Big Lead Sports Bar

9/24/2010

Pitt's Season Unraveling Before Our Very Eyes



To be totally honest, I had a bad feeling about the Pitt-Miami game all day yesterday. Long story short, by the end of the night I was fighting a losing battle with a migraine headache while covering my eyes at the images on the television. My only regret is not covering my eyes for the entire game. I think this guy above had it right.

You name it, it went wrong for Pitt last night in their nationally-televised 31-3 beatdown at the hands of the Hurricanes. They couldn't move the ball. They allowed Miami to take their opening drive 80 yards down the field and kill the festive mood at Heinz Field. Their special teams stunk. The offensive line was horrendous, and play calling was even worse. They didn't get Dion Lewis on track, and they barely got the ball into the hands of Jon Baldwin, who looked disinterested by the end of the game. They had a botched play result in an 18-yard loss. They might have a quarterback controversy on their hands. And if that wasn't bad enough, players were dropping like flies last night, including what looks like a very serious injury to LB Dan Mason. Oh, and did I forget the storm cloud brewing over the team's off-field conduct?

It all makes you want to bury your head in the sand if you're a Pitt fan. It feels too much like deja vu all over again for the Panthers, who seem to save their worst efforts over the years for the biggest games. And this was a big one, with ESPN in the house and the school bringing back 450 players and coaches from the past, including Tony Dorsett and Johnny Majors.

I apologize for the bulk negativity, but that's really the only emotion I have the morning after watching such a disappointing performance last night. Were there any good things to talk about? I guess you could say Ray Graham was a small bright spot, with 100 yards on 14 carries and 41 yards on three receptions. And they did have a few nice interceptions of Miami QB Jacory Harris. But highlights are few and far between in an embarrassing 28-point loss.

The biggest question after last night's game is where the Panthers go from here. Schedule-wise, they have Florida International next week before a real game at Notre Dame on October 9. Then comes seven consecutive Big East games to close the season, and if I had a crystal ball it would be as confused as I am about how those games will go. If Pitt hasn't inspired anyone, I challenge you to name a team in the conference who has.

Other than the schedule, there's a variety of issues for the Panthers to address going forward. First and foremost, they need to learn how to block, open holes for their running backs, and give their quarterback time to throw. I never thought I'd say that about a Wannstedt-coached team, knowing his love of linemen, but it's true. There will be calls for Pat Bostick to replace Tino Sunseri, and there will probably be calls for Graham to replace Lewis. After such a humbling defeat, there's going to be calls to replace a lot of players.

The bigger picture, though, is how Pitt looked totally outclassed by Miami, which should not be the case in year six of the Wannstache Era. The Hurricanes were bigger, faster, stronger, and deeper. The Panthers, as one of the ESPN broadcasters said last night, were tripping over their own feet. It's not always fair, but the pressure at times like these come down to the coach. You learn a lot about a team (and their leader) when things are bad (see: Steelers, 2005). The weeks and months ahead could well define Wannstedt's legacy at Pitt.

Mondesi's House: The Director's Cut (more links, commentary, etc): twitter.com/mondesishouse
Email: mondesishouse@gmail.com

46 comments:

expectingrain said...

The ONLY positive in that game for Pitt was they had a couple of cute cheerleaders.

Donald said...

Pitt is a bad team. They were humbled last night and proved that they are still irrelevant on a national level, hopefully the fans will be humbled too after all the chatter this off season.

Good news is that since they are in the embarrassing Big Least, there is a legit shot of winning the conference and going to a BCS game, if they can get past WVU...

Scott said...

Its very tough to win with poor quarterback play.

JW said...

Pitt is woeful across the board, not just QB. Six years after giving Walt the boot (rightfully so) for not recruiting physical, tough linemen, etc., it sure looked last night like things haven't come too far.

Scott said...

Its tough to defend the oline, but the play calling last night didn't do much in terms of helping them out.

I don't remember any screen passes being called to stop the pass rush, and Pitt rarely challenged Miami down the field vertically when they had single coverage.

Their simplistic offensive scheme basically invited a pass rush that they were unprepared to handle.

Chip said...

