“The thing about football – the important thing about football – is that it is not just about football.” (Terry Pratchett)
That sure applies to this game today doesn’t it? With all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the match this afternoon and all the emotions; good, bad and indifferent, it all revolves around a set of numbers up on a scoreboard at the end of the game. Those numbers are going to make some people ecstatic and will make others want to kick their dog.
Don’t do that. Instead I invite you to my house to kick our two cats -” Joe” and “Pa”.
The final score will award bragging rights for one school and “Wait til next year you SOBs!” for the other. It’s going to be a good game to watch and let’s hope it is well-played, at least by Pitt, but everyone likes to see good solid competition by two teams battling each other out there.
In my opinion, and it seems the opinion of about 90% of fans and media types offering prediction, we’ll see a close scoring game and some exciting pivotal plays. If our defense we watched last week dominate FCS Villanova is the real deal and can play that same way against an evenly matched PSU team – and I do think we are evenly matched – then we’ll most probably win.
The very last thing I want to see happen is the outcome of the game being taken away from the players by the referees. That ruins any game but this particular one it would be magnified 1000x especially if a PSU player’s mother’s second cousin’s son’s HS football coach is the Umpire.
Honestly, I dread going to the North Side today – it is going to be packed to the gill with cars and drunken fans for us semi-sober fans to try to deal with en-route to Heinz, and I actually have a parking pass and Press Box access, albeit in Blogger Purgatory on the 4th level of seats. The deadline and national sportswriters get the lower ones but that’s cool.
Us 4th level guys break out the weed at Sweet Caroline so I’m fine with the switch. Besides when watching Pitt football we claim medicinal marijuana usage to knock down the psychotic urge to kill someone.
After driving up to PGH yesterday, having a bottle of wine with my BFF (54 years now, since 2nd grade mind you – who else can claim that?) and sleeping on my 24-20 PSU prediction I’ll tell you I woke up and almost switched it around – that’s how badly I want Pitt to win this game. Still, looking at it from every angle yet again I see a ball bouncing PSU’s way once or twice more than Pitt’s way.
But my words don’t win or lose football games, nor do anyone else’s on the Internet or at the tailgate parties… but cheering once you are in the stadium sure does – and you’ll have competition in the stands on that count so be prepared.
I say “you” because the press box is run like a Carthusian Monastery with the accompanying vows of silence – here is how we have to sing the Pitt Fight song when the band plays it right before kickoff:
So – onward to the game and the ebb and flow of things we just cannot control. That is a hard fact to throw a turn on because we are, and excuse me you ladies on here, grown men used to being The Master of All We Survey.
Well, today it will be Pat Narduzzi who is in semi-control. I say “semi-” because having 105 young men and teenagers on the roster is like trying to tame a bunch of wild coyotes – the best he can do is rub raw meat all over the PSU skill position players and turn our guys loose.
My friends and fellow Pitt’sters… be safe today and enjoy. This game is a long time coming and the day should be fun as hell for everyone. Yes, even the Nitter fans as dejected as I hope they are at 3:00.
Bits and Pieces: Here are some articles to get your blood up this morning and minds occupied until the game starts…
The Post-Gazette has a good one on the history of the rivalry.
The P-G’s Craig Meyer talks about the scheduling problems in keeping this series going.
Ron Cook talks about his choice of a Pitt win today and hits the nail on the head with this bit – and it dovetails with that PSU article I wrote last week:
They (PSU fans) want their team to beat Pitt, but it won’t necessarily destroy their fun this season if it doesn’t.
The opposite is true of a lot of Pitt fans. I have been told by many over the years that they would rather see Penn State lose on any given Saturday than Pitt win. I have seen that at Heinz Field when a score is announced — Ohio State 38, Penn State 10 — and the place erupts with joy as opposed to a similar announcement at Beaver Stadium — North Carolina 26, Pitt 19 — and there is little or no reaction. I’m convinced those Pitt fans would rather see Pitt beat Penn State today and finish 3-9 than lose and go 9-3. It’s a bit frightening — a bit of a whacked perspective — if you think about it.
Well, no one said Pitt fans are rational God love ’em.
P-G’s Jenn Menendez has a good “Five Points” piece in the Red shirt Diaries.
Switching over to the Tribune-Review we have Jerry DiPaola with a bit on the ‘healthy hatred’ between the schools.
Rob Rossi goes overboard a lot… he always tries to dominate the time at the press conferences he attends, but he writes an interesting article today that will generate some raised eyebrows. I disagree with his comparison of Narduzzi to Paterno but there is some truth to his other thoughts.
You might want to skip this one by the Trib’s Bob Cohn as it is a look back at the 1981 Pitt-PSU game. BTW – I listened to that game in the Radio Room while underway on a Coast Guard ship out of Honolulu at 7:00 am.
On a seperate note – when my wife and I were in Coast Guard housing long ago I bought a big color TV and invites some fellow Coasties over to watch a Pitt-PSU game. One guy had gone to PSU and while I was being very respectful as a Pitt fan he was obnoxious as hell and screaming about how much better PSU was as a university and football team.
I asked him to cool it twice then kicked him out of the house mid-2nd quarter. He thought I was kidding until I literally pushed him out the door. My wife was appalled but a crazy-mad look stopped that complaint in its tracks.
Here’s a piece on that time period of the ’70s – 80s when these games mattered nationally. That would be when the Mythical National Championship was a beauty and popularity contest voted on by biased sportswriters
ESPN has a video and article on this game and the history of our 1976 Champs – whose players are invited to be at the game today (it always makes me nervous when Pitt does this).
Here is some important info from Pitt about the gameday situation on the North Shore.
Finally – here are the Pitt-PSU Game Notes put out by the Pitt Media Dept. They contain a wealth of info on this game, the stats, facts and news about the two football programs – a real wealth of info for fans to slip into their pockets for the match today.
But for quick reference while watching at home and commenting on this Gameday Thread here is the Pitt two-deep: