We’re all guilty of it.
When an idea is planted in our heads, whether it’s unrealistic or not, it’s human nature to immediately envision the best-case scenario. Especially in wake of success.
When Kenny Minchey committed to Pitt in April, there was an expectation that he was the future of Pitt football. Coming off the first ACC championship in program history, with Kenny Pickett selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft just days prior, a loaded lineup was expected to return for another ride.
And Minchey, a four-star quarterback who was the second commit in the class of 2023, wasn’t just another quarterback commit. He was supposed to be the next Kenny.
I mean, he looked good. He blew up over the summer, earning Elite 11 honors and kicking off his senior season at John Paul Jones II with near-perfect precision. And he didn’t need to come in and be a savior, just the next in line.
Kedon Slovis, Pitt’s No. 1 target in the transfer portal, was brought in to rehab his own NFL goals and also provide more than just a stop-gap for the Kennys. It didn’t hurt that an offense that (at that time) featured Jordan Addison, Jared Wayne, Israel Abanikanda and Gavin Bartholomew awaited him under new offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr.
In a perfect world, a successful season from Slovis — rekindling the fire from his early days at USC — was supposed to be the proof that Pitt’s ACC title wasn’t just a one-hit wonder. That it wasn’t just a magical connection between Pickett and Addison.
A weak ACC schedule, coupled with 16-of-22 starters from last season’s ACC title-winning squad returning, including the entire offensive line, set the stage for an offseason in which Pitt’s mentality was ACC title or bust.
That hasn’t happened. Pitt hasn’t been a legitimate ACC title contender in over a month, and Minchey decommitted from Pitt this afternoon.
Cignetti’s offense has been anything but inspiring this season, with an old-school offensive scheme that has done nothing to help Slovis’ struggles this season. It can’t have been fun for Minchey to envision himself in place of Slovis, but Cignetti was also a major reason why he committed in the first place. Pitt may have simply been beaten out by a bigger brand.
But it doesn’t change the fact that Pitt’s offense, even in a 37-7 win over Virginia, hasn’t been good enough in Pat Narduzzi’s eyes. He wanted the offense to score more points after a punt, punt, missed field goal, punt, field goal, punt, field goal, field goal finish.
Minchey is likely headed to Notre Dame, which isn’t a shocking development in itself considering his rise as one of the top quarterback recruits in the class of 2023, but it hurts Pitt’s recruiting class nonetheless to lose its top commit. And it certainly hurts the momentum that Pitt could’ve built off of last season’s success.
It’s not the end of the world that Minchey decommitted from Pitt. Notre Dame, with all of the draws of playing South Bend, is a national program. But it still feels like Pitt’s ACC title has resulted in very little tangible growth. Minchey’s commitment — and (predicted) eventual rise — provided the chance to build a foundation for Pitt’s offensive success.
Minchey never played a down of football at Pitt, and he won’t now. No one knows how his collegiate career will unfold, but for a few fleeting months, the best-case scenario pointed toward a future where Pitt would transition from NFL quarterback to NFL quarterback to NFL quarterback.
Slovis currently is not an NFL quarterback, and while he will likely return for another season in 2023, it’s back to the drawing board for the future of the position. With Minchey, Pitt at least had the future of the position figured for the next four-ish seasons. That’s gone now.
The path forward now points toward another transfer quarterback — or two — following Slovis’ time in Pittsburgh. Nate Yarnell is a largely unknown commodity, and he will likely not see the field to finish this season. A big-time quarterback commit will not be coming to Pittsburgh this year, and it remains uncertain if Pitt will pick up a quarterback commit at all.
I don’t know what the worst-case scenario was when Minchey originally committed to Pitt, but a decommitment and eventual commitment to Notre Dame isn’t that. It’s the name of the game in today’s recruiting landscape. Especially when Pitt and Notre Dame are involved.
But that best-case scenario of consistent quarterback play is now a distant memory. And it’s a disappointment after the momentum built following the 2021 season.