A commenter asked me a question yesterday that was basically “Reed – if you were the Athletic Director what would you do to help the football team?”
Well, since I have been following Pitt football for a very long time and have been writing about it for years also you’d think I’d have some opinions on this subject… and I do. My first official statement as a new AD would be this:
“It is important for every Pitt fan to know and understand that the intent and business of the University and the Athletic Department is that the football program be self-sufficient in financial terms”
That is the at the center of almost every fan’s complaints about the state of Pitt football today. If you don’t understand that premise then you can’t understand the true state of Pitt football. And that isn’t unusual in Division 1 schools either; it is more the norm than a deviation actually.
Look – Pitt has the 29th largest endowment fund in the U.S at $3.52 Billion dollars and none of it will ever go towards athletics and it shouldn’t.. That says something right there about where priorities lay…
First let’s go over the major complaints and/or reasons Pitt fans have as to why Pitt football is the way it is. Which begs the question what exactly what is Pitt football’s state right now; was in the in the modern past and will be in the near future?
We know about the past. With a two-year exception over 2008 – ’09 when Dave Wannstedt was the head coach and had a nine then a 10 win season along with a singular 2002 nine win year under Walt Harris Pitt has topped off at eight wins. Put another way Pitt has won eight or more game only nine times in 30 years.
I read somewhere that Pitt was one of only three D1 colleges who had only one 10 win season in that time period… out of 129 D1 schools. That is low company folks.
On the flip side Pitt has won five or fewer games 10 times in that same time period. So you can see that over the last three decades Pitt has been an average football team with bouts of good play and bouts of poor play. Pretty much middling and mediocre ball when every season is averaged out. As discussed below over our last 34 years we have a 207/201 record or just above .500 ball – so we Pitt fans aren’t unfamiliar with averageness at all.
We just saw that writ large over Pat Narduzzi’s first three years when he had back to back eight win years followed by a drop to a five win season. Personally I believe that inherited players Narduzzi was handed had more to do with those eight win years than his coaching did. But that isn’t the first time that has happened in Pitt history. If Foge Fazio were alive he could talk about that.
So that is where we are today. Coming of a five win season and looking at a new 2018 season with a tough schedule and question marks throughout the team.
So let’s take a look at some of the reasons Pitt fans feel we are in this position of mediocrity.
- Not enough financial and administrative support from the Pitt administration for athletics and football in particular
- No on-campus stadium
- The drop in quality of WPIAL football quality
- We have too hard competition in our out-of-conference scheduling
- The Football Gods are out to get us
Since I’m now the AD and have been one long enough to see the inner-workings of the Pitt athletic department and to try to do something about, it here’s my answer to those.
First off Pitt fans really don’t get exactly how Pitt football fits into the University of Pittsburgh’s overall mission areas.
The University of Pittsburgh, founded in 1787, is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in the United States. As one of the nation’s distinguished comprehensive universities, the resources of the University constitute an invaluable asset for the intellectual, economic, and social enrichment of Pennsylvania, while the international prestige of the University enhances the image of Pennsylvania throughout the world.
The University’s mission is to:
- provide high-quality undergraduate programs in the arts and sciences and professional fields, with emphasis upon those of special benefit to the citizens of Pennsylvania;
- offer superior graduate programs in the arts and sciences and the professions that respond to the needs of Pennsylvania, as well as to the broader needs of the nation and the world;
- engage in research, artistic, and scholarly activities that advance learning through the extension of the frontiers of knowledge and creative endeavor;
- cooperate with industrial and governmental institutions to transfer knowledge in science, technology, and health care;
- offer continuing education programs adapted to the personal enrichment, professional upgrading, and career advancement interests and needs of adult Pennsylvanians; and
- make available to local communities and public agencies the expertise of the University in ways that are consistent with the primary teaching and research functions and contribute to social, intellectual, and economic development in the Commonwealth, the nation, and the world.
The trustees, faculty, staff, students, and administration of the University are dedicated to accomplishing this mission, to which they pledge their individual and collective efforts, determined that the University shall continue to be counted among the prominent institutions of higher education throughout the world.
Not a single word about athletics.