PITTSBURGH - Todd Fitch has plenty of family and friends still living in the Ohio Valley.
He loves coming home.
However, he's getting to the point where he's wishing he didn't see his family and friends in the tri-state area under these circumstances.
BELLAIRE HIGH graduate Todd Fitch is in his second season as the offensive coordinator at the University of South Florida. Fitch and the Bulls were dealt a 44-17 setback Thursday.
"It's tough when you come close to your hometown and you don't play well," Fitch said. "But, it's a long season and we'll keep on fighting and focusing. Our players are resilient."
The second-year offensive coordinator at the University of South Florida suffered a loss for the second consecutive year when he and the Bulls came to within driving distance of his native Bellaire.
"I need to stop coming back home," Fitch said minutes after the Bulls suffered a 44-17 thumping at the hands of Pitt inside Heinz Field. "We're a lot better football team overall than we showed here. We're a much better team than we were a year ago."
Last season, on a Thursday night, the Bulls were dealt a 20-6 setback by West Virginia University in Morgantown.
The Bulls finished the 2010 season with an 8-5 record and won the Meineke Car Care Bowl despite the new staff being hired late in the game and getting a jump start on bringing in their own recruits to fit Fitch's offensive system.
South Florida came north with a unblemished 4-0 record, which included a cherished road victory at Notre Dame. However, it's other victories were against the likes of Ball State, Florida A&M and UTEP.
Not quite a murderers' row of college football heavyweights, but in today's age of always being suceptible to an upset, undefeated is undefeated.
However, Fitch's offense had being scoring points in bunches at an average 53 points a game the last three weeks.
"I don't know if this was a trap game," Fitch said. "Traveling on a short week is tough, but we're not going to make execuses because we didn't do the things we needed to do in all three phases of the game to be successful."
The Bulls were right in the game against the Panthers until the second half when it became a rout. Fitch and the offense shouldered much of that blame.
"We didn't do anything to help our defense," Fitch said. "Third downs we were hurried and got behind the chains, which is tough to fight through. We need to sit down and look at how we can become more consistent in the run game. And once we did find some consistency running the ball, we had some turnovers."
Despite last week's loss, Fitch likes the progress the Bulls have made under a coaching staff, which has been in place since January of 2010.
"We've still got some of the issues we were concerned with a year ago in terms of consistency in the passing game, but we're a lot better," Fitch said.
Fitch, who came to USF along with Skip Holtz when he was hired as the Bulls' head coach last season, is starting to get the pieces in place to make the Bulls consistent players in the Big East and national in scope.
"We've got a ways to go obviously, but we're getting better," Fitch, who is a 1981 Bellaire High School graduate, said. "When you go into conference place, it's a different intensity and a different level of competition in terms of the focus everyone is going to have. We have to consistently play for 60 minutes. There are great learning points from this game."
Quarterback B.J. Daniels has improved tremendously since last season and he's critical to the success of Fitch's offense.
For Fitch, South Florida is the ninth stop on his coaching resume. He's coached at his alma mater Ohio Wesleyan, Bowling Green, West Virginia, Colorado State, Connecticut, South Carolina, Iowa State and East Carolina.
Fitch's son Curtis is enjoying a strong sophomore season as the starting quarterback at George Steinbrenner High School in Tampa, which is off to a 3-1 start.
"He's doing really well," Fitch said.
"Pitt has been getting better every week and their tailback (Graham) is a really special player," Fitch offered.
Staskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org