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Steelers don't get any respect

| Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2005

Thinking out loud:

If you're a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, you better savor the remarkable past season and upcoming playoffs.

The odds of a repeat in 2005 don't look good when you look at the schedule facing coach Bill Cowher's team.

Next year's road card will rank as one of the Steelers' toughest with stops at Indianapolis, San Diego, Green Bay and Minnesota as well as Houston and AFC North rivals Baltimore, Cincinnati and Cleveland.

The home schedule isn't that easy either with New England returning to Heinz Field as well as Jacksonville and Tennessee.

It won't help Cowher that the Steelers will have to put up with the Monday Night distraction at least twice next season after no prime time games on ABC-TV in 2004.

Despite having the league's best record and maybe being its best team, the Steelers still don't get any respect.

That's why the Steelers are scheduled Saturday, Jan. 15 at 4:30 p.m. instead of the following day to make their post-season debut.

The NFL's big wigs think a possible New England Patriot matchup against Indianapolis and Peyton Manning would draw a bigger audience than the Steelers against San Diego.

-Bet new Pitt football coach Dave Wannstedt wasn't smiling watching the Panthers get clobbered by Utah, 35-7, in the Fiesta Bowl New Year's Day.

Anyone else think defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads' chances of keeping his job with the Panthers went down the drain after failing to stop the Utes' talented quarterback Alex Smith?

Rhoads had over a month to prepare for Smith, who had a field day against Pitt.

Now that Matt Cavanaugh has been fired as the Baltimore Ravens' offensive coordinator does that open the door for him to end up at Pitt?

If you have a short memory, Cavanaugh was a star quarterback for the Panthers in the mid-1970s when one of the Pitt assistant coaches was Wannstedt.

Wannstedt's first hire is expected to be Paul Dunn, who resigned as Kentucky's offensive line coach yesterday.

Dunn was a roommate of Dan Marino at Pitt in the early 1980s and is considered among the better line coaches in the college ranks.

-Who said the twice-beaten California University women's basketball team doesn't have much of a chance of defending their NCAA Division II title?

The Vulcans opened a lot of eyes at the Bahamas Goombay Shootout the other night by knocking off No. 5 and unbeaten Shaw University, 60-48.

Speaking of the Cal women, keep an eye on the Vulcans' 6-2 redshirt freshman Kim Nowakowski who could turn out to be the team's next big superstar when Sara McKinney graduates.

Nowakowski, the former Butler High star who transferred from Bowling Green, had game-high 18 points and 11 rebounds in last night's 56-54 victory over NAIA power Freed-Hardeman in the Bahamas Goombay Shootout title contest.

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