Football: A win against South Florida would give Pitt its best start since 1982

By Kyle Craig

Handling History

Friday’s win over Rutgers improved Pitt’s record to 6-1 overall and 3-0… Handling History

Friday’s win over Rutgers improved Pitt’s record to 6-1 overall and 3-0 in Big East play. The last time the Panthers started 6-1 was three years ago, but Pitt fans should hope that similarities with the 2006 season end this week.

In 2006, Pitt won six of its first seven games and then proceeded to lose five consecutive Big East games. The Panthers finished the season 6-6 and weren’t invited to a bowl game.

During Monday’s press conference, coach Dave Wannstedt indicated that the failure of 2006 isn’t on his mind.

“If you wouldn’t have told me, I wouldn’t have even remembered to be quite honest with you,” Wannstedt told reporters.

“It’s a new year. We hadn’t beat Louisville since 1983 down there. We hadn’t beat Rutgers in five years, [but] we did it. This is a different football team. It’s a different year and [past failures] really have no bearing on what we’re doing.”

If the Panthers defeat South Florida on Saturday, it would mark the first time Pitt is 7-1 since 1982.

While Wannstedt doesn’t want to revisit past struggles, he doesn’t mind mirroring positive achievements in program history.

“You’re always looking for extra carrots out there to chase and to go after,” Wannstedt said. “That’s all part of the experience of trying to accomplish things that haven’t been done in a while.”

A victory over South Florida would be another benchmark in Wannstedt’s journey to restore Pitt to national prominence, which was his promise when he took over the program in 2005.

“[It’s] human nature. You want to accomplish something that has never been done or you want to accomplish something that hasn’t been done in a long time. I think those things are all healthy things to talk about,” Wannstedt said.

The Blue Movement

Apart from the normal Homecoming festivities that surround Saturday’s contest, athletic director Steve Pederson has a request for Panther fans.

Pederson announced Pitt’s “Turn it Blue” initiative, which asks Panther fans to wear blue to the game against South Florida.

According to Pederson, the idea was derived from letters that he received from students who wanted to unite the fans at Heinz Field under one uniform color.

Students will be provided with blue T-shirts upon their arrival at the game, and all other fans are being asked to break out their blue wardrobe.

It is Pederson’s hope that Saturday’s game is a reminder of the Panthers’ role in Pittsburgh’s sporting landscape.

“I think it’s fitting at the time where Pittsburgh has been chosen the No. 1 Sports City in America [by Sporting News] that we continue to celebrate all aspects of this, including the fact that Pitt football is such an important part of the history and fabric of this city,” Pederson said.

“Mack” Daddy

Dorin Dickerson is continuing his torrid scoring pace and is beginning to receive national recognition for it.

Earlier this week, Dickerson was included in the John Mackey midseason watch list. The John Mackey Award is presented to the nation’s best tight end by the Nassau County Sports Commission.

Dickerson joins 21 other players who are being taken into consideration for the award.

Through seven games, Dickerson leads the Big East and is tied for first in the nation with eight touchdown receptions. In total, Dickerson has 27 receptions for 274 yards.

The last Panther to catch eight touchdowns during a single season was Oderick Turner during his 2006 freshman year. A Pitt tight end hasn’t caught eight touchdowns since Kris Wilson collected nine in 2003.