Pittsburgh Sports Power Rankings

Tarping Heinz Field, JuJu gets his license and Stephon Tuitt buys his mom a house

It’s the weekly Pittsburgh Sports Power Rankings!

NFL: Preseason-Philadelphia Eagles at Pittsburgh Steelers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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Freezing temperatures are in the forecast for Pittsburgh this weekend. That means that outside of turning your heat on, the only way to warm up is to read the hot takes from another edition of the Pittsburgh Sports Power Rankings.

10. Public transportation

JuJu Smith-Schuster got his driver’s license during the Steelers’ bye week, hashtag: ItsLit.

And why did Smith-Schuster have to get his license? Because it’s pretty hard to navigate the City of Pittsburgh via public transportation, unless you want to go from Downtown to the South Hills and absolutely nowhere else.

9. Tarps

Pitt’s athletic director Heather Lyke said this week that sections of Heinz Field may be tarped off in order to make the sparse home crowds look a bit more homey. I mean, sure. That makes sense. But I have a depressing sports fact: no team that has ever had a tarped-off section of a stadium has ever won anything important, because if they were any good, they wouldn’t have to tarp off their stadium.

(Note: This may not be an actual sports fact. But it definitely feels true.)

8. Pirates hot stove season

Nik Turley

Nik Turley

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

If you like high-profile free agent signings, then you’re probably not a Pittsburgh fan and are currently confused as to why you’re reading this column in the first place. But free agency season is underway in baseball and the Pirates first move was … claiming relief pitcher Nik Turley off of waivers from the Minnesota Twins. Will this be their biggest move of the offseason? I … don’t … think … so?

7. Sidney Crosby

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Philadelphia Flyers
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Did you hear the news? The best hockey player in the world is bad again. Only two points in his last six games and no goals since Oct. 20, while having the second-worst plus-minus in all of hockey (behind only Kris Letang) on the season. Yes, Sidney Crosby is off to a bad start, so you know how that ends: Another Stanley Cup. #blessed

6. Pitt’s bowl push

'Who's going bowling...?"

'Who's going bowling...?"

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

After starting the season 2-5, Pitt is now 4-5 and has improved to the point of having a legitimate shot of reaching the six wins needed to be bowl eligible. Tonight they play 1-8 North Carolina at home on ESPN, a game in which they’re favored by 9 points. But then they close with two teams ranked in the Top 17 – Virginia Tech and Miami — and would need to pull off the upset in one to make a bowl. The likely outcome, because it’s Pitt: Pitt loses to the 1-9 Tar Heels tonight, loses to Virginia Tech in a close game and then beats Miami, 13-9, ending the Hurricanes national title shot.

5. Conor Sheary

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins-Championship Parade
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Conor Sheary, three-year NHL veteran and owner of two Stanley Cup rings, announced this week that is last name is actually pronounced SHARE-y, not SHEAR-y. Good note.

OK, it’s time for this column to have a musical interlude!

4. Ravens, Bengals and Browns

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers didn’t play last week thanks to their bye and still increased the lead in their awful division thanks to the Ravens, Bengals and Browns doing Ravens, Bengals and Browns things. (You know, losing.)

3. Big butts and girth

Shamiel Stevenson

Shamiel Stevenson

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Pitt men open their 2017-18 basketball season Friday against Navy. There are a lot of new faces on this year’s team and head coach Kevin Stallings is high on freshman forward Shamiel Stevenson so far. After an exhibition win over Slippery Rock, Stallings had this to say to Pittsburgh Sports Now:

“Shamiel has got a 6-foot-10 or 6-foot-11 wingspan. So in addition to having kind of a big butt — and I say that very affectionately — and some thickness, he’s got some length and some girth.”

A big butt, length AND girth? Sounds like Pitt has a keeper.

2. Evgeni Malkin

Evgeni Malkin had three points in the Pens’ 3-1 win over the Coyotes on Monday night. That was pretty neat. But this postgame was better.

1. Stephon Tuitt

Stephon Tuitt

Stephon Tuitt

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

How did you spend the Steelers’ bye week? I watched other teams play football and monitored my various fantasy teams on my phone.

Steelers defensive linemen Stephon Tuitt spent his bye week buying his mom a house, the Post-Gazette reported.

“I got a chance to give her the home she wanted,” [said Tuitt.] “That was a goal of mine since I was little kid. She worked really hard her whole entire life just to keep us in good neighborhoods and have us go to good schools, even though we couldn’t afford it.

“All that struggle she’s been through, the pain and suffering she went through, the hard work she put in, I only felt it was right to go back home and give her the house of her dreams and let her live debt-free.”

Sooooo … Apologies for not buying you a home last week, Mom. If it’s any consolation, my fantasy teams are doing well, though.