QB2 Ricky Town; Chapter 2

A TALE OF TWO TOWNS; Chapter 2

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

This second in a series article takes an in-depth look at transfer QB Ricky Town’s backstory and it is an interesting one. Usually when a player comes onto a school’s roster one takes a glance at where and when he played his previous football and moves on.  But in this case the more I read about Ricky Town the more interested, and then fascinated, I became so I started making phone calls to satisfy my curiosity about the young man and from there I felt his was a story that was waiting to be told in deeper terms. 

The first chapter of this story can be found here and I suggest you read it first if you haven’t already…

Perhaps in normal days a school’s back-up quarterback issue wouldn’t be something that warranted looking to in-depth but it’s importance will be magnified at the University of Pittsburgh this year because just last season we saw what could happen when your starting QB goes down with injury and your back-ups (QB2s) have to take control for the rest of the schedule.

That came to pass in 2017 at Pitt and the result was an overwhelming failure of the offense and was a key reason we dropped to a seven loss and five win season – the worse Pitt has completed in a full decade of play.

17 espn

The fact that ex-USC backup QB Max Browne, who transferred in for a single year of play, wasn’t talented enough to play successfully at the D1 level was written about on here extensively prior to the start of last season.  Before the 2017 spring practices started The Pitt POV reached out to two Southern California USC sportswriters and a USC football blogger to get their firsthand accounts of and a feel for what type of player Browne was previously and might be for Pitt. The feedback was surprisingly across-the-board negative and we saw that writ large when Browne started the season and played way below everyobody’s expectations.

Save for one four TD game against a truly bad 4-8 Conference USA Rice team, that ended up being ranked very low in all national passing defense categories, Browne threw exactly one other TD in the rest of the season. That lone TD was in overtime against Youngstown State. He didn’t throw any TDs in regulation play except for the Rice game.

When Browne went down in that sixth game with a shoulder injury Pitt was standing at 2 wins and 3 losses and it didn’t get much better under his replacement rsSO Ben DiNucciImage result for ben dinucci pittNot surprisingly with the acquisition of yet another transfer QB for this year in Ricky Town DiNucci has left the Pitt program and transferred out, along with the once highly heralded rsFR Thomas MacVitte who had hadn’t throw a single pass in a game while at Pitt.

DiNucci’s situation after the season ended was unique and unfortunate. After the last game of the season he was told that he was to be the second string QB behind starter Kenny Pickett (more on him later). However, in December the coaching staff entered into talks with Town and arranged a on-campus visit for the weekend of December 15-16th.

Ben Dinucci heard what was happening and feeling mislead, and not for the first time because it happened twice before during the regular season, he abruptly left the team on December 14th and Town then signed his LOI on December 17th.

To quote Cardiac Hill on this issue:

The Panthers’ quarterback situation took another strange twist in Saturday’s loss to NC State. In that game, Pickett relieved DiNucci, despite the game being close and DiNucci playing relatively well. Afterwards, head coach Pat Narduzzi and DiNucci gave conflicting accounts about the plan for playing time in the game.

In his post-game statements, Narduzzi insisted that both DiNucci and Pickett knew of the plan to play both during the contest.

“It wasn’t a taking Ben out because he wasn’t getting the job done,” Narduzzi said. “We had talked with them prior to the game so there was communication prior to the game on what we going to do and what the plans were.”

His starter, however, saw things differently and was taken aback by being removed from the game.

“A little bit surprised,” DiNucci said in response to being asked about if he was surprised by being taken out of a close game. “I wasn’t necessarily aware going into this week that they were going to try to get him a series, but that’s ultimately their decision.”

A follow-up question was asked about any conversations he may have had with Narduzzi and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson, perhaps to jog his memory. DiNucci’s response?

“I didn’t know anything about it going in beforehand.”

That DiNucci was assured of the 2018 QB2 spot and was, again, mislead by the head coach was the final straw before his leaving the team.

So, the possibility of going into 2018 missing his two marginally talented backup QBs, and in DiNucci the only one who had shown any smattering of D1 talented to start with, was a question mark Narduzzi didn’t want hanging over the offense’s head so he welcomed Ventura CC QB Ricky Town to transfer in for his last two years eligibility.

