A day for celebration and remembrance of what hard work and sacrifices both our Citizens and Citizen-Soldiers have made to make and keep the United States of America a free and vibrant democracy. I appreciate what has taken place before us and before today and with my circle of family, friends and acquaintances – including each and every one of you readers – I know we’ll keep the USA on an even keel for centuries to come.
So… If we are remembering stuff, then take a break from the scrambled eggs, grilled bratwurst and mashed potatoes I know every red-blooded American is eating for their 4th of July meal (at least that’s what we did at our German Grandma’s house when I was a kid) and take a minute to review some of the past and glorious Big Game victories Pitt has had in the last 19 years…
Let’s time travel back to Walt Harris’s tenure at Pitt and see what he, and our following HCs, have done when faced with Big Games on a national stage. Here are the matches as determined by me to have the label “Big Games ” which were mostly when our opponents had Top 25 rankings either on the day of the game or at the end of the season (as in lats year’s PSU win).
For a holiday treat and because you are great Pitt fans I linked a ton of info in the chart below. The actual scores of the games are linked to the box score and the “Opponent’s Gameday Rank” column has either articles about the game or some videos I thought were fun to watch… Grab a beer and Enjoy!!
|Year||Head Coach||Opp. Gameday Rank||Final Score||Opp. Final Ranking||Record vs Ranked teams|
|1997||Walt Harris||#22 Miami||21-17||NR|
|2007||Dave Wannstedt||#23 Cincy||24-17||#17|
|DW||#2 WVU *||13-9||#6||2-0|
|2012||Paul Chryst||#13 VT||35-17||NR|
|2016||Pat Narduzzi||NR PSU *||42-39||#7|
|PN||#3 Clemson *||43-42||#1||1-1|
I’ll pick my three favorites (highlighted in bold) and then you all can chip in with yours in the comments section.
#1 in my book has to be the great and wonderful stick in Mountaineer eyes 13-9 win in 2007. A true FR QB who was forced to start due to two other starting QBs being knocked out… and a 4-7 record going into the last game of a rather disappointing season.
But I have said many times that 2007 was my favorite modern-day Pitt season and that is because every time you thought the team couldn’t deal with the setbacks they bounced up a won games.
And this 13-9 game? Knocked the rival West Virginia team right out of contention for the national championship and onto thier ass.
For me Tyler Palko ‘s five passing TD game against Notre Dame in 2004 was a great win. Not only was it a blast to watch but made us think we had a valid shot at our first (and only) BCS game. We upset #21 WVU the next week which made the ND win even sweeter.
But my #2 on the list would have to be beating PSU after that long absence of games between the two schools. It was a very close game but we won. I don’t have to go into dateils; we all remember it very well.
That leaves the Clemson win as #3 for me. Going into Death Valley is not a good thing under any conditions, but when facing a team as strong as the #3 ranked Clemson Tigers is a whole new set of stressors. But we beat them up and down the field – made a few big stops on defense late in the game. That set the stage for the game winning field goal by SR Chris Blewitt.
As much fun as that was, and it was, it wasn’t a game against a team that I have an emotional attachment to like West Virginia and Penn state with our hundreds of matches played and the hundreds of stories that came from those rivalry games.
Pitt vs Penn state is its own place in the sports world and The Backyard Brawl does also. not so much Pitt and Clemson.
But two out of my Top # were accomplished bu our current HC in only his second season as a HC anywhere, not too shabby and bodes well for the future.
What are yours?
Below is the overall record of our four head coaches over that time period, both in big games and in overall play. So far Pat Narduzzi is in the winning percentage lead and let’s hope that holds course.
Wannstedt sits in 2nd place… and let’s not drag in the argument in that the ACC competition is that much better, if at all, then the Big East was back in the heyday of BE play. There were some damned good BE teams we faced on a regular basis.
But you have to look at Paul Chryst’s first year as a HC anywhere and appreciate his upsetting both ranked ND and Rutgers in that season.
|Head Coach||W-L vs Ranked Teams||Win % vs Ranked Teams||Total W/L Record at Pitt|
|Pat Narduzzi||2-3||40%||16-10 (62%)|
|Paul Chryst||3-4||43%||19-20 (49%)|
|Todd Graham||1-1||50%||6-7 (46%)|
|Dave Wannstedt||3-8||27%||35-26 (57%)|
|Walt Harris||7-19||27%||44-40 (48%)%|
Notes: We need to start getting serious about out Pitt POV Dinner on the evening of July 15th. Boyd’s Kids Football Camp will be over by 1:00 pm so I’ll be finished there around 2:00 or so after I interview him. (BTW – post suggestions as far a questions you would like me to ask).
Rich Tencza (Richman) has a thought that Southern Tier Brewing Company would be nice but that is right next to PNC Park where the Pirates are playing St/. Louis in a promotions night at 7:05 pm.
Maybe somewhere with less traffic? Unless we want to meet for a late lunch then that place would probably be OK. Let me know what other spots you think would be nice.