PITTSBURGH - It can only get better for the Pitt football team.
They started the season with a 31-17 home loss to Youngstown State, which came after head coach Paul Chryst had to suspend six players for violating team rules.
One of the players in that group was prize recruit Rushel Shell, a record-setting running back at Hopewell High School, which also gave Pitt Tony Dorsett a long time ago.
Upsets happen. But this one wasn't a fluke. Youngstown State outplayed Pitt.
For all of the offensive problems, Pitt's real problems may be on the other side of the ball. Chryst coached the game like a man who didn't trust his defense.
Times have been stormy for Pitt football since Dave Wannstedt was sent packing.
There's still a long way to go this season. That may or may not be good news.
Key to success
The success of the Steelers' defense may depend on how well and how often James Harrison is able to play.
It's never that simple, of course, but the Steelers are a significantly different team when Harrison is on the field and healthy enough to play his customary game.
If Harrison and Troy Polamalu are operating at their best, offensive coordinators have a lot of reasons to worry.
Path not taken
Back in mid-July, a scout from another organization was discussing what approach the Pirates should take at the trading deadline.
The scout advocated being big and being bold. He thought the Pirates should part with a prime prospect (he mentioned Luis Heredia) to add a major player.
His reasoning was based on circumstances in the National League Central. The St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers were all down. He also felt the Cincinnati Reds could be overtaken because they had lost first baseman and Most Valuable Player candidate Joey Votto to an injury.
Votto has just rejoined the Reds' active roster. As good as he is, the Reds were fine without him, posting a 32-16 record in the games he missed.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org