I can always get a pretty decent idea of how the Pitt football season will go. If I turn on the radio, say, mid-way through the 3rd quarter of the season opener and I hear play-by-play man Billy Hillgrove getting all excited about a score that put the Panthers up by two scores over (insert cream puff here), I know that it's probably going to be a long year for Pitt football fans. Last season, it was a 35-16 win over Buffalo in week one. That might seem like the appropriate victory over a respectable cream puff, but I recall the Panthers having to pull away at the end just to achieve that margin of victory. It was even worse a week later, when Pitt barely squeaked by Maine, 35-29. As it turned out, the underwhelming first two weeks were an accurate barometer, as the Panthers eventually finished the year with a 6-6 record and a second straight trip to the BBVA Compass Bowl.
Before that game even took place, Todd "High Octane" Graham decided to high-tail it out of town after one year and took the head coaching job in Arizona St.
Paul Chryst was subsequently hired, and that marked the fourth head coaching change in a matter of a year.
New coach or not, Pitt was picked to finish fifth in the never too impressive Big East Conference, and if Saturday's season opening game against Division I-AA Youngstown St. that saw the Panthers get absolutely dominated in a 31-17 loss is any indication, I think that fifth place predication might be shooting a bit too high.
I realize that six Panther players were suspended before the game, but that shouldn't have been enough for a team like the Penguins to so thoroughly thrash a Division I school on its home turf.
I wouldn't be surprised if Pitt loses nine or 10 games at this point. And could you blame the Pitt players for not knowing what's up and what direction they're headed in? After building a bit of a recruiting base under Dave Wannstedt, they fire him near the end of the 2010 season and bring in Mike Haywood, who subsequently gets arrested for a domestic dispute. Haywood is quickly gone, and Todd Graham, and all his talk of commitment and higher standards is brought in. He lasts one year before leaving for "greener pastures," and Chryst is left to clean up the huge mess.
When you're asking a team full of teenagers and early 20somethings to be accountable, you damn well better give them a decent foundation to stand on. The Pitt administration hasn't done that in a very long time.
Anyway, as my title suggests, I'm not that into the Panthers yet this year. Maybe I just knew it wasn't going to be a great year. Or maybe it's because I still have Bucco fever, even though the fever might have broken with the team's 10-20 slide over the past 30 games.
Maybe it's because I have basic cable, and it's pretty damn hard to find a college football game on anything other than the World Wide Leader these days.
Maybe it's just because.
Anyway, I hope to get back into college football soon enough. It's too awesome for me to stay away for long.