The closer we get to the football season starting (and yeah, we've still got quite a while to go), the more preseason rankings will find their way into the news. Athlon is in the midst of their preseason rankings and slotted the Panthers at No. 52.
That's not that crazy ... in fact, it's about where I'd list the team as well. Sure, we all hope they do better, but there are lots of things working against them. The team is breaking in a new quarterback and no matter how much you may dislike Tino Sunseri, there's going to be an adjustment period there. Pitt is a team that, by all indications, will rely heavily on the run ... but they lost their projected starter there, Rushel Shell. There have been several other transfers and a few areas like running back and defensive line are pretty thin. There's also been the off-field stuff, which has to be a distraction.
And don't forget, Pitt's head coach is only in his second season on the job.
The team has some weapons, but it's hard to argue with the Athlon projection until we see how this team comes together.