It has been a very long time since we took a nice stroll across the depths of hell in order to visit the other side of the lot TGR! In our first full year of existence, we covered most of the south to meet with various interesting people to learn about their traditions and teams. Fortunately for Joker and the cats, we have one more voyage to make in this, the 2nd weekend of the New Year!
Our postseason participant is a well known media man from scenic Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His blog, Cardiac Hill, is the most prominent site on the net to find out the latest and greatest Pitt Panther athletic news. His work can also be found at SB nation Pittsburgh, which sounds like a very important place to be. Ladies and gents, I present to you Mr. Anson Whaley!
-Don’t worry, Kentucky fans – even though the standard for this site is to rip you, I’m not going there. But, yeah, Panthers…I’m coming for you. Pitt fans were hoping to be in the Fiesta Bowl playing against Oklahoma. The chances of a BCS game felt about 50/50 before the season began and about midway through the season, those chances jumped to approximately 97.6%. Fans in the stands were high-fiving total strangers and celebrating wins over teams like Florida International and New Hampshire, while downplaying the significance of losses to reasonable teams like Miami, Utah, and Notre Dame.
Things looked good after three straight wins over Syracuse, Rutgers, and Louisville. Drinks started flowing again. BCS reservations were being made – especially in light of the fact that other conference teams were losing. Life was good. Then came a loss to UConn and a 25-point beatdown against West Virginia. Instead of thousands of fans heading out west to Glendale for a premier bowl game and a nice mid-winter vacation, dozens will now be heading to Birmingham for some bowl game that wasn’t even heard of weeks ago.
The ultimate irony in all of this is that Pitt, playing a football game against a basketball school in Kentucky, has a regular-season home basketball game against a solid but unspectactular Marquette team, that will start sometime around halftime. The game, like most at Pitt, is a sellout (or very close to it) and I’ve got news for you – fans with tickets (including myself) aren’t going to be staying at home to watch Pitt football play in what generally amounts to an exhibition game. They’ll be at the gym watching Gilbert Brown throw down a huge dunk against some unsuspecting kid from Wisconsin. Kentucky may have had higher expectations than normal coming into the season, but even alumni and its strongest fans couldn’t have hoped to win the SEC or reach a BCS bowl. This game may be a disappointment for the Wildcats’ fan base, but it’s far from the ‘jump off the ledge and fire your head coach’ situation that Pitt faced.
And speaking of that coaching debacle, any small chance that fans cared about this game at all has been officially squashed by the team preparing to hire its second coach in the span of less than a month. My site has thousands of page views from Google searches alone over the past 24 hours alone on solely the coaching issue. BBVA Compass Bowl searches? Yeah, not so much. Heck, we didn’t even know who would be coaching the bowl game until this week. And since the university essentially cut off all media access after the Mike Haywood situation, there’s not even been much local media talk about it. It’s bad when even the school knows this game is so utterly meaningless that it can put the padlock on their doors and essentially close for the holidays.
So what exactly is the good news for Pitt fans? Pitt will get back on track. The school plays and practices in world class facilities and over the past few years, has gotten better after a slow start under Dave Wannstedt. And if Pitt hires long-time defensive coordinator Tom Bradley from Penn State, recruiting will pick up again and the program gets instant credibility.
But until then, Pitt truly deserves to play Kentucky in a bowl game that could be attended by no more than 38 people.
Much love to my man Anson for participating in our silly post. I wish you all the luck friend Saturday while watching Pitt’s 6th year senior, Gilbert Brown. How long has the kid , I mean Man, been there? It is good to see such a football power like Pittsburgh supports their team by watching basketball. Pitt is lucky Calipari hasn’t already made Dixon an assistant on his staff at UK. If Pitt’s football team gets to desperate for a football coach, I know of an alcoholic basketball coach in Texas that would love to get an interview.
There you have it TGR, our last “Other Side” of the season! Make sure you all show Anson some of that southern hospitality you are all known for. For all your Pitt Panther sports needs, make sure to check out both of his sites as much as possible. Thanks Anson…