Pitt's NFL Impact

ESPN.com recently had a bracket to determine a 'champion' for the NCAA school best at getting quality players to the NFL. Pitt not only made the list of 16, but got into the Final Four.

Apparently, Mark Schlabach thought that Pitt was a bit overrated in this field:
Based on recent history, it’s a surprise the Panthers are still standing.

Next to college football’s teams of the 1980s (Miami), 1990s (FSU) and 2000s (USC), the Panthers stick out as much as Lane Kiffin sitting at a table of Hall of Fame coaches.

But here’s a brief history lesson to bring you up to speed on Pittsburgh football:

In the early 1980s, there probably wasn’t a better NFL factory than the Steel City’s university. Quarterback Dan Marino played there, along with fellow Pro Football Hall of Famers Russ Grimm and Rickey Jackson.

Who can forget Pitt’s stellar offensive linemen like Mark May, Jimbo Covert, Ruben Brown and Bill Fralic or its menacing defensive linemen such as Hugh Green, Chris Doleman and Sean Gilbert? Former NFL running backs Curtis Martin and Craig "Iron Head" Heyward played for the Panthers. More recently, Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald and cornerback Darrelle Revis starred at Pitt.

But if the survey were based on the last 10 to 15 years -- instead of the last three decades -- the Panthers wouldn’t have a seat at the front table.
Um, maybe so. However, the survey was based on the past 30 years, so that's kind of a silly point. Mr. Schlabach, normally a pretty bright guy, will play the role of town idiot today.

Let's take a look at Pitt's past 15 years since that's what Schlabach seems to take exception with.

- Curtis Martin was an All-Pro and with 14,000+ yards, will be a Hall of Famer.

- Larry Fitzgerald is a good pick for best receiver in the game right now and by all indications, should be a Hall of Famer assuming he stays healthy.

- Ruben Brown is a nine-time Pro Bowler and one of the best offensive linemen in the 90s. Fringe Hall of Fame type player.

- Darrelle Revis is young, but regarded by many as the best cover corner in the NFL today. He has already been an All-Pro and Pro Bowler. Way too young to declare him a Hall of Famer, but being the best in your position in only your third season is a nice way to start.

- Andy Lee is also young, but an All-Pro punter and two-time Pro Bowler already.

- Kevan Barlow was a 1,000 yard rusher.

- Antonio Bryant was a 1,000 yard receiver.

- Recent high-round draft picks are already Lesean McCoy and Jeff Otah should be very good players in the years to come.

- Plus some draft boards are projecting 2-4 FIRST ROUND picks for Pitt next year alone. The future is bright for the school.

- In addition, Pitt has had numerous very productive NFL players in recent memory such as H.B. Blades, Gerald Hayes, Clint Session, Hank Poteat, Torrie Cox, Lousaka Polite, and Shawntae Spencer. I would expect that at least some of those guys will get to the Pro Bowl during their career.

- Then you've got guys like Kris Wilson, Anthony Dorsett, Jr., Nick Goings, and Tom Tumulty that have had fairly long careers including playing as starters for at least a full season.

And if you even just go back to 1990, you see that Pitt had eight guys with careers of ten years of more. Pro Bowlers Sean Gilbert, Bill Maas, and Jeff Christy along with other good players such as Tony Siragusa.

That's not even counting guys with nice careers like Keith Hamilton and Alex Van Pelt.

I think Schlabach is way off base in saying that Pitt has no business in this argument. There may be a few schools that have been better, but to say Pitt sticks out like a sore thumb is just foolish. This is a perfect example of someone looking at a team like Pitt who hasn't competed for a National Championship in recent memory and somehow extrapolating that and concluding that the school couldn't possibly be producing quality NFL talent.

I'd be interested to know how many other schools can boast not only the amount of flat out stars, but also the type of quality depth throughout.

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