Pitt's football season is only a few weeks away. The Panthers have had two solid eight-win seasons under head coach Pat Narduzzi and we're finally moving into a phase where he's going to have a good chunk of his own players on the roster.
Expectations seem pretty low this year as a whole. The schedule is strong with non-conference games against ranked Penn State and Oklahoma State teams. Pitt is also dealing with some suspensions, too. As if all of that wasn't enough, the Panthers are trying to replace five NFL Draft picks and breaking in a new quarterback.
From a home field standpoint, I'm also not sure how exciting the schedule is. Oklahoma State is a draw but there's no real rivalry there. Miami and North Carolina, two of the better teams on it, are at the very end. If Pitt is struggling by then, there won't be much luster on those games. Youngstown State and Rice are fillers and North Carolina State and Virginia don't do much as far as drawing fans, either. Most of that isn't really Pitt's fault but, without going on a tangent, it's why I said back when they signed the Oklahoma State series that West Virginia made more sense. Can you imagine both West Virginia and Penn State on the schedule this year? A home game against the Mountaineers would be a much bigger draw.
2018 seems like the year for more optimism, but what say you about 2017? I think we're all excited to some degree about football season but are the expectations/off-field issues/home schedule dampening your enthusiasm a bit?
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.