PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan)- The Pitt football team is rolling right now. Two weeks ago, this team went down to Death Valley in Clemson, South Carolina and defeated the then No.2-ranked Clemson Tigers 43-42 on a game-winning field goal.
This past Saturday, Pitt returned home to Heinz Field and dominated the Duke Blue Devils in a 56-14 drubbing.READ MORE: Volunteers Sought For Days Of Service In Honor Of Tree Of Life Victims
Randy Cross, an analyst on CBS Sports’ Inside College Football, joined “The Fan Morning Show” on Monday to talk about these Panthers and the national recognition they are receiving.
Running back James Conner has gotten national attention, and deservedly so, for his battle and return to football from Hodgkin’s lymphoma this year. But, Cross says if you don’t know much about Pitt at this point, then you really haven’t been paying attention at all.
“I think that they are a lot better and more to them than just Conner,” said Cross. “The story of that young man I think captivated a lot of people’s attention and it was a good thing for Pitt. So, they had a natural inclination to cast an eye to what [Pitt head coach Pat] Narduzzi has done there at Pitt, and the way they’re finishing the season. They’re going to end up in a pretty good bowl and a chance to do it against somebody even higher profile. That game, the way they beat Clemson, where they beat Clemson, got everybody’s attention.”
Cross said that despite some close, tough losses this season for Pitt that has led to at least a four-loss season, 2016 could be the year that we look back on as the year they turned the corner and became ultra-competitive nationally.
“This has got all the earmarks for Narduzzi and the Panthers of being one of those years you look back at it and say, ‘That’s where it all really, you know, the foundation was laid.’ So, it’s got to be really exciting there in Pittsburgh,” said Cross.
There has been some speculation that the college game does not translate as well to the professional game now as it used to, particularly with quarterbacks. The spread offenses and different packages seem to be setting rookie quarterbacks back from progressing as quickly as coaches and organizations want them to. Cross says the NFL is slowly transforming to suit these players better.READ MORE: 'Sounded Like A Freight Train': Washington County Residents Say Storm Lasted Just Minutes, But Cleanup Will Go On For Days
“I think the NFL has finally smartened up a little bit, I’ll give them credit for that,” said Cross. “They’ve included some of the concepts and some of the basics of the college game from the spread concept standpoint into the pro level and it gives these kids a little chance of a running start of having at least a part of the package that is familiar to them.”
“I think it’s to the value of the young men playing quarterback, that’s why you see a [Cowboys quarterback] Dak Prescott being able to do what he can do, and some of these other rookies coming in and able to play. Now, ideally you want to just rest the guys, let them learn and then get in there. But, this is not that world, our attention span is a little short.”
Cross believes that the four-team playoff system in the NCAA right now is an effective way to find out who truly is the best team in the country.
“I think a four-team playoff is perfect,” said Cross. “You’re going to play three games to decide who the champion is. I think any bigger than that, it’s, ‘Who can get through the year and get through the process not only injury-free, but school free?’ They’re more of a survivor, and I like to look at college basketball for the best example. Is the best team that year in college basketball the team that’s ranked No. 1 before the tournament starts? Or the one that survives it?”
You can hear the entire interview with Randy Cross on “The Fan Morning Show” below.
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