Continue reading “QB2 Ricky Town; Chapter 2”

Why Pitt Is It For GC…

Why Pitt Is It For GC…

I grew up in the bedroom community of Penn Hills and graduated with 1000 other Penn Hills kids. Had a great time in high school, was too small for football and in the wrong clique for basketball, so luckily I excelled at high jumping and by my junior year gymnastics also. It was important in a class of 1000 to gain some notoriety if you wanted to date the more worthy girls. Funny story; I was voted President of the Varsity Club, but the Football coach didn’t approve and rounded up a bunch of his players then  took a second ballot. But I digress.

My first memory of Pitt is my Dad taking me to a game, which I vaguely remember that Paul Martha starred in, and who could forget their first visit to massive Pitt Stadium.  My Dad was the reason I ended up at Pitt. He was a research engineer at Westinghouse and went to night school at Carnegie Tech. One of my earliest memories is of him dropping me off at Skibo Hall and I rolled around on the gym mats while he was in class… I was destined to be a gymnast.

Anyway, I was having so much fun in High School that I never thought ahead to college. My Dad filled out the Pitt application and, had me sign it, so I went to Pitt. I did have good grades and a decent SAT, but probably wouldn’t be accepted there today.

Back then, Pitt had a several day summer orientation, I remember a particular evening on the Gateway Clipper. (Note: current Pitt LB Quentin Wirginis’ family now owns the Gateway Clipper line).

So in the fall of ’68, my folks dropped me off at Tower B where I was assigned a dorm room. Image result for tower b pittFor you young folks, those really were turbulent times with the Vietnam War raging, the assassinations of RFK and MLK, inner-city riots and student protests. The music was awesome though with Motown, the British Invasion and the start of Hard Rock. My neighbors in the dorms had a record player and played the Doors all day and all night. By the time I graduated everyone had their own stereos playing Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. One night there was a buzz through the Towers, because “Paul Was Dead! so  people began playing the Sgt Peppers album backwards, etc.

I walked on the Pitt Gymnastics team, which was being reconstituted after a hiatus. I was a parallel bar specialist and fit in with the great bunch of guys. They took me to QuinQues where I had meatballs and cheese in a bowl and a beer. I had already started drinking when I was 15 and was bar hopping throughout the region when I was 16, but it was still cool have a beer with my new friends.

Freshmen were ineligible to compete at the varsity level so we could not partake in matches, even though I was the best of my chosen event which were the Parallel Bars.  We freshmen did get to go to the away meets which was great. Image result for gymnasts using parallel barsMy first time on a plane trip was travelling to Amherst and the University of Massachusetts. It was really cool and I got to eat my first Filet Mignon on the plane also – I kid you not. Now you get less than a dozen tiny pretzels.

That year at a Penn State match Gene Whetzel, the legendary Penn State gymnastics coach, suggested the freshman be allowed to perform an exhibition. At PSU gymnastics was a huge draw, so I got to perform in front of a packed Rec Hall. I hit my routine (meaning I didn’t fall off the bars) and got a rousing applause from the crowd. It was quite an experience for a guy used to performing in front forty or fifty people.

Also that year the coach had some extra scholarship money and asked if anyone needed help. Like a dummy, I knew little about my finances and didn’t speak up. That summer my Dad took me to sign for some college loans and the light bulb went off.  So the next fall I talked to the coach and told me he couldn’t help. But if I made the team that year, he would help next wrangle a scholarship for me the next year.

I had a pretty good year with the help of the best coach I ever had, a grad assistant who believe in my talent and told me I could possibly win Eastern League Tournament and make NCAA’s National Tournament the next year.

When I came back that next year, after hitching across the country (which is a story best told over beers) the coach told me he had to renege on the scholarship he promised me because a kid who he had given one to the year before had gone out for football didn’t make it and had come back with his parents to petition him for the scholarship.

As you can imagine, my pride was hurt so I quit, thinking that I would get a part-time job. (Another story!). There were a bunch of guys with scholarships who weren’t earning points let alone winning or placing high, like I had done the year before. I should have gone to our athletic director Cas Myslinski, but I was too naïve to think like that.

