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The reaction from fans to the news that Pitt has scheduled a home-home series with Western Michigan has me somewhat confused.
You would’ve thought that Heather Lyke had signed a contract for the football program to play Alabama or Ohio State. No disrespect intended but for God’s sake it’s Western Michigan.
I get that fans have an issue with Pitt playing an away game against a MAC opponent but if this game worries fans then shame on you. By 2022, if Pat Narduzzi doesn’t have a roster equipped to comfortably handle Western Michigan then the Pitt football program is in real bad shape.
Aside from their miracle season in 2016 when PJ Fleck led them to a record of 13-1, they’ve been a middle of the road MAC program. In the last 20 seasons, they’ve only had five seasons with 8+ wins and have finished with a .500 or a losing record 10 times.
I agree that the Pitt administration has overloaded the non-conference schedule a number of times in recent seasons but this isn’t an example of that. These are the types of games that Heather Lyke and Narduzzi should be trying to schedule.
In the past 10 years, Pitt has scheduled programs like New Hampshire, Maine, Gardner-Webb, Old Dominion, Delaware and Villanova. Games against opponents of that caliber shouldn’t be played. The Panthers should be playing programs like Western Michigan.
In my opinion, Pitt’s non-conference schedule should consist of two “bigger” opponents along with two non-Power Five teams. While it’s more entertaining for fans to see all non-conference games be played against Power Five teams, that’s not realistic and is career suicide for the coach.
There must be a balance between scheduling competitive games and winnable games. Pitt shouldn’t be overloading things which could end up hurting the team when it comes to being ranked and also being considered for bowl games at the end of the season.
I believe the non-conference schedule for the next few years is fair and well-balanced and should allow Pitt to be competitive as long as Narduzzi and company do their part.
Pitt’s Upcoming Non-Conference Opponents:
2019: Ohio, at Penn State, Central Florida, Delaware
2020: Miami of Ohio, Richmond, at Marshall, Notre Dame
2021: at Tennessee, Western Michigan, New Hampshire, TBA (Don’t like the New Hampshire game, could do better)
2022: West Virginia, Tennessee, at Western Michigan, TBA
2023: Cincinnati, at West Virginia, TBA, TBA (Cincinnati is a game that I’d try and schedule yearly)
2024: at Cincinnati, West Virginia, TBA, TBA
2025: at West Virginia, Notre Dame
Pitt fans, I realize there’s plenty of things that you can put under the microscope regarding the state of the football program but scheduling a game at Western Michigan should be very low on that list.
Have faith that Narduzzi has the ship heading in the right direction. If he does, the road trip to and from Kalamazoo, Michigan should be an enjoyable one.