Sunday, July 15, 2012

Counting down the top Pitt football players of the last 40 years- No.40 Rod Rutherford

I will be counting down my own list of the top 50 Pitt football players since 1972.  I have spent time doing a lot of research and talking to a lot of people when formulating this list, but ultimately it is MY opinion.  The great thing about lists like this is that people will disagree, and feel free to, but just remember that there is no right answer so there's no need to go crazy if you do disagree.  I will post this same intro with all 50 bios because I know the one time I don't, people will complain about not knowing what criteria I used.  I will add at least one a day, maybe two.  

My criteria for selecting the order is as follows:

1.  Productivity.
2.  Talent.
3.  Place in program history.
4.  Only the player's careers while at Pitt are considered, not their NFL careers. 
5.  No current players.

40.  Rod Rutherford (1999-2003)-  The former City League star did little in his first three seasons, redshirting in his first season then seeing little action in the following two seasons.  The speedy Rutherford did make one huge play as a redshirt freshman, however, and that was the 62-yard touchdown pass that sealed the victory against integrity lacking Penn State 12-0.  He also was the main kick returner and had a healthy 21.5 avg.  As a sophomore he played some at quarterback and ran for 6 touchdowns.

As a junior, the lefty finally got the starting nod and just his luck, the Panthers also had a young freshman named Larry Fitzgerald.  Rutherford found Fitzgerald early and often and ended up with 2,783 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 12 interception, while also running for 398 yards and running for 6 more touchdowns.

As a senior, the Rutherford and Fitzgerald combination became both the most lethal duo in the country, and the best passing duo in program history.  Rutherford threw for a Pitt record 3,679 yards and 37 touchdowns, both Pitt records.

Rutherford went undrafted and spent two years on the practice squad, first with Carolina than Pittsburgh.  With the Steelers he received a Super Bowl ring.  After playing in various leagues outside of the NFL, he is currently the receivers coach and recruiting coordinator for Indiana (PA).


  1. Chris,
    I read your blog all the time and this is the first time I have ever read anything critical of another program. "integrity lacking Penn State" was pretty funny!
    I would be interested to read your thoughts on the on going "situation" up in not-so-happy valley.

  2. Chris, is pitt still recruitingbquarterbacks for this class?

    Rod Was a good enough athlete that he couldve made an nfl team at another position.

  3. You know... PSU has yet to fire Curley..
    He is on leave of absence... (I don't know if paid or unpaid)
    That should have been the first thing the PSU BOT did friday..
    some things never change.

  4. Not the best player of the last 20 years, but my favorite. Glad he made the list.

  5. IMO, the third-best QB since Cavanaugh. 1. Marino 2. Cav 3. Rod.

    1. I would have thought Van Pelt as third best. Curious as to where you have him.... 4th?

  6. Chris - forgot to note that I am really enjoying the theme you are tackling... A wonderful off-season topic while await summer camp.

  7. Bob Costas had a profound quote on Meet the Press...

    It they play football up there at Penn State come this September, something is wrong.

    He spoke of suspending PSU football for a year but mitigate those football players by allowing them to transfer without sitout or extend their eligibility.

    1. Well if the do give psu the death penalty in football ...arent the players allowed to transfer wo sitting out a year? I thought that was the case

    2. Not the case... NCAA would have to provide an exception to transfer without sitout or extend eligibility if they want to remain at PSU.

    3. is running a couple pieces on the PSU subject...