♪ If We Could Just Turn Back Time ♪

While we like to live our personal lives with as few regrets as possible but that just isn’t the way it works when you are a dedicated sports fan as we all are on here. Then sometimes regrets are a big part of it.

What I mean is that we tend to live our fandom lives vicariously through the decision-making of the actual players, coaches, administrations, etc… who we follow so closely.  In our role as fans that would be the University of Pittsburgh, the football program and the  personnel involved.

It’s a Monday and we are bored – so let’s pretend we are one of those ‘involved’ persons and have a chance to go back in time and correct our mistakes.  Man, just reading that makes me glad I’m a Pitt fan because think of all the great examples of poor decision-making we have witnessed in the football program alone…  An embarassment of riches as it were.2013-05-05-willing-to-pretend

So I’ll start of with my situation that I feel we completely blew and in doing so cost us dearly.  Yours may have extracted it price in wins, maybe in reputation or even costing someone their jobs.  This is mine and it hit on all three cylinders.   Please add yours when you comment.

Imagine yourself in a time and place far away and long ago.  Well, not that far away if you live near Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field and, I suppose, not that long ago since it was only 2009.

Anyway, Pitt is having a second good season in a row after a long string of average at best years. The year before we won nine games, the second time that had happened since 1982, and going into the last game of 2009 season we were again at nine wins set against two losses.

We have a match in front of us against Cincinnati for the Big East conference title and a shot at a coveted BCS bowl game which we hadn’t been to since five years earlier.  In essence the winner of this game has a real shot to finish the season in the Top Five nationally.  Plus it is a home game and our fans are rip-roaring ready to help make something great happen.

Cincinnati v Pittsburgh
“You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”

Too bad Dave Wannstedt wasn’t.  Nor were his staff coaches. In fact it was clearly evident that they couldn’t handle the pressure of an impending win as Pitt jumped out to a commanding 21 point lead in the first 29 minutes of play.

Then came the decision.  You remember – the choice to kick the ball directly to Cincy’s master kick returner, speedster and supremely confident WR Marty Gilyard after our QB Bill Stull crammed the ball over the goal line to make it 31-10 Pitt with 70 seconds to go in the 1st half.

What do we do then?  We basically hand the ball to one of the most dangerous offensive players in college football, Marty Gilyard, and double-dog dared him to do something with it. That right there was a perfect instance of a coaching staff, and their Fearless Leader, who just plain refused to do their homework to understanfd their opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.

Boom! In the blink of an eye Gilyard takes the ball on his own one yard line, starts forward then dances his way through our boys enroute to a touchdown.  99 yards long on his part and a season’s excitement and joy lost on ours.

Gilyard wasn’t a brighter than the sun flash for only that Pitt game.  He had been tearing up the nation in kickoff returns and doing it on a consistent basis even before getting to Heinz Field.  As you can see below in the three games prior to playing us he was superb in that role.

UCONN – 5 returns for 144 yards (29 ypr);   WVU – 3 returns for 98 yards (33 ypr) and Illinois – 2 returns for 131 (66 ypr) and 1 TD

So – tally that up and he averaged 3.3 returns and 370 yards per game with an average gain of 37.0 yards.  Pretty damn impressive. Here is what he did over the whole season when he touched the ball…so you can see he had a very impressive KO returners’ resume’ before meeting up with Pitt.

Gilyard totals

My God,  what part of that didn’t scare the holy crap out of Pitt’s Special Team’s coach?  Oh wait – that’s right, we didn’t have one.  By default the blame rests solely on Dave Wannstedt’s broad shoulders.

In what might be the most beautiful example of irony uttered by any college football player after a game Gilyard said this about Pitt:

“I don’t know what their scheme was, but they kept kicking it to me,” said Gilyard, who has 2,442 all-purpose yards this season, an average of 203 per game.”

I don’t know what their scheme was…“.  Man, I laugh my ass off every time I think about him sitting there with a quizzical look on his face and saying that.  This kid was sitting at 7th nationally in that job description and had to feel good about the fact that Wannstedt coached the Panthers.Mardy Gilyard, Buddy Jackson

Hey, it wasn’t just in 2009 that Gilyard kicked opponents’ special teams all over the field. He set an all-time return record just the year before against a better team than Pitt in Oklahoma.

