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Opinion

Vukovcan: Please Stop With the ‘Same Old Pitt’ Narrative

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Saturday was a game that no one associated with the Pitt football program hoped would happen. The loss to Miami was a definite speedbump towards their ultimate goal of playing in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte.

While it was a speedbump, in no way was it flat tire for this 2021 Pitt football season.

Losing isn’t fun and all the positive energy and national media attention surrounding the Pitt season to this point has been great. But it was just one loss.

Unfortunately, scanning fans comments on Twitter, Facebook or various message boards you’d think it was the end of the season as they resort to negativity and a glass is half empty mentality.

It’s funny that the prevailing comments from Pitt fans deal with “Same Old Pitt” and if you objectively look at things, that isn’t the case and here’s why.

*”Same Old Pitt” came into yesterday’s game ranked No. 17 in the country. The Panthers hadn’t been ranked inside the Top 20 during the season since 2009. That’s a change.

*”Same Old Pitt” was getting national exposure for their program like they hadn’t received since Larry Fitzgerald because of a Heisman Trophy candidate in Kenny Pickett. For the last couple weeks, Pickett and Pat Narduzzi were getting air-time on outlets like ESPN’s SportsCenter, CBS Sports Network, The Jim Rome Radio Show, College GameDay, etc. That’s something that hasn’t happened in years.

*This “Same Old Pitt” program has arguably the best quarterback in college football and is being talked about as an NFL first-round pick. Pitt’s last first-round draft pick was Aaron Donald in 2014 and the last first-round quarterback that the program produced was Dan Marino in 1983. Marino was drafted with the 27th pick, so Pickett has an opportunity to become the highest drafted quarterback in the history of Pitt football.

*The final thing that’s different is that despite the low chances of it actually happening, the Pitt Panthers were being talked about as a team that could make the College Football Playoffs at the end of October. How fun was it that Pitt was involved in meaningful games late in the season? Guess what, that will be the case for the rest of this season.

While Saturday’s loss to Miami was disappointing, it was just one loss and didn’t end Pitt’s chances of winning the ACC title. It just made their margain of error a lot smaller. I know all that talk and seeing the percentages of Pitt possibly playing in the College Football Playoffs was exciting but honestly, the realistic odds of it happening were very small.

I know this sounds dumb but in some ways, the loss to Miami could be good in the sense that the team will now have a singular focus and that’s of getting to Charlotte. All the talk of College Football Playoffs and Kenny Pickett Heisman are now gone but a big prize in still very much in reach.

Despite everything that’s happened this season, with four games left, Pitt still controls their own destiny. They hold a one-game lead over Virgina and Miami with four remaining games against Duke, North Carolina, Virginia and Syracuse. The most important one will be against Virginia on November 20 at Heinz Field.

The game that worries me most is the one against North Carolina but Pitt will be favorites the rest of the season and there’s no reason they can’t run the table.

If that would happen, Pitt would finish the regular season with a record of 10-2, which would be their first double-digit win season since 2009. If by chance, they do that and would win either the ACC Championship or their future bowl game, it would be their first 11-win season since 1981, which would once again not be “same old Pitt”.

The point of this is that while everything isn’t perfect and frustrating games still happen, things are changing for Pitt football, it would be nice if the fan base would change their same old narrative.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Keith
Keith
1 month ago

Garbage article…..it is the same old pitt. Bottom line is they lost a game they should have, and needed to win. They lost on the national stage with a chance to move the program forward. The defense was pathetic, giving up 500 yards for the 3rd time this year……and our HC is supposed to be a defensive guy……the ACC is weak as is the football program.

Clark Martineau
Clark Martineau
1 month ago
Reply to  Keith

They lost not because it’s a tradition at Pitt but because they were outplayed.
Learn from it and turn the page.

Giovanni
Giovanni
1 month ago

Pitt was outcoached. Going for it on 4th-and-4 early in the game and at mid-field may work well with weaker teams. What a dumb and costly call as Miami took advantage quickly with a TD. Made the comeback mountain much higher of a climb.

Kurt Kerrigan
Kurt Kerrigan
1 month ago
Reply to  Keith

The National stage? Not sure the ACC Network is considered the national stage. A whole lot more people saw the Clemson game last week.

kmp30
kmp30
1 month ago

Agreed. One thing I disagree with is that there ARE a lot of optimistic fans out there who know what we can accomplish and weren’t sucked into the cfp 11-1 narrative. That would have been nice but any objective fan would be happy with where we’re at and our chances for success. The same pessimistic fan would have predicted these speed bumps. There have been fewer this year. Our goals are still in front of us. Acc title game, a solid bowl, and an end of the season top 20 ranking are very much in reach. Obviously it could unravel.… Read more »

