07 June 2012
(No idea who to credit for this picture, but it's fantastic)
ESPN decided to rank each conference in terms of best to worst coaching jobs. Hey, it's a long, long offseason. In the Big East, Pitt comes in fifth (via ESPN):
5. Pittsburgh: With one of the toughest home gyms in the country, the Panthers have built a reputation of blue-collar success. There is football money to cull from, but hoops does pretty well on its own merits thanks to a string of savvy hires.
Ahead of Pitt is Syracuse, Louisville, UConn and Georgetown. No real surprises there. But I was surprised that Pitt was ahead of Villanova, only because of Nova's location in a recruiting hotbed.
I do wonder how each team would fair in the ACC rankings, which predictably have UNC and Duke at the top, but then Maryland at three and NC State at four. My guess is they'd put Syracuse at three and Pitt at either four or five, depending on how much they value Maryland's recruiting location and somewhat recent success. Either way, Pitt should be above NC State.
Also of interest, Penn State is last among the twelve B1G members, WVU is fourth in the ten team Big 12 and Duquese is 14th in the 16 team A-10. Seems a little high for WVU, but see what happens when you get to a Final Four?
As ESPN writes, a big part of Pitt's success has to be attributed to the Oakland Zoo, which has made the Pete one of the toughest places to play in America. The Pitt News profiled the Zoo and it's accomplishments, including Pitt's 9-0 record against top-5 teams at home. Not to mention this amusing antidote about WVU's Joe Mazzulla (via Pitt News):
An hour before a February 2011 home game between the Pitt men’s basketball team and its Backyard Brawl rival, West Virginia, a Pitt student dressed in a gold shirt, navy gym shorts, high white socks and a headband stood behind a row of courtside seats. He intently watched the Mountaineers’ warm ups.
He paraded a mock-up of Joe Mazzulla’s mug shot and shouted Mazzulla’s name in an attempt to taunt him. Much to the student’s surprise, the West Virginia guard, who has had several run-ins with police, came over, signed the mug shot and then resumed his warm up. Both walked away with a grin.
See, WVU fans, sports can be fun even without throwing things at the players. Go read the whole piece.
And speaking of the Zoo, you have to be excited to read this (via Twitter):
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