Well, we know what the final outcome of the game was – a 45-44 loss when the only time Cincy held the lead was at the end of the game.

Pitt finished the regular season at 9-3 which in itself is a very good showing for us but the excitement and confidence level of all involved – directly or indirectly as in the case of us fans – was shot to Hell.

Some fans even point to this game, with this clear and stupendous example of poor decision-making on Wannstedt’s part to be the beginning or the end of his time as Pitt’s HC.  That may well be true.

Look, I know I’m harsh on Dave Wannstedt – I have been, am now and probably will be in the future whenever his decision-making skills come up in conversation.  It is a bad habit of mine and one I’m trying very hard to break.

So upon reflection maybe I’m not giving Wannstedt enough credit for preparing his kids for the ‘Gilyard Effect’. Perhaps he called up Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops the night before the Pitt-Cincy  game and asked for advice:

(Riiiiinnnggg...)

BS: Who’s calling please?

DW: Bob – How are you?

BS: Who the hell is this?

DW: Davey Wannstedt over at Pitt.  Do you have a second?  I want to bounce something off you… you played Cincinnati last year right?

BS: Yeah…. Hey coach – it’s midnight over here.

DW: Really? Wow, it’s 1 am here.  Wonder how that happens… weird huh??  Anyway – So how did you handle that Gilyard kid on kickoff returns?  He’s pretty good isn’t he?

BS: Dave, is this a crank call? Did Jimmy Johnson put you up to this?

DW: Oh, Hell no – he won’t talk to me anymore after I quit on the Dolphins. So – Gilyard?

BS: Oh man!.  I don’t even hardly know you and here you are ruining my day.  This is NOT what I want to talk about during game week.

DW: Hey, we’re all busy Bob.  Just answer one question for me. I just wondered that if I keep kicking the ball to Gilyard he’ll run out of steam at some point.  Is that the way you played him?  My DC Phil Bennett told me that’s the best way to deal with him…. wear the kid out.

BS: (click).

42 thoughts on “♪ If We Could Just Turn Back Time ♪

  1. 1. Steve Pederson – Hired.
    2. Nerdberg
    3. Big Head Barnes
    4. Stadium torn down.
    5. The atrocious hire of Heyward.
    6. The atrocious hire of Vacuum salesman Stallings.
    7. The 23 year contract to Dixon.
    8. The 10 year contract to Pederson.
    9. Uniforms
    10. Logo at Mid Field Created and Painted by Carrick 5th graders.
    11. Going cheap on Olympic Sports Complex.
    12. weak set ups for Road Games.

    Reed – Thanks for the magnet! Made my day.

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  2. For the worst decision in the history of Pitt football it has to be Chancellor Bowman’s decision to personally impose the death penalty on his own football program, ending the Jock Sutherland era and what was becoming a college football dynasty.

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  3. My buddy was the video coordinator for Pitt that 2009 season and now works for the Arizona Cardinals. He told me the kicker was told not to kick the ball to Gilyard and kept doing so. It was baffling. He choked in the moment for sure. No worries. Had Pitt won that game and went to the Sugar Bowl and got it rear ends kicked in by a powerful Florida team that wasn’t going to lose in Tebow’s final game, Wannstedt still would have been looked upon negatively for losing so bad in a BCS game. BTW, has Pitt blocked as many punts as it did in Dave’s tenure?

    Dave simply couldn’t win with a lot fans. He should be commended for the job he did with the awful support he received from his two main bosses.

    I’d change in order:

    1. Let Sherrill be the coach and A.D. so he would have stayed longer
    2. Never fire Gottfried but this is a mute point as the administration made up its mind to let football go to hell.
    3. Keep Wannstedt and let the miserable 2010 season linger in the past and move on. How come nobody remembers two great kids — Mason and Romeus — had their football careers respectively shot down due to injuries that forgettable season that coincidentally ended with a bowl win?
    4. Losing Sutherland was a huge blow due to, wait for it, wait for it …. a bad Pitt administrator.
    5. I’d change the day when a young Pittsburgh kid named Johnny Unitas spoke in front of a pretentious Pitt academic board explainging his case why he’d like to be admitted to the school and to play football, but was told he and his C- average were not welcomed at the University of Pittsburgh. Good job ladies and gentlemen!