Randy Joseck
Randy Joseck
1 month ago

Great article Mike. Pitt can still win the ACC and play in a New Years Six Bowl Game. I’m disappointed in the defense performance, but it was poor execution versus Miami. UVA and UNC will be challenges. I’m tired of the SOP talk. Pitt plays hard and they don’t quit. H2P

DionJag
DionJag
1 month ago

The SOP fans would be screaming that if Pitt lost in the CFP finals! It’s really SOPF: Same Old Pitt Fans

Let's Believe
Let's Believe
1 month ago

Good article Mike. I agree those goals are still in front of them. If that happens, that would be great. They need to regroup and realize that. I was frustrated with the defense yesterday, how many times did Miami run that damn swing pass successfully? Talk about refs all you want but where were the adjustments? Anyway, I agree North Carolina scares me the most out of our remaining games especially if Virginia’s QB broke his ribs last night. I don’t know that for certain but he may have based on what I’ve read. They still have a whole lot… Read more »

Tom DiPasquale
Tom DiPasquale
1 month ago

How about we save the “Same Old Pitt” and replace it with “Same old Narduzzi” because he’s the one that doesn’t make changes, or adjustments and plays less talented players ahead of better ones. Look Mike in Context, to say 6-2 is pretty good is one thing. But with all these seniors, it should be what WAKE is experiencing. 8-0. Minimum, 7-1. Goncalves should be starting, Izzy should be starting, Stovall shouldn’t see the field. Hallett is consistently awful, the team experiences little bits of success and immediately falls flat on its face. That’s why they get no respect. Dumb… Read more »

Giovanni
Giovanni
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom DiPasquale

Plus Miami had 5 starters out so played a lot of freshman. Pitt’s Senior-laden team versus Miami’s freshman-laden team. The difference though really was that Pitt was outcoached (once again).

James from Florida
James from Florida
1 month ago

I have to disagree with you Mike, this defense doesn’t have the proper personal to play press coverage especially against the athletes Miami have in their skill positions.

My take is SOP regarding in game coaching adjustments in pass coverage.

The defense was embarrassed against WMU and Miami because they were simply out coached, their defense doesn’t have the talent to run the scheme on the back end.

SOP

kmp30
kmp30
1 month ago

This is a valid point. Lack of adjustments is frustrating. Only caveat is that no one complains when it works. That being said, mixing it up would not be the worst idea.

Section 122
Section 122
1 month ago

Looking at the rest of the schedule if Pitt loses another game then the “Same Old Pitt” people have every right to fire away. Narduzzi and his team are at a cross road, one direction is a chance to be one of the great teams in Pitt history and the other is “Same Old Pitt”. None of us as fans can impact which direction they go. It is all on them as a team.

Section 122
Section 122
1 month ago
Reply to  Section 122

Oh yeah, someone let Pat know that Mack Brown and Sam Howell will be running RPOs all night. Might want to work on that for a change.

Terrence
Terrence
1 month ago
Reply to  Section 122

We gotta hope Howell opts out by then to get ready for the pro’s or you’re right

Kelby
Kelby
1 month ago

Narduzzi has had how many chances to win 9 games realistically? It’s always, “well if we would’ve beat a shitty UNC or won our bowl game”, whatever. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for one 9 win season in 6 years. Last year was supposed to be his best team and went 6-5. This year we’re 6-2 and outside of Duke, I don’t have a ton of confidence and would say the games are around 50-50. Cuse I would give us more than a 50% chance for sure, but they will play us tough. Let’s say we go… Read more »

kmp30
kmp30
1 month ago

National attention the past few weeks may keep us in the top 25, even with the loss. A few teams also lost. Being on top of the coastal, with a 17 next to you and the hype of the past few weeks may be enough to keep us at 24 or 25. Fingers crossed at least.

Rob
Rob
1 month ago

I agree but given what the two losses were, and how the schedule is breaking, this could have been a special season. 12-0 maybe hypothetically. Teams like Pitt only get breaks every so often to have a special season, with a top QB and talented skill position players and feel this was maybe a missed opportunity. That being said, I don’t think they would compete very well with a Georgia/Alabama/ Ohio St. if they did go 12-0. Win out which they have to if Miami wins out too and go to a NY 6 game with a 10-2 season. I… Read more »

Giovanni
Giovanni
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

Good points. Miami being such a young team, versus Pitt’s senior-heavy team, does not bode well for Pitt’s future. Also Miami recruiting way better than Pitt.

Bill
Bill
1 month ago

S H I T T

Kurt Kerrigan
Kurt Kerrigan
1 month ago
Reply to  Bill

How is the mood in Centre County today Bill? 5-3 with two more losses coming.

Jim Colbert
1 month ago

They were favorites both games they lost.

Rich J
Rich J
1 month ago

You cannot be a contender when your defense gives up big play after big play to inferior teams.

Cruzer
Cruzer
1 month ago

How many times do you have to see the same bad movie before you recognize that it always ends the same way?

