Here’s what Louisiana State Coach Ed Ogeron said about Matt Canada after he hired the former Pitt Offensive Coordinator away from the Panthers and onto his staff in Baton Rouge.
“He’s put up tremendous numbers. Everyone I called says he’s a great guy. Win first. The players love him. He’s great on game day. A great caller. Multiple shifts. Multiple formations. Makes it tough on defensive coordinators across the league that I called. He’s a creative mind. He can make adjustments. Hard to go against. He fits with our staff. One team. One heartbeat.”
Yeah. (Sigh) Tell us something we don’t know.
Canada’s time at Heinz Field was short. Just one season. But in that short amount of time he did something that, heretofore I thought impossible: He was an offensive coordinator in the city of Pittsburgh that the fans actually liked!
And I mean the fans of either Blue-or-Black-&-Gold.
That’s like seeing a leprechaun ride a unicorn to his pot of gold at the end of a triple rainbow.
I was stunned when the head coaching carousel spun around without letting Canada hop on for at least an interview or two. His name never even got churned up in the rumor mill.
Maybe he wants to be a head coach at some point. Maybe not. But if he does, maybe that’s part of the reason he left. Maybe he felt the need to be at a more big time program to get the attention he didn’t receive after doing such a masterful job at the University of Pittsburgh. His unit jumped from 68th to 10th in scoring offense in 12 months. It set a school record with 508 points.
Or maybe it’s money. He’s going to reportedly make over million dollars a year for three years.
Or maybe it’s prestige. A lot more cache is attached to LSU than to Pitt.
Or maybe it’s the challenge of replicating what he just did here down in the SEC against some of the best opponents in the land.
It’s definitely not the lack of an on campus stadium, which I heard advanced by callers into local sports talk radio today on the Pitt flagship. Because, when Pitt fans don’t have a clear explanation to blame for something going wrong … just hit repeat on that old standby.
Quick aside here to the put-a-stadium-back-on-campus crowd, if Pitt built an on campus stadium again, it’d obviously be smaller than the 68,400 Heinz Field currently seats.
Tiger stadium holds 102,321. So if your theory is that Canada was turned on by the prospect of coaching in a bigger house than Heinz Field, how would playing in a smaller stadium on The Hill, help in that context? Because he could walk to the “O” after a game?
OK. I’m done there.
But I get it. Why not pump the well on all those hackneyed “why Pitt can’t sustain success” arguments again? They haven’t changed. And when the school entered the ACC, Panther fans were sold a false bill of sale that they would.
The ACC was never going to cure the fact that Pitt is the 4th story in this town. It was never going to cure the “city school in a pro town” dynamic. Going to the ACC was never going to increase the alumni base in the city. Going to the ACC is just now starting to expand TV coverage and level of competition. And the dynamic of improved recruiting is still TBA.
Basically, nothing has changed. It was a really fun year because the Panthers upset Clemson and ruined Penn State’s playoff chances. And they avoided a toe-stub loss.
So, yeah, the team itself changed. Thanks in large part to Canada. And a lot of upper classmen on offense who are going to leave this year.
But the program hasn’t changed. It’s middle of the pack in the ACC instead middle of the pack in the Big East. It’s still losing head coaches or top level assistants every year due to an inability to match salaries, facilities, and recruiting bases. It’s still an 8-4 program in a pro town heading to a mid level bowl.
Pitt had to play the conference hopping game because it couldn’t be left without a chair when the music stopped. Unfortunately the same old tired tune is playing.