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Opinion

Vukovcan: Lack of National Respect for Pitt Football an ‘Absolute Joke’

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The Pitt football program is fighting a few things these days.

On the field, Pat Narduzzi’s team is trying to play through a rash of injuries but off the field, they continue to battle through a lack of national respect.

Despite owning a record of 17-5 over their last 22 games, along with being ranked in 11 consecutive AP Top 25 polls and being the defending ACC Football Champions, the Pitt Panthers continue to get very little respect from the national media.

If you want a good example of that, just consider their place in the college football rankings this season.

Despite all the things I previously mentioned — which all show longevity — the 2022 version of the Pitt Panthers are a very talented team. However, plenty of people seem to question how good they really are, as inexplicably, they find themselves barely in the AP Top 25 rankings and having just re-entered the USA Today/Coaches Poll.

I want to preface everything by saying I think the rankings themselves are a fraud and a glorified popularity contest. It’s obvious that the majority of the voters do very little research before casting their votes. With that being said, being ranked is perception and a valuable recruiting tool for programs, which of course is important.

My issue is the lack of consistency and common sense that these voters use week in and week out.

The fact that Pitt finds themselves ranked No. 24 this week is an absolute joke and a clear sign that they’re not yet fully respected as a program nationally because if they were, they’d be a lot higher then where they currently sit.

How can a team that started the season ranked No. 17 drop seven spots, despite being 3-1?

Here are a few things to consider:
*Unlike a majority of teams in the Top 25, Pitt played two Power Five opponents in the non-conference portion of their schedule. Say what you want about the current state of the WVU program but they’re 2-2 and their two losses are against teams with a combined record of 7-1.

*Pitt’s lone loss was to Tennessee, the current No. 8 team in the country.

*Take into account that loss to the Vols was in overtime, and the fact that Pitt played the entire second half without their starting quarterback Kedon Slovis. Nick Patti, who replaced Slovis, was playing on an injured ankle for nearly the entire second half.

*Also, I challenge anyone to find a team in the Top 25 that’s had to deal with the number of key injuries that Pitt has had to endure? Slovis, Patti, Rodney Hammond, Jared Wayne, Owen Drexel, Gabe Houy, Dayon Hayes, Haba Baldonado, Deslin Alexandre, Nate Temple, Devin Danielson and Marquis Williams have all missed time with injuries. Think that the scores would’ve been different if Pitt would’ve had all of these players in the lineup all season? Name me a ranked team that have these many injuries to key players.

*Pitt went on the road to Western Michigan and started a quarterback that hadn’t taken starting reps since 2019. How many of these other ranked teams were forced to start their 3rd string quarterback? Pitt was expected to beat Western Michigan by 10 points and ended up doing so by 21, yet they didn’t rise in the rankings.

Do you really think that the current voters took any of these factors into account when thinking about where to place Pitt? Of course they didn’t. If they had, Pitt wouldn’t be only No. 24.

Actually, I might take that back. Some or all of these might have been considered but simply ignored because the Pitt national brand isn’t established enough. I can promise you that if certain brands in the SEC, Big 10 or Big 12 would’ve had to play through what Pat Narduzzi has had to endure, they wouldn’t have dropped seven spots like Pitt and instead would’ve jumped up.

As I talked about at various times over the last couple of months, stuff like this is all a part of Pitt’s program really becoming established and once again being a national brand. All this this doesn’t happen after just one 11-win season. It’s about consistency and stacking winning seasons before the national media will slobber over you like they do year after year with teams in the Big 10 and SEC.

It’s now up to Pitt to show everyone that they belong and that starts this Saturday as they open ACC conference play.

Pitt will be favored in most if not all of their remaining games and if they take care of business, everyone will have no choice but to give Pitt the proper respect that they deserve.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Eric payne
Eric payne
2 months ago

Although everything you said is true ( and they suffer the same fate in the ACC), there is one area that they are getting that respect. They are getting better recruits. The Coaching staff is recruiting better athletes and signing them. Their image among athletes is greatly improved and the staff is doing a better job of selling the program.

Tom DiPasquale
Tom DiPasquale
2 months ago

Pitt typically loses games they should not lose and most of the time they are home games. It wouldn’t surprise me if they do that again this season. They always lose tough games at home. Could happen this week. But if Pitt just keeps winning this takes care of itself

Pittband
Pittband
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom DiPasquale

The SEC doesn’t want to hear it but Tennessee loses to Pitt without their referee crew. I’m all for playing SEC teams but with Big Ten refs. Refereeing for a quarter century gives me a different perspective than the average fan. It doesn’t take many calls but at the right time. Well, those flags which were picked up were all in Tennessee’ favor. Apparently, Tennessee was miffed by the ACC crew last year, Pitt is miffed by ACC crews every week. Upgrade the ACC football refs now. The best mbb crews are in the ACC.