Section 122
Section 122
1 month ago
Reply to  Cruzer

Pat and the team have a chance to change the outcome. It is all on them to deliver these next 4 games. If they fall on their face they deserve all the criticism that we can muster.

Clark Martineau
Clark Martineau
1 month ago
Reply to  Section 122

You’re a little in a hurry with that “Fall on their Face” comment. I think Pitt has reached a new level and can be expected to win at least eight games a year.

John P Stengel
John P Stengel
1 month ago

9 or 10 regular season wins is great and not the same old Pitt and will help recruiting. This year might be the ceiling due to all the experience but maybe not. One the one hand, heartbreaking loses this year because they are really good; on the other hand, they might be playing in a New Years Six

Denny
Denny
1 month ago

Well said.

David Gerlach
David Gerlach
1 month ago

Vukovcan: Please take off your cheerleader outfit This is same old Pitt, No character by the players who win a couple of games and think they can just throw their helmets out there and win. Poor game day coaching, never adjustments until it is too late. I will predict now and I am sure this will play out, Pitt will lose at least two more games ,not win the coastal and you will have a boat load of excuses for them

Class of ' 69
Class of ' 69
1 month ago
Reply to  David Gerlach

I agree this site provides excellent information on Pitt sports. But please stop being a cheerleader . Poor recruiting . poor coaching and an AD with no idea how to run sports programs. This was to be Narduzzi’s year. Wait until next with improved WVU and Tenn on the schedule.

Giovanni
Giovanni
1 month ago

Western Michigan lost to Ball State by 25-points, at home. Ball State had a 2-3 record going in. Yes, Ball State.
Same old Pitt? Pedestrian Head Coach?? Neither conclusion is really very arguable.

Achilles Estavillo
Achilles Estavillo
1 month ago

All I can say!

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Joe
Joe
1 month ago

PITT controls its own destiny in the last 4 games, just like the the first 8. Enough of the editorializing and get to the points. Early on, when it was obvious PITT was being drawn into chippiness, Nard should’ve called a timeout to refocus the team. Long before the team captain’s dumb PF. Skipping to the 4th quarter who is accountable for calling for that attempted touchdown pass with at least 3 minutes left on the clock. Had it succeeded Miami would have had ample time to score again. Okay, it would’ve made Picketts numbers for the Heisman look better.However,… Read more »

Tex
Tex
1 month ago

With one more loss, Pitt will have continued the streak of having at least three losses in every season since 1982. That’s SOP to me.

Clark Martineau
Clark Martineau
1 month ago
Reply to  Tex

Three losses in a year ain’t bad. That’s definitely a bowl game. That definitely aids recruiting. I’m sure PSU will be happy if they have no more losses this year.

Tex
Tex
1 month ago

No it’s not bad. If Pitt can go to a nice bowl, maybe Peach, and get ranked in the top 20 come seasons end, it won’t be SOP. But I have my doubts. Narduzzi will find a way to lose. It’s in his stubborn arrogant nature. Next year will be bad without Kenny.

Justin Dietrich
Justin Dietrich
1 month ago

Mike, you’re a huge reason Pittsburgh sports is terrible and depressing. Call it what it is, an absolute embarrassment for a program stuck in mediocrity. Your writing is equally stuck in mediocrity. Grow some balls and stop suckling at the proverbial teet…

Chuck
Chuck
1 month ago

What else do you call it then? Yes they have an elite quarterback, and a solid offense, but a weak defense and again after a big win over Clemson Pitt fell flat and lost to an unranked team. Yes they control their destiny, but they have in the past also and failed to take care of business, why will this time be any different? It’s the same thing over and over. Every year we point to a couple of games that Pitt lost by less than a touchdown and say if those would have gone Pitts way. One less bad… Read more »

Clark Martineau
Clark Martineau
1 month ago
Reply to  Chuck

Unranked but still elite talent.

Chuck
Chuck
1 month ago

Even with the talent they were still down starters. And Pitt has older more experienced players on their side who aren’t that terrible. It’s not like Pitt is a group of 5 team or on the level of a Vandy. That loss shouldn’t have happened. They still Pitted.

rob
rob
1 month ago

Thank you !! This was on of the best articles (if not the best) I’ve read about Pitt Football in sometime. it was very honest and backed up your opinion, But despite your article the band wagon fans who say ” same old Pitt” and are ready to jump off will always be there. Just look at the comments. Pitt is 6-2 and people are saying that their a bad team. Some people just like to complain or be negative. FYI. it Pitt runs the table to include the ACC champion ship game and a bowl or even wins 10… Read more »

Tex
Tex
1 month ago
Reply to  rob

They are only one loss away from SOP. The odds of pitt winning out including their bowl game is less than 5 percent. If you’re so confident, lay down some real coin and place a bet with Vegas. Otherwise you are a coward.

Rusty Shackelford
Rusty Shackelford
1 month ago

Losing to an inferior opponent is classic Pitt.

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