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Opinion

If This Is It, Stallings’ Time Was Embarrassing

If This Is It, Stallings’ Time Was Embarrassing

The two-year marriage between Pitt and Kevin Stallings has been a rocky one.

It failed from the start and at times, has frankly has been embarrassing for both sides.

However, unlike most people, I’m not pinning this train wreck on Stallings because like any divorce, there’s a lot of blame to go around.

If Tuesday marks Stallings’ final game at Pitt, it’s probably a good thing, since it’s very clear he was never going to be accepted by the Pitt fan base.

The very first question at his introductory press conference should have been a sign as to how things were going to play out.

The past two years have been a black eye for the once-proud Panthers basketball program.

Kevin Stallings against Duke on January 10, 2018 — DAVID HAGUE

From the moment Stallings was hired by Scott Barnes, he was treated like garbage, he was never accepted by the fan base and that has continued up until today. His record was 0-0 and hadn’t said or done anything to alienate the fans, yet Kevin Stallings was already one of the most hated men in Pittsburgh sports.

Why?

Because he was replacing Jamie Dixon who walked out on Pitt because of many circumstances?

Because he accepted a job offer from Barnes to coach a once proud program in a great basketball conference?

Instead of a honeymoon period, Stallings committed to an arranged marriage the other party had no interest in.

If any team needed fan support it was this 2018 Pitt basketball team. It would’ve been nice for more than just a few thousand people a night to show this young team support instead of trying to stick it to Stallings.

That lack of interest, both by apathy and deliberate acts, sunk any chance Stallings had of succeeding here. A great fan base doesn’t stop showing up to games because they don’t like the coach. That’s not what happened at Pitt, where the reputation of the Pete as a tough place to play is long gone.

Near empty section at the Peterson Event Center as Pitt loses to Wake Forest February 21, 2018 — DAVID HAGUE

This current staff did host some highly rated recruits this season. It’s not hard to wonder what they thought when they were sitting in an empty gym. Think it was easy for them trying to get talented players interested in a program that was getting that type of support.

If fans think not showing up and supporting their school makes things better, they’re wrong.

If Lyke decides to pull the plug on this staff, all the focus will turn to Lyke and the Pitt fans.

Who will she get to come in? Pitt hasn’t shown the willingness to spend the money required to bring in a big name.

Sean Miller or Jamie Dixon won’t be on the bench next season so hopefully Pitt fans will actually give the next coach, if it comes to that, a real chance.

This job isn’t a quick fix and the faster fans realize that the quicker things can improve and can return to the days we’re used to at The Pete.

A new coaching staff will likely result in another year of roster turnover and being late in recruiting the Class of 2018, it could be slim pickings on the recruiting trail.

If this happens, like I preached with Stallings, patience, not hate, is needed.

If this is the end for Stallings and his staff, all the best to them. They handled a near impossible situation with total class.

The ball now is in the court of Lyke and the fan base. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out and if the glory days ever return.

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