Friday’s Pitt Football Roundup – June 16th

Here are some subjects for our weekly Friday’s Pitt Football Roundup of all the Pitt football news from the preceding week. I just decided to institute this weekly feature as I was typing it – how nimble is that?

Last week, plus 1 day, was a ground shifting period  for Pitt in that the AD’s office announced that some of the promised changes (changes to be studied that is) discussed by Scott Barnes in his hire back in June of 2015 were brought forward to fruition.

On Thursday the 23rd, hence the +1 day, Scott Barnes and the Pitt Media Dept. rolled out the 17 page Strategic Plan for Pitt Athletics.  It was well received for what it is and that being, in essence, an advertisement and mission statement combined. That isn’t to say it’s not a good thing because it certainly is.  In it we read a lot about interactions between the administration and the fans (I think the word fans mean FB & BB fans really) and how to make that more formal and better for the paying public.

Well, we found out just three days later how that will happen.  Based on input from the AD’s Fan Experience Committee we saw an abrupt and welcome change in whether or not beer sales would take place at Heinz during the Pitt games.  The P-G’s Paul Zeise has some words to say about that in today’s edition.

I truly enjoy Zeise’s writing.  As a matter of fact I believe he should have been kept on as the Pitt football beat writer for the P-G – regardless of his son’s spot on the roster.  He’s a professional and would have handled that as a professional does I’m sure.

But two quotes jump out at me in his opinion piece where he takes a negative stance on how the final decision was made to sell the beer (i.e. Pitt’s internal “study”);

It is always comical to me when these college programs try to act as if they are pure and innocent and the last bastions of amateurism and integrity, but please, spare us all and stop insulting our intelligence.

Pitt is now just the 40th Division I college football program to sell beer to the general public (out of about 120), and like the others before it, the administration announced it by telling us all of the “studies” and how “thoughtful” the process to come to this conclusion.

  …and then calls the choice to do so a money grab:

“I appreciate athletic director’s speak, and I am glad they are dedicating a portion of their sales to “drug and alcohol education.” I really like Barnes, but why is it so hard for these administrators to admit that it is just another money grab?

I have to wonder why the vitriol toward Pitt when there would have been a very strong public reaction the other way if Pitt had held those studies and chosen not to sell beer during the games?

It smacks of complaining just to complain although he modifies his stance a bit by saying “I’m just having some fun, but the reality is this is such a non-issue that has only been made an issue because people are making it one.” which is certainly true when a leading sports columnist does an editorial piece on it. Boom! – It is an issue.

I think his glossing over the study and the conversations Ass’t AD /Chief of Staff Marcus Bowman had with other schools is a bit misleading.  I can guarantee you that the conversations Zeise envisioned also had this component to them.  Here what the he thinks happened in that phone call:

“Hey … we are studying beer sales at Heinz Field for football games, what can you tell me about your plan…”

“Nobody has gotten killed, injured or stomped, and it has generated about $500,000 for our athletic department.”

“Sold!”

Funny – but to think that in the time period that 40 NCAA schools have sold beer in the stands there hasn’t been any alcohol-fueled fights with injuries is silly.

So I’ll add this part to that conversation:

“Say, just how many in-stadium acts of violence and arrests have been made since beer sales started.  Are there more, less  and are they different types of incidents then you’ve seen before… and while we are talking about this what exactly did your university’s legal department put in place for when the lawsuits come rolling in.”

That is an issue that I haven’t read one word in the media addressing,  yet it was probably the main concern for Pitt when all was said and done.  Look, $500K projected income per year on beer sales is good – but a pittance of monetary liability of what could happen to Pitt should the idea go south and the fans start acting like British soccer idiots.

And don’t think something like that can’t happen at Pitt – we have our share of idiots. Even if the studies (that nasty word again) show that the violence has actually decreased – and I’d like to see a comprehensive one that states that over all of college football – the important legal and ethical issues had to be addressed by Pitt.  Not that I think they wouldn’t use due diligence but you can be sure that was a front-burner topic of discussion between Barnes, Gallagher and Pitt’s General Counsel Geovette Washington.

