The Pittsburgh Panthers have had a lot of success in South Bend, Indiana in recent years, mostly as a result of exciting overtime victories over the Fightin' Irish in front of Touchdown Jesus.
It looked like Pitt would have that same exciting result Saturday night when, after blowing a 20-6 second half lead, they had a chance to win the game in the second overtime with a 33 yard field goal by Kevin Harper. Unfortunately, despite making a field goal from 41 yards out in the first overtime, Harper's kick sailed just wide-right, and the Irish survived and would go on to win, 29-26, on a touchdown in the third OT.
Because Notre Dame was ranked third at game-time, you might say Pitt's loss was a character builder for a team playing under its fourth head coach and in its third different system since December of 2010. However, we Pitt fans know better. Paul Chryst might bring an impressive resume and an understated determination to the job, but he's in for the fight of his life if he's going to try to overcome the stigma that this football program has spent the past three decades cementing.
The concrete has been drying for years, and it's reinforced with each close, devastating loss like the one on Saturday, just like it was in '09, when Brian Kelly's Cincinnati Bearcats came to Heinz Field and walked away with the Big East title and a BCS berth after the Panthers held a three touchdown lead.
It was reinforced a season ago, when the Panthers blew a 17-point second half lead at Iowa.
It's no coincidence that Pitt has lost three games or more each season since 1981, and I doubt things will change anytime soon.
To quote a tired cliche: "It is what it is."
To paraphrase basketball coach, Rick Pitino: "Dan Marino isn't coming through that door; Tony Dorsett isn't coming through that door; Hugh Green isn't coming through that door.
Larry Fitzgerald and Shady McCoy might, but as has been proven in the past, they probably won't be able to help much.
I hope Chryst is finally the man to bring it all together, but I'm not holding my breath.
Character builder in South Bend? Nah, just Pitt being Pitt.