Walt Harris addresses the media

The following is a sampling of statements made by Pitt head coach Walt Harris Wednesday morning at Big East Media Day at Giants Stadium in response to questions by various members of the media.

*On progress during time at Pitt: I have two feelings: I'm proud of what we've done and yet I know we can do more, and I know we want to do more. I also know, because I was at Ohio State in 1996 when we beat the University of Pittsburgh 72-0 and didn't throw a pass in the second half, I also know first hand how far down we were. But we've also improved in another area, that we've improved in tremendously, academically. In 1997 I think we had 17 University of Pittsburgh scholar athletes, this year we had 43. We had the highest GPA we've ever had, the football team had a 2.7 during football season, we weren't doing that in '96 before we were here and we weren't doing that in '97 my first year here. So we've made a lot of improvements in a lot of areas that people don't see. We inherited one pro football player from the previous coach and let's face it, you win with players. And we had up until this season, in other years, we've had one guy drafted, Kevan Barlow. This year we had three and three free agents. We're getting better, we're not getting better as fast as we want to get better, and we're not getting better as fast as we're working to get better, and I know we''re not getting better as fast as our fans want us to get better, but we'll make progress.

*On Virginia Tech: Frank Beamer is a great football coach, we try to pattern our defense and special teams after where they play so that's as great a compliment as I can give to them. They play with energy, I think the big thing for them is quarterback. Michael Vick was one of the best to ever play the game in this league so that's a tough act to follow. I'm sure Grant Noel will be a much better football player this year, I know he's trying to get healthy. I know we play them down there which is always a tremendous challenge.

*On the Big East conference: I don't think the conference gets anywhere near the just respect it deserves to get. To be 8-2 in bowls the last two years while the Big Ten is 2-8 and for the Big Ten to get as many accolades thrown their way to me is irresponsible evaluation of strength of the league. This is a tough league to play in.

*On confidence carrying over from last year's 6-game win streak: I would hope so [that it would carry over] but every year is a new year and we've got to go out and do it again. We can't just live on last year. I'm going to do everything I can, and I know the rest of the coaches are too, and our seniors, to get our guys to understand that the only way to go is to do it the correct way. We turned the ball over so many times we gave ourselves no chance of being successful.

*On recruiting: You recruit off your season. What made it a little more difficult this year than the previous year was that we had such a horrendous start and a lot of guys formed opinions based on that. But we're continually, year after year, getting a little better at drawing more talented players to our camps. We're real thorough that way and we think that if we can get a guy on our campus and get a guy to see our facilities and get a guy an opportunity to coach him and see the enthusiasm of our staff and the usefulness of our staff and our approach, we think we're going to be in it.

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