Pitt kids not smart enough for Notre Dame?

Pitt football Q&A with Paul Zeise

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Q: Regarding you Top 5 Pitt victories in the Walt Harris era where would you put beating Notre Dame in the last game in the history of Pitt Stadium (no pressure there huh?) and beating Penn State in the last game of that series for all time, well at least until JoePa turns 100? Is Pitt expecting a sellout for the Notre Dame game this Saturday?

Pat Perri, Bakersfield, Calif.

ZEISE: I've gotten many inquiries about this -- the top five Walt Harris victories and Dave Wannstedt's top five victories -- and the best I can tell you is this -- I could be convinced on about four more of Harris's being on the list -- the Notre Dame game, the final game at Pitt Stadium, the 12-0 Penn State win, the win over Miami, Fla. And perhaps the Oregon State bowl win, heck and even the N.C. State, bowl win. I picked the five because I thought those were the five best teams Walt Harris beat -- and the two in 2004 clinched a BCS bowl. Now as for the game Saturday -- Heinz Field is indeed sold out and that included a few thousand standing room only tickets. It should be a packed house.

Q: Is not the main reason that only two members of the current Pitt football squad were recruited by Notre Dame a matter of academics not football skill?

Abbot Friedland, New York, N.Y.

ZEISE: On a few of them -- likely yes, but the whole Notre Dame academics stuff is a little bit overrated. The Irish get football players into school who likely wouldn't qualify for the school if they weren't football players, the same way every other school does. I know there is this mystique about the exclusivity being a reason why they can't attract the best athletes any more but that is a whole lot of hot air. Look at the recruiting rankings the past few years -- the Irish aren't losing games and no longer relevant to the national title chase because they lack players or talent -- the Irish are losing because they currently seem to have a decided schematic disadvantage to just about every team they play. I'd say a bigger reason is this -- the Irish recruit nationally and Pitt does not so there are plenty of guys from all over the country they can recruit that Pitt doesn't have access to and hence they have less of a need to concentrate all of their recruiting -- and their offers -- on the five or six states that Pitt recruits. I bet if you looked at Notre Dame there wouldn't be that many kids -- maybe 10 to 15 at the very most -- that had offers from Pitt. Does that mean those other kids can't play at Pitt or does it mean that Pitt filled its need elsewhere or was looking for something else?

Q: Regarding the WVU-Cincinnati -- which team should Pitt be rooting for? In other words, which team winning benefits Pitt the most?

Nik Niblock, Pittsburgh

ZEISE: It is very simple -- Pitt fans should root for Cincinnati. Why? Because the bottom line is this -- if Cincinnati wins, the Panthers season will boil down to one game -- the Dec. 5th Cincinnati-Pitt game at Heinz Field. The winner of that would go to the BCS game regardless of what happens when Pitt plays West Virginia. So it is pretty simple, root for the Bearcats and if they win you will get to see a true Big East championship game here at Heinz Field on Dec. 5th.


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