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    1. How could I forget the single-most disastrous decision by a Pitt coach that I’d love to change:

      Walt Harris’ implementation of the no-huddle spread in 2001.

      This cost Pitt four wins that season and almost got Walt fired. The team hated it, the defense was always on the field because the O was going 3 and out consistently. Talk about a missed opportunity to make some noise nationally with a senior QB, a good O-line, Antonio Bryant and a solid defense. Hammering VTech and NC State with Philip Rivers showed just what this team could have accomplished.

      No way USF, ND and B.C. would have beaten Pitt with the normal offense being run. Syracuse perhaps could have won due to not having a legit QB though this was still a time when the Orangemen owned the Panthers on the gridiron. Still, who wouldn’t have loved to have gone 9-2?

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  4. Reed, Since you are always posting stats, why don’t you post the results of Cincy’s first 4 kick returns on that fateful day? Yes, Gilyard’s return at 31 to 10 was the 5th return of the game.

    And OH BTW …. the Sun Bowl was NOT the ensuing game as you posted above … the ensuing game was a bowl win over UNC at in North Carolina (Charlotte) which what I believe was the first time a Pitt team ever won in that state.

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  5. Was at that game. It was a cloudy, cold day with occasional snow flurries. The atmosphere for that game was electric. Heinz Field was packed.

    Over my lifetime, I’ve been to a lot of big time football games involving elite teams, I was at the Superdome when Pitt beat Georgia for the NC. Been to creepy valley for penn state vs Pitt games, been to Notre Dame, and have seen other big time programs like Oklahoma among others come to town for games.

    This Cincy game at Heinz was as charged up for that game as any venue that I’ve ever attended. It was one of the most memorial games that I ever experienced.

    I went to that game with my college aged daughter who was home on break from the small college in Virginia that she was attending at the time. Although she isn’t a big sports fan, she agreed to accompany me from Virginia up to Pittsburgh for the weekend trip to the game just to get some father-daughter time in that she had been missing since being away at school for that semester.

    Needless to say, at the conclusion of that game, being the diehard Pitt fan that I am, of course I was devastated by that loss.

    Yes, it was a heartbreaking loss! But what my daughter said at that moment of dispair has changed the way that I think of Pitt football from that point forward. Since she was not emotionally invested, as I am, with Pitt football, she saw the whole experience with a completely different perspective. She hugged me, said that she was sorry Pitt lost such an important game in such a heartbreaking manner, but then thanked me for bringing her to the game because she had so much fun watching the game and that she was surprised at how exciting an afternoon she had watching football!

    Then she said, being the party girl that she is, “so let’s go find some Cincinnati fans to celebrate with”! What a paradigm shift in my attitude happened at that moment, after all in the final analysis, in a fan’s perspective, it’s just a form of entertainment anyhow, so make it fun, win or lose! Let’s go party!

    Now for the rest of the story. So we go over to the Rivers Casino after the game and as I exit the restroom at the casino I literally bump into this lady entering the adjacent ladies room wearing a #23 Bearcats jersey with “PEAD” printed on the back. So as I’m waiting for my daughter to come out of the same ladies room, this same lady comes back out before her, on impulse, I stop her to ask her the question of how she was able to cop a NCAA jersey with a name of a current team player on it since it was my understanding that to sell such merchandise to fans was a violation of NCAA rules?

    She tells me that she didn’t buy it, it was given to her by her son to wear at the games. Her son, the Cincy RB Isaiah Pead who just had a great game against the Panthers.

    We end up seeing her again at one of the gaming tables that we were playing at, that leads to meeting other Cincy fans who are there with her at the casino too. We end up talking about the highlights of the game with some of these Bearcat fans and help celebrate their victory with them. It was a delightful evening. And believe me they were on cloud nine celebrating their UNDEFEATED season. Let’s just say that we had more drinks bought for us than we bought for them. As a bonus I went home a winner from the craps table that night too. True story!

    So? In the final analysis, it’s not all about just winning and losing but rather giving it your best shot while enjoying the process along the way with your family, friends and teammates and sometimes with the opposition’s fan base also.

    Can’t wait for the season to begin. Hail to Pitt.

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    1. I was there too. I was hugely invested in Pitt winning. However I remember it just the way your daughter does. One of the most thrilling sporting events I have ever attended.

      I remember questioning the kick to Gilyard. I also questioned it when he returned another kickoff 49 yards in the fourth.

