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ESPN ranks Pitt football job near bottom of the conference

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Once upon a time, we used to break down every single list that pertained to Pitt sports in any way.known to man - particularly in the offseason. I haven't been doing as many of those lately since we've been doing more with recruiting, non-revenue sports, etc., but every now and then, I find one that piques my interest a little.

As a reader pointed out in the monthly open thread, ESPN listed the Pitt job as one of the worst in the ACC. More specifically, they rated tenth out of the 14 programs. That seems a little off.

To be fair, ESPN fully realizes the subjectivity of these sorts of rankings, as they stated in explaining the methodology a little. Still, I'm not sure Pitt belongs quite so close to the bottom.

In case you're wonder, the selection criteria was pretty clearly laid out (though, how weighted certain categories were was not stated).

The list includes factors such as location, administrative stability, support from those bosses, facilities, recruiting base, path to conference titles/playoff, sense of tradition, fervor of fan base, too much fervor from a fan base, etc.

Judging Pitt in many of those things makes it even harder to see them finishing so low, in my opinion. Taking a look at each, in fact, brings me to an entirely different conclusion.

Location - No, Pittsburgh isn't a warm-weather destination like Florida. But it is a city with more than enough to do, professional sports teams, and has been voted the most livable city in the U.S. Sure, some things such as quality of elementary schools might not mean much to college students, but Pittsburgh offers so much with world class entertainment, medical facilities, pro sports, and so much more.

Administrative Stability/Support - Let's be real - this has been kind of a joke with all of the coaching issues the program has had. But this isn't a ranking from 2013. Pitt is under new leadership with a committed chancellor and a soon-to-be brand new athletic director. The chancellor has already pledged more money for assistants and seem to want to give everything a head coach needs to succeed. Actions mean more than words, but there's no reason not to think the support and stability at the top in the future will be anything but rock solid.

Facilities - ESPN has dinged Pitt in the past for not having an on-campus stadium and they made it clear that they believe it hurts the program since it was the very first thing they mentioned in the Panthers' blurb. But if Pitt is discredited for not having an on-campus stadium, they should also get credit for playing in an NFL stadium, which is attractive to many recruits. Beyond that, the Panthers share a separate training facility with the Pittsburgh Steelers - something players have gushed about in the past. Lastly, as Steve Pederson said last May, Pitt is using some of its ACC money to again improve its football facilities to make them even more attractive by expanding the weight room. Not being on campus may hurt, but the the Panthers aren't exactly playing and practicing in dumps. In fact, my guess is that judging the quality of the facilities, Pitt's stand up incredibly well to most schools utilizing only on-campus facilities.

Recruiting Base - This is again another area where Pitt should rank highly. Western Pennsylvania may not be exactly what it has been in the past, but as plenty of recent Pitt stars such as Jonathan Baldwin, Darrelle Revis, Aaron Donald, and others have proven, there is a load of talent here. When you throw in nearby Ohio, there is just a lot of opportunity around for the right coach.

Path to Conference Title/Playoff - He-lloo ... the ACC Coastal is tailor-made for a program like Pitt. Sure Miami and Virginia Tech are worthy programs and others such as Duke, Georgia Tech, and North Carolina all have had some degree of success. But there's not one program that's seen as utterly dominant and the Division is mostly wide open. Obviously, defeating the Atlantic winner in a championship isn't going to be any small feat, but there is a great chance to get to the title game for a program that isn't falling flat on its face.

Sense of Tradition - Pop Warner, Jock Sutherland, Marshall Goldberg, Mike Ditka, Tony Dorsett, Mark May, Bill Fralic, Dan Marino, Hugh Green, Rickey Jackson, Todd Graham, Russ Grimm, Curtis Martin, Antonio Bryant, Larry Fitzgerald, Darrelle Revis, Lesean McCoy, Aaron Donald, Nine National Championships. You were saying?

Fervor of Fan Base - Well ... okay, fine. In all seriousness, Pitt's fan base is a lot like others. Win, and people will show up. Lose and, well, they won't. Sure the third quarter exodus by many has become the rule and not the exception, but if you think back to even five years ago when Pitt was winning more games and in the rankings, fans were showing up. Pitt sold out season tickets not all that long ago

Maybe it's just me, but if you add all of these things up, it just doesn't scream below-average job. The on-field success hasn't been there and I think perception in that respect kept the Panthers low on the totem pole. Pitt is a worse job based on these criteria than North Carolina State? Than Virginia? Than even Georgia Tech and North Carolina?

That's simply hard to believe.

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