I tell you this for two reasons, first because the coach was incompetent and secondly I never saw him coaching anyone as the assistants did the coaching. That speaks directly to the incompetence throughout the athletic department at the time. Examples of that are football had Carl DePasqua and Dave Hart and this was pre-Buzz Ridl for basketball. But I never held it against Pitt and later when the coach left I still used to work out with team and even helped coach a little.

The second reason I tell this sad tale is that for an athlete there is only a small window to be at your best. For years I regretted my decision to quit and wondered how much better I could have gotten. Only recently have I realized that I may have been lucky to quit considering how much more arthritis I might be experiencing, not to mention the chance of real injury. As a young guy you think you are bullet proof, but gymnastics is high risk sport. I was really glad years later when my daughter gave up the sport to play soccer.

Also I do want to mention that as an athlete I always had respect for my competition. That carries on to today which is probably why I don’t have much hatred for our rivals. Sure I want Pitt to beat them on game day, but I find the rest of the put downs and name calling rather childish. Sport should lift us up in nature; not make us act like idiots.

In any case my experience with athletics was mostly positive, I got to be with some great teammates, travel and see some great places like the Naval Academy among other places. During my sophomore year Easterns were held at Syracuse and each team was hosted by a sorority, which was obviously really fun. Manley Hall had a dirt floor and all of our white uniforms had red dust from our feet to our ankles. The things you remember.

I also remember seeing Ralph Cindrich, working hard to rehab his knee in the weight room; Moose handing out towels with his squeaky voice, the training room in the bowels of Fitzgerald Field Hall and the squash courts built even deeper in The Fitz. Image result for Fitzgerald Field Hall pitt interiorAt Trees Hall, the shared weight room, the racquetball courts, you had to climb down into, playing pickup basketball with the guys from the Hill, the scary high dive at the Pool.

I was on campus when Mooney Knight came on campus with Buzz Ridl and we had a basketball team for the first time since our All-American Don Hennon. Also during my senior year, a “Major Change” came to Pitt.

I remember quarterback Bob Haygood wearing a high school letter jacket with more award patches than anyone I seen before. I saw Coach Majors work out the previous, recruiting class which wasn’t his, at Fitzgerald so hard that most of them quit. There was also now a separate training table for football where other athletes not allowed.

In essence I was there when Pitt football went from complete incompetence and irrelevance to championship greatness!

It was really hard to believe from what I had personally witnessed earlier. We went from having three 1-9 teams in football with a basketball team that no one remembers to playing a game against a great North Carolina State team with Pitt’s team being mostly local Pittsburgh area kids.

One of the great things about a university in the middle of a City is that you benefit from the total environment. From being able to study at Carnegie Library when Hillman Library was closed, to the Carnegie museum and music hall; having the Syria Mosque on campus, Soldiers and Sailors Memorial were all major assets. Even the hospitals on campus were great especially since I flattened my nose in a touch football game on the Cathedral lawn and spent hours on the floor waiting for them to bring in a plastic surgeon.

Don’t forget the girls from Carlow and Chatham College, even next door neighbor Carnegie Mellon University and Flagstaff Hill with co-eds in the spring.

Also while at Pitt, the Pirates won the 1971 World Series and the Party in Oakland that night is still the biggest bash I have seen.

My friends and I also witnessed the rise from obscurity of the Steelers; from the drafting of Joe Green to the Immaculate Reception and first Super Bowl.

Forbes Field was torn down while I was at Pitt also. I was on the field looking around when The Great One, Roberto Clemente, took his last walk around the infield wearing a shark skin suit and just being his awesome self. No one bothered him by asking for an autograph as we could just imagine what he was thinking.

