Blog Entry

Flourishing Five honorable mention

Posted on: August 5, 2010 12:54 pm

Over the past three weeks we've run a series on ranking the five schools we believe have the best combined football/basketball programs. Not surprisingly, it stirred much debate regarding the order of the top five and the teams that got left out.

Flourishing Five series rundown
No. 5 Pittsburgh: Football | Basketball
No. 4 Wisconsin: Football | Basketball
No. 3 Ohio State: Football | Basketball
No. 2 Texas: Football | Basketball
No. 1 Florida: Football | Basketball
The "chosen ones" were determined by a small group that included myself (as the college basketball production editor), college football production editor J. Darin Darst, college football senior writer Dennis Dodd and college basketball senior writer Gary Parrish.

Now, hopefully, you didn't gloss over the italicized print at the top of every article with included the phrase: ranks and profiles the schools who’ve positioned themselves for success now and into the future in both sports.

So it became of balance of recent/current performance (using a five-year span as our benchmark) and our expectations of what the future holds (looking five years ahead) for these programs.

Florida's four combined championships (two in football and two in basketball) over the past five years made them an easy choice for No. 1. Even without Tim Tebow, the football team is well positioned for continued success under coach Urban Meyer and basketball team is back on the rise after missing the NCAA tournament two straight seasons following their championship runs.

Deciding who was No. 2 between Texas and Ohio State was a little more difficult. Ultimately, Dodd felt that conference expansion wranglings this summer showed just how powerful Texas had become in college athletics and argued that gave them the edge. In reality, we're splitting hairs as both programs are exceptional.

Now where it really got interesting for us was choosing teams 4 and 5. In alphabetical order the teams we brought up for consideration were: BYU, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

After doing the statistical research, we were rather surprised at just how well Wisconsin showed in both sports. Nothing flashy, just solid results year in and year out. And they do so without the high-profile recruits you find at other major college programs. They're the epitome of blue collar teams.

At No. 5, it came down to Big East rivals West Virginia and Pitt. The consternation of Mountaineers fans didn't got unnoticed when Pitt came in at No. 5 and Wisconsin was unveiled at No. 4 a few days later.

To break this particular tie, it was feelings on the futures of the two football programs that broke the tie. Both basketball teams are superb, each accruing eight NCAA tournament wins over the past five seasons. Notably Pitt was the only team that we considered for the Flourishing Five series that managed at least one tournament victory in each of the past five years.

Now clearly West Virginia has had more overall success in football the past five years. But Dodd believes that Pitt is on the rise under coach Dave Wannstedt and isn't sold that West Virginia will remain a power under Bill Stewart. Therefore the Panthers came in at No. 5, while West Virginia just missed out.

BYU, Oklahoma and North Carolina were a little bit further behind.

BYU, like Wisconsin, has been solid for the past several years in both sports, but what eliminated the Cougars from top five consideration was the fact they had managed to make it out of the first round just once in the past five years.

Oklahoma just didn't have the past stats and the basketball team could soon be facing sanctions for NCAA recruiting violations. The Sooners have lost three of their past five bowl games and have finished the season with three or more losses in four of the past five seasons.

North Carolina is an interesting one. A year after winning the title, the Tar Heels missed the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2002. However, all signs point to the team returning to prominence in 2010. But the football team under Butch Davis is still somewhat of a question mark. While improved the team has yet to win a bowl game under Davis, losing to West Virginia 31-30 in the 2008 Meineke Car Care Bowl and falling to Pittsburgh 19-17 in the 2009 Car Care Bowl.

And with that, we close the book on our Flourishing Five series. My guess is the griping still isn't done, but at least now you've gained a little more insight into how the final rankings came to be.


