Well with us getting ready for a day in which we all should be thankful for what we have, I thought I'd leave you some thoughts before the holiday about our Pitt football team.
At 4-6 we all know where this team stands. The last two games (USF and WVU) are what I consider to be our two toughest of the season. While USF doesn't have as great of a record as some other Big East schools, they are a team we match up very poorly against. WVU is also the same way. They have a dynamic offense and that crazy 3-3-5 defense that Wannstedt hasn't been able to figure out.
The good thing about the team is hardly anyone expects us to win either game which is taking away the false hope of going to a bowl game. Even if this team did beat USF and WVU, I highly doubt we would get a bowl game at 6-6.
Sadly, for most of the fans this season will start to get exciting at the end of the year with the recruiting battles as well as some personnel changes. The Panthers, somehow, are still in the running for many good prospects. Obviously for this class the team needs to sign a linebacker and an offensive lineman that can step up immediately. The Panthers could go the Jeff Otah route and sign a juco player, but when given the chance we have had some freshmen play well but lets not kid ourselves. Freshmen on this team will rarely see the field.
In terms of staffing changes this could be the make or break point for Wannstedt. We don't have a new AD in place yet so the main pressure he will be feeling is coming from Nordy and Cochran over at the Cathedral. The only guy who I feel for sure will be gone at the end of the season is Paul Dunn. I don't think that Wannstedt can keep him around under any circumstances. As for the big two, Matt Cavanaugh and Paul Rhoads, well............ Some of you may not like to hear this, but I would not be surprised to see them both back next year. Paul Rhoads has been here for a very long time but we continue to see the same story with him. We always let teams kill us on the ground and we can't figure out how to stop the spread offense. It's a shame we don't play teams like Syracuse every week because their offense plays perfectly into his scheme. On 3rd and long we never go into a nickel or dime package, we always stay in the base 4-3. We do have a top ranked defense this year, I will give him that. The stats, however, are an anomaly. In our two worst games of the season, UVa and UConn, they went up early on possessions where they had a short field to work with. Once they had such a commanding lead, they were able to run the ball and kill the clock. Our other games saw us keeping it closer which really helped us statistically. One of Paul Rhoads main down falls is that he can't stop a team when it matters. Against Louisville he let up a late touchdown drive which ultimately cost us the game. Against Syracuse the mighty Orange were setting the stage for a late comeback until Greg Romeus had seen enough and finished the game himself.
Do I think it's time for Rhoads to go? Yes I do, but I also feel that Wannstedt is very loyal and will have a hard time letting him go. That is why I believe there is a very good chance he will be back next year.
On to Matt Cavanaugh. Wanny and Cavvy are good friends, which never works out well when one is the boss and the other is the employee. Rumor is that Matt wants to go back to the NFL. The hard part about that is, there are only 32 teams in the league which means only 32 offensive coordinator jobs and 32 quarterback coaching jobs. After his performance here and with Baltimore, I highly doubt any team would be willing to hire him as offensive coordinator. Many people believe that Cavanaugh would be a great Qb coach in the NFL if he stuck with that full time. The question Cavanaugh has to ask himself is: Is it better to stay an offensive coordinator in college until something better pops up which isn't available right now, or is it better to leave now and take a chance somewhere else? Being a Pittsburgh guy, Cavanaugh is home right now. I could see him staying just out of the comfort of being here. It is nice to be able to get a job at home making 250k a year. I really don't see Wannstedt firing Cavanaugh if he was given the choice to do it or not do it.
If we are going to see changes in this staff, the University's higher ups will need to be the ones calling for it. Donna Sanft isn't in the position where she can tell Wanny what to do, and if the choice is left up to him, I think he will pick loyalty over necessary change.