I just got back from South Bend late last night and boy was the trip worth every penny of it. Wannstedt said it best (as shocking as that may be):
"I really can't describe the heart our football team has. We got incredible kids, I thought they never really came unglued and as many adverse things that happened in the game, turnovers, so forth. Nobody every folded, nobody ever lost their poise, nobody ever lost their confidence."
This is a tremendous win for the program, for the season and for Wanny himself. I can tell you one thing, walking around the stadium at half time, there wasn't a soul in the crowd of nearly 81,000 who thought that the Panthers had a chance to come back and win the game. Fortunately, this team and the coaching staff had different ideas. And why should they not? They had already come from behind to win games against Syracuse, Iowa, and South Florida. And two of those games were on the road! Make no mistake about it, this team has something special. They stick together and play hard to the end. Perhaps more importantly, they believe in their coaches and trust in the schemes and game plan:
"This team, we go out and play for him (referring to Wannstedt). We play for ourselves, but more for him," McCoy said. "At the end of the day, football or no football, he's always going to be a great guy. That's the biggest thing about him."
You simply can't overstate how important it is for the kids to complely buy into the coaches system. Wannstedt has apparently been able to win the trust of his team and consequently the Panthers played inspired football in the second half of Saturday's game. I'm sure some of you will disagree, but after Pitt forced overtime I truly believed there was no way we were going to lose that game. Even when the Irish drove inside the Panther 5 yard line, I couldn't help feeling that our defense was going to stop them.
I'm about to ramble on a bit here, so heads up, but you also cannot overstate how important the attitude exhibited by McCoy and many of the other plays is with regards to recruiting. When players are being quoted in the newspaper saying how much they admire, love and respect their coach and how he takes a lot of heat for their mistakes, prospective recruits are going to be impressed and excited about coming to Pitt and playing for Wanny. This, of course, goes back to the character of this team though. You see it in how they play on the field and how they handle themselves with the media. These guys do and say all the right things.
Don't get me wrong, this team is young and still has a lot to improve on, but Wannstedt has quite possibly laid the groundwork by building a team with great toughness and character.
Let's go PITT!