Take 5 | Pickett should start for Steelers moving forward, Pitt deserves a men’s volleyball team


AP Photo/Don Wright

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) celebrates beside teammates after scoring a touchdown against the New York Jets on Oct. 2 at Acrisure Stadium.

By The Pitt News Staff

In this week’s edition of Take 5, The Pitt News sports desk takes a look at the NFL’s ineffective concussion protocol, Steelers and former Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett’s NFL debut and more.

Despite ugly start, Kenny Pickett is the guy // Jermaine Sykes, Staff Writer

The Steelers finally benched quarterback Mitch Trubisky in favor of first-round draft pick Kenny Pickett in Sunday’s 24-20 loss against the Jets. Pickett showed flashes of brilliance for a team that desperately needs to recalibrate after an unusual 1-3 start.

Head coach Mike Tomlin put Pickett into the game because the Steelers “needed a spark.” A spark might be a stretch, but Pickett’s arrival did invigorate the crowd, receiving loud ovations.

The fans stayed loud until his first pass attempt, which former Pitt safety Jordan Whitehead intercepted. Pickett finished the game completing 10 of 13 passes for 120 yards. The Jets intercepted all three incompletions.

Despite the turnovers, Pickett showed willingness to take shots down the field and sit in the pocket on third down. Pickett should remain the starter and Steelers fans should believe they found their guy.

College football shouldn’t begin ranking teams until halfway through the season  // Frankie Richetti, Senior Staff Writer

College football needs to stop ranking teams before the season starts. 

The Panthers checked in at No. 17 in this year’s preseason poll, which was solely based on what they did last season. Fast forward a month or so, Pitt is sitting at 3-2 on the season with wins over West Virginia, Western Michigan and Rhode Island, and losses to Tennessee and Georgia Tech.

After five weeks, the Panthers clearly aren’t one of the top 25 teams in the country. On the flip side, we have also seen teams who started the season unranked — like TCU, Kansas and UCLA, for example — jump into the rankings this week because they are better than the committee thought they were in the preseason. 

Preseason rankings are always vastly different from the rankings at the end of the season because the college football season is unpredictable. So why try to predict it? All it does is create predetermined notions of teams which bring down the quality of the rankings.

College football shouldn’t begin ranking teams until around the halfway point in the season — then it’ll be much easier to get an idea of who the best teams in the country truly are. 

Pitt deserves a men’s volleyball team // Sara Meyer, Staff Writer

Pitt has nine national titles in football, three ACC championships in women’s volleyball and countless other titles in any of the other 17 varsity sports. Yet people often forget that Pitt boasted a dominant men’s volleyball program decades ago. 

Even though the men’s volleyball team won the Eastern Collegiate Volleyball League tournament and were ranked No. 2 in the East, Pitt cut the varsity program in 1981.

Schools on the west coast usually dominate collegiate men’s volleyball. But many schools in the east such as Penn State, Ball State and Ohio State are in the top 15 in the nation for NCAA men’s volleyball. Needless to say, finding athletes to recruit in the east is not the issue, nor is the revenue. Pitt has the potential for a strong men’s volleyball team if Pitt Athletics gives it the chance.

Pittsburgh is becoming the unexpected epicenter of college soccer // Zack Gibney, Senior Staff Writer

In a city that revolves around football, an outsider assumes soccer is nothing more than an afterthought. However, in one of America’s premier blue-collar towns, another kind of football is gaining traction.

Both Pitt’s men’s and women’s soccer teams have reached unprecedented levels of success, and people are taking notice. Both teams have attracted thousands of fans to soccer games in a City where American football is nothing less than a religion.

The crowd shots speak for themselves.

The teams have lost just four of their combined 21 games so far this season, with three of those coming from the men — a perennial national contender.

What makes 2022 so special is that the women’s team, a historically losing program, has entered the national conversation and shows no signs of slowing down. Despite playing in what many consider to be the most daunting conference in the country when it comes to women’s soccer, the Panthers are yet to drop an ACC match.

Both sides are nationally ranked — tickets to see these teams play are some of the hottest in the City.

The NFL needs to rethink its concussion protocol // David Scott, Staff Writer

Concussions are an ongoing issue in the world of professional football. The Thursday night football game between the Dolphins and Bengals gave the world a front row seat, showing that the NFL isn’t doing enough to remedy the issue.

The NFL boasts its strides in player safety, continuing to roll out new helmets and modifying unnecessary roughness penalties and other rules. One thing that the NFL didn’t improve enough in the quest for player safety is the concussion protocol.

In week three, Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa took a shot from a Bills defender, causing his head to whip against the turf. The Dolphins quickly cleared their quarterback to come back and play the rest of the game. The next week Tagovailoa took another brutal shot. This hit rendered him unconscious, and he went into the fencing response, a blaring alarm of a brain injury.

The NFL and the Dolphins’ response to Tagovailoa’s injuries show that the organization isn’t taking head injuries as seriously as it would like fans to think. Two concussions in two consecutive weeks not only jeopardizes a player’s career, but also their life.

The concussion protocol process needs to have transparency, more extensive testing and further restrictions to bar players from returning to playing before they are completely healthy.