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.”
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.