      However I also still can’t understand the botched hold by Janocko.

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  6. @Dr Tom,

    Doc I totally agree that the 2009 game against Cincinnati was the best football game atmosphere I have every attended. It was electric (and for those negative nancy’s shows you what Heniz field could be like if we just would win the ones we are supposed to once and while).

    I remember thinking if Gilyard touches this ball we are done. Then he caught the ball and in a flash my worst fears were realized.

    I remember saying to my brother after the game that it was the beginning of the end for Wanny.

    As much as I liked the guy (and still do) it was a game we had to win.

    Lets not forget though that we still had a shot to win and our holder (A Clearfield native….Clearfield is a small mountain town just up I 80 from creepy valley that is famous for the worlds largest Hamburger) doesn’t get the ball placed for the extra point that would have put us ahead 7.

    Ouch!

    The 100 mile drive home that day sucked. Not sure anyone said a word.

    Couple of other interesting turn back the clock items:

    1. Wonder what happens to Pitt if Johnny Majors listens to his mothers advice and stays?

    2. What happens if Walt Harris (says the hell with what I promised Bob Palko) and he gives Joe Flacco a shot at Qb (I remember watching Flacco throw it 80 plus yards during warm ups).

    3. Mike Haywood (not sure if that is spelt correctly) doesn’t punch his babies mother.

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  7. Pitt actually won their bowl game after the Cincy meltdown, 19-17 over UNC in the Meineke bowl. 3-0 loss to Oregon St was the prior year. I agree with LeftCoast, if we beat Cincy I’m not sure it changes much, a blowout loss to Tebow’s Gators in Sugar Bowl is arguably worse. Didn’t do much for the program to lose the Fiesta Bowl by 28 after 04 season. The true damage was done by Fraud Graham in my opinion.

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    1. I fixed that in the article – thanks. I do appreciate the corrections guys. By the time I’m done writing I hit ‘publish’ and walk away.

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  8. Longest sports day of my life. Sat through the cold to watch them blow it then went across town to watch the Pens lose in overtime.

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    1. I was living in San Diego at the time and decided that evening to let off some steam by playing hoops and ended up spraining my ankle badly. Eight weeks where I could exercise and put on 20 pounds because of it. The Steelers lost to the God awful Raiders that next day and it cost them a playoff spot. Bad times all around.

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  9. These last couple of articles are depressing. Although I’ve only been a Pitt fan since 2010, it’s depressing reading about what Pitt once was, it really is. It’s depressing seeing people post old videos from games in their heyday. I saw one the other day where we beat OSU 42-10 when they were ranked (and this wasn’t even in our glory years). Btw that game was a sold out night game in Pitt Stadium. Think about that…we routed a blue blood program on national television in front of a packed stadium (on campus might I add) at home. I could not even dream about Pitt doing that today. I think that’s what makes it tough to follow the program now. It’s a bitter feeling knowing we are a shell of our former self.

    Being a fan for such a short time and not really having a full grasp of history, I often ask myself what the hell happened? Why didn’t Jackie or Johnny stay? How would I have killed myself if I was a fan through the 90s? Why did they let Pitt Stadium go? What was so awful about keeping the football program relevant on the national stage?

    I think it’s universally agreed upon that the administration was the major problem. But it looks like we don’t have this problem anymore. This is why the whole sleeping giant thing to me is a still a very real description of Pitt. This program was dominant back in the late 70s/early 80s. As mid 20 year year old, I think to myself – There is a REASON we developed a rivalry with PSU. there is a REASON WVU fans hated Pitt, there is a REASON Notre Dame included us on their schedule. We actually played in big games and won them.

    Pitt did it way back in the early part of the 20th century, then the program went into a slumber. It woke up again in the later 70s/early 80s. This program is more then capable of waking up again now, especially with a competent administration and another Coach.

    (And by the way, the first time I really looked at Narduzzi and thought “Man this guy could be a good one” was during the VT game. He sported the rain gear and visor with his shaded glasses. The guy just looked like a coach during that game.)

    If the law of averages is any indicator, this program is due to wake up again after another 30some year slumber. Hopefully, a home night game against nationally ranked Miami for the ACC Costal title is in our future within the next 4 years and we beat them.