Don, I think you should stop with the Pitt coverage and devote the time and space to Penn State. At least they're worthy of your attention (and I'm not a PSU fan at all). It will at least save you the headaches and ulcers from watching Pitt's comical attempts at offense.

Forget about the Big Least. This team isn't beating WVU. They'll be lucky to squeak by Rutgers. This is just an awful awful team. Bad line, bad QBing, WRs who can't make the easy catches, very little running game... The defense isn't too bad but they aren't good enough to cover up for all the other inadequacy.

Yet another national embarassment for Pitt and proof big time college football does not exist in Pittsburgh.

Clint Pitts said...

@Chip - Aren't you the Pirate fan claiming they deserve more coverage? I'm too lazy to go back and look so I could be wrong.


Seems like Pitt is really missing Dickerson and Byham. Linebackers can focus all their attention on stopping Lewis on both running and passing downs while safeties cover TEs and slots. Don't have to worry about the deep ball since Pitt didn't have enough time to throw one.

AJ said...

I like Dave Wannstedt. Seems like a nice guy. Reminds you of that uncle you have that makes fart jokes and always has cheap beer (like Stroh's) in his fridge because he truly enjoys it more than say Bud or Miller Lite.

That being said... time to cut bait with this guy. He is just plain awful. His teams (if they win) seem to win spite of him.

Granted I admit that I am not much of a college football fan. Guess I prefer to see my athletes paid above the table instead of under it. I just don't seem to get what people see in that guy.

Scott said...

I like Wannstedt personally but I knew after his first season he was a disaster. He tried to force square pegs into round holes by forcing a run-oriented offense upon players who Walt Harris recruited for a passing offense. It made no sense and showed the man doesn't understand the concept of designing a game plan around the talents of the players on your roster.

As a mid-tier program, Pitt is NEVER going to get the best O-linemen in the country and they're never going to win with a Neanderthal running offense. The only way they can compete on a national level is to do exactly what Walt Harris did - go after superstar receivers and build an offense around them.

78Deville said...

I've never known why there was so much excitement about Wannstedt at Pitt (aside from him being a local guy). As a head coach, he's never lived up to expectations at any of his stops and his teams have always folded under the spot light. He was a fine coordinator, but he's not a head coach.

Steve said...

He's never really done anything at either the college, or pro level. They like him because he's a local, a Pitt alum and has a silly moustache. He seems to be able to recruit well enough (at some positions anyway) so maybe they can keep him in that capacity somehow, but as a coach they can find better and should. There's no reason this team should be as bad as it is and although any loss to a higher ranked team would have been "kinda" acceptable, a loss like this isn't.

BURGH08 said...

I'm not sure why fans have to be 'humbled', but I thought this was a 7-5, 8-4 team that would likely be 1-2 at this point. Thought they would be more competitive last night however.

What is obviously disappointing is that in my opinion the game was over after the initial drive. You also can't continue to run twice into a nine man front, then have your inexperienced QB either hold the ball for a sack, or throw it into the grond.

If nothing else, I have some new money after taking the Canes and the four points.

okel dokel said...

Not a Pitt fan just a football fan who believes college ball is the lesser of the pro leagues.

I think Wannstedt should go now, but I am sure his lease will be at least two years long.

His most crushing problem has been the inability to recruit a decent quarterback. Further his need to coach at such a conservative level hurts him big time and always has.

You would think with their O-Line heritage things would look better up front.

rrr said...

I've found there are two types of Pitt fans in this world.

The first group includes people with a realistic and informed view of the college football world. Those folks have been hoping for an 8-3, maybe 9-3 season with a green offensive line and new quarterback. Those fans are probably a little disappointed by how bad Pitt got blown out, but not at all surprised by what went down.

Then there are the people, many of whom frequent this site (cough, NickDawg, cough) who swallowed the 93.7/KDKA/Post-Gazette propaganda whole and thought Pitt was a national championship contender with a Heisman runner in the backfield and a Billetnikoff winner split out wide. They thought a Big East championship was a foregone conclusion.

Well I guess those folks don't look to bright today, do they.

The local sports media that perpetuated this silliness is an embarrassment to the trade, and they really should all lose their jobs/transfer to the Pitt PR department.