I marched from Oakland to downtown Pittsburgh in protest against the Vietnam War with a lovely co-ed. Then watched the Pittsburgh Police bash in some heads and take people to jail. We had no bus money so the young lady and I hoofed it back to Oakland on our own through some rather sketchy neighborhoods. It helped set the mood for later that night…

I spent a lot of time in the local establishments and got very proficient at Pin Ball. That cost me a lot of quarters until I got good enough to play all day using only one or two. Measured how drunk I was the night before by how messed up my shirt was from the late night Big O chili dogs. Image result for old ritters diner pittsburghLate night trips to Ritter’s Diner and Primanti’s Brothers when the Brothers were actually there. If they liked you then a sandwich and drink was two dollars; if not three dollars.  After Scotty’s was torn down there were all night joints in Oakland for a while.

The Peace and Love thing was big but I won’t go into the drug stories too much even though the statute of limitations has long expired.

I enjoyed my college experience so much, that I stayed for two more years at the Graduate School of Public Health after I actually got a little more serious about studying.

Back to football for a minute, I spent many an afternoon in an almost empty Pitt Stadium so I have paid my dues so to speak. I’ve really great memories but as you know I am a realist about the reality of an on-campus or ‘Pitt only’ stadium. You can’t live in the past or predict the future. I just wish more people would embrace the ‘now’ and show up at Heinz Field when Pitt is playing their home games. It is what we’ve got and it ain’t bad. Other than being on campus, it is million times better than Pitt Stadium.  I actually remember getting splinters from the wooden benches and knees in your back from the people sitting behind you.

Pitt Fans are their own worst enemies but I guess at times excuse making is all we have. You have to take the good with the bad and hope that better times are coming, while enjoying the times you have now and have had in the past.

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So many stories and it is fun remembering and sharing some of them. I hope you enjoyed your Pitt experience as much as I did and still do.

How many of you have run up all of the Cathedral Stairs, penny’ed your neighbors into their Tower dorm room and flooded them out or had a gun pulled on you in front of Haddon Hall? And remember the crazies on Atwood Street? Those were good times!

HTP!!

GC had another bite from the originating and sent me this additional bit the next day…

It always bugged me that I wasn’t stout enough to play football. I loved the sport and playing with my friends. I had two uncles that were football legends at Allegheny High School. Uncle Mike went on to play at Tennessee and as a tight end caught two touchdown passes to beat Alabama, a very big deal at the time. He was on Bear Bryant’s first coaching staff at Kentucky. Yes he coached there before Alabama. Mike also coached in the pros before taking over his wife’s family business after her father took ill.

uncle georgeMy uncle George was a running back who played basketball at Duke, went to WWII and then played basketball and football at Tennessee after the war. I learned most of this on the internet since my family didn’t talk about it much.

My uncles both played on SEC championship basketball teams at Tennessee.
So my love for athletics is genetic. I loved running and jumping and playing most every sport.

I should mention that college life helps you learn how to grow up in many ways and learn how to deal with people on a daily basis. My freshman year roommate was on the Golf team, yes once upon a time, Pitt had a golf team as well as a Men’s Gymnastics team. He was a great guy and we had a lot of fun adjusting to college life.

Although being on a sports team at Pitt was pretty relaxed in those days, it was challenging, fitting it all in and making grades. I marvel at how Football and Basketball players do it today and why more aren’t ineligible. My roomy was from Waynesboro and he and a group of his buddies all came to Pitt. One was named Zack, he worked at Flo’s Records and ended up owning the store. I always wondered what happened to those guys and many other of my classmates.

I am now down to golf as the only sport I can still play and wondering how many rounds I have left in me.

I am proud to say my immediate family is 100% Pitt. My high school sweetheart started at Clarion and was either so bored or missed me so much she transferred to Pitt. Good thing too, she typed all of my papers and helped a few of us make grades. One time in an anthropology final there must have been six of us looking over her shoulder.

I later regretted immensely not learning how to type, although I am better than Frankcan. After we were married my wife Pat went back to Pitt and got her Masters in Library Science.

My son Alex went to UPJ and is now a successful mechanical engineer working at Westinghouse, just like my Dad. My daughter started at W&J to play soccer, like her mother found it boring, transferred to Pitt and she is now a librarian at a top school district. They both married super people and I am very lucky to have them living in Greater Pittsburgh.

