Is the Michael Haywood/Todd Graham era a reason for Pitt not faring well in preseason projections? (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Since last season ended, I've been posting as many preseason football projections as I can when it comes to the Big East. It's early, yes, but if you're not excited about Pitt's potential ability to win the conference, I don't know what to tell you.
The Panthers are in a prime position to win a weak Big East, but aren't being picked by anybody to do so. Not only that, but Pitt often is slotted near the middle of the pack. Despite having what could be the best offensive weapon in the conference, a defense that is always pretty strong, and both of their top wide receivers back, why exactly is Pitt not expected to do all that much?
The answer is, of course, multifaceted.
There's Tino Sunseri - you know, the human pinata. After the 2011 he had, it's hard for outsiders to think that 2012 will be any different. Then, there's playing a practically new defensive line. Sack monster Aaron Donald returns, but Pitt is starting a lot of new guys on the line. Ray Graham is also coming off a season-ending injury and there are questions if he'll be ready.
I'll actually have more on all these things later this week, but there's another reason Pitt isn't getting any respect in my eyes.Think outside of Pitt for just a second - if you weren't a Pitt fan, what's the first thing you think of when it comes to the Panthers? Coaching turmoil, right?
I'm completely convinced Pitt is being written off because of the Mike Haywood era and ensuing Todd Graham fiasco. Lost in all of the coaching changes is that Pitt has some real talent on both sides of the ball. Having yet another head coach at the helm (let alone, one that's a first-year coach) is going to be a challenge, obviously, but the Panthers are returning to something with which they're familiar.
Now, I'm not saying I'm ready to anoint the Panthers as the Big East favorites. But in such a league with no strong team, why couldn't Pitt win it?