One thing I've learned over the years as a fan of Pitt football: just when you start to feel the least bit good about yourself, you should prepare to be let down. It's a pattern that never fails.
And once again, that theory came true in an embarrassing, nationally-televised loss to a UConn team that was 4-4 on the season, owning losses to Rutgers and Louisville, programs that Pitt beat earlier in 2010 by a combined 38 points.
You name it, this Pitt team botched it on Thursday night. Offense. Defense. Special teams. Coaching. It was a total team choke.
I don't know what it seems to be about national television that disrupts this team so much, but if the Not Ready for Primetime label wasn't already taken, I'd imagine it was created for the Panthers. There are so many miscues to go over that it seems like a waste of time to point all of them out, but some of them have to get mentioned.
You could start with the fourth-and-1 call that UConn went for on their own 19-yard-line with 2:45 to play - and converted. From there, anything is fair game: allowing Jordan Todman a career-high 222 yards rushing; giving up a momentum-destroying touchdown on a kickoff; not one, but two horribly shanked punts from Dan Hutchins; Ray Graham's fumbled kickoff, directly resulting in seven UConn points in the fourth quarter; Tino Sunseri throwing two picks, overthrowing receivers and in general looking like was running a disorganized offense, one that drew a penalty on a fourth-and-1 and had to punt; Jon Baldwin giving an on-again, off-again effort that Randy Moss would be proud of; and of course, the Wannstache and his staff.
As much as I love Wanny, his game prep, management, and failure to adjust in-game has become tiresome to watch after all these years. How much time did Pitt need to prepare for a .500 Connecticut team? Because the bye week did absolutely no good.
Within the game, I don't know how Graham and Dion Lewis only carry the ball a combined 29 times. I really didn't like the management of Greg Romeus in his return, and in general, I did not care for the focus and preparedness of the Panthers as a whole. With so many mistakes on the night, it's clear that their heads weren't in the game. Fair or not, that always gets pinned on the coach.
I know, I know...Pitt can still go to a BCS game. But really, would that even be something to look forward to at this point? They've been on national TV four times this year and after each one, I walk away shaking my head in disbelief. Utah. Miami. Notre Dame. UConn. Each game uniquely different in the way that it disappoints you, threaded together by the common bond that Pitt figuratively (and sometimes literally) dropped the ball yet again. That's a team you want to represent the school and city against the likes of Nebraska? The conference is enough of a punch line already without having to endure that looming embarrassment.