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  10. @Dr. Tom, different diretion than I thought it was going to go after the bathroom scene. I thought you were going to say you taped an “I” in front of Pead. Wow, my mind is really jaded! Great story, and very true. Enjoy the trip. If you keep just waiting for the great ending, you may spend you life waiting. Enjoy the time.

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  11. @JoeKnew, ya, absolutely. Especially in the stands with some PSU people, and I was hootin’ and holering. To this day, if we start talking about the old days, one of them will say, “who is this”, with their hands extended in the air like Marino after 2nd touchdown. The other guy will say, “now, who is this?”, and will have both hands on his head, like Marino did, with the “what happened” look. Nothing I could ever say, except to just toughen up and take it. Although, I have the one up on them now, with all the child pedophilia stuff, so, with those two, we just remain civil! LOL

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  12. @ Timmeh, being a Pitt fan is never easy, but that job is even harder when the fan in question has imposed selective memory on himself and only recalls the ones that got away. Case in point, your quote, “I saw one the other day where we beat OSU 42-10 when they were ranked (and this wasn’t even in our glory years). Btw that game was a sold out night game in Pitt Stadium. Think about that…we routed a blue blood program on national television in front of a packed stadium (on campus might I add) at home. I could not even dream about Pitt doing that today”.

    Well you don’t have to dream, just remember! In a sold out Heinz field, Pitt takes down a ranked blue blood football program on a beautiful night for college football on national TV. and what a coincidence, we get to beat the same coach that was coaching Cincinnati in the game detailed above. PRICELESS! It’s OK to whine about the ones that got away, but you gotta cherish the wins too if you’re going to be a whiner, oops I mean winner. Pitt can take care of business when they decide to pull up their big boy pants and play up to their potential. Watch.

    And this game was less than three years ago my friend. And there are more solid wins not to forget. We’ve beaten good teams from Duke, VT, Miami, GT and Louisville all within that same time frame. We just need to find that combination of leadership and coaching to leap up to that next level. With Narduzzi at the helm, good times are on the way again. Hail to Pitt

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  13. And since I’m on this optimistic tirade, let me express again the impact on this team of a once again healthy Jam s Conner again in uniform back on the battlefield with his team mates. Conner is a leader, and he now a leader with an entirely new perspective on life. The Conner Factor will play out over the next few months on this team. It will provide inspiration for this team to help keep them focused when the defeats and hurdles come this season.

    This link is to a long article written by Conner about his trials over this past year. When you have twenty minutes of quiet time to yourself, read it. You will not be disappointed.

    http://www.theplayerstribune.com/james-conner-pittsburgh-college-football-cancer/

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  14. Joeknew, I completely agree. The ’81 meltdown when we were undefeated, went out to a 14-0 lead, and then got our butt kicked was MUCH MUCH worse than 09. It is my worst Pitt FB memory by far. Not only did PSU spoil our national title hope, they humiliated us

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  15. Our pal to the northeast, James F, is lamenting the negative comments and their ill effect on recruiting.
    Never mind his overblown record at Vandy, or the teeny-weeny lies he told in the rape investigation down there, or his inability to beat anyone of note, it is small-minded people bringing the spirit of the Nits down.
    So please, if at all possible, say good things about our brothers in the center of the state. And if u can’t find it in your heart to do so,mat least comment on their brand new showers.

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  16. Just watched the Cincinnati game again. Our roster was stuffed full of player that did some time in the league. Dion, Baldwin, Pinkston, Dickerson, L. Nix, Nate Byam, Hynoski, even Malecki. I forgot that our holder dropped a perfect snap on our final touchdown to make it only a 6 point lead.

    I watched Jared Holley really have a tough game. Our defense had a bunch of guys that sniffed the league too. Decicco, Romeus, Sheard, Mick Williams, Aaron Berry. That was some darn good recruiting.

    As far as kicking to Gilyard, Kelly outthought Wanny. Wanny tried both Briggs and Hutchins kicking without success. Gilyard even caught the pooch kick at the 30. Their design for him to touch the kick-off was a better plan than ours to kick it away from him. On several kicks, the other receivers were not within 15 yards of Gilyard to ensure his handling.

