Here is a piece on Pitt’s ‘modern’ history by our own Dr. Tom 

That was quite a win by Alabama in the National Championship game last night. Roll Tide! it has been 38 years since Georgia played for a national championship. Good for them getting there in the first place;  too bad they came up short.

Yep, us Pitt fans remember our own National Championships, that is, if you’re old enough! Pitt fans are probably no different from any other rabid fan base, although they’re probably a smaller brother/sisterhood than most college football programs that have such a storied history like the University of Pittsburgh does.

We fans therefore have expectations. After all, this is a program that claims nine National Championships with historical names of the past like Coach Jock Sutherland, Coach Pop Warner, Mike Ditka, Tony Dorsett, Dan Marino, Larry Fitzgerald & Aaron Donald to just mention a few. So when our expectations fall short, many of us fans get frustrated by those less than the stellar results from our beloved Pitt Panthers.

That being said, even in the darkest of times when such prevailing attitudes permeate our psyche with gloom and doom there are still bright spots to savor, if one cares to remember them. Enjoying those moments when they occur provides both immediate pleasure as well as hope for the future.

That’s what this article is all about.

I was motivated to write this piece because I’m tired of reading that Pitt football is a dysfunctional, misfit program according to some commenters on this blog. Believe me, I am well aware of all of the shortcomings of this program over the 45 years that I’ve followed the Panthers. However, a gloom & doom attitude right now is not only overly pessimistic to entertain but it also permits such negativity to leach into our rational thoughts to allow our minds to rewrite history so as to suit our present attitude.

In that regard, what follows is a factual historical review over the last thirty years of Pitt Panther Football. Some have suggested that Pitt has sucked since the last glory days of Dan Marino. A pathetic bunch of losers led by an athletic department and University administration that is dysfunctional at best.

Although some of those accusations might be valid to some extent, such blanket denigration is unwarranted based on Pitt’s actual football history.  Here are the facts. Enjoy the memories.

Lets begin in 1987, although just outside of that last 30 year period, it was a good season for Pitt football. Mike Gottfried was our coach back then, and a solid one at that. The season ended up 8-4, back when colleges played only 11 regular season games. We played all three of our rivals that season; West Virginia University, Notre Dame and Penn State & PSU… and we beat them all!

First off was close win of Pitt 6 – WVU 3 in a defensive struggle, then we played to a finish of Pitt 30 – ND 22 with an undefeated ND being ranked #4 at the time. Then we finished beating Penn State 10-0.

In that Penn State victory, shutting out the #18th ranked Nitters wasn’t enough, so we culminated that victory with a cherry on top, that being the Pick 6 interception by Billy Owens that sealed the deal. This was the game where Owens was immediately mobbed by the team beyond the field of play with a historical team pile-on right on the Pitt Stadium track.

It was led by Gottfried himself, running all the way down the sideline to congratulate Owens on this late back-breaking Pick 6 to end any hopes for a PSU comeback. In that game Craig Ironhead Heyward (may he RIP) ran for 160 yards on 32 carries.

Coach Gottfried got canned two years later, right before we played in the John Hancock Bowl against Texas A & M.  We beat the 17th ranked Aggies 31-28 that day to finish the season 8-3-1 and handed Paul Hackett his first Pitt win. There wouldn’t be a whole lot more under his coaching.

But one of the few wins he did have was a Backyard Brawl to begin the 1991 season, soundly beating the Mountaineers 34-3 on August 31, 1991. That looked like hopeful beginnings to Hackett’s only winning season, but at 6-5 it was a disappointing one at best as it turned out.

On to the Walt Harris era.

Harris won Big East Coach of the Year honors both in 1997 & 2004 as well as the AFCA Coach of the Year in 2004 when Pitt ended ranked #19th in the country. Some highlights of his tenure have to begin with the nickname that was produced by two fantastic Pitt players.

The name “Wide Receiver U”, the players, WRs Antonio Bryant and the legendary Larry Fitzgerald, who of course has had his jersey retired here in Pittsburgh. They were good! Good enough for both of them to win the Biletnikoff Award, Bryant in 2000, Fitz in 2003. Fitzgerald also won the Walter Camp Award that year as well as being a consensus All American.

The handwriting was on the wall the prior year after Fitz had caught a TD pass in his 14th consecutive game to break that NCAA record. And of course he just keeps on going today in the NFL to at some point end his career in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The games? Let’s start with the unlikely win over a ranked Miami team on a nationally televised Thursday night game in which QB Pete Gonzalez got it done for the Panthers. He was a southern Florida boy and remarked in his post game interview that he wanted to have bragging rights when he got back home so he felt he had to beat the Hurricanes, right? He did: Pitt 21 Miami 17.

Towards the end of that season the Panthers had two more big wins: on Nov 22nd  Pitt beat #19 Virginia Tech 30-27. That was the beginning of a stretch where Pitt just seemed to own VT every time they played each other for years to come.

On the following week the Backyard Brawl’s final score was Pitt 41 WVU 38 in a thrilling regionally televised, triple overtime nail biter played in Morgantown!

Now let’s move on to 1999, a mediocre season at 5-6 but it did have a bright spot:

That was on November 13th when in the last game to be played in Pitt Stadium the final score ended up Pitt 37 Notre Dame 27.  The home crowd rushed the field, brought down the goal posts and tore up sections of the artificial turf for souvenirs! Who knew that was going to take place that day?

In 2000, Pitt played our home games at Three Rivers Stadium while waiting for Heinz Field’s construction to be completed. The season highlight besides, Bryant  winning the Biletnikoff Award, was blanking Penn State again 12-0. A score that sat and festered in the Nittany Lion hide for the next 16 years! We also won another Backyard Brawl that season 38-28 to finish with a respectable 7-5 season record..

In 2001 we again finished with a record of 7-5, but this year was different from the season that preceded it.  After Pitt began with a dismal 1-5 start the gloom & doom felt by the fans was palpable. The program was being left for dead that season. That is until a miraculous mid-season turn around occurred.

We handed another ass whooping, 38-7, to a 12th ranked Hokie team yet again, plus notched a 23-17 win over WVU for another Backyard Brawl victory. We earned bowl eligibility that season with our final game win over University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Our bowl game was against North Carolina State, played down in the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando Florida.  The Pitt fans who traveled to be in attendance savored a 34-19 shellacking of the Wolfpack while enjoying some warm Florida weather in the middle of December. WR Antonio Bryant received the MVP for his efforts in that win.

2002 was also a very solid season; Fitzgerald was spreading his wings as already mentioned and once again we beat another highly ranked team during the regular season. Yep, the VT Hokies were our victims once again when they were ranked #3 and we beat them 28-21. But this time we did it in front of a hostile crowd in Blacksburg!

The PAC 10 provided our bowl opponent that year and on the day after Christmas, Larry Fitzgerald put on another one of his circus catch displays in helping to present the Pitt Panther faithful a late Christmas gift with a 38-13 victory over the Oregon State Beavers at the Insight Bowl in Phoenix Arizona thus ending our year with a 9-4 season record.

2003 was the last year for Fitz at Pitt and he did not disappoint. Winning multiple awards while helping the Panthers achieve a rather pedestrian 8-5 season that lacked any notable wins with the exception of one. You guessed it, VT.

VT was ranked #5 prior to us beating them yet again, