The clock just rolled past 1 a.m. and I can’t sleep, so I’ve cracked another Guinness (rocket widget!) and started typing. After all, in seven hours the kids are going to be crying and I’ve promised my wife I’ll do that thing tomorow…
Pitt thoroughly embarrassed themselves for the better part of 58 minutes last night en-route to a Pat Narduzzi’s first-ever bowl victory, and the first Pitt Bowl win since 2013…which also came in Michigan, against a MAC opponent, at Ford Field by less than a touchdown. And despite nearly four quarters of garbage football, Pitt somehow managed to pull it together and win a game they seemed completely uninterested in winning. The offensive line started blocking. Kenny Pickett, as if by magic, developed a pocket presence. Wide receivers started making plays. Taysir Mack, after an horrible drop, made a touchdown catch that only one or two other Pitt wide receivers in history were capable of making. The defense started covering opposing receivers, and they even got a sack. Several defensive players resisted throwing punches during an end-of-game fracas.
And Pitt won by four points against a 6-6 MAC team that went 3-5 in conference and finished at the bottom of their division.
There are consequences, of course. I’d wager that Pat Narduzzi lost of lot of Pitt fans with this win (if Pitt POV comments are any proxy for the total fanbase…) And while his seat may not be hot as far as the Atheltic Department (read: Heather) is concerned, the fans are going to start voting with their wallets. Season ticket sales will be down next year. I’d be shocked if donations aren’t down too. The complete lack of motivation, lack of discipline, needless showboating and poor execution that Pitt demonstrated through the majority of the Quick Lane Bowl is to blame. Lets put the elite coaches aside, Does anyone think that a PJ Fleck-coached Minnesota team would have performed this way? How about a Matt Rhule-coached Baylor squad? (BTW a 6-6 Fleck beat a 7-5 Georgia Tech team by 24 points in last year’s Quick Lane Bowl. He went 10-2 at Minnesota this year and upset Penn State. Last year Pitt beat Georgia Tech by 5 (editors note I originally said we lost to them by 18 and this has been corrected. My apologies for the oversight. The point still remains.). I will stop short of calling for Narduzzi’s ouster, for now… but I will also say that until he proves otherwise, 8 wins is clearly his ceiling.
And so after a full season at the helm of this blog, a full season that started with optimism, and was tempered by a bad loss to Miami at home and then a terrible November, let me be crystal clear. Our expectations are higher than 8-5 with a bunch of ugly wins, Pat. Our expectations are higher than 8-5 with a bunch of ugly wins, Heather. Play smart, play hard, play disciplined and you will get no complaints if you lose to better teams, and probably very few complaints if you play well and catch a couple of bad breaks. Play dumb, play lazy and show a complete disregard for discipline and you’ll lose paying fans every time. That’s exactly what Pitt did tonight. That’s exactly what Pitt has done since early November. And that’s exactly what Pitt has done plenty of times throughout this season. Rightfully so, most fans aren’t standing for it.
Yes there was some good to come out of the Quick Lane Bowl. We didn’t completely humiliate ourselves on national TV. Pat got his bowl victory. Pitt got to eight wins. Vince Davis and Jared Wayne should gave us hope for the future (if only a glimmer). Kenny played well. Ffrench left it all on the field and had a career day. Mack played through injury and made a touchdown catch for the ages. Jaylen Twyman said he’s coming back next season (technically not related to the game but I thought I’d add it). But so much more was bad. Six players called for unsportsmanlike conduct on one play? SIX??? The constant chippiness? The defense the had absolutely no answer for a dual-threat quarterback that was clearly the main weapon the team? Getting shredded by a sophomore walk-on wide receiver? Heather is talking continuity, and that’s all well and good, but if continuity doesn’t bring us a team that looks like a FBS team, and delivers 10 wins next season (and it probably won’t), then things are going to get ugly. You heard it here first.
So have it POVerts… I’ve put some thought starters up for you. What are your goods, bad and ugly?