None of them are as Pitt Crazy as me, but my wife loves going to basketball games with me, until last year, she hates Stallings, did I mention she is very perceptive? Both my kids attend some games in both sports with or without me.

I mentioned my father getting me to Pitt since I didn’t have the brains or money to go to his alma mater.  He really was a Pitt Fan.

He died watching the 1983 Pitt-WVU game. I wonder if I may go out the same way since so many times Pitt gets me so agitated.

I am encouraged that Heather Lyke has the support of Gallagher and the BOT and will bring Pitt back to relevance if not prominence. Although I wouldn’t be a Pitt Fan if I didn’t harbor a little doubt.

As always, Hail to Pitt!

 

 

Who in the Hell Does Ike Think He Is?

Who in the Hell Does Ike Think He Is?

Well to answer that question for a very long time in my life… I simply didn’t know who I was.

I wanted to contribute and be a part of the autobiographical articles on the POV so I had to ask myself, “Self, how did you become such a big PITT football fan and be so fanatical about it?” So I’ve started and erased around five different times wondering how I can explain all the past. I didn’t want to come off as a bleeding heart or too dramatic, yet at the same time my young life is what is most important in telling this story. There are no pretty girls and loves of my life involved; no romantic tales or mingling with the players from the team, this would be a long distance relationship.

I started off as a child born into a large family in a large house in Greensburg, PA which my maternal Grandmother owned. My family lived on one side of the house, grandma was on other and a couple was staying in the third floor two room apartment – they were Patsy and Ruth or “Do” as I called her.

Image result for james dean motorcycle imagesMy father was an alcoholic and people thought he was a James Dean type because he was the only person anyone knew of who owned a motorcycle back in those days. He worked for the railroad and in his spare time collected and worked on old cars that ended up littering our backyard like it was a junkyard.  This was complete with chained up mean-ass junkyard dogs that no one was allowed to go anywhere near. This was while we lived smack in the heart of Greensburg mind you… sounds like a white trash lifestyle to me!

My Mother’s last pregnancy was very difficult one and included a long hospital stay for both my new baby sister and my Mother. During my Mother’s illness I became very close with the couple upstairs as I could just walk through my Grandma’s side and go up a flight of stairs to see them. Our family was pretty much lost and confused without our mother available so I spent a lot time with them.

DoSoon the biggest change in my young life happened when my Mother passed away on our living room couch a few months later. I was around four years old when she died from the flu pandemic of 1959 because she was still weak from her hard birthing and there were no hospital rooms available for her so she had to stay at home. I guess it was obvious to my Mother that she wasn’t going to pull through because she asked the couple upstairs if they would take me in and raise me which they said they would, and did.IMG_0473_01

So Patsy and Ruth were my new parents. Patsy, who was the local mobbed-up Bookie, had been raised in Italy and Ruth was from the Deep South. Once they took me in we moved right into where my family had lived after they relocated outside of town to Hempfield, PA. We did not have a telephone, a TV or get this… a car and we never did get one. We did get a telephone later on but I wasn’t allowed to answer it – that was Patsy’s instrument of business!!Image result for bob prince pirates

Anyway, later I had been given the greatest gift a small boy could own; a transistor radio. I loved Patsy but he was a hard-line dago who had two rules. Rule One – “I’m the boss” and Rule Two, if you don’t like it, see Rule One again! His other two minor rules were; don’t chew grape bubblegum in the house and he never wanted to have to hear Bob Prince’s voice. He couldn’t stand the man.

Image result for roberto clementeAnd this just when I had become a big baseball and Roberto Clemente fan and listened to all their games I could. I just had to sneak-listen to the games in my bedroom with the radio underneath my pillow so Patsy couldn’t hear it. Why is all this important?

You’ll see…

So, I was the biggest Pittsburgh Pirate fan they had. I followed every game in 1960 when the Pirates had won the World Series in 1960 and I just couldn’t get enough of them. I read the Tribune Review’s sports section everyday and followed my team into the fall when there wasn’t any more baseball to be played.

