Monday, September 27, 2010

The reality of being a Pitt fan

Year 6 of Wanny and we are still rebuilding. That is the only way to look at this year's team. I spent the weekend refraining from all of the Pitt message boards, didn't listen to any local media outlets, and tried to clear my head to allow myself to think clearly about the realities of the program.

Last night I watched the game again and felt like I was stuck in Groundhog Day. The same issues we are seeing in year 6 are the same we saw from Wannstedt throughout his career. The offense is completely ineffective, the quarterback isn't given any opportunity (from coach or line), and the defense is based all on the defensive line.

In the past 6 years we have accumulated some great talent at running back and defensive line. What we haven't done is find a quarterback who can win games with his arm, we haven't found and developed offensive line depth to play at a high level with capable backups ready, and we haven't found a back 7 on defense that can do much.

The entire problem stems from the offensive philosophy. We are doing what Wannstedt thinks should be done regardless of whether or not we have the players to do so. Our interior line is by far the worse since I started following Pitt football in 2000. This group prevents us from running the ball and controlling the clock. That is what is needed to win under the Wannstedt system.

Miami and Utah sold out their defensive backs to stop the run, especially up the middle. What did we see when they did that? Well Pitt decided to run the ball up the gut play after play. We had a situation in the 3rd quarter where Dion ran a sweep and gained 12 yards. The next play was power-16 right up the middle for no gain. Round hole, meet square peg.

The inability of the offense to dominate the time of possession forces the defense into a position where they can not win since we decided long ago to play a "bend, don't break" style of defense.

Last season we saw Cignetti get creative with his weapons. This season with a new quarterback, the loss of our star Flex-TE, and several new starters, we have become more bland on offense than anyone could have expected. When we do switch it up, we use a play that everyone was ready for when Greg Cross was tackled for a loss on his reverse pass. Part of me feels that Wannstedt used that play not caring if it failed because if it did then he could use that as an excuse as to why we have to stick with our base power-run offense. If it did work then he could say he does use different wrinkles when appropriate (even if it is only 1 time per game).

At the end of the day, none of this matters. Nordy and many blue and gold sunglasses fans are happy because they have a coach who would rather tell you about how he was successful in different places because of Jimmy Johnson and while painting everything blue and gold rather than focusing on winning a game.

Dave Wannstedt is not suited to be a head coach. He failed with the Bears, he failed with the Dolphins, and he is failing at Pitt. With him in control we can expect one or two 9-10 win seasons every 5 years with several 5-7 win seasons mixed in between. The worse part about it is that the people who can make the choices don't seem to care.

I have given up faith not with Pitt football, but with the Pitt administrators who seem to have made every bone head choice with Pitt football since the 1980's. I have lost faith with the fan base who accept mediocrity because they're paranoid that no other person would want to coach a division 1 team in a BCS conference. These fans would rather embarrass Pitt in national TV games instead of hearing that their coach is wanted by another school. The sad fact of the matter is of the division 1 schools, none of them are trying to hire Dave Wannstedt.

This is what we have folks. We have an average team with depth at running back and defensive line. We have a coach who is well below average at what he does. We have an administration who is not willing to make the moves or invest the money to improve Pitt back to a national power. So while we talk about how great we were in the late 70's, we can give future generations of Pitt fans new memories that we are a basketball school that once had football tradition.


Paul said...

I agree that Wanny probably isn't the right man for the job (though I will maintain that either of his last two teams would have beaten any team Walt ever put out there, Walt wasn't the right man to carry the program forward either).

I love Pitt but to me the reality is that this is an average program whose only two competitive advantages are facilites and a weak conference.

Pennsylvania HS football has been overated for quite some time now and while Pitt prides itself on nine national titles the reality is its tradition is no more special than 20 other schools out there. And obviously there's the inability to fill Heinz.

Lets face it, we are UVA/OK State/Washington/Colorado. A good program that will put up 9 or so wins every so often, maybe go on a 5 year run every so often with the right coach before said coach moves on to greener pastures.

Again, I agree that I would rather have a good young coach who can give us that five year run and then leave over Wanny who will loyaly underacheave. But sadly, I don't think that the celing is that much higher than where Wanny has us now.

rkohberger said...

Or you guys could understand that all the noisemaking aside, football just isn't that important to PITT.

Forget about the coaching staff, forget about the Head Coach, forget about the Athletic Director; all those don't matter a whit. It is the Board of Trustees and the Chancellor (and the general big money donors) who pull the strings and make the long term decisions.

They found a conference which was acceptable; a place to rent (Heinz) that was acceptable and replaced an embarrassment and they found a Head Coach (DW) who was acceptable and replaced an embarrassment. They are in a comfortable place for now.

The whole point of PITT football to them is that it is an acceptable burden PITT must endure to remain a 'big' school. There is a world of perception between BB only schools and BB & major football schools. But above all the Administration wants football, if they have to have it at all, to be a non-irritant in the things that matter to them - and that ain't wins & losses folks. What is overpoweringly important to them is how the University is represented and perceived on a local, national and international scale.

As long as PITT can trot out football in their advertising and feel not embarrassed by it we'll maintain status quo.

Anonymous said...


I have to agree with your comments, you are right on. It takes an effort from the top and sadly the Pitt administration makes a half asses attempt.

We really define medocrity.