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The Confidential

The ACC Sports Blog

The ACC School Mount Rushmores: Pittsburgh FINAL

Well, there were not too many comments on the Pittsburgh Mount Rushmore, making it a challenge for the Confidential.  Ultimately, the Confidential is going with Mike Ditka.  People forget how good he was a Pitt–an All-American tight end that led the team in receiving for all three years.  From there, he solidified his name as a NFL player and coach.  While he has had some controversially dumb things to say, there is no question that he is the epitome of “toughness,” which is an attribute that is associated with Pittsburgh, in general.

Pop Warner had great success, but he had success in a lot of places.  And his replacement had even more success.  Johnny Majors had a great peak with a National Championship, but then departed for his alma mater.  Hugh Green was the real challenger to Ditka.  But Green’s college dominance is offset by notable lack of accomplishment on or off the field thereafter.  Great player, but falls slight short of being an icon.

The Final Pittsburgh Mount Rushmore:  Tony Dorsett, Dan Marino, Jock Southerland, and Mike Ditka.

As we discussed previously, these school-wide Mount Rushmores are limited to sports only–players and coaches.  That being said, athletes that have gone on to have careers that have furthered their legend are rewarded also.   And negative publicity will also be factored in.  We do not believe that USC would put OJ Simpson on its Mount Rushmore.  It is what it is.  Admittedly, there will be a recency bias too.  While historical accomplishments are typically quite impressive, coaching college football (as an example) in 1955 was a lot different than coaching today, where coaches rarely get 5 years to make their mark anymore.  Similarly, in an era of up to 14 college football games or 40 college basketball games, as well as daunting pressure from the fans and media, today’s game is more challenging.  That’s our opinion and we are sticking to it.

Like Syracuse, Pitt is loaded with potential candidates for these four spots.  Especially on the football side.

The Confidential gives the first spot to Tony Dorsett.  Dorsett was a four-time All-American.  Just stop and think about that–as a freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior, Dorsett was a national star.  He is also the only Heisman Trophy winner for the Panthers, also leading Pitt to its most recent national title in 1976.  There are lots of great names in Pitt history, but Dorsett wins this Secretariat-style.  After graduation, Dorsett starred in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys and is still one of the top 10 running backs of all-time.  He is enshrined in the college and pro football halls of fame.

The #2 spot for Pitt goes to Dan Marino.  While most sports fans know the ridiculous numbers that Marino put up as a Miami Dolphin, Marino had an impressive college career as well.  If anything, it was a disappointing senior season that caused Marino’s stock to drop slightly–amazingly five quarterbacks were drafted ahead of him.  But Marino’s first three college seasons were very successful, as Pitt went 33-3 over that span.  He passed for nearly 8,000 yards in his career, finishing in the top 10 for the Heisman Trophy for three straight seasons.  His post-football career has included front-office positions and television jobs.  Like Boomer Esiason, Marino and his wife (Claire) have started a foundation to support autism research.

The #3 spot is, as always, a tough one.  The Confidential will select Jock Sutherland.  Although Pop Warner got Pitt rolling, Warner had success elsewhere.  Pitt’s Mount Rushmore should have someone whose success was primarily home-grown.  Sutherland coached the Panthers to five national titles in the period after Pop Warner (although Pitt could claim as many as nine national titles during that era).  Sutherland also played for Pitt for three seasons.  His career record was a ridiculous 111–20–12.

And that leads us to the number four spot.  Pop Warner and Johnny Majors won national titles for Pitt.  Mike Ditka was one of the best college tight ends during his Pitt career, before embarking on a lengthy and successful NFL career as player, coach, and television analyst.  Hugh Green was utterly dominant as a defensive player for Pitt in the early 1980s.  Bill Fralic, Craig Heyward, and Marshall Goldberg also had impressive football careers.  On the hoops side, Billy Knight, Brandin Knight, Jerome Lane, and Charles Smith come to mind.  If Jamie Dixon sticks around for 10 more years, and has some Big Dance success, he could find his way onto this list.  Maybe track fans will suggest John Woodruff or Roger Kingdom.  Anyway, this is where you come in–let us know who should be #4.

Who will be the Confidential’s fourth Pittsburgh Panther in its Mount Rushmore?

Other Mount Rushmores:

  1. Maryland Preliminary   Maryland Final
  2. Boston College    Boston College Final
  3. Wake Forest   Wake Forest Final
  4. Miami   Miami Final
  5. Virginia Tech
  6. Syracuse   Syracuse Final
  7. Virginia   Virginia Final
  8. Pittsburgh
  9. North Carolina State
  10. Clemson
  11. Georgia Tech
  12. Louisville
  13. Notre Dame
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