Vicsbean
Vicsbean
2 months ago

Pitt has a habit of PITTING. It is like the entire nation is waiting for Pitt to do their thing. The last two years they have held their own. All the one loss teams ahead of Pitt were higher than Pitt from the beginning. I def take exception to Wake Forest being ahead of Pitt. Didnt Pitt just destroy Wake about 8 months ago? They sent their QB into the psychiatrists office.

Randy Joseck
Randy Joseck
2 months ago

Pitt definitely gets no respect. While the lack of respect is annoying, it gives us a chip on our shoulder. Just keep winning and everything will be alright. I like how the schedule plays out, GT, VT, and the bye. We should be healthier going to Louisville.

Izzy Bright
Izzy Bright
2 months ago

In the immortal words of Al Davis: “Just win, baby…”

Eli
Eli
2 months ago

Eh, I think our lack of respect is pretty well deserved. They didn’t look so hot against WVU on national television…probably should have lost, really, then lost to Tennessee at home, then beat a MAC and FCS school. They could easily be 2-2 right now and not even sniffing the rankings.

RonDon
RonDon
2 months ago
Reply to  Eli

On the flip side of that, they could be 4-0 and in the top 10

Pittband
Pittband
2 months ago
Reply to  Eli

See my comment above. BTW, I thought the Big 12 crew was excellent and not because Pitt beat WV.

Izzy Bright
Izzy Bright
2 months ago
Reply to  Eli

We can play that game all the way down the top 25

USC is ranked 7th and have beaten Rice, a bad Stanford team, Fresno St and barely beat Oregon St at home…

Clemson is #6 and have beaten GT, Furman, Louisiana Tech and almost lost to an unranked WF team….

Those are just two examples…

Vannman
Vannman
2 months ago

It’s going to take another few 9+ winnng seasons consecutively to gain national respect .

Craig
Craig
2 months ago

I like your reporting, but I think you’re drinking the Pitt cool aid on this topic. The excuse of playing without Slovis and then an injured Patti was brought on by poor blocking from their offensive line. If they had a better oline then those injuries don’t happen, and they would have possibly won the Tenessee game. And injuries (just like refs) are part of the game, so you can’t let that affect the rankings. Inside the top 25 seems about right – I guess time will tell how what their ranking will be.

DeeboJr
DeeboJr
2 months ago
Reply to  Craig

I hate to admit it but you’re not wrong.

Rob
Rob
2 months ago

Take off the Pitt goggles, Vuk. The Panthers are ranked right about where they should be. The only games that matter are this season’s games. Their 14-4 record in the previous 18 games mean nothing.

Mark
Mark
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob

I am an avid Pitt fan but look at their performance.They run the Steeler offense, defense gives up big plays, and the ACC is weak.They are lucky to b at #24.

J D
J D
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Sorry, but they’d beat most of 10-12 teams ahead of them. Try watching football sometime.

Rob
Rob
2 months ago
Reply to  J D

That’s your opinion. This is fact – They didn’t beat one of teams now ahead of them. They barely beat a mediocre WVU team and beat two teams they were supposed to beat. Hence, the #24 ranking. Try watching football sometime, kool-aid drinker.

On Campus Stadium Please
On Campus Stadium Please
2 months ago
Reply to  J D

still sticking to that?

Let’s Believe
Let’s Believe
2 months ago

They have an opportunity to gain respect by winning all of their remaining games. There’s not one game they shouldn’t win. Take care of business and they will find themselves in the Top 10 at the end of the year. I’m not worried about rankings in Week#4. Reminds me of 2020 when Hamlin was complaining about rankings after week 3 then they collapsed. Like it or not, voters expect Pitt to lose a game such as UNC or Duke on the last home game. Yes, last year was great but beat Western Michigan and it’s potentially a cfp discussion rather… Read more »

DirtyO
DirtyO
2 months ago

Don’t be blinded with actual football logic. TV networks are paying billions of dollars for TV content and need to have that little Top25 number next to each team that is on TV day. It attracts viewership, period. (Heck, who doesnt think a game between two theoretical Top 15 teams isn’t more exciting?)

Geoff
Geoff
2 months ago

Pitt opened the season ranked #17. That’s what last season got you. Nothing else about last year is part of the argument for this years rankings. They dropped 7 spots because they struggled to beat a bad WVU team, and struggled to put away a really bad WMU team. Really the only game that they played like a ranked team, they lost. During that span, literally every team that has passed them has a better resume to this point. Kansas and Oregon State both have better resumes than Pitt right now, too. So I’d say the #24 ranking is probably… Read more »

On Campus Stadium Please
On Campus Stadium Please
2 months ago

Let’s get the follow up article Vuk….still want that respect and feel the ranking is wrong?

Jamie
Jamie
2 months ago

So….this article aged well…

Dukes

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