Stumbled upon this the other day at ESPN.com - a look at future ACC power rankings. Pitt ranked ninth in the conversation out of 14 ACC teams, including Louisville.
To be fair, it's meant as a fluff post - it's not an in-depth look at each team. Recruiting is the primary focus and the rankings are looking at where teams will be three years out. So I've got a hard time bashing the good folks over there.
Frankly, I don't think the Pitt outlook is that far off if you base it on how the program has fared the last couple of seasons. But a closer look reveals that Pitt should be better than that.
Based on the recruiting, which was ESPN's point of focus, Pitt has done fairly well the last two years. The Panthers finished with the 35th best class overall, which was good enough for sixth out of future ACC teams this year according to Rivals. In 2012, they were 47th overall and would have been seventh in the new ACC. Pitt has had some losses since those classes, obviously, but Chryst has recruited fairly well so far at Pitt and had to land those players in the first place. So nothing there would indicate a ninth place finish in the conference.
Keep in mind, that first class was also constructed in the midst of a ton of turmoil with the coaching carousel and recent off-field problems. Chryst salvaged that first class practically out of nothing. The one this year that nearly cracked the top 25 was built on the heels of a 6-7 season. Imagine what Pitt can do with bigger opponents to sell, larger crowds (which should be the case this year) and more optimism around the program.
As I just wrote about this week, 2015 is a great year to look forward to. If the Panthers hold onto all of that young talent on offense, I just don't see any way that they finish ninth in the ACC in three years. By that point, the Panthers should have a load of talented upperclassmen leading the way and Chryst, assuming he sticks around, would be an experienced coach by that time.
Also, while the team has been down the past two years, there's really nowhere to go from here but up. With a difficult schedule this year, five wins isn't out of the realm of possibility. But the team is in a rebuilding mode and I'd be utterly surprised if the Panthers were in the same position three years from now.