I’m starting to notice a trend and it has me perplexed.
In the big picture this doesn’t mean a lot, but in some ways it does and could. Despite winning the ACC Championship this past season, it sure looks as though many members of the national media have very little respect for the Pitt football program.
Since Georgia won the National Championship on Monday, various media outlets have released their early 2022 Top 25 rankings. While posting something like this immediately after the season is a waste of time without knowing who will be returning, it does gives you some insight into what people are think about your team and program.
The early impression I’m getting is that not many people have respect for Pat Narduzzi’s program.
The Way Too Early, Way Too Fluid 2022 Top 25: https://t.co/cPglmi8YL3
— Pat Forde (@ByPatForde) January 15, 2022
I get that Kenny Pickett was a big part of Pitt’s team, but he wasn’t the sole reason the Panthers won 11 games and the ACC Championship in 2021.
I’ve viewed at least three of these way too early 2022 Top 25 rankings, and they’ve all excluded Pitt. This is not meant as a personal criticism for these individual writers but taking all things into consideration, this is laughable.
Even without Pickett, this 2022 Pitt team is returning Jordan Addison, the 2021 Biletnikoff Award Winner. To go along with the best wide receiver in football, the offense will return big-play wide receiver Jared Wayne, promising young tight end Gavin Bartholomew, their young promising backfield of Israel Abanikanda and Rodney Hammond, along with their entire starting offensive line.
In addition to that, this offense added two important pieces in highly regarded USC transfer quarterback Kedon Slovis and Akron transfer wide receiver Konata Mumpfield.Yes, Pickett will be gone but they’ve replaced him with someone that has already produced at a Power Five program and is already being mentioned as a 2022 Heisman Trophy candidate.
In Mumpfield, Pitt has added a player that was named last season as Freshman All-American and will have the opportunity to put up huge numbers in this offense, especially with the focus defenses will continue to put on to try and stop Addison.
Pitt’s 2021 offense was one of the most explosive in the country and with everything I just mentioned and the expected addition of Frank Cignetti Jr. as offensive coordinator, there’s no reason they won’t be the same next season.
With the majority of the defensive starters returning plus with the expected improvement in young players like Dayon Hayes, Bangally Kamara, Nahki Johnson, Rashad Battle and MJ Devonshire, this defense has the chance to be really good and once again lead the country in sacks.
Although they play West Virginia and Tennessee in the non-conference, both those games will be at Heinz Field. Pitt will likely be favorites in all four of these non-conference games as well as the preseason favorites in the Coastal Division.
Taking all of that into consideration, I can’t think of a logical reason Pitt isn’t ranked in EVERY 2022 preseason poll .
The only reason they wouldn’t be is laziness of the writers and relying on previous team performances and reputations of other teams and not of what’s happening now.
For example, Clemson in the top five? Wake Forest despite Pitt dominating them? USC? Why because they hired Lincoln Riley? Oklahoma? They lost their top two quarterbacks, Tennessee? Pitt beat them and they haven’t been worth talking about in years.
What me to go on? Ok, how about Houston? They play nobody throughout the season and shouldn’t be considered. Same goes with Coastal Carolina. As far as Cincinnati, like Pitt, they lost their quarterback and won’t be the same team.
The bottom line is this is a lack of respect for Pitt and the fact that they haven’t been relevant in years. The media aren’t taking their program serious yet and the only thing that can change that is to keep winning and keep winning division and conference titles.
From the looks of things, they have a chance to do that next season. Let’s see what happens.