There is nothing as arbitrary and ultimately pointless in the sports world as power rankings — short of NCAA Tournament bracket projections in early December, of course. (Hey! Pitt is getting a 12-seed! Awesome!)
So it is with great pleasure that I hereby announce that I will be doing Pittsburgh Sports Power Rankings in this space each week, charting the players, teams, coaches and whatever else from worst to first.
One other important note: These rankings are intended to be fun, and also they are the final word on the current state of Pittsburgh sports, and no arguing will be tolerated. Thank you. Now let’s begin.
10. Landry Jones
In all the uproar surrounding Ben Roethlisberger’s statement Tuesday about possibly calling it a career — from talk of the Steelers using an early-round pick on a QB to discussion about Tony Romo coming to Pittsburgh (imagine Romo and Le’Veon Bell on the same playoff injury list! Wow!) to everyone just dismissing the comments entirely because retirement speculation will undoubtedly join injury speculation for Roethlisberger in his late thirties — not a single person in Allegheny County said these words: “Good thing we have Landry Jones. We should re-sign that guy.”
Poor Landry Jones. Four years on the team and not a person alive thinks he’s the heir apparent. At least he’ll always have that Week 17 overtime win over the Browns.
9. Petersen Events Center
It wasn’t so long ago that the Petersen Events Center was one of the toughest places to play in college basketball. Since its opening in 2002 through the 2012-2013 season, Pitt men were 9-1 at the Pete against teams in the Top 5 and 180-22 overall. On Tuesday night, Pitt lost at home to Louisville by the approximate score of 180-22 (it was actually 106-51).
Dating back to last season, Pitt has won only five of its last 11 home conference games and will likely add to that total with No. 6 Florida State and No. 9 North Carolina yet to arrive (not that they also won’t lose to some unranked teams). The Oakland Zoo might have to go real zoo and put cages around fans to prevent them from leaving and never coming back.
8. Joey Porter
Surveillance video backs up the claims of the officer who arrested Steelers coach Joey Porter on the South Side on the night of Jan. 9, meaning that while the Steelers coach’s charges were reduced, they probably won’t be thrown out entirely. In fact, assuming Porter had something to do with the defensive game plan the Steelers put together for the Patriots in the AFC title game, the City of Pittsburgh should try to put him away for a very long time.
7. Marc-Andre Fleury
Marc-Andre Fleury may be one of the nicest athletes to ever walk/t-push the earth. That’s why it makes it tough to accept what now appears to be reality: His shot at winning back the No. 1 job is over.
Matt Murray got to keep starting even after giving up seven goals to the Capitals last week, so his strong play since likely won’t get Fleury any time in net. The Flower is wilting right in front of us. It might be time for the front office to replant him somewhere else.
6. Jamie Dixon
The current state of Pitt hoops has some fans wistful for the days of Jamie Dixon. Maybe had he stayed and not left for TCU, the Panthers would be on track for another 21-win season followed by a humiliating NCAA Tournament exit that featured more timeouts and missed shots than points.
Too bad we didn’t know how good we had it then.
5. Random young defensemen
A year ago the Penguins were saved in no small part by the infusion of young forwards from Wilkes-Barre. This year’s team weathered the absence of Brian Dumoulin, Kris Letang and other regular defensemen with big contributions from Chad Ruhwedel and Cameron Gaunce. Maybe it’s time the entire WBS organization gets a shot. Put the Baby Pens in the NHL’s Atlantic Division and two Penguins teams might reach the postseason.
4. Pitt football
Maybe the best way to get fans excited for football season is to make them want to look past basketball season. But even beyond that, Pat Narduzzi continues to do well on the recruiting trail with Paris Ford and the rest of the 2017 class eligible to sign on the dotted line Feb. 1. And Narduzzi tweeted this during the Louisville debacle, so what’s not to love?
3. Conor Sheary
The carry-on-sized scoring machine has 16 points in his last 14 games, forever killing off the #WingerForSid hashtag. And … wait a minute … Crosby only has eight points to Sheary’s nine in the last five games? Hmm. Is it time to start a #CenterForConor hashtag?
This Crosby fellow is keeping him down.
2. Nathan Peterman
NFL teams searching for the “next Tom Brady” in the middle rounds of the draft is old. The new hotness is searching for the “next Dak Prescott.”
Is the Pitt QB likely to be an NFL star in 2017? Probably not. But he’s shooting up the draft boards as evaluation season begins and, at worst, that fact will earn him some money.
If only there was a local NFL team in the market for a young QB to develop.
1. Tom Brady
The Rooney Family might have the deed, but the AFC title game proved again that Brady is the real owner of the Steelers. Any remaining hope Steelers fans had that their team was the equal to the Patriots in the AFC — entering Sunday, both teams had been to three Super Bowls in the past 11 years, with Pittsburgh winning two and the Patriots one — were quickly dashed by Brady repeatedly hitting former Penn State lacrosse player Chris Hogan over and over again through the middle of the secondary. The latest blowout put Brady’s all-time record against the Steelers at 10-2, including 3-0 in conference title games.
Franco Harris’ statue welcomes travelers to the airport. For now. After last week, it could very easily be replaced with a Brady statue.
DJ Gallo is the founder, editor and writer of the sports humor site SportsPickle.com. He has also written for, contributed to or appeared on ESPN.com, Saturday Night Live, The Onion, Comedy Central, Funny Or Die, SportsCenter, The Guardian, CBS Local, USA Today, AOL, ESPN The Magazine and The Cauldron. He was almost the ‘Harambe kid’ of the ’90s when his Bobby Bonilla hat fell into the polar bear pen at the Pittsburgh Zoo.