Pitt is what it is. It got whooped by a better team. As much as I'd like to make fun of them, they didn't ask for the cluster**** of hype they received from people like the ones at 93.7 or Bob Pomp over at KDKA. It's not their fault they were overrated, it's the media's.

Shame on them.

BURGH08 said...

rrr-I agree, but in all honesty, you can pick 'two types of fans' on just about every team.

As for "The Fan", I heard some discussion of "if" Pitt won, would they have a chance to play for a national title. I didn't think that was realistic, but if you listen to any 24/7 sports radio, all sorts of topics come up. I have also heard Pitt fans critical of the statation for openly talking about the arrests, and having the same questions/concerns.

Hell, Pomp picks the Steelers to win every week if you listen to him any length of time. He is a total homer. I doubt that is 'propaganda'. I have read papers in Altoona, or drove through Morgantown and listened to radio there. It's at least as bad if not worse.

Not really sure what 'media' has to do with the situation.

BURGH08 said...

That said, one thing I do agree with Pomp on: He said it yesterday was a 'must win' for the program's revelance and importance for this season.

I doubt you or anyone disagree with that one.

rrr said...

I completely disagree.

Last night was an out-of-conference game. It has no effect on anything but bowl slotting at the end of the year, and beyond the BCS bowl, the Big East's bowl tie-ins suck.

Pomp beat the drum all summer that this team needed to go 11-2 or better to have a successful season. Bullcrap. If Pitt goes 7-5 but wins the Big East and plays in the Sugar Bowl, it was a successful season.

Dallas Mike said...

rrr...great points about the ridiculous expectations and the Pittsburgh media. You are right about the 2 types of fans, but as Burgh said, it mostly applies to all fan bases - people who have perspective and those who are myopic....Speaking of myopic fans... Chip, do Mondesishouse readers have the right to criticize you next year for your "Pirates will win the division in 2011" prediction?" Why don't we place a simple $500 wager on your baseball expertise? Are you willing to accept the bet?

BURGH08 said...

"Pomp beat the drum all summer that this team needed to go 11-2 or better to have a successful season. Bullcrap. If Pitt goes 7-5 but wins the Big East and plays in the Sugar Bowl, it was a successful season."

I completely disagree, but not surprised if some people feel that way.

Going 7-5/8-4 and playing as a tin can in a BCS game is not successful to this Pitt fan. I saw that movie before when it was called "Last Year of Walt Harris".

Saw that one. Know how it ended.

The Abiding Dude said...

rrr - What a relief it is to see someone with my opinion. I hate being the minority. Excellent points and I would have said all the same things you did.

Sunseri is terrible though...COMPLETELY tuhrruble.

Benjamin P. Glaser said...

Hear about 1250 ESPN yet?

BURGH08 said...

Which part? From Smizik's blog?

rrr said...

@ BURGH

What's the difference between Pitt running the non-conference out of schedule and winning the Big East and losing out in the OOC and winning the Big East?

Nothing.

It's not going to get Pitt any further. Pitt's ceiling is a BCS bowl this year, and 7-5 could get it there as easily as 12-0. If you'd trade in that BCS appearance for 10 wins and another Car Care Bowl, then your over looking just how much those expensive bowl trips mean to recruits.

BURGH08 said...

Again, I disagree, but I think you are misunderstanding me. Who said anything about 'trading'?

I don't subscribe to the 'either/or' scenario, which is another popular topic from the local dopes in the media (talk about 'propaganda').

I agree that the ceiling is what it is, and can still be achieved technically. However, college football is also about perception. It's why people are questioning the Big East and their performance in OOC matchups.

Winning the Big East is be the goal, but the perception has already happened regardless of conference play IMO.

rrr said...

True, although no one cares about losing to Miami in September if you beat Florida in the Sugar Bowl.

BURGH08 said...

That's a hell of an 'if' to me.

mbgutt said...