    We had opportunities. Max Gruder missed a very easy interception early in the game that would have prevented points. This was also the first game where I saw a team load the box to stop our run and force us to throw. We were not successful from that point forward, except on the last drive. We live, we learn. On the last TD, Dion could have taken a knee at the 1, forced Cincy to use TO’s and either kick it on 4th down or run it in on 3rd with 20 seconds to play. That was a player and coach not understanding time place and circumstance which was cincy able to strike quickly. That is precisely why a bench coach would have helped. Thanks for the fond memory Reed…..NOT!

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    1. I agree about Dion taking a knee at the 1-yard line and burning the clock. If I was a coach this would be my strategy also. Burn that time off the clock and kick it. I could only imagine if Wannstedt had done that and the holder still muffed the snap. Oh, that would have been just brutal.

      That 2009 team had talent, but depth was lacking. Gruder was more of a backup type player and had things come to fruition, Tommie Campbell and Fields would have been our starting safeties, DeCiccio would have bulked up and been a starting linebacker with Adam Gunn instead

      I’d rather go 10-3 and live with the pain of this kind of loss than go 7-6 and win a bowl game.

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  17. * Always can spin a positive to anything * —>

    That Cincinnati loss was indeed brutal, but as another poster mentioned, and it hurts to say this…..We would have been absolutely humiliated by Florida. With Senior Tim Tebow in his final game, and Urban Meyer still in full-swing with an amazing defense and incredible offensive line, Urban Meyer’s team would have crushed Pitt even worse than he did with Utah in that Fiesta Bowl 😦 . Honestly at that point it was basically which Big East team was going to go get sacrificed to Florida in the Sugar Bowl.

    But * Positive* : Heinz field was absolutely Poppin’ and amazing for that Cincinnati game! Not even a night game, but Heinz was packed to the brim! And the electricity — woo, it was what Heinz can absolutely become permanently me-thinks with Chancellor Gallagher rolling up his sleeves for Pitt Sports.

    Thanks Reed for going back to that day — because Pitt fans can expect that atmosphere to be every Heinz gameday as the program evolves into an ACC Stalwart 🙂 .

    Imagine Narduzzi continuing to power-up the defense. He’s already recruiting quite a bit better than Michigan State was as they evolved into a Big 10 powerhouse. Imagine an even more ‘Suped-Up’, bigger and faster version of Narduzzi’s Michigan State Defense here at Pitt, bruising-up the ACC. Pitt is in so much more fertile and Hot recruiting grounds Narduzzi has to be salivating looking at potential recruits. At Michigan State he had what —- Detroit, Chicago, and Ohio.

    Here at Pitt Narduzzi has PA, is even closer to Ohio than he was at MSU, bordering Virginia, D.C., Jersey, Maryland, Heck toss New York State in there and close to NYC why not (even Buffalo: Ollison, etc.) — not to mention Narduzzi has already recruited Chicago here at Pitt.

    Sorry went-off there. But that Cincinatti game again showed the potential Heinz can have for Pitt, even though it’s not a true on-campus, pure-Pitt College stadium. But Pitt does have fans who just need to be shown the light, that Pitt Football is Top-Tier and from now-on is going to sit with Pride and Presence at the Big-Boy-Table (and not be afraid to stretch out our legs and make sure we have elbow room!).

    Pitt has everything and Chancellor Gallagher, Pat Narduzzi, and hopefully Scott Barnes and Stallings understand that. Great University itself, great facilities (yes, I personally think the Southside facilities with the Steelers and Heinz are as good as it gets), awesome positioning in the ACC (now with ACC network $$$ !! Top-Shelf!). Pitt is IT!! Hail to Pitt!!

    P.S., “Who??” …… 9/10 !!

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  18. Sorry being a “Fanatic” here, but if any Pitt football ‘Diehards’ are around, and are as excited as me about Pat Narduzzi and his recruiting ability, please check out this video.

    It’s a high def “Gruden’s QB camp” with Connor Cook — Michigan State’s all time winningest QB who started as a R.S. Sophomore. He was a total gem-recruit, a recent 4th round Pick of the Oakland Raiders (many thought he was a sure-fire 1st rounder).

    *At the 2:00 minute* mark Connor Cook (a barely D-1 recruited, 2 star recruit from Ohio: Diamond in the rough) tells about who found him and recruited him. Hint, Cook gushes about what an awesome dude his recruiter was :).

