I'm growing very frustrated reading how "we're all pessimistic" and "Wannstedt haters" because some of the people disagree that 9 regular season wins is not as big as some people make it out to be.
Is a 9 win season successful? Yes it is.
Is the 9 win season we had enough reason to not have some concerns heading into next season? No it is not.
Let's look at some history. People are claiming this is our first 9 win season in over 25 years and that is a very big deal. To me, I don't buy that line. In the last couple of years, schools are now forced to have 12 regular season games whereas in the past, teams only had 11 games. So now we have an extra non-conference game. Most schools (like Pitt) will scheduled a lower ranked D1 team or even a FCS school (D2) for that extra game. All that means is an extra home game for more revenue and an almost automatic win to puff up your win totals. If you look at Pitt in the 80's starting with Foge, there were a few seasons that we would have had 9 or even 10 regular season wins had they had the 12th regular season game. Even going back as recently as 2004, Pitt would have had 9 regular season wins had they been able to schedule that 12th game against an inferior team as would have been the case.
The second point I want to make is that while I believe Pitt ended up with a SOS around 25, we had a schedule full of good teams, but not great teams.
Arguably Cincinnati and Rutgers ended up being the best two teams we played during the regular season (I put Rutgers ahead of USF because of their amazing turn around and the collapse that USF had finishing 1-4 in the regular season). Every other team we played had a decent year, but not a great year. 3 of the teams we played did not make a bowl and we lost to one of those teams. When we played a middle of the group PAC-10 team, we were held scoreless.
9 wins is great, but this is not the gauntlet of schedule that we have seen even just a few years ago. The Big East regressed more than I could have imagined this year. As Louisville and WVU were expected to be the dominant teams based upon their recent success, coaching changes really ruined their programs. UConn is still gathering itself and trying to find an identity. USF goes through a midseason collapse after their annual Thursday night Big East beat down (luckily Pitt did it to them this year although a 5 point win is not a beat down). Rutgers turned it on at the end of the season but was awful early on. Now Cincinnati, our BCS representative, has lost a ton of players and will not be at the level they were at last year.
We won 9 games against teams that were not all that great last year. It is amazing that we didn't run the table and go 12-0 last year as that was probably the best chance we had in recent memory. We had a great leader at RB and an amazing talent at linebacker. Now they are gone and we have to prepare for life without them.
Unless there is some amazing change with this team, I do not see them winning more than 7 or 8 games, especially if the offense remains the same. Any SEC, Big 12, and most Big 10 teams would run through our schedule with ease. We simply just had an above average year.
I want to make something clear here. There is nothing wrong with pointing these things out. Looking at facts and being objective is what makes a good fan. If you blindly follow or blindly hate the coach without reason, that is where the problem lies. I'm not trying to be doom and gloom here, I am simply pointing out that 9 wins is a successful season, but it is not the season some are making it out to be nor is it the only predictor as to how we should expect to perform next year.
I look forward to some good discussion about this.