Since: Aug 22, 2010
Posted on: August 22, 2010 9:41 pm

Flourishing Five honorable mention

I mentioned how Pitt football fell off the face of the earth from 1984 to 2004, and i just read that this is partly because Pitt raised its academic standards for recruits (above NCAA standards) under then Chancellor Posvar. His new academic standards were strongly fought by the football program. Interesting tid bit. speaking of academics, i mine as well take my shot at WVU. WVU academics is an embarrassment compared to Pitt academics. Pitt is by no means an ivy league school, top prestigious school, or anything to brag about but still.... WVU.... do its bball and football players graduate, majority of them speak literate English, or are from this country cough where did that foreign bball player Kilicli come from cough only at WVU huh cough? At least Dixon and the Wannstash are dedicated to getting their athletes respectable degrees (tiebreaker 2). PEACE AND HAIL TO PITT!!

Since: Aug 22, 2010
Posted on: August 22, 2010 9:23 pm

Flourishing Five honorable mention

Why Pitt #5?

Football: Although of recent Pitt football has not been extremely successful it is clear they have a bright future. Dion is a strong candidate for the heisman the next two years and Pitt football has very high expectations for the coming years (BE titles, BCS bowls, individual player honors). WVU might have a slight edge on Pitt in football of recent, but when it comes down to it Pitt crushed WVU's hopes of a nat'l title at HOME and leads the all-time series against WVU (tiebreaker). Pitt also produces more "exceptional" NFL players. Best cornerback in the NFL: Darelle Revis. ONE of the best WR in the NFL: Larry Fitz. "Pitt has produced 289  players, many of them among the famous players in professional football history. Furthermore, in a survey of NFL drafts from 1979 to 2009, ESPN rated Pitt third, behind only USC and Miami, for having "the most fertile NFL draft pipelines."<sup id="cite_ref-122" class="reference"></sup> Some former Pitt players that have left their mark on the NFL include , , , , , , , , , , , , , and .

Six Panthers have been elected into the . Pitt is tied for seventh among all colleges and universities for the number of former players inducted. (wiki)

Furthermore, Pitt is beating out recruits from dormant rival Penn State! Honestly, that is enough to put Pitt ahead of WVU even though WVU has been more successful than Pitt in recent years. When it comes down to it, Pitt football has always been one of the best programs in the country; however, since 1984 till about 2003 they fell off the face of the earth. That does not, however, erase all tradition they have and will continue to create in the following years. Just look at the recruits, coaching staff, NFL alums, and current players... Pitt football is back. 

Basketball: Pitt BBall is pretty self explanatory. Its recent accomplishments speak for themselves. With Jamie Dixon at the helm, the basketball program can only move forward. If only Pitt had won the nat'l title with Blair, Fields, Young, and Dixon there would be no cry babies here. "IFs" don't count though. What really puts Pitt over the top in Bball is the Pete i.e. the Peterson Events Center. Go to a game at the Pete and a) you will realize it is one of the premier college bball arenas in the country b) witness the eccentric yet classy "Oakland Zoo" and the rest of the sell out crowd and c) almost certainly witness a Pitt victory as Pitt holds one of the best records at home of any college bball team... further, "Since its creation through the end of the 2009-10 season, the Pitt men's basketball team has compiled a record of 132–11 (.923) at the Pete, including a 7-0 record against teams ranked in the top five." and "In 2006,  surveyed the 's basketball players, and the Pete was named the "Toughest Place to Play," with specific players mentioning the Oakland Zoo and the fans' creativity." 

That is why Pitt is #5. Maybe WVU has a better tourney record or more impressive bowl victories of recent, but when you look at the "whole picture" (to specifically be cliche), the combination of the Pitt Basketball program and Pitt Football program is worthy and meritorious of a #5 ranking. Both programs have storied traditions and will certainly continue to build on that story with high expectations for both programs in the near and distant future.  


Since: Aug 30, 2006
Posted on: August 7, 2010 2:37 am

Flourishing Five honorable mention

My post got deleted fromm Dodd's story. Whyyy?? Cuz I threatened his job? You do as well, wonderful writing.

