I’m starting to notice a trend, and it puzzles me.
In general, this means little, but in a certain sense it has and can matter. Despite winning the ACC championship last season, it appears that many in the national media have very little respect for Pitt’s football program.
Since Georgia won the national championship on Monday, various media outlets have released their top 25 rankings for the start of 2022. While it’s a waste of time to post something like this right after the season, if you don’t know who’s coming back, it gives you some idea of what people think of your team and program.
My first impression is that few people respect the program of Pat Narduzzi.
The Way Too Early, Way Too Fluid Top 25 2022: https://t.co/cPglmi8YL3
— Pat Ford (@ByPatForde) January 15, 2022
I understand that Kenny Pickett was an important part of Pitt’s team, but he wasn’t the only reason the Panthers won 11 games to win the ACC Championship in 2021.
I reviewed at least three of them too early in the 2022 top 25 rankings, and they all ruled out Pitt. This is not intended as a personal criticism of these individual writers, but all things considered, it is laughable.
Even without Pickett, this 2022 Pitt team brings back Jordan Addison, winner of the 2021 Biletnikoff Award. Together with the best wide receiver in football, the offense will bring back big wide receiver Jared Wayne, promising young tight end Gavin Bartholomew, their promising young guard in Israel Abanicanda and Rodney Hammond, and their entire starting offensive line.
In addition to that, this offense added two important details to respected USC transfer guard Kedon Slovis and Akron transfer wide receiver Konata Mumpfield. Yes, Pickett will leave, but they replaced him with someone who was already in the Power Five program. and is already mentioned as a candidate for the 2022 Heisman Trophy.
At Mumpfield, Pitt added a player who was named a Freshman All-American last season, and he will have the opportunity to showcase a huge number of players in this offense, especially as the defense will continue to focus on trying to stop Addison.
Pitt’s 2021 offense has been one of the most explosive in the country, and with everything I’ve just mentioned and the pending addition of Frank Cignetti Jr. as offensive coordinator, there’s no reason they won’t be the same next season.
With the return of the majority of defensemen in the starting lineup and the expected improvement of young players such as Dion Hayes, Bangalli Kamara, Nucky Johnson, Rashad Battle and M.J. Devonshire, this defense has a chance to be really good and lead the country in bags again.
Although they play out of conference in West Virginia and Tennessee, both games will be played at Heinz Field. Pitt is likely to be the favorite in all four non-conference games, as well as the preseason favorite in the Coastal Division.
With all of that in mind, I can’t think of a logical reason why Pitt isn’t in EVERY 2022 preseason poll.
The only reason they won’t be there is the writers’ laziness and reliance on previous performances and the reputation of other teams rather than 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 two of the best quarterbacks, Tennessee? Pitt defeated them, and they weren’t worth talking about for many years.
What should I continue? Okay, how about Houston? They do not play with anyone throughout the season and should not be considered. It’s the same with Coastal Carolina. As for the Cincinnati, like Pitt, they lost a quarterback and will no longer be a team.
The bottom line is that it’s disrespectful to Pitt and the fact that they haven’t been relevant in years. The media is not yet taking their program seriously and the only thing that can change that is to keep winning and keep winning division and conference titles.
Apparently, they have a chance to do it next season. Let’s see what’s going on.