Congratulations Pittsburgh Panthers, you had the most thuggish ruggish team in all of college football last season. In a criminal study by SI among the preseason top 25, the Pittsburgh Panthers had more arrests than any top 25 team. The Iowa Hawkeyes were second.
The legal problems off the field and the disappointments on the field cost Coach Dave Wannstedt his job. You got to feel for him though because he’s kind of like college football‘s version of a “wacky neighbor” character on a prime time network sitcom. Maybe I get this perception of him because he kind of looks like Schneider from “One Day at a Time,” a classic television character. He has the same exact mustache, and like Schneider, he spent a lot of time fixing messes he didn’t create.
And after he was cut, Pitt football saw more drama than a season of Friday Night Lights.
Replacement Mike Haywood(from Miami of Ohio) was let go 16 days after being hired. He was dismissed due to his being charged in a domestic dispute. Leaving the door open for Todd Graham, who was hired away from Tulsa.
2010 was: the worst 8-5 with a bowl win season in college football history. Given how it cost Wanny his job, you’d think this was Florida or Alabama or something. He got canned because of 1.) the complete lack of order/mess off the field 2.) expectations were raised significantly following 2009, the school’s first ten win season since the Dan Marino days of 1981. Overall, it was a year of injuries, legal problems and disappointments. And the drama obviously continued into the offseason. Wannstedt was a Pitt man, but he needed a BCS berth to save his job and he never produced that during his six year tenure.
BMOCs: QB Tino Sunserri is on the Davey O’Brien list. But I’m not really sold on him, and I’m not sure Pitt fans are either. They were 8th in total defense last season, but lost two high-quality DEs. But keep an eye on DT Myles Caragein and DL Aaron Donald. RB Ray Graham is a big shooter, and now he gets his shot to be the future back with Dion Lewis gone early to the NFL. Also keep on eye on Scranton native (“Scranton, the electric city”) Hubie Graham. The TE transferred here from the Illini program. DE Brandon Lindsey has NFL potential.
2011 will be fruitful if: the offense leads the nation. in offensive plays and their high-tempo, snap the ball every 15 seconds system clicks with their personnel. They will be similar to Northwestern, in terms of all the plays they run, and fast-pace in getting to the line. The defense should be stout once again, but not as good as last year. Their success hinges on how quickly they adjust to an attacking 3-4 from the more conservative 4-3 they were running last season.
2011 will be awful if: Question #1 is the kicking game, as they have zero experience there. The OL is inexperienced, and the WRs must adjust to the loss of Jon Baldwin. Sunseri must adjust to a new spread-option, and with new systems on both sides of the ball, anything can happen.
Bottom Line: Anyone can go 6-6 in the Big East). But if Pitt’s passing game and kicking game is at least serviceable (the power running games will be their bread and butter, and likely very strong) the Panthers should go back to a bowl. But actual success will be measured by if they compete for a league title or not.
BC Rankings: #41 Athlon, #38 Lindy’s, #34 Phil Steele
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Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports You can follow him on Twitter