    That is why I am so excited about the 6’4”, already 215lb, Strong-Armed and athletic Thomas MacVittie. Because Pat Narduzzi was so excited about him, that makes me excited!

    *Looking way to far ahead*, I fully expect in game one 2017 see R.S. Freshman MacVittie leading ACC Coastal-favorite Pitt onto Heinz!

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  19. Unlike Tom, I cried that day. So disappointed. Remember the Cincinnati game weather so vividly. My start of being a 35 yr old Pitt fan was watching Marino hit that winning TD in the Sugar Bowl….admitting I was a fan leading up to that moment, but that night sealed the deal. If we won that game, I could achieve one of the top 3 highest ranked items on my bucket list: Going to the Sugar Bowl to cheer on my beloved Panthers. That is the only bowl game I “had” to see Pitt play before my time ends here. Always my favorite since I was a kid thanks to Brown’s catch. With the change in conferences, bowl game alliances, playoffs, etc., I believed my opportunity was that night. Not sure if Cincinnati ended up in that particular game, but that was my impression at that time. It devastated me. That one time could have allowed our moment in the sun. Not asking that much over a 20 plus yr disappointment. Geez….Throw me/us a bone every two decades!

    Was so excited to get Wanny, but that game killed me….. UCONN losses,etc., Still can’t believe we never won the Big East.

    On to better times, how about L. Polite scoring winning TD against highly ranked VTech very late in 4th Qtr? Now that was an atmosphere that could give the Cincinnati game atmosphere some competition.

    Go back in time to change decisions? Where do you start?

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  20. Timmeh….Well said. Interesting angle from your point of view. I was at that game….Pitt destroying OSU. Taped it on VHS as I attended the game as a student. Billy Osbourne! Loved watching it again.

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  21. I wish I could have the optimistic view some of you guys have. I remember sitting at that Cincinnati game with a lead just knowing we would lose.

    Maybe it’s because I was born in ’76 and became a fan as it all came crumbling down. The 1st game I really remember being hooked was the 1st game under lights at Pitt Stadium against a Jim Everett led Purdue team in ’85. As a young Pitt fan I can remember my dad and uncle going on and on about how the administration let it all go to hell. I’ll never forget walking out of Pitt Stadium after a loss and my uncle asking God for the chance to get his hands around Ed Bozik’s neck.

    Don’t get me wrong, there have been some good times. I was 11 years old at Pitt Stadium in ’87 for Billy Owens pick six. Still gives me chills. Was there for 12-0 at Three Rivers. Watched Barlow run wild against WVU. Broke my ankle 4 days after my 21st jumping off the wall to rush the field in ’97 when we beat Miami.

    Just a lot more hurt and heartache and some downright awful teams. I do like where we are at and I love Duzz. The realist, pessimist, cynic, in me however does not ever see a run like we had from ’76-82. God I hope I’m wrong.

    I don’t know how you guys dealt with 48-14. My God. Pitt was on such a roll going into that game. The 3 games prior to that Pitt had outscored Rutgers, Army, and Temple 130-3. 130-3!!!!

    Anyways, had to rant/vent. Thanks. Sorry

    Hail to Pitt!!!

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  22. Now for a more somber look behind the curtain of my enthusiasm, venturing a peek into the dark recesses of my memories that are best left unexamined, however I can reopen a recent Pitt wound, inflicted in another one of Pitt’s missed opportunities in another one of our season ending bowl games.

    Once again, a mortal wound of defeat delivered just after the Panthers were abandoned by their coaching staff, prior to the conclusion of their season. This one witnessed by our newly coronated incoming leader. A leader, who he himself, had refused to do the same to his players at the institution that he was departing. Rather, he preferred to finish his responsibilities and therefore stayed on at his former post to complete the task of bringing home one more victory for his Spartins prior to assuming his 1st head coaching challenge.

    This loss, witnessed by Coach Narduzzi’s fully exposed that intangible ingredient that fuels the incessant pessimism of many a Pitt fan. So Prominent in the psyche of the Panther fan base that it has it’s own well known acronym, SOP.

    Narduzzi saw it raise it’s ugly head in all of it’s humiliating grotesque glory to hand our opponent on that day what otherwise should have been Pitt’s bowl game victory. This was Coach Narduzzi’s wake up call that fully exposed the gremlins that he would need to root out from the mindset of this program in order to win the close ones.

