So, USA Today is in the midst of its preseason. The Panthers came out at No. 59 on the list, placing them somewhere around the middle of Division I.
I've said for a while now that Pitt should exceed those types of expectations this year simply due to a weak schedule. But that's another discussion for another time and the ranking for this upcoming season is just ancillary to what I consider the important discussion point - the mediocrity of Pitt football as a whole.
The Panthers' preview (appropriately, I add parenthetically) begins as such:
Pittsburgh is the Atlantic Coast Conference's third bowl of porridge – not too good, not too bad, but just right. The Panthers don't threaten the league's top half; the Panthers aren't threatened by the league's bottom half. They're right in the middle, just good enough to remain in focus but not good enough to fulfill the annual promise of next-step existence.
Really, how can you argue with any of that?
Pitt has been 6-6 these past three years in the regular season and that's the definition of mediocrity. The Panthers have given fans some high points over those years - beating Notre Dame last season, knocking off Virginia Tech the year before, etc. But losses to teams like Navy, Youngstown State, Utah, and the like have made it difficult for the program to move forward.
Really, it's a good thing that Pitt grabs the occasional banner victory. Without them, the Panthers suddenly look a lot worse than mediocre. Winning the occasional big game is one of the few things that's kept the program somewhat in the spotlight over the past three years.
Paul Myerberg of USA Today who penned the article is quick to point out that Pitt's future has promise. 2015 remains my season for a true evaluation of the program's standing just because some of that young talent will have grown up a little more. But taking the step out of mediocrity begins this year when the team has a realistic shot to get to eight wins. The climb up from the .500 doldrums is going to be a slow one, but winning eight games this year will help Pitt to begin to shed that label of simply being an average program.
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