exactly dominating an eight team conference that isn't even that great, huh? Again, this doesn't mean Pitt won't be competitive. It just means that there is absolutely no proof that this program is suddenly going to produce a top 10 team. I know, like usually happens at this time of year, there will be Pitt fans who cavalierly predict Pitt to win the Big East and win 10 or 11 games next year. I'd like them to look at all of these facts and become more rational. If a fan really wants what's best for their program they will have some perspective on the limitation of the program they profess to love. Predicting big things for this program is only going to bring ill well when they don't come close to those expectations.


At 3:45 AM, Blogger Anthony said...

So Doke the Pitt football program is really no better off than they were under Harris? Wannstedt's PR is much better than his results.

At 6:59 AM, Blogger rkohberger said...

(Posted this in the wrong article earlier)

Doke - it's good to see you in print again.

Hey, it really is how you state the PITT football program, and personally, that's good enough for me.

I'd love to see us have as many wins as possible up on the scoreboard - and I was happy with the way things played out this season. In some ways it could have been better, and in some ways worse, but it was exciting and fun to watch. Which, truth be told, is why I follow the team. If it wasn't fun I wouldn't do it.

I try to put things in perspective when discussing PITT football, and the truth of the matter is that we are not, and probably never will be, an 'elite' football program. There are many reasons for that, but the one that I feel is the strongest is that the PITT administration isn't that concerned about it. I don't necessarily disagree with that either.

Football at PITT has been, and always will be, a supplement to other, more important aspects of the University's missions. When we were 'elite' in the late '70s and early '80s we caught lightning in a bottle, and was the beneficiary of some very good WPA recruiting (I believe the WPA players are, for the most part, overrated at this point in time) and of some great coaching. Our schedules were pretty easy back then also IMO. That was a convergence of positive things to get those good years. The football landscape has changed since then.

So, I don't think we'll see that again anytime soon, if ever. We'll do what we have done over the last 50 years - hit some peaks and valleys but overall be an average to good football team in the long run.

I do think we are in for a good run now though, and this season was certainly a nice one. Were we 'elite'? No, but really, I don't care. We did well, the team won games, the kids played their hearts out, and we fans had a lot to observe and talk about. For a hobby, which football is to me, it was a great year of interesting times.


Post a Comment

<< Home