Hey Penn Staters. As a Penn State Alum I am smart enough to know that I am reading a Pitt blog so I expect Pitt coverage. The last time I checked University Park was about three hours away from the Burgh so give it a rest. Pitt plays good teams out of conference and does not walk away from traditional rivals like dear old PSU. As for the game I get frustrated by the play calling. Every first down is a run play. Setting up second and long. Not a prescription for success if you ask me. Despite all that went wrong Pitt still had a chance when that punt was fumbled away. Time to regroup and run the table.......

Dominic Errico said...

MBGutt,

So PSU playing #1 Alabama isn't a strong enough OOC game for you? LOL Okay...

PSU has a lot of "Traditional rivals" from their past and play them. They've offered Pitt a series, but Pitt thinks they are too relevant to play a 2 and 1.

Newsflash. Pitt could really boost their exposure by taking that 2 and 1 knowing JoePa isn't going to be there much longer. Once JoePa is gone you renegotiate to a 1 and 1.

It isn't rocket science.

BURGH08 said...

Such an inaccurate and ignorant post.

No wonder you can't find work in broadcasting.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

Look, given the 'stache's lack of creativity the following statement will ALWAYS hold true:

If a Dave Wannstedt coached team does not have a good offensive line, they will struggle mightily.

The last two seasons he had a decent line (especially last year) and they did well.

His first few seasons (and it looks like this one too) he doesn't.

Everything he does is predicated on being able to run the ball effectively, chew up clock, then play "bend but don't break defense".


This is simply impossible without a good offensive line, and Wanny's too set in his ways to adjust.

Dominic Errico said...

BURGH08, what's inaccurate and ignorant about it. PSU has offered to play Pitt in a 2 and 1 in the past, Pitt turned them down.

PSU plays in a better conference with more exposure. PSU has played and won a BCS bowl in the past decade, they've also managed to do well in their bowls during Joe Pa's tenure.

Pitt loses a 21 point lead at home to Cincinnatti when the Big East title is on the line, gets blown out at home against a ranked Miami team in a "must win" game not only for their pride but the Big East Conference's pride as well.

Pitt fans want to keep preaching how much better they are than PSU when the facts just don't bear that out.

PSU sells out Beaver Stadium EVERY time, whereas the only time Pitt sells out Heinz Field is if it's a nationally televised game or something. Which is ironic because they usually then choke like dogs in front of said national audience.

The only thing Pitt can still claim victory over PSU on is the fact you won the last time the two teams played, back when PSU was in a downturn.

That's reality, care to come join me in it?

Dominic Errico said...

http://collegefootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2010/08/20/penn-state-ad-no-series-with-pitt-anytime-soon/

The article was written by NBCsports.com, not biased sources like pantherlair.com or nittanywhiteout.com

So again, PSU has made the offers. 2 and 1's...1 and 1's, yet Pitt still says no. And then Pitt fans whine, cry, and blame PSU for it even though it is well documented Pitt is wrong.

Still going to say my post is innacurate and ignorant? Because you'd be dead wrong.

BURGH08 said...
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BURGH08 said...
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rrr said...

Pitt Football=Penn State basketball

The respective athletic departments don't care about either one. That was obvious from Pitt's end when they paved over their ancestral football home with a basketball arena and from Penn State's when they decided to pay their basketball coach less than freakin' Bill Carmody at Northwestern.

You've got to be committed to winning in college sports, and neither athletic department is as committed as it should be to making their under performing programs better. Sure, if you're Pitt, you'll have the Fiesta Bowl season or 2009, and if you're Penn State, you'll go to the Sweet 16 once and win the NIT later on, but those almost act like band-aids for bullet wounds of ignorance.

That's just the way it is.

BURGH08 said...

It's pretty easy to dissect:

* Your link doesn't support your original post where you write that
"Pitt thinks they are too relevant to play a 2 and 1."

First of all, that's not factual, that's opinion. Second, No discussions have taken place between Pederson and Curley since returning to Pitt. The problem is not a 2 for 1, but length of contract.

This was written in the Tribune Review earlier this year:

"Curley, according to DiPaola, talked with former Pitt athletic director Jeff Long about renewing the series but has had no discussions with Steve Pederson, who replaced Long three years ago.

Pederson told the Tribune-Review, ``We would like to play the game every year. We are scheduled for a while, but we would fit them in the future. If they are interested in talking about the game, we are interested in talking about the game."

