Earlier today, Chris wrote a well-timed article about expectations at Pitt perhaps being too high whenever the next head coach would be hired.
I kind of dismissed it since I figured most fans would be ready to give new head coach Pat Narduzzi some time to adjust. Then, I promptly received this tweet at the site's account in response to it:
@PittPantherBlog not sure where u have bar set but no reason Pitt should not be in ACC champ game next yr and win at least 10
— Jax tellar (@TellarJax) December 23, 2014
That's not to call out this specific person - heck, I get these types of things all the time and this was just the most recent. Plus, I'm sure a few readers may even feel the same way. But it underscores a little about what Chris was talking about earlier.
Fans want to win now.
While I'm not yet ready to declare a 10-win season for a team with a new coach, fairly inexperienced quarterback, and below average defense, it's fair to point out one thing - this is not a complete rebuild of the program.
Don't get me wrong. I opined earlier (to which many disagreed) that Paul Chryst had not been a success at Pitt. For the record, I used the word 'failure', but if you don't succeed, you fail. Trust me, after three straight 6-6 years, I'm not budging from that assertion and I still maintain that simply putting the program in a slightly better place is not success. Not real success, anyway. Success for Pitt would have been to compete for conference titles and he didn't reach that goal - not by a long shot. That said, it's worth saying that the program is in a slightly better place for several reasons and Narduzzi should benefit from this.
For one thing, Pitt has more financial resources with revenue from the ACC. If Pitt is serious about increasing the scope of the football program, he'll have more money for assistants and the facilities (such as an expanded weight room) will be improved. And, heck, there should be more money for him if he does an adequate job.
Then there's the team. While the defense still needs much improvement, the offense is at least poised for a big season. Returning next year is ACC Offensive Player of the Year, James Conner. There's also 1,100-yard receiver Tyler Boyd. And at quarterback, Narduzzi should reap some benefits, too, in that Chad Voytik at least has a year of experience under his belt. Just as important as any of that, the offensive line is deep and talented with Chryst stockpiling players there the minute he stepped on campus.
Pitt won't be competing for national titles off the bat but there are pieces in place there.
Narduzzi also has the benefit of a Chancellor who seems, on the surface, anyway, to want to take more of an active role with the football program. Not that I envision Chancellor Gallagher coming to practices and playing Jerry Jones or anything crazy like that, but he has more of an interest than Mark Nordenberg did, who, seemed to be pretty hands off. Gallagher's interest was made pretty clear with the recent parting of ways from former athletic director Steve Pederson, and his desire to make athletics somewhat of a priority will only help Narduzzi.
Finally, Narduzzi isn't coming into the heaping pile of chaos that Chryst did. When Chryst arrived, Graham had left behind players that, for the past year, were taught a completely new system. Chryst, a pro style guy, had to revert back to what Dave Wannstedt had in place. And, while he was working with most of those types of players (recruited under Wannstedt), there was obviously a lot of not only rebuilding the pro style system, but doing it Chryst's way. Things may change a little on offense and defense, but it won't be the drastic switch that occurred for players when Chryst came in. That should equal less of a learning curve.
Again, none of this is to suggest that Pitt is ready to compete for national titles or even ACC titles right now. And as I stated numerous times about Chryst, he's a first time head coach - there are going to be learning moments for him. But, all things considered, Narduzzi seems to have a leg up on things as he takes over for Chryst.
- Unofficially Official: Pitt set to hire Pat Narduzzi as head coach
- Pitt Coaching Candidates: Will immediate expectations be too high with the next Pitt coaching hire?
- Pitt Coaching Candidates: Pat Narduzzi out of mix at Colorado State, could join Pitt per Pat Forde
- Dave Wannstedt runs over Steve Pederson one more time ... for kicks, you know.
- Pitt Coaching Search: What does the silence mean?