But if the events of the past 4 days are any indication, Pittsburgh is not as high on the proverbial food chain as some would like to believe.
The stark reality is that two seasons do not make a dynasty nor do they make a tradition. This is true in almost all team sports. The Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL is proof positive that it takes more than a few division championships to create a legacy. Just ask the the fans of Cleveland, whose Browns wound up not even existing for a 4-year span.
The hard truth is evident when you look at North Carolina. Their losses this season were double Pitt's total losses the past two seasons, but the team has a history of championships and excellence unmatched by most programs across the country. Pitt's pales in comparison. They were able to sway Williams to return to his roots.
And Kansas has already attracted interest from Bill Self (Illinois), Tom Crean (Marquette), Mark Few (Gonzaga), Mike Brey (Notre Dame), and Mark Turgeon (Wichita State). Crean and Few were both rumored to have been in the Panthers' site immediately after Howland's departure. Neither expressed any interest nor were they ever seriously sought after.
Kansas fans need not worry though. Their program is safe in the history books as a traditional powerhouse. They will get the best coach available.
Pittsburgh will not, however. The Panthers put all their eggs in one basket and took a shot at Skip Prosser. They got out-bid by Wake Forest. Sadly enough, even Wake Forest has a stronger tradition in basketball than the Panthers. Everyone knows Tim Duncan, but who in the NBA remembers Charles Smith? Or Vontego Cummings? Or Jerome Lane?
So Pitt will most likely "settle" for Jamie Dixon. Dixon is a master recruiter and understands Howland's philosophy. This has all the makings of a Foge Fazio-like disaster, but most likely, Dixon and the Panthers will remain competitive. They might even achieve excellence beyond the likes this program has ever seen. It's too early to tell how Dixon and the program would grow if he does become the next coach.
It's also unfair to assume that Dixon would be unable to take the team beyond Howland's achievements.
Regardless of how the future plays out, the Panthers have made believers out of people across the country who now feel the program will continue to stay at this high level. But, when it comes to plum jobs, Pitt isn't "it". Yet.
Give it 10 years. If the Panthers had continued success in the decade following the Charles Smith-era, the head coaching position would likely be considered a "dream" job by many high-profile coaches. But, they didn't. And those years, especially during Ralph Willard's era, and the downfall of quality in the Big East didn't help the recruiting situation for programs nor did it attract high profile coaches.
In those 10 years the Big East lost Rick Pitino (Providence), PJ Carlissimo (Seton Hall), John Thompson (Georgetown), and Lou Carnesseca (St. John's). That's some huge "tradition" lost. So be patient. Give it 10 years. And the Pitt may just be "it".