Result: Ignorant and Inaccurate

BURGH08 said...

You also write in your orginal post that "PSU has a lot of "Traditional rivals" from their past and play them."

Well, that can't mean Big Ten teams, which Penn State joined in 1990. I know PSU has played teams in that conference prior to joining but surely cant be defined that way.

Out of conference? The last three year opponents include Alabama, Akron, Coastal Carolina, Temple, Syracuse, Eastern Illinois, and future opponents include Eastern Michigan.

Result? Inaccurate and ignorant.

BURGH08 said...

As for your last two posts: All opinion and the stereotypical response from the insecure Penn State fan (which thankfully does not include the good ones I know of).

Pitt may get an extra sellout if they played Penn State, but other than that no real 'boost'. They played (and lost) to two teams ranked ahead of Penn State this year. They play Notre Dame every year, which though struggling, has their own network and is one of the most nationally known teams in sports. Pitt will get the "boost" when they win the games like they just played. Nothing against Penn State, but it's not a factor as much as Pitt's own performance.

Result: Inaccurate and ignorant.

Again, a blog post here that has nothing to do with Penn State at all, yet trolls like you find a way to make it about Penn State and "attendance" of all things.

By your theory in the last two posts, Pitt should be charitable and play Penn State in basketball?

After all, maybe the Panthers would help "boost" your program by showing up once every three years since you can't find a tenth of the "attendance at Beaver Stadium" to fill up Bryce Jordan. I guess "Penn State Proud" is exhausted by late October, huh?

Good luck with your next DJ date, and sorting mail on Monday. Between your knowledge, opinions, and resume on your website, I can't believe the Pittsburgh media hasn't seen your talents ten years after graduating college.

Dominic Errico said...

The comments above mine started blasting PSU for not scheduling harder OOC opponents, which is why I mentioned Alabama.

You also have Pitt fans bringing up PSU Basketball. PSU basketball has never even tried to be competitive. They are like the Pirates. Hence why fans at PSU just don't care. They'll go for some of the marquee matchups for something to do.

The difference with football as someone has mentioned is that it's not just the students at PSU filling the football stadium. Alumni come from all over the place to those games.

I'm not sure why you also feel the need to bring my personal life into things. That's crossing a line in my opinion. What I do as a full time job to support my family has no bearing on my knowledge of sports.

To be honest in the past I didn't apply myself the way I should have otherwise more opportunities may have presented themselves by now. That includes my time at Penn State.

Maybe I should be proud that you felt the need to do so much research about me on such a personal level to try and belittle me somehow. You need to get a life.

BURGH08 said...

No research needed. Just two clicks.

Let me know when you start applying yourself though. Its not really evident in your posts on the topic.

Dominic Errico said...

Both AD's say there's no place on the schedule for the rivalry right now. This isn't a one sided issue. Your fan base seems to think it is though.

Trolling is posting comments to incite the other fan base. MBGutt said PSU doesn't schedule anyone OOC. I pointed out that PSU played the number one team this year.

He also said PSU walked away from the rivalry. I showed articles where people interviewed Tim Curley and he said offers were made that Pitt turned down. PSU moved on.

Both AD's have said there's no room on the schedule in the near future, so continuing to harp on it isn't going to change anything.

Go ahead and continue to hold onto the fact Pitt won the last meeting, until they meet again Pitt has the bragging rights.

I'm glad to see your comment that a 7-5 season and being a tin can in a BCS bowl would NOT be a successful season. I think we can both agree on that.

BURGH08 said...

DJ Dom: I don't "hold onto" any Pitt/Penn State game. Would be nice to see them play, don't lose any sleep that they don't.

As for you saying that "your fan base", your earlier post was nothing but what many Pitt fans see as "your fan base": That Pitt's success has anything to do with Penn State. It clearly doesn't.

Nice to see you toned down the
rhetoric from your previous posts though. Stick to the facts and that will serve you much better.

Dominic Errico said...
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Dominic Errico said...

I'm not a DJ..not yet at least.

BURGH08 said...

Keep hope alive.

Dominic Errico said...

I'll get there someday and I'll admit you're right. I do get very opinionated at times.