After Paul Chryst's first season as head coach at Pitt, it would be difficult to argue that the team's year was a success. The Panthers dropped their opening game to FCS program Youngstown State and also was defeated on the road by two teams they could have beaten -- UConn and Syracuse. Pitt was also blown out in an ugly loss to Cincinnati and suffered a disappointing defeat at the hands of Notre Dame after holding a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter.
But despite the 6-6 finish and the miserable losses, Pitt's season isn't as bad as it may appear at first glance. Don't get me wrong -- the Panthers' season wasn't a good one, not by any stretch of the imagination. But while the Panthers have been inconsistent this year, one has to be impressed with the way they've bounced back.
After an 0-2 start, Pitt rebounded to defeat Virginia Tech and Gardner-Webb in consecutive games to get to .500. The team dropped games to Syracuse and Louisville, but then bounced back again to defeat Buffalo and Temple. And with their season on the line after losses to Notre Dame and Connecticut, the team had arguably their biggest win of the year, beating a ranked Rutgers team and then following that up with a blowout on the road at South Florida.
Paul Chryst hasn't always had the team ready to play - that was evident in games against the Penguins, Huskies, and Orange. But what he has done is motivate the team to come back and not give up. The Panthers have had several points this year where they could have given up on the season, but fought back to win games. Detractors will likely point at the Panthers' victories and point out that many came against weak teams. But the fact is that Pitt proved they were capable of losing to weaker teams already. Without a good effort, the Panthers could have easily fallen short of a .500 season and for that, the team should be commended.