Image result for old steeler pennants

I also quickly became a Steelers fan to quench my thirst for Pittsburgh sports. Being their fan was much more difficult as the Steelers were pretty much awful back then usually losing more games than they won.  “Ed Brown goes back to pass! Ed Brown goes down!“… But I still loved them even when they lost. I had become a PITTSBURGH fan and really loved the city.

Down the block from our place lived a grade school chum of mine whom I still talk with today. That little redheaded kid, named Dave, and I became fast friends with only one problem; his two older brothers had gone to Penn State and he was a fan of that school… ugh!  I knew nothing about Penn State or any other college actually. My life had centered on surviving through the day at hand as well as I could.

Dave would tell me how the whole family couldn’t stand the University of Pittsburgh and how badly they all wanted PSU to beat them. I can remember wondering almost out loud how he and they could possibly root against a team from Pittsburgh. That was a load of bull to me. Pittsburgh was my town.

End of story right? Pretty much but…

Patsy was a devout Catholic, a dago as it were, and an aside here; in case anyone is taken aback by the word dago, I use it because I consider myself part Italian. Hell, you don’t live with an Italian as long as I did without some rubbing off on you to become part dago. However Ruth was a Southern Methodist lady who went to church whenever she could. They both insisted I needed to get some religion so they sent me along with the redhead’s family to church on Sunday’s (still no car, remember?).

That church had organized a bus trip to PITT Stadium to see the Panthers play West Virginia. I had already become a big PITT football fan but only from reading about the games in the newspaper…. and now I’m going to see PITT but damn did it have to be with Penn state fans? PITT was getting their ass kicked by the Mountaineers in the 1st half and the redhead’s PSU fans just loved it.

Over a section from us was another group down from Greensburg who were also PITT fans like me. The Redheads were having their fun with the big lead and here I was stuck in the middle of it. That didn’t last for long though as that was the game that PITT roared back in the 2nd half to win.  I believe it was 36-35 and in that Greensburg group I found myself some new friends who shared a love of PITT football like I did.

Image result for pitt pennants

I’m still best friends with the biggest PITT supporter that day. That, my friends, was a joyous ride home on that rickety old school bus. Of course that’s not the end of my story but like the telephone we weren’t allowed to answer, the rest is left for a different day.

That’s it, no romance, no real drinking… just a young boy struggling to find his way in life and how he got on the road that lead him to PITT Panthers football and then to the Pitt POV.

 

Pitt Excels in Sports Academics… & Learn How to Create Your Own Blog….

Pitt Excels in Sports Academics… & Learn How to Create Your Own Blog….

Breaking News: Pitt Excels as a Student/Athlete Institution

From this morning’s Post-Gazette.  What wonderful news…

Twelve of Pitt’s 17 programs performed at or above the national Academic Progress Report average, and six of those programs — football, baseball, men’s and women’s cross country, softball and women’s tennis — set or matched their highest all-time APR scores, according to figures released Tuesday by the NCAA.

Three teams — softball, women’s cross country and women’s tennis — posted a perfect score of 1,000, the last of which did so for the fourth-consecutive year. Thirteen of 17 programs posted scores at or above last year’s marks. One of the more pronounced improvements came from the football program, which saw its score jump 10 points to 984, vaulting it to fourth among 15 ACC teams and putting it 16 points above the national average. Men’s basketball also posted a 984, placing it 17 points above the national average and fifth in the conference.

This is what I have always envisioned for the University of Pittsburgh.  Ever since I started blogging on The Pitt Blather and now on the Pitt POV I have held firm in stating that yes, the student/athlete concept and requirement is not dead as so many Pitt fans seem to think it is.

This is part and parcel of our modern-day football history as we have seen more of an emphasis on doing deeper background checks on football recruits since the early 2010. Our players still get in trouble sometimes but Pat Narduzzi is quick with discipline and has had rosters filled with students who are also taking academics more seriously.

This is what the bigger donors are concentrating on with Pitt football also – Remember the Guttman’s and their $2M donation to the football program – that was earmarked mostly for the tutoring and educational facilities for the players…

Good for him and good for Pitt.