Since: Aug 1, 2010
Posted on: August 6, 2010 5:11 pm

Flourishing Five honorable mention

No that wasn't clear.
Pitt and WVU both rank high in the overall FBall and BBall rankings.
Opening paragraph of Parish's article 
It's 430,000 total square feet and big enough to hold more than 12,000 fans for games. It's got a beautiful glass front off of which campus buildings reflect. There are nearly 20 luxury suites, including five courtside. The whole thing cost $119 million to build, and it's the reason  basketball has gone from an afterthought to a Big East power in less than a decade.
There it is.  His reasons for why Pitt was ahead of WVU.

That says a lot about the current state of "amateur" athletics.

Since: Jan 17, 2008
Posted on: August 6, 2010 10:53 am

Flourishing Five honorable mention

-My statement was that Pitt has not once beaten WVU, in the last 5 years, in the BE standings- they haven't...In football. I thought that was pretty clear. Tie breakers aren't the standings- record is.

Since: Aug 6, 2010
Posted on: August 6, 2010 6:38 am

Flourishing Five honorable mention

Not that I disagree with most of your statements about Pitt and WVU....Let first start by saying I am a Pitt Fan, but only root against WVU when they play each other...cause lets be honest the 2 school need each other, without both being dominatn the other loses respect. This has always been the case.

The key issue that you don't recognize is that this is not just based on football it on basketball too. But lets just stick with your football arguement for now...

when this was done the 2009 season has completed....not 2010, therefore...our 2004 Big East championship and Fiesta Bowl are in play here.

I don't discount that over the past 5 years the Mountaineers Footbal program has far exceeded that of Pitt's, however remember pitt did beat a WVU team 15 to 9 at WVU, when every expert in teh country picked wvu at National Champs. No matter what the reason, whether it was the news the RR leaving or Pat Whites thumb, who knows...The fact remains this was a turning point in the 2 programs. WVU is still elite, and If I had to chose I would list them as 5a and 5aa...I mean that is where these programs stand. You can't discount what Pitt is doing in Football, no matter how much you may hate to do it.

P.S. - WVU BB is getting really good! But don't discount PItt's 10 straight NCAA Tourney's, and in the last 5 years 2 conf. tourney championships and 3 reg. season champions. In the best Basketball Conf. in the country.

Since: Aug 1, 2010
Posted on: August 6, 2010 12:03 am

Flourishing Five honorable mention

BobBOb Said:

-My statement was that Pitt has not once beaten WVU, in the last 5 years, in the BE standings- they haven't...

BobBo also Said:
2008: Pitt did beat WVU in the standings.2008:
UC: 6-1
Pitt: 5-2 Beat WVU
WVU: 5-2

They were T-2 both the last 2 seasons- take head to head if you want, and they split.
If you want to argue with me, get your facts straight...Open mouthinsert shoe

Since: Aug 5, 2010
Posted on: August 6, 2010 12:03 am

Flourishing Five honorable mention

2006 Ohio State 24 Texas 7

Was this game ever played. 
I guess Ohio State could compete in the Big 12, and there is no way they could beat powers such as KSU, ISU and Baylor.

Since: Aug 1, 2010
Posted on: August 5, 2010 11:11 pm

Flourishing Five honorable mention

Last 2 seasons is a split according to Big East Tie break rules.
2009 BE Tourney seed rankings based on regular season finishesPitt #2WVU #3
That gives Pitt a better finish during the conf. play
So to correct the statement- In the Big East Conference Standings over the past 2 years, WVU has finished ahead of Pitt only once in the past 2 years in basketball or football.  Pitt has finished ahead of WVU 3x.

Since: Jan 17, 2008
Posted on: August 5, 2010 9:31 pm

Flourishing Five honorable mention

<span><span class="QuoteMessage">My statement was that Pitt has not once beaten WVU, in the last 5 years, in the BE standings- they haven't...</span><br /></span><span><s
pan><br /></span></span><
span><span><br /></span></span><
span><span>add in football to that statement.</span></span>
;<span><span><br /></span></span><
span><span><br /></span></span><
span><span>Pitt has had a couple better regular seasons in a few of the last years in basketball, but they still amassed the same number of tourney wins (in 1 more appearance) and they produced the same number of BE tournament titles as well (1).</span></span>

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