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Savran: Pitt loss to Miami still hit grace note

Saturday, November 23, 2002

Many are called, but few are chosen. No team has been chosen to defeat Miami in the past 32 games, but few have come closer than Pitt Thursday night.

It wasn't the final margin of victory or defeat, depending on your perspective, that was most impressive. It was the manner in which Pitt responded to one or two touchdown deficits.

dot.gif While you can't logically argue against Miami's perfect record, you might score some debate points contending that great players do not necessarily make a great team. Great teams play all-out, all the time. This group of 'Canes plays in spurts, when it wants to ... when it needs to.

Without taking anything away from Pitt's effort and performance, did it seem to you that when Miami got up, 28-14, its sideline demeanor suggested that it thought the game was over?

dot.gif Case in point. With a defense boasting so many linemen projected to play on Sundays in the future, how is it they're so easy to run against? They've been vulnerable all season.

dot.gif Pitt was able to stay in the game by a fingertip ... make that a fingernail belonging to Kris Wilson. If the Pitt tight end had the bad habit of biting his fingernails, he would not have tripped up punt returner Roscoe Parrish, who otherwise would have been long gone to make the score 35-14.

dot.gif Walt Harris' reluctance to acknowledge moral victories is commendable. You start that kind of mind-set, and your program begins to set its sights one level too low. Sooner or later you have to win games against what is considered top competition. But didn't they do that at Virginia Tech?

The game against Miami may not have been a moral victory, but it does represent progress.

dot.gif Ken Dorsey is a nice college quarterback, but he'll be little more than a clipboard holder in the NFL, if that. He'll further the grand tradition of Gino Torretta and Steve Walsh.

The MVP on this Miami team, if not the most deserving of the Heisman Trophy, is Willis McGahee.

dot.gif Is there anyone on the planet who talks more and says less than Lee Corso?

dot.gif Maybe Joe Theisman.

dot.gif Speaking of Heisman as in Theisman, it would please me greatly if this overblown, overhyped, meaningless bauble were retired. Forever.

From the first game in August, every aspirant's performance is evaluated based on how it might affect his Heisman status. How about how his performance impacted the game and its effect on his team winning or losing?

Forget that Dorsey stinking out the joint in the first half was jeopardizing Miami's ability to win the game and/or a national championship. The telecast centered on how being 5-for-15 passing might influence Heisman voters! Talk about being out of whack. Why can't a linebacker or a guard be the best college football player in the land? When they give it to one of them, maybe I'll buy into the concept. Until then, wake me when it's over.

dot.gif Not that I'm much into awards, but Larry Coker would be a distant third for Big East Coach of the Year. The winning coach of the Backyard Brawl would get my vote. If I had one.

dot.gif There shouldn't be a need to conduct a hearing on transfer Andrew Johnson's request to play football this season. Said request should be covered in the WPIAL's constitution and by-laws. There should be, make that there must be, a rule designating a certain date as the deadline for participation by a transfer. Black and white, cut and dried, no room for interpretation.

Sometimes rules aren't considered necessary until the exact circumstance arises. This is one of those circumstances.

dot.gif I want to make sure I understand this fully and correctly. The Steelers spent a month in training camp, played four exhibition games, practice just about every day, and have played 10 regular season games. Despite all that, according to Jason Gildon, they still aren't comfortable with whatever new twists the coaching staff added to their defensive schemes?

Every team engages in introspection during the off-season, and makes strategical adjustments accordingly. You have to, in order to survive in a league this competitive.

As they say, if you're not getting better, you're getting worse. There is no status quo.

I, too, have some issues with the coaching. Not what they do in the dime defense, but rather when they use it. Like on third-and-goal from the 4, when Eddie George waltzed into the end zone. Using six defensive backs when you only have 14 yards to defend was a curious choice.

Still, unless they snuck out there without me noticing, not one coach missed a tackle in Tennessee. By my count, there were at least a dozen misses by the players.

Stan Savran is host of a sports talk show from 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays on WBGG-AM (970).

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