Pitt Debacle Sets Football Back 50 Years


The city of Pittsburgh is known for many things. Pierogies and Iron City Beer. The Three Rivers and steel mills. Being named both Friendliest City and City of Champions. And it’s quickly gaining another reputation.

Home to the worst offensive coordinators in all of football.

Members of Steeler Nation are already familiar with the various crimes against offensive football committed by Bruce Arians. His schemes and game plans are positively Wile E. Coyote-like in their elaborate design and penchant for failure. But there’s another inept playcaller roaming the sidelines in Pittsburgh. His name is Matt Cavanaugh and he’s OC for the University of Pittsburgh.

Perhaps you had nothing better to do but tune into the Sun Bowl on New Year’s Eve. If you did, what you witnessed was football being set back roughly fifty years. That’s not a joke. The last time a game ended with a score of 3-0 was approximately fifty years ago in a game which may or may not have been coached by Pop Warner.

The point is it was an embarrassing performance which disgraced the team, the university, and the city of Pittsburgh. I’ve been hard on head coach Dave Wannstedt on these pages before but this game made me realize what it must feel like to be a Raider fan. The game plan was slightly less crazy than pissing in the wind, the adjustments were non-existent, and smart coaching decisions were totally absent. In short, I’d like to know what Wannstache was doing on the sideline because it doesn’t appear he was watching the game.

In a game plan which was about as useful as a shoddy bomb casing filled with used pinball machine parts, the Panthers decided to run superstar RB Shady McCoy left, then right, then left again, then up the middle for good measure. Unfortunately, Oregon State was aware of this ingenious strategy and stacked the line to stop him. Here is where it gets good. Instead of, oh, throwing some short passes and/or screens to loosen things up, Cavanaugh kept dialing up long bomb after long bomb. Great idea if you have a strapping rifle-armed gunslinger under center…a slight problem when you have noodle-armed Bill Stull and a howling wind.

No offense to Stull because I’m sure he tried his best but when you go 7 for 24 in a bowl game, you have no business starting. Pittsburgh is home to many great quarterbacks and I can’t figure out why Pitt hasn’t been able to find a decent one since Dan Marino back in 1982. Seriously, Rod Rutherford? Tyler Palko? Dirty Pete Gonzalez?

Two seasons ago, I remember counting not one not two but THREE QBs starting for NFL teams who went to high school in the Pittsburgh area. This season there’s rookie sensation Joe Flacco, who transferred out of Pitt due to recruiting politics. Local legend Terrell Pryor didn’t even CONSIDER Pitt which is embarrassing when you learn his final choices came down to Ohio State and Penn State. How inept is Wannstache that he can’t out-recruit a 98 year old man?  I mean, if he’s not a great recruiter and we’ve seen he’s not a brilliant game strategist, why exactly did they hire him?

I can’t understand why, with all the attention given to high school football and Friday Night Lights around here, Pitt year in and year out suffers from mediocre to downright rotten QB play. Last year when Stull was hurt, two highly touted recruits got a chance to play and both proceeded to blow. Of course the freshman, Pat Bostick, did play well in limited work this year so maybe there’s some hope on the horizon. The fact Wannstedt didn’t put him in the game at the beginning of the second half was both an insult to him and to any fan who paid hard earned money to travel to Arizona only to see the Stache make zero effort to win the game.

Unless you count a 58 yard FG attempt an honest attempt at victory.

So ends another college football season around these parts. Pitt finishes with 9 wins which means they fell short of the double digit plateau yet again. In fact, the last time they had 10 wins was… 1982! Funny how that works, huh?