PITTSBURGH - Spring practice doesn't start until April, and camp doesn't open until August for the Pitt Panthers.
So it's far too early to have any idea what kind of a football season it will be under new coach Todd Graham.
But on Jan. 12, this much is certain:
Graham definitely talks a good game.
The new coach made a solid first impression at his introductory news conference Tuesday afternoon.
Pitt is betting about $10 million that the university has it right this time. That's the cost of Graham's five-year contract, which also requires another $2 million per year for assistants.
Graham's hiring officially makes Mike Haywood an unfortunate footnote in Pitt sports history.
Graham made it clear that he's looking forward. Maybe it's fast forward.
He wants Heinz Field filled on game days, and he doesn't want any of the 65,000 seats in use.
Graham plans an exciting, up-tempo football team, performing at a level that will consistently draw people out of their seats. He said "speed" is the first three entries on his priority list.
He took time to explain that he runs a no-huddle offense, not a spread offense.
That seemed to be a nod to tailback Dion Lewis and fullback Henry Hynoski, who have declared for the NFL draft, along with receiver Jonathan Baldwin.
Lewis is going in part because he thinks the Panthers will become a passing team. Hynoski is leaving entirely because he thinks a fullback will become obsolete in the new offense.
Graham's message? Slow down, gentlemen.
"We want to be a physical football team," Graham said. "I don't know how you can be a physical football team without fullbacks and tight ends."
So the sales job on the dissidents has begun. They're not alone. Graham was selling the program to wary recruits and disgruntled alumni, too.
If everything went according to plan, he hit the road this morning to round up some good football players.
Those he's targeted should expect a dynamic presentation. Unlike Haywood, who shrunk in the spotlight when he was hired, Graham savored it.
He introduced new staff members like he was hosting the Academy Awards. He spoke with an evangelical tone that suggested Billy Graham.
He has engaging drawl that evokes former President George W. Bush, minus the malapropisms.
It's a big job, and Graham appears to be anxious to tackle it.
No matter how angry boosters are with athletic director Steve Pederson and the sloppy process of removing and replacing Dave Wannstedt, it's hard to believe anyone could come away from Graham's debut without being impressed.
Time will tell if Pitt finally got the right man.
But on Jan. 12, it's easy to buy into what Todd Graham is selling.
Mehno can be reached at email@example.com)