Earlier today, a bit of news broke in that cornerback Cullen Christian transferred from the football program. Christian, you might remember, came over from Michigan in the Todd Graham regime. He will sit out 2014 and then be eligible in 2015. That would appear to leave him with one year left, but a 24/7 writer says that he could have two.
So what's the main reason he's leaving? Check out that initial link from the site back in 2011. In it, he was quoted as saying having Tony Gibson here was a big deal. Gibson, who came from Michigan, is now at West Virginia and guess what? While we can't be sure that's the primary reason, Christian, in fact, cited it again:
Christian will be reunited with defensive backs coach Tony Gibson for a third time in his career. Gibson initially recruited him to Michigan. Gibson was his position coach at Pitt in 2011, the year he sat out. He's glad to have one more opportunity to play for a guy he's had a tremendous amount of respect for, his whole career.
"From the first time I met him, I knew he was a down to earth guy," Christian said. "He relates to his players, he gets it. The main thing, he puts everybody on the same level. Whether you're a senior or freshman, the guy who deserves to be on the field is on the field. At Michigan, he never laughed at me. He always kept it real. When I got to Michigan, everything was exactly what he said. Everything was good. I could pretty much trust him. That's a unique characteristic to have of a coach."
So yeah, he loves him some Tony Gibson (I mean, who doesn't?). And as he says elsewhere in the article, the 3-3-5 was a reason, too. That craziness they play with five defensive backs gives him a better chance to get on the field and to be honest, he's going to be more of an asset there.
And hey, what's leaving if you can't throw a shot or two on your way out, right?
Not surprisingly, once he received his release, Christian reached out to another Pitt to WVU transfer - Rushel Shell - and says he learned what makes the Mountaineers so different.
"He told me that West Virginia (has) that swagger," said Christian, a four-star recruit out of high school. "I'm not really used to that with the teams that I've been playing with."
I don't know too many 4-8 teams with swagger, but let's just go with it.
You never want to see guys go, but Christian wasn't a big contributor during his time at Pitt and that wasn't likely to change next year, either - even with the graduation of K'Waun Williams. At the time of his initial transfer, it looked like a huge pickup - four-star recruit rated the eighth best cornerback in his class? Yes, please. But he never became the player he was expected to be and just couldn't get on the field all that much, consistently beaten out by older and younger players.
Last year, he saw action in only two games - against Florida State and New Mexico, the first two games of the year. He registered only two tackles and wasn't to be seen or heard from again, really.
And oh yeah, one other nugget for you. Regardless of what we personally think about spring games, they definitely matter to recruits and players. Christian cited West Virginia's atmosphere at the game as another reason to leave the Panthers:
Attending the spring game was also a factor in choosing West Virginia.
"I'm trying to enjoy my time with this, trying to play in front of a big crowd, win some games," Christian said. "From what I've seen, when I went down for the spring game, the atmosphere was real different. I was expecting it be empty. I wasn't expecting it to be close to Michign (sp), but it was. Definitely, it's a good feeling."
Still not letting go of this, folks. Pitt needs to hold the game and find ways to get fans there.
Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.