I am 100% behind the sale of Beer at Heinz and will spend your hard earned tax money that funds my retirement in buying as much as I can drink without making more of an ass of myself then I regularly do.  But to look at this administrative decision, and I’ll guarantee it wasn’t as simple and Zeise makes it out to be, and pooh-pooh the importance of the work Pitt did prior to it is misleading in my opinion.

Speaking of Pitt football coverage by the local media I think it is kind of disappointing how it dips so low during the months between March and July. For example the post-Gazette’s Red Shirt Diaries; a blog feature written by their lead Pitt Football writer Sam Werner, has had only two published pieces in the last six weeks. Before the aforementioned Strategic Plan and beer sales were made public by Pitt Mr. Warner’s last Red Shirt Diaries entry was on the 12th of May.

The Trib-Review has about the same track record in their blogs.  Jerry DiPaola does a “Pitt Locker Room” blog there and from a spring practice report written and published on April 19th until two (good) entries in the latter part of May we saw nothing from that blog. The last was this piece about the Pitt-PSU game starting time.

Here is the latest Trib-Review Pitt Podcast with Rivals.com’s Chris Peak. Enjoy in during your lunch break. As always he gets into detail about certain positions – this one has a nice segment ob Pitt’s 2016 linebackers group.

He starts off on a rant about PSU scheduling an out-of-conference game with the SEC’s Auburn University.  He’s asking …

“Why can these schools not get it right? Pitt should be playing Penn State and West Virginia in Football.”

And as far as I can tell there isn’t a cohesive answer.  What makes it even worse for me is that if I’m not mistaken that PSU-Auburn series replaces the PSU-Pitt series.  It is like the joint decision not to play WVU on any sort of a regular basis.

I think there is a very simple reason behind this move by PSU – it has to do with the final rankings the team will have during those four years.  The bottom line with the BCS playoffs is that it is still a popularity contest.

For PSU to play and beat a bigger and more nationally football program in Auburn as an OOC opponent lends the decision makings more ammunition to get PSU into those playoffs.  Sad to say, but I do believe that winning against SEC school in Auburn is more important than beating an ACC opponent in Pitt.

Yes, auburn has had some down years in the recent past such as a 3-9 record in 2012 and 5-7 in 2008 but in the last decade they have also gone on to have 11-2, 14-0 (a championship year) and 12-2 seasons.  I don’t think there is any argument that they are better-know than Pitt is over the whole of the US either.

Now, it is always tricky to predict where college football programs will be in 8-10 years; Pitt may well have had those same types of great winning years as auburn had, but the track record at this time makes the PSU decision more understandable – as much as I hate to say so.

On a different note – one of the things that I feel was overlooked in the Fan Initiative roll out was this:

Improved Pitt Gameday Live App: A must for Panthers fans, the improved Pitt Gameday Live App will provide real-time notifications sent directly to your mobile device. Fans will receive parking, traffic and weather updates, as well as information on game day events and activities. This app also lets fans know exactly when Coach Narduzzi and the Panthers will be arriving at Heinz Field so they can greet the team before the game.

I find that having that Pitt Gameday Live app up and running while I’m watching a game is really helpful to see the “Big Picture” you might not get just sitting watching the game.

Thanks for a great first week of The Pitt POV folks.  We are only a week old and are way surpassing the measurable I set when looking at doing this.  The next roll-out on here?  A weekly newsletter or maybe it will be bi-weekly during the off season then once a week for the actual season.

Stay tuned…and thanks for a great start.

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24 thoughts on “Friday’s Pitt Football Roundup – June 16th

  1. Reed I think you are replacing the local papers as my daily source for Pitt articles and information. They are definitely lacking. I also enjoy the humor and sarcasm splattered in that you wouldn’t get on a site where you have to be PC to appease the overly sensitive. I think yesterday you commented about ads I don’t care if they are splattered throughout the article as long as their is good content (which their is). I do appreciate you would never make this a pay site. Have a nice 4th of July weekend Reed and fellow POVers!