Developing a Successful Blog:

Date: Monday, June 11, 2018
Time: 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM
Branch: Miller Branch


Description:

Creating and writing a blog offers a great way to build a space where you can share your writing and thoughts while generating discussion with others online. Blogger Reed Kohberger guides you through the process of envisioning, designing, and creating your blog; writing engaging articles; and cultivating a group of dedicated readers and commenters.

*Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410-313-1950.

Miller

Drop me an email if you can’t attend but want the lesson materials sent to you…

Hope to see you there,

Reed

Also:

Dan72 and I are going to be attending this Pitt Alumni function down here in Maryland on June 7th – let’s get some other Maryland POVers to come also – it’s free and if you aren’t an alumni it doesn’t matter – just register as a “Friend” like I did.

Here is the webpage to register…

Alumni

A Way, Way Look Back…

A Way, Way Look Back…

Here is a bio piece from a friend of mine who has been closely associated with the University of Pittsburgh for many decades – as has his extended family.  He wished to remain anonymous but I’ll say this – you’d recognize the last name immediately if you really know about the University…  I remember my parents talking about them, and I wouldn’t doubt one or two had cocktails on a friday evening at our place back in the ’60s.

I can’t think of anything overwhelming me about Pitt other than in the mid 50’s, my older cousin, Sami, played Pitt soccer for Leo Bemis.  Sami was a petroleum engineering student and mischievous as anything such as putting a Hersey chocolate bar on Bemis’ car seat as he drove the team to an away game. Anyhow, through Sami, I got to meet a lot of Pitt athletes such as Corky Cost, Corny Salvaterra, and other football players. I never was in contact with the basketball players but meeting some of the football players from the ’55 and ’56 bowl teams made me a follower of Pitt Panther football.

Neither my Mother nor Father were college graduates as both had helped build my father’s company. However, my Mother’s pride of her connections to the Oakland YWCA and the University of Pittsburgh was constantly a reminder of her esteem for Pitt.  I’ve also had three relatives as professors at Pitt including heading departments.

For me, it was Pitt football and Duquesne basketball. Note that despite the heroics of Don Hennon, Duquesne was the Big Dog back then in basketball with Sihugo Green and the Rickett Brothers. Oh, how I listened to games on the radio no matter where I was and occasionally made it to Pitt Stadium.

 When I was a high school junior, I had a foot operation at West Penn Hospital.  Who was my roommate? It was Bill Linder, co-captain of the Pitt football team. What a thrill for me to have six and seven guys from the team visiting and joking with Bill and me. Fred Riddle the Pitt FB was hilarious.  As a teenager back then, all these college guys in their Pitt letterman jackets joking and telling stories in my hospital room was a treat I never forgot.

Image result for mike ditka, pittUpon graduation for a Pittsburgh high school, I was accepted to Princeton but chose to go to Pitt.  By the way, that first semester at Pitt led to me getting on an elevator in Schenley Hall with a guy in a letterman jacket with a flattop haircut and mammoth sized hands and head.  Yep, it was Mike Ditka who I later in my professional career had opportunities to get to know and discuss Pitt.

Some of the Pitt guys I got to know were Paul Martha (went to Law School with Paul), Fred Mazurek, Ernie Borghetti (photo above title), Fred Cox, Kenny Lucas, Dale Stewart, and Eric Crabtree. Fred Hoaglin, the Pitt center, married my wife’s sorority sister.  Those really were fun days.

Going to Pitt Stadium for a football game was so different from today’s game. A son of mine played for Clemson and let me tell you 84,000 screaming orange and white fans is like the SEC in every way. But at Pitt back in the 50’s and 60’s, it was very different.  All the players were there to get college degrees in fields such as engineering, chemistry, physics, law, medicine, and dentistry.

The NFL was just getting by and nothing like today’s NFL. So, the chance to play in the NFL was an iffy situation as the money might not be as good as a starting lawyer or doctor. People went to the games after enjoying time on campus, eating in Oakland, meeting friends, and marching up Cardiac Hill to sit on those forsaken bench seats in the big bowl on the hill. What a view!!!

The band played, people cheered and all respected that the young guys on both sides of the field were respectful of each other and their institutions, even PSU. Clean fun, festive atmosphere, and a toughly played game were the draw. Sure, some had too much to drink, but walk out of a game, hell no.

