By Mychal Hunter
We all have that friend right? The guy that for whatever reason just thinks he deserves the world without really doing anything to earn it. He’s the same guy that asks “Who the fuck do you think you’re talking too?”, when you challenge him on something as insignificant as Pepsi being better than Coca-Cola. If you don’t have one of those friends, you’re that friend. It’s similar to the fucking nightmare female that hangs out with pretty girls so she thinks she can act like a bitch.
The grass is always greener on the other side. Be careful what you wish for. Don’t cross the road, if you can’t get out of the kitchen.
Alright so that last one is by Doc from The Boondock Saints, and doesn’t make any sense, but you get the idea. The point is, the Pittsburgh basketball fans are that friend.
In 1999 the Panthers hired a coach from Northern Arizona who had won 63 games in three years, gone to a NIT and the NCAA tournament. That coach was Ben Howland, who after a tough first season, took the Panthers to the NIT, and then two sweet 16’s before bolting for UCLA.
At that point, Pitt made a hire from within, promoting assistant coach Jamie Dixon, who had been with Howland the entire time he was at Pitt, as well as four out of the five years he was at Northern Arizona.
That first season, Dixon inherited a pretty phenomenal team led by Carl Krauser, Jaron Brown and Julius Page, and the Panthers went 31-5. Pittsburgh basketball has been around since 1905, not once in their history had they ever won 31 games. In fact, not once in their history had they ever won 26 games. When the Pittsburgh fans ran Dixon off after the 2015-16 season, they had won 26 games or more, 6 times.
That’s correct, the Pittsburgh fans ran off a coach that averaged 25 wins over a 13 year period, went to the NCAA tournament 11 times, the NIT once, and one strange year they went to the CBI tournament, which they won. There was a “fire Jamie Dixon” account on Twitter. A “fire Jamie Dixon” page on Facebook. I couldn’t view the Facebook page because I don’t have Facebook, it’s one of the best decisions I have made in the last two years. Before Dixon arrived at Pittsburgh, the Panthers had made 13 tournaments since 1940, their first tournament appearance. When Jamie Dixon left, they 26 appearances.
Dixon is now chilling at his alma mater TCU in Forth Worth, TX. Yeah, garbage ass Texas Christian. When was the last time they were relevant? Well, its been a while, they had one 20 win season since 2001-02, haven’t made a tournament since 1997-98, haven’t made it past the first round since 1986-87. Texas Christian is so bad, they only had 3 winning seasons since 2002-03. The year before Dixon arrived, they went 12-21.
TCU went 24-15 in Dixon’s first season and won the NIT Championship.
Now, Pitt is an established powerhouse right? Blue blood through and through, forget about who brought them there, they are there now. Power 5, power program, power hire, right? Wrong. Nobody wanted to go there. At the end of the day, the school is still in fucking Pittsburgh. I did a student housing project out there 4 years ago, my cleaning crew pulled guns on my other cleaning crew, it was fucking insanity.
Now I don’t know the particulars, I am not an insider, I am just a guy who points and laughs from afar. Steve Forbes at ETSU, Matt Driscoll at North Florida, Pat Kelsey at Winthrop, Ben Jacobson at Northern Iowa, these all would have been fantastic choices for Pitt, instead they went with Kevin Stallings.
At this point in the story, I have to say: Pitt fans, I feel your pain. I wanted Paul Hewitt fired from Georgia Tech long before that guillotine fell. When I heard that Dan Radakovich was going to hire Brian Gregory, I just wanted to re-hire Hewitt. The only difference is, Hewitt sucked, and Jamie Dixon was the winningest coach in you programs history.
Stallings had been the coach at Vanderbilt for 17 years before he was hired at Pittsburgh. He had 9 NCAA tournaments in that time, but had only had 6 winning seasons in the SEC, and a conference winning percentage of 49%. Gross. Stallings also has the reputation to be about as likable as the guy that sits in his car, in January, while his wife fills it with gas and he rolls the window down to remind her not to forget to clean the windshield. It’s no secret, kids transfer away from Kevin Stallings A LOT. He gets even by putting foolish restrictions on those transfers and doesn’t give in until he’s crucified in the press. In fact, Sheldon Jeter, a player on last years Pittsburgh team, was once a player for Stallings at Vanderbilt and transferred after his freshman season to Pittsburgh, and then had to play his senior season under the same guy he couldn’t wait to get away from.
Anyways, last year in Stallings first season the Panthers went 16-17, with a roster that had a senior point guard, two wing players that averaged more than 18 ppg and current UNC star wing (another transfer) Cam Johnson.
Pitt recruiting has also taken a dive. One time Panther commit Aaron Thompson is now at Butler. The are also no true freshman committed for the 2018 class. Stallings has three JUCO transfers on this years roster, and his best recruit for next year is a JUCO transfer as well. Once promising recruit Damon Wilson transferred this past offseason to Georgia State and Rozelle Nix transferred to South Alabama. A couple others transferred that the jury is still out on.
Last night, Pittsburgh earned its first win of the season against UC Santa Barbara of the Big West Conference. The Panthers were 5.5 point favorites… at home. No ACC team should ever be a single point favorite against a Big West team at home, ever. It was only fitting though, since two nights prior, Pitt dropped a game to Montana, also of the Big West. On opening night, Pitt lost at Navy by 9, the Midshipmen lost to Penn by 21 last night.
So just remember Pittsburgh fans, when you want to blame your Athletic Director for the Stallings hire, when you wonder why you cannot land any 4 star recruits, when you wonder why TCU is consistently above you in RPI, KenPom and Palm, you only have one group to blame for your school being the worst team in the ACC.
Jim Christian thanks you.