Bulls, Bears & Panthers is a weekly column that brings the buzz of Wall Street to Forbes and Fifth. Well...minus the suspenders. In all seriousness, this is our weekly analysis of Pitt football’s stock. Each week during the season, I take a look back at the Panthers’ most recent game and select a Bull (a player, coach etc. which is upward trending) and a Bear (a player, coach etc. which is downward trending). Believe me, this is always lots of fun because just like in the stock market, in college football, you never quite know what a new day will bring.
Just like in finance, in college football - and especially with Pitt, it seems - you can never predict the future. Pitt at Navy looked like an almost guaranteed win for the Panthers. A 4-2 ACC program going up against a service academy should be a no brainer, right? Wrong. Pitt fell flat against the Midshipmen and stumbled to a horrendous loss, sending the team's stock into a tailspin. This week's bull and bear (there could be many) are as follows:
Bull (upward trending): Devin Street
Devin Street's performance was about the only highlight for me as a fan in the stands. Street finished with nine catches for 96 yards plus a touchdown and a two-point conversion to become Pitt's all-time receptions leader. He now has 186 catches for his career and sits at third on the Panthers' career receiving yards list.
Major kudos to Street. I first saw how athletic he was back in December of 2008 when he beat my high school in the Quad-A Pennsylvania state championship game. I can't say I was impressed with him during his first several years at Pitt when he appeared lanky and lazy, but last year Street had a terrific breakout campaign and finally lived up to his "deep-threat" potential. Now this year, Street has emerged as one of the team leaders and continues to put up solid numbers.
Good for him. I've really grown to like him, and after this game, his place in Pitt history is secure.
Bear (downward trending): Paul Chryst
Let me preface this with a reiteration: PAUL CHRYST IS NOT GOING TO BE FIRED NOR SHOULD HE BE. Okay, now that's out of the way.
But, Saturday's pathetic loss to Navy was the type of game that starts to raise some serious questions. My questions center around whether Chryst is appropriately growing into his role as head coach. We all knew that we would probably experience some growing pains as he learned how to run a program for the first time, but the real question was how long that maturation process would take.
Well, after Saturday's loss - and really this whole season - it seems to be taking slower than we'd like. I'm not saying that Chryst can't learn and develop into a successful head coach. That may happen still, given that he's only been on the job for about a year and a half. However, up until this point, I haven't seen many indications that he's progressing quickly enough in the right direction. Not using those timeouts against Navy in the fourth quarter as they were driving down the field? Benching James Conner, the team's best running back, and sticking with that call when it was clear Isaac Bennett wasn't getting the job done? The disastrous defensive coordinator situation? I mean really, the list could go on and on.
Again, this isn't meant to be a speech up on the bully pulpit about why Chryst should be fired. I like him a lot, not to mention that would probably be the most disastrous thing possible for the program. But, Pitt's embarrassing loss against Navy really underscored how much work he still has to do. For this week, his stock is down.