Pipeline: Miami vs. Pitt
Which college team has provided the NFL the best pipeline of talent from 1979 to 2009? We're down to the Final Four as we decide which campus has the most fertile NFL grounds.
COLLEGE TO NFL PIPELINE
|No. 2 Miami||No. 3 Pitt|
If you wanted to design a project to best illustrate the rise of Miami football, you could do a lot worse than this Pipeline Bracket.
Over these three decades, the Hurricanes have arisen from the (nearly) dead to semi-permanent residency among the national elite. From 1983 through the mid-1990s, and then for the first half of the past decade, you couldn't spell the word football without The U.
To me, it's clear why Miami should prevail over Pittsburgh. This race is a marathon, not a sprint. The Hurricanes have delivered top-shelf talent to the NFL over the breadth of three decades, from Jim Kelly to Michael Irvin to Russell Maryland to Ray Lewis to Edgerrin James to Ed Reed. The first two already are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The others won't be far behind.
Miami has capitalized on speed everywhere on the field, and the Hurricanes have consistently produced the toughest player to find in the game -- the big, quick defensive lineman. Warren Sapp, anyone?
And if the cupboard has not overflowed of late at The U, not to worry. South Florida, the mother lode of football talent on the East Coast, continues to produce players. And Miami will continue to get its share.
-- Ivan Maisel
Pittsburgh had an incredible run of sending high-caliber players to the NFL in the 1980s and early 1990s. While the pipeline -- and the school's on-field fortunes -- slowed down a little bit in the late '90s and in the '00s, the Panthers still managed to produce a few high-impact stars.
Pitt has had only three first-round draft picks since 1995, but all three have blossomed. Larry Fitzgerald ('04) is one of the most uncoverable receivers in the league and nearly led Arizona to a Super Bowl championship. Cornerback Darrelle Revis ('07) shuts down half the field and helps make the New York Jets one of the toughest defensive teams in the NFL. And Jeff Otah has started 25 games on Carolina's offensive line since hearing his name called in the 2008 draft.
Add to that list contributors like former 1,000-yard rusher Kevan Barlow, receiver Antonio Bryant, Indianapolis linebacker Clint Session and running back LeSean McCoy, and it's clear that the Pitt pipeline is still churning players out, even if not to its previous prodigious levels.
-- Brian Bennett
|Top Five Hurricanes||Top Five Panthers|
No. 1 Ray Lewis
No. 2 Warren Sapp
No. 3 Cortez Kennedy
No. 4 Ed Reed
No. 5 Michael Irvin
No. 1 Dan Marino
No. 2 Ruben Brown
No. 3 Chris Doleman
No. 4 Rickey Jackson
No. 5 Curtis Martin
AND THE WINNER IS ...
The Panthers have put up a very impressive showing in each round of this bracket, but they finally met their match against Miami.
When I was the recruiting assistant at Pitt (from 2001 to 2004), Miami was in its heyday. We recruited the city of Miami, an absolute hotbed for high school football, so we were very aware of how the Canes went about recruiting their star student-athletes. Their pitch was very simple. They sat in a 16- or 17-year-old's living room and told the young man that he would have five years to become a starter for the Hurricanes. If this recruit could pull that off, he would most likely become a first-round draft pick and a multimillionaire. Every superstar recruit thinks he can do that and much more.
What Miami's coaching staff was selling could only be described one way: truth. How do you compete with that?
-- Matt Williamson