Pitt has won two games in a row heading into a bye week. Things are looking up. So it's time for some hypothetical questions. It's time to get serious. It's time we look into the future. All the way into the year...2000. Sorry, I've been watching old clips of Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Let's look into the year 2017 instead.
2017. It seems like a long way from now. But let's just imagine...
After beating Penn State the previous year and finishing second in the ACC Coastal, expectations are high for the 2017 version of the Panthers. People are flocking to the games. There is a buzz around the program. Everyone is tweeting friends from their new iPhone 12's. Neil Diamond will perform after the home opener (with SkyBlast to follow, naturally). Heinz Field is packed to the gills with anxious students and babyboomers hoping to get a glimpse of Brooklyn's cowboy. Pitt script has been reintroduced as the primary uniform choice thanks to the efforts of a visionary blogger. Plans for an on-campus stadium are in the works. All is well in Panther land...
Okay, so not exactly. That all seems too perfect to actually describe Pitt's football program five years from. However, where should we expect the Panthers to be in the not so distant future? What are reasonable expectations going into ACC competition? Will a coach stick around long enough to bring some stability to the program?
First of all, I think the Panthers are well-suited for the transition to the ACC. While I would like to have an experienced coach with previous success in the Big East leading us into a new conference, I think Paul Chryst is in a position conducive of success, rather than failure. Pitt, while still in the Big East and not even a dominant program, was able to recruit some top-notch talent this past decade. That should not change when the team moves to the ACC. Talent should not be a problem for Pitt. However, competition on the field might be a difficult adjustment.
While Big East football may not be as bad as some make it out to be, let's face it, it's not the highest quality of football. And while the ACC is not the SEC, it's a much better football brand, top to bottom, than the Big East. Pitt's coaches are going to have to be prepared every week. Each week the competition will be just a little more competitive. The Panthers may take their lumps the first few seasons, but after the initial adjustment period, I see Pitt settling in nicely to the ACC's Coastal division.
Five years from now, I'd like to hope that Pitt will have played in at least one ACC Championship game. Winning the ACC isn't impossible. Although winning the Big East sure seemed so. I would also like to hope that Paul Chryst is still coaching the Panthers. If he's still the coach, it means he's doing something right. If not, well he's either gotten a better offer (and succeeded at Pitt), or things went south.
So, now it's up to you. I want to hear from you, Panther fan. What do you expect out of Pitt in the next half decade? Will Pitt struggle transitioning to the ACC? Will Paul Chryst provide some stability to the program? Where should our realistic expectations be for the Panthers? What shade of blue and gold will the Panthers be wearing? All important questions. And I want to hear from you in the comments below.