    This is precisely the reason that I stated it then and firmly continue to believe in It now, Never Forget Houston!

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  23. @dr. tom and @alcofan Although you both brought up great victories (WVU one being legendary), they don’t ring the same bell for me. Pitt was what, 4-4 going into that ND game in ’13 and 3-7 going into the WVU game in ’07. What I was really alluding to in my previous post is that Pitt hasn’t had an early season momentum building victory that sets the tone for the season in many many years. Especially when it comes as a night game at home against a blue blood program. I’m talking about the type of victory against a big boy that would put the nation on notice. Think VT vs OSU when they beat them. This is what I want to see in the near future. Having miami at home for the Coastal title would be great also.

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    1. The early season win that I want to see in the near future is without question the one over those dairy farmers out there in creepy valley, come 9/10. Sure, it won’t make many waves on the national scene but it sure will feel good for us Panther fans.

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  24. Anytime you lose a close, crucial game, you can look back and say what if we did this or didn’t do that … that is part of being the a fan. Going back to the 09 Cincy game

    – I seriously doubt that anyone was yelling “don’t kick the ball deep” in the middle of the second quarter when Pitt went up 31-10 … especially when none of the 1st 4 Pitt kick-offs resulted in the ball being advanced past the Cincy 35. But of course …. since it went for a TD, everyone looks back and says we should have done this. ….. What we should have done is tackle Gilyard

    – with the game tied and a minute and 40 seconds left, I seriously doubt that Pitt fans were yelling “don’t score a TD” and most, if not all, were thrilled when Dion Lewis crossed the goal line. But of course, now everyone looks back in hindsight. …. What we should have done is not miss the Xtra point and held them from scoring a TD

    Now to my beef to what happened in the end. On Cincy’s final drive, our only goal was to keep them out of the end zone … a FG wouldn’t have done them any good. So why was Chapell put out on an island in one on one coverage without out deep safety help? Shouldn’t we have played a 2-deep zone to prevent them from scoring?

    I have never bought into the what ifs about Gilyard’s return or Lewis not scoring … since at the time they were thought of by me and anyone else that I was sitting around. This is just merely Monday Morning QBing. I did wonder, However, when I saw the Cincy WR being the only one split out on te right side of the formation, and Chappell left alone 1-on1, why there wasn’t any deep help

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  25. 1) Pushing Sherrill out the door and Bozik and Billick deemphasizing Pitt football to become ‘the Stanford of the East’ – when Stanford couldn’t beat the little sisters of the poor.
    2) Traveling to the Meinike Bowl in Charlotte when Pitt had a first and goal inside the 10 and Walt refused to put Fitzgerald in. Fitzgerald was going pro and Walt wanted to teach him Pitt could win without him – yeah that worked. A friend of mine met Heath Miller right after he was drafted and all he could say was that everyone on the UVA sideline was wondering why Fitzgerald was not put in. Sitting at the 20 I lost my voice screaming at Walt.
    3) Wannstadt’s coaching not only against Cincy (Majors 1 stressed special teams every week but Wanny could do it himself – not) but how about UConn – big lead, offense 3 runs and out then prevent defense. Pro football coaching, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory over and over again. 13-9 was won by a QB he shafted because a) he got homesick as a freshman b) his buddy’s son had to play.
    4) Wanny being fired and calling up Pitt recruits to tell them not to come to Pitt – classless and a failed leader. Oh yeah Benedict Wanny loved Pitt, almost as much as himself. Like his handling of team off the field e.g. Sheard throws a guy through a plate glass window and gets one half off, players come out and boycott his firing – bush league action by leaderless crew. He could have stopped it. I could go on and on and amazingly none of these can be countered by stats. None Did he ever win a title in the Big Least? no What color is Wanny Koolaid – gotta be yellow.
    5) Haywood horrific hiring and “Nightmare on Elm Street” presser which made one long for the classless leader and average coach Wanny.
    6) Anything Smiley Pederson.
    7) tearing down Pitt Stadium instead of renovating it. Could have built the Pete at the Robinson Court Projects which are now gone.
    8) gosh I better stop now this is beyond depressing.
    Thanks for the downer Reed.

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  26. Most painful? Pitt losing to BYU to start ’84 season. Pitt was ranked #3. Pitt finished with 8 losses. BYU won national title.

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