On the field over the past decade, Pitt has seen its share of ups and downs. An SB Nation study looking at how teams have performed in terms of football (not overall athletic department) revenue earned suggests they have won about as much as should be reasonably expected.
In this poll, the Panthers' Massey poll index rating (a rating based on numerous polls and rankings) over the past decade (2006-2015) is about No. 47. In terms of football revenue, the Panthers were right around No. 47 as well. Pitt, Clemson, Wake Forest, and Troy were the ones that had the closest ranking/revenue correlations.
In other words, they were decidedly average. Seems like we've heard that before.
By the way, SB Nation also ran a previous study looking at revenue spent. Pitt was in the underperforming area there.
Plenty of big name programs performed significantly worse than the amount of revenue they've earned. Some of those include Penn State, Notre Dame, Texas, Auburn, Tennessee, and many more. The worst case was easily Colorado, which ranked around 37th in revenue but had a Massey index number of around 85th.
Boise State topped the list in terms of efficiency, ranking only around 68th in terms of revenue but a 20.6 Massey number and other non Power 5 teams such as BYU, Houston, Cincinnati, etc. Also outpacing themselves was West Virginia, who had those years of success while in the low-revenue Big East. If you looked at the Mountaineers since joining the Big 12, their efficiency would be far worse.
As noted in the poll, the ones that look the worst here are the Power 5 teams that are bottom feeders but rake in a ton of money from TV deals - hence Colorado.