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  2. Beer sales really is a no brainer. People are drinking in the parking lot before and after. It is allowed in the Club seats. Why not allow the peasants a beer if they can afford it at around 8 bucks. The stadium is already set up to do it. Means a few more jobs, and maybe helps attendance slightly. People that like to drink heavily and cheaply still sneak it in. Pretty much a non issue, when all other sports allow it.

    Wonder if they will change the policy at the Pete? I tend to doubt it. But why not? It might keep more people in their seats.

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  3. I think money is a factor, too, in the PSU/Pitt series not being extended. A PSU/Auburn game has a greater chance of getting broadcast nationally than a Pitt/PSU game, which I think means more money for PSU. Whatever the reason, it’s too bad. We ought to be playing at least one of PSU and WVU every year.

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  4. I wouldn’t necessarily measure media coverage by the amount of blogs. Each time a player committed to Pitt recently, both papers published a small article about the player.

    Beer sales is a money grab, but so is the Post-Gazette charging for accessing online articles is also. Aside from that .. I can care less if beer is sold at Heinz or not … I refuse to pay their prices when they are tailgates and bars before and after

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  5. wwb – I think I did mention they are covering the day to day news, but wouldn’t you like to see more in0depth stuff given their access to the program?

    I guess it benefits me for them not to do that in the long run, but I enjoy DiPaola, Zeise and Werner’s insights.

    Jeff R- you are exactly correct in that and I spaced out not mentioning it. But SEC vs Big 10 is a pretty good TV draw.

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  6. Beer sales ain’t about the money folks. After product costs and revenue split with the actual vendor selling the alcohol, Pitt will be lucky to net $500k. My guess is that it will be $350k-$400k net. There is much training that these companies go through and their liability insurance is quite expensive. When you are the 40th university to do such a thing, there isn’t much room for new ideas in the space. Optically, giving some money to research alcohol related issues is a way to keep the negativity out of the mainstream media. To allay the money grab argument Reed, can you ask about projected net on sales of beer when you can?

    This is about the fan experience. It is no secret that college football game attendance has been going down. They need fannies in the seats, period. Pitt will be the beneficiary of all the ideas from universities that have sold out their stadiums for years and struggle to do so now. They are all chasing the fannies to keep full houses. We are trying to get ours 80% full consistently. We get to learn from them for free, which is exactly what has occurred here.

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    1. They already sell beer at Steeler games. Merely extending such sales to Pitt games can’t mean much additional cost.

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  7. If beer sales free up another $350k to put towards recruiting or otherwise building the program I’m all for it. (As long as nobody gets hurt)

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  8. I’m against it … since I’m going to be interrupted more and more by either passing the beer down the row, or by people wanting to pass by on their way to the concession stand or rest room.

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  9. Is there any way to like a comment without logging in to wordpress? wwb would have me snorting beer, if i had one.

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  10. Like I’ve explained, I like the idea but as far as the total impact, I’m not real sure yet. One reason is the possibility of very long lines for both concession stands and rest rooms. People will miss a lot of playing time for a beer, something I never do. I may have a beer before the game and sometimes at halftime but even in the club, the place at halftime is packed. It’s just the right thing to do although the impact may not be as dramatic as some may think.

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  11. here is more local Pitt journalism … Sam Werner ✔ @SWernerPG
    Player report date for #Pitt training camp set for Sunday, Aug. 7, first practice will be Monday, Aug. 8.

    I’ve made this point before …. I get more updated info on Pgh sports from P-G tweets than from any other source

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  12. The beat writers have other jobs at the papers besides Pitt Football so when it isn’t their job to be reporting, they don’t. Especially when they can get blurbs out via social media to start discussions instead of a generic write up. Plus Pitt controls most of the content the papers release, thus the reason for similar, overlapping stories in both papers at the same time.

