Wherever you come out on the Dave Wannstedt era, the fact that can't be denied is that the team took some big steps forward under his tenure. He led the team to its most success in 30 years, but last year, the Panthers took a step back.
But with new coach Paul Chryst in the fold, Athlon says Pitt's program is back on the rise.Here's what they had to say:
New coach Paul Chryst will bring some much-needed stability to Pittsburgh. The Panthers are a sleeper team to watch in the Big East title race for 2012, and this program will likely move to the ACC in time for the 2013 season. Although the Panthers have played in only one BCS bowl since 2000, there’s potential to win big and the move to a high-profiler conference should help.
Now, take that with a grain of salt, folks, since Athlon only declares on team (Connecticut) to be falling. That said, Chryst's hiring coupled with the ACC move puts the program on the rise to be sure. And after a disappointing year in 2011, almost anything would be an improvement.
On the recruiting side, even with all of the recent turmoil, the Panthers still kept Rushel Shell and Chad Voytik in the fold and has picked up some commitments from upper tier recruits for their 2013 class. How far Chryst takes the program is anybody's guess, but the program is definitely headed upwards for now. It's virtually impossible to feel worse about where Pitt football stands right now as opposed to the end of last year.