Over the years, I was struck by how many Pitt and Steeler players I got to know despite being far from Pittsburgh.  I can say in complete honesty, all were wonderful people, great sportsmen, and all loving their days at Pitt and in Pittsburgh.

Maybe I Just Enjoy the Agony…

Here is another nice look back at another Pitt fan’s young life. Our friend Jay 91 is a converted Nitter fan – something you don’t see too often around these parts. Thanks a lot Jay, this is a great story… Glad you escaped the clutches of The Evil Nit Jay.

Why am I a Pitt fan?  Maybe I just enjoy the agony..

I’ve been reading these pieces and thought I’d add my kindling to the top of the Pitt bonfire.fr

Let me shoot this shocker at you right off the bat… I was once a Penn State fan.  Sorry, I just threw up in my mouth a bit there. But yes, it’s true. The biggest Nittany hater in the world once sported a t-shirt with Joe Paterno’s face on it. But before you banish me from the POV, please allow me to explain.

Both of my parents hail from Somerset County, my Dad from an especially rural area southeast of Berlin, PA. That area is set in big PSU country. My Dad’s brother Dave had attended Dairy U. and my dad (who would later play at W&J) actually attended football camp there in Rip Engle’s final year as head coach. So, growing up in Maryland and Delaware where the NFL is far more popular than college football, I didn’t know any better.

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That all changed in 1980. My Uncle Dave’s that guy who the more he likes you, the more he likes to give you sh!*. Well, let’s just say he really likes me. To no one’s surprise I was always willing to give it back and so at the time I realized the best way to get his goat was to root against his Lions. I guess his daughter Barb realized the same and we became THE two Pitt fans in the entire family. It was us against the world!

Continue reading “Maybe I Just Enjoy the Agony…”

Ajs32: How Pitt Changed My Life

Here is a submittal from our reader and commenter Ajs32.  Another great slice of life piece and this, and the writing that all you others have contributed, is truly what separates the Pitt POV from any other sites. Bar none.

My Pitt story isn’t all that dramatic, but it is ironic that I ended up loving the school I desperately did not want to attend.

My love affair with Pitt sports began in the early to mid 1990’s when as a ten-year old, my father who was a Pitt engineering drop out, got me into following the basketball program.  I was a huge fan of Jason Maile, Jerry McCullough, Eric Mobley, Chad Varga, and Vonteego Cummings. 9274-706538fr Pitt basketball often lost more than it won in those days and I would get agitated when we would lose to Seton Hall and especially Syracuse.  I remember thinking as a fifth grader, “We will never beat Syracuse in basketball, never.”  I also remember watching an NCAA Tournament with my father during this era and Cincinnati was doing great.  I asked, “Why can’t Pitt win like them?”  My dad said, “Cincy is big time basketball, we just aren’t.”

Unfortunately, as time went on, my father began to lose interest in sports in favor of following politics (yuck) and completing home improvement projects, (double yuck) and I became obsessed with the NFL.

I was a huge Steelers fan growing up in the North Hills and I also cheered for the Buffalo Bills because Jim Kelly is the uncle of one of my friends.  Meeting Jim Kelly, getting autographs from him, and just being in his presence was an awesome thrill.  My love affair with the Steelers would quickly end though because in seventh grade, I saved up $60 which was no easy feat and I purchased a Kordell Stewart jersey.  Image result for Kordell Stewart jersey.My father was less than thrilled with the purchase, not understanding that I would turn into a jersey and autograph junky.

As fate would have it, two months after buying his jersey, I saw Kordell Stewart leaving Lens Crafters at a nearly empty Ross Park Mall with a beautiful blonde on his arm.  My mother saw I was in awe and nudged me to go ask for his autograph.  As a shy chunky dork with no self-confidence I strolled up and asked him, “Mr. Stewart, may I have your autograph.”  He stopped, looked at me strangely, turned and walked away, and I was crushed.  From that day forward I never again cheered for the Steelers but still follow the Bills and the Browns, and I turned more toward following college football.

Continue reading “Ajs32: How Pitt Changed My Life”