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May 27, 2008

The good news about the passing of the Memorial Day weekend, it is the point when the previews for the 2008 college football season starts. Lindy’s will kick things off on the magazine previews this week, followed by Athlon. Sometime in June, will be the Holy Grail of college football previews — Phil Steele (who has Pitt listed at #25). There’s actually one less preview mag this year as Street & Smith’s was bought out by Sporting News (also late June).

As for online previews and punditry, they are already happening. Sunday Morning QB has his preview for Pitt.

If you want one big, optimism-fueling, over-the-rainbow moment, though, it’s obviously the season finale over West Virginia, a sudden display of ball-hogging physicality and defense that set the Mountaineers a-cursin’ their coach right out of town. This was a B12 shot not only for turning the tables on a rival set to play for the mythical championship, but for turning them with defense after a pair of unholy beatings the previous two meetings – White and Steve Slaton alone had 440 total yards in 2005 and an unseemly 639 in 2006, back-to-back 45-point efforts by WVU that could have been much worse. It was, you know…

He’s got some skepticism, and I keep thinking it is warranted. As much as I want to believe this is the year, and the idea that the WVU game will be the springboard, the defense will remain as strong, that the O-line will come together, and the QB issues will be solved. If I was saying this about another team other than Pitt, objectively I’d probably have a lot of doubts.

One thing I can say that SMQ got dead wrong — but I think we will read a lot of this summer — that if Pitt doesn’t deliver Coach Wannstedt is on the hot seat. Not true. There will be fan discontent and anger.

But hot seat to me means job in jeopardy. That isn’t happening. Not with his new contract. Not with the administration and wealthy alumni in his corner. It just won’t happen.

Interestingly enough, 2004, the year Harris took Pitt to the Fiesta Bowl in a very bad year for the Big East might play out again this year. No team in the conference looks particularly dominant or starting from a position of strength. Every team has questions. New coach (WVU), loss of key players (Rutgers and Louisville),  was it smoke and mirrors/can they do it again (Cinci and UConn), who will fail to qualify academically (USF). So, I have to agree with Stewart Mandel at SI.com when he says the Big East is wide open.

That said, if you were to ask me, “Who do you predict will win the Big East,” I would say … probably not West Virginia. Much of that is based on my aforementioned lack of faith in the Bill Stewart regime and the entirely realistic possibility of that program suffering a Louisville-type implosion (though that would more likely come next year), but it’s also because there are a whole bunch of other Big East teams sitting on the verge of a breakthrough. I’m just not sure which one it will be.

Pittsburgh is certainly one of those teams. As inexplicable as the then-4-7 Panthers’ Championship Saturday upset in Morgantown seemed at the time, the result wasn’t entirely fluky. (Remember, Pitt also beat 10-3 Cincinnati prior to that.) The Panthers’ defense was tremendous all season, finishing No. 5 nationally in yards allowed, and anyone who’s watched McCoy knows he’s an All-America-caliber back. The problem, as Pete noted above, was the absolute lack of a passing game. It’s no guarantee, but the return of last year’s opening-day QB Bill Stull and All-Big East WR Derek Kinder from injuries could help solve that.

More later.

One Antigua Is Probably Staying Put

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting — Chas @ 10:53 am

Still no word about who John Calipari plans to hire as his new assistant.

I doubt Pitt is considering Kevin Parrom any longer after his altercation with his coach, Oliver Antigua. Who just happens to be the brother of Pitt assistant Orlando Antigua. Parrom, not surprisingly, was done with St. Raymonds and vice versa after that.

Being the multiple media outlets of NYC, one paper reported that Antigua might lose his job over it.

While athletic director Ron Patnosh refused to comment on Antigua’s job status, saying that he would wait until the legal process was over, sources inside and outside the Bronx school said that Antigua’s days with the Ravens could be numbered.

“It’s 50-50 right now,” said one source. “It doesn’t look good. The school and the league aren’t happy about any of this.”

But, then, maybe not.

One final word on Kevin Parrom incident: We understand the CHSAA has opted to take no stance in the matter and the St. Raymond’s administration will apparently back current coach Oliver Antigua.

Given the latter bit came from Dick Weiss, I’ll guess that Antigua is safe.

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