Todd Graham: Pitt will win with character

I had a chance to catch up with new Pittsburgh coach Todd Graham on Wednesday for a forthcoming spring preview Q&A.

I also had to ask Graham about the Sports Illustrated/CBS News story last week that highlighted all of the program's legal problems in the past year, all of which occurred on Dave Wannstedt's watch. Graham said he is confident that those problems have been addressed and won't continue to plague the team.

"We've talked about character, integrity and discipline, and that's how we're going to do everything we do," he said. "We're a yes sir, no sir, yes ma'am, no ma'am crew. I've been impressed with the young people here. We have guys with great character."

Graham instituted several rules when he came in, including barring the wearing of earrings and bandanas in the locker room and meeting areas and outlawing cursing.

"I told them that no one in the country is going to do this, but we're going to do it," he said. "It's a physical symbol that it's not about me, it's about the team. Our guys have responded in every way. I think kids will meet whatever expectations that you set for them.

"Things have happened here that were unacceptable, but we've addressed those and are moving forward. I told the kids that I started off 26 years ago coaching 7th grade football, and I don't want to win by taking shortcuts and cutting corners. It's about winning every day, not just on Saturday and not just one season."

As for the story itself, Graham said, "My vision is that next year they will write an article about all the great things our kids are doing."

A couple of other quick notes:

  • Graham said Brandon Lindsey, No. 13 on my Top 25 player countdown, will make the perfect "Panther" linebacker -- the hybrid position in Graham's 3-4 defense. Lindsey, who played defensive end at 250 pounds last year, is excited about standing up as a linebacker and will move around the field. But Lindsey won't do much this spring after offseason shoulder surgery, and Pitt will try to identify other players who can fill that role in his absence.

  • Linebacker Dan Mason, who dislocated his knee in last year's Miami game, won't be back for the spring either. Graham called his injury a "month-to-month" thing. And if you saw it, you know how gruesome the injury looked.

  • Graham said incumbent starter Tino Sunseri holds the edge at quarterback, but that he's excited to see Mark Myers and Anthony Gonzalez this spring, too. He said Sunseri, being a coach's son, has an excellent chance to grasp his no-huddle offense and will benefit from being in the shotgun.