NOTE: this is an article I wrote back in the beginning of September of 2016 and never posted it but it’s something to read that it might be a bit timely now also
I like Chris Dokish’s work on The Panther’s Prey blog he writes. Aside from the fact that he’s pretty much an unmitigated homer it is enjoyable to read and I learn something every time I visit.
He puts a ton of research into what he does and because I don’t follow recruiting much I tend to use his info (attributed). Because of the ‘defection’ of DT Donovan Jeter, a HS star player who Pat Narduzzi had slobbered over for a year, and who spurned Pitt for a quick verbal to Notre Dame, Dokish felt it was time to post an article he had been working on for some time.
It is titled Why Pitt football recruits at the level they do and is very well written. He mirrors what I have been saying for over five years now in that Pitt is not an “elite” football program. That isn’t rocket science as anyone with half a football brain can see that we are presently a bit above average program at best. Notice we are talking about the football program here and not a specific team for any year.
We haven’t been in the upper echelons of college ball in over 44 years – since Dan Marino and his 1982 teammates played their way to #10 in the AP poll.
But looking at the future is where Dokish and I differ in our opinions. Here is something he has been saying for a long time and I’m just not buying that with the right coach Pitt could be an annual Top 10 program. Sorry, but that’s like saying if I pick the exact six numbers the Lotto pulls out of the computer I’ll be a multi-millionaire. It’s true but the odds of it happening are crazy long.
“In the second group we have very good programs that could flirt with top 10 status with the right coach. That group includes Louisville, Virginia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Stanford, Washington, Oregon, UCLA, Arizona State, Utah, and Texas A&M. None of these programs are always excellent, but they’ve proven that they are good enough programs that with an excellent coach they can be among the elite.
Again using Rivals, here are last year’s recruiting rankings for these seventeen programs- Louisville (36), Virginia Tech (42), Miami (21), North Carolina (24), Pittsburgh (26), ( West Virginia (38), Oklahoma State (48), Michigan State (18), Wisconsin (35), Iowa (42), Stanford (19), Washington (37), Oregon (28), UCLA (10), Arizona State (30), Utah (34), and Texas A&M (17).
Am I saying that Pat Narduzzi will definitely do that? No, I’m not. But it’s certainly possible. The level of Pitt’s program is such that a great coach could make Pitt a National Championship contender, if they have an excellent coach. Not every program can say that. The Panthers definitely have that possibility. And if Narduzzi turns into that coach, and if they want to keep the program at it’s newly elevated status, they will need to pay him. All of the coaches in the above programs got raises for their accomplishment. But we will worry about that when/if the time comes.“
I have some problems with these thoughts above. First off – Just WTH does he mean by “a great coach“. There have been two very good – you can call them great – coaches at Pitt in the modern era and they were here for nine years from 1973 to 1981. As good as Majors, with his national championship team of 1976 and Jackie Sherrill’s three straight 11-1 teams were, in those nine years we ended up in the Top 10 five times.
I’ll say that part again – in the modern era since WWII, in essence the past 61 years, we have been in the AP Top 5 at season’s end only six times… when you add Johnny Michelosen’s 9-1 1963 squad.
Forgive me if I remain skeptical that we are going to snag a “Great Coach” to take us to the promised land anytime soon – at least take us there and leave us there as perennial top 10 team. Hell – let’s lower the bar a bit and make it even a constant Top 20 team.
We have a bit better past track record with that having made the Top 20 15 times in the last 61 years. But really, does anyone really think that 1) we are getting to the Top 10 any time soon and 2) If Narduzzi does accomplish that he will stick around when bigger programs start throwing many millions per year to get him to leave. Because that will happen. If anything the one thing we can say about Pitt Head Coaches is that they either get itchy feet or get fired for cause after not too many years.
Here’s what we have in the longevity category as far as Pitt head coaches go:
Michelosen was here for 11 years but he sucked. At 56-49 -7 he was finally fired.
Walt Harris stayed a full eight years, won a shared Big East Title and was pushed out (fired) to Stanford as soon as they showed any interest in him what so ever – he wasn’t a valued commodity at the end of his tenure here even though he was winning games.
Other than those two no other Pitt HCs stayed for more than six years and only one stayed for a full six; that was homeboy Dave Wannstedt who couldn’t get us into the Top 10 either. His summit reached was in 2009 when we ended up #15 with a 10 win season.
So how sure we are that things are going to be different in the future? Pat Narduzzi is off to a good start having a record of 16-10 so far. But I don’t see us getting into the Top 10 with him unless his recruiting, and his football coaching, take great leaps forward soon. I’ll give us getting to the Top 25 a few times and maybe he’ll replicate DW and get up to #15 once or twice. Hey, at Pitt that is successful as hell and if it happens I’ll be the first to congratulate him!
But where and when is the “Great Coach” going to get here and why would he come here to this particular program? Or is he here and hasn’t hit his full stride yet? Is Narduzzi the coach to get us to the higher levels year-in and year-out?
Let’s hear our readers’ views on this…