    I actually like Werner and think he does an excellent job on Twitter … of which, he just posted this 2 hrs ago …

    Sam Werner ‏@SWernerPG 2h2 hours ago
    Player report date for #Pitt training camp set for Sunday, Aug. 7, first practice will be Monday, Aug. 8.

    Check him out on Twitter (https://twitter.com/SWernerPG) and you’ll see he’s actually pretty active on Pitt stuff … same with Diapola … just not quite as much. I like them both. We could certainly have worse.

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  13. I really wasn’t trying to compare Werner, DiPaola and Zeise’s job to writing for a blog. For one thing they are capped by their employers as to a word count I believe so we will never find them venturing into esoteric issues and writing off-the cuff stuff like we do on here.

    I have resigned myself to tweets, yet I can’t bring myself to check them all the time.

    Crap – I just did and saw that there is a new Director of Media Relati9ons at PITT. WTH!!!

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  14. This actually came out from the Pitt media dept at 1:40:

    Please note the following upcoming dates pertaining to Pitt football:

    Thursday, July 21, and Friday, July 22:

    Atlantic Coast Conference Football Kickoff (Charlotte, N.C.)

    Sunday, August 7:

    Team Report Day

    Monday, August 8:

    Pitt Football Training Camp Opens (UPMC Rooney Sports Complex)

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  15. Sometimes no news is good news. Ditto with you on beer wwb – speaking of up and down when did etiquette go out – you dont start down a row until between plays.

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  16. A lot of the concession stands are manned by sports groups trying to earn $ for their clubs. I worked several concerts and Steeler games for my daughter’s club volleyball team. $ went toward my club fees, which was nice. The workers have to receive alcohol training by Araserve in order to work those games. No extra expense involved. Beer is served only from the concession stands BC every person must be checked for proper ID. Yes, even bald guys and old ladies with gray hair must show a photo ID. So no beer will be handed down the rows, thankfully.

    Great blog, Reed. Thanks.

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    1. That scenario you mentioned brings additional risk as an individual serving alcohol to raise money for a club sport is more inclined to sell a beer for their own benefit. I would hope that Pitt would not allow such folks to sell beer because the plaintiff bar will eat them alive. Having vendors like Aramark and Levy’s handle alcohol sales the best. If you ever want an interesting read on alcohol sales in stadiums, google verni vs. Aramark. I actually worked on that case and it involved the NYGiants, NFL and every vendor that even sniffed the alcohol chain of custody. $125M.

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  17. Completely agree on where I get Pitt info vs. our two rags. How can the Blather, POV and Sports Now have so much but yet our two locals have zilch? Ridulous. Many thanks to Reed, Chad and Sports Now!

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  18. I’m in the minority on in-stadium beer sales I guess, but just not sure about it. I tend to agree with Huff, I think ticket sales is the goal at this juncture, but I’m not sure beer will get more “families” to the stadium. It may have the opposite effect on families over the long term. Maybe not. That’s just a concern. NFL has created an awful environment for families, not completely due to beer sales, but again… a concern. Guess we’ll have to see how it plays out. The average fan will hand a lot fun tailgating and not spending $10 on a 12 oz beer in-stadium anyway

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  19. The PSU and OK St. games give Pitt a chance to move way up in the rankings early.Unfortunately if they lose both they will never be ranked. If they lose one, they won’t get ranked unless they win the Coastal, or beat Clemson. At least it is a schedule that provides great opportunity. If the key players, Conner, Peterman , and Whitehead stay healthy they have a chance to be pretty good. Also if they get the improved pass rush from Hendrix and Price.

    I am hopeful that a couple beers may make our quiet Pitt Fans a little more boisterous. I don’t see us turning into a Steelers crowd, but a little more noise would definitely be welcome. If it gets over the top, Pitt could always create a few beer free zones, but I don’t expect that to happen. It’s not like there is over the top drunkeness in the club seats. Nothing like a Steelers crowd.

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  20. Yes gc, we could certainly use more noise at Heinz without being viewed as an outcast. We need to add to the homefield advantage. Currently we have none, but if beer helps, sign me up!

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