I was in Erie all day yesterday visiting family and with no access to radio, I was reduced to Twitter and text updates from friends who were at the game. Sadly, a bunch of us all agreed on the same notion - we weren't really surprised. Very disappointed as the realization sunk in that this could be a long year, but not necessarily surprised.
A qualifier for me, at least...
I think Chryst is the right hire for Pitt. He was around a very good Wisconsin program for a long time and was instrumental enough in building an offense there that could very well be built here.
Coming home last night and listening to the post-game show, subsequent reactions and then reading the posts over at sites like PittBlather.com, I was happy to see the "Fire Chryst" crap kept to a minimum. Even if this season turns out to be a disaster, making this five coaches in four seasons serves only to heap more ridicule on this program. Chryst was brought to stabilize the program after two-plus years of turmoil. It's more about the long-term than it is this final year in the Big East (and Mr. Carparelli has plenty there to worry about there without taking cheap shots at Syracuse and Pitt via Twitter).
But yesterday showcases the unique element of college football. There is no preseason. There’s no way to measure yourself against someone else until you start playing games that count immediately.
We take what we can glean from a glorified scrimmage played in the spring, preseason magazines and some camp reports from beat writers (who are not seeing this roster hit players from another roster). We fill in gaps on our own, using best guesses from arbitrary things like “star rankings” and “returning starters” and kind of guess where the team is going to be.
But until that first game, we have absolutely no idea what to really expect. We have no idea how these kids will really fit into the system, or in this case with a new coach, what the system will even look like. And as we’ve seen, this holds true even when coaches and players ARE familiar (see the Bowling Green loss a few years back under Wanny).
So I think when we see a game like this, it may help hammer home some very ugly potential realities about this team. Namely, this is may very well be what the culmination of “three coaches in two years” looks like.
That’s not necessarily Chryst’s fault, as he can’t help what happened with Wannstedt, Haywood and Graham.
And that’s not necessarily the players’ fault, either. This is a roster made up of kids who signed on between 2008 and 2010, and couldn't have possibly anticipated what would transpire with the coaching staff.
MOST of these players were too young to contribute to a 2010 team that underachieved, costing that head coach his job as he lost control of the program. MOST of these players that joined or stuck by the program in 2011 put their faith and football futures in the hands of a man who turned out to be the personification of the worst parts of this “industry”.
And most of those players who played in this game today didn’t have the luxury of the same “lateral” transfer that Graham exploited. So they stuck by at this level, trying to make it work under a third coach, in most cases, the second of which did not recruit them.
None of this excuses a loss by two TD's at home to Youngstown State. There's no way that should happen...not with the pedigree of players that Pitt does have on its roster.
But I wonder how much of this was the manifestation of two years of lost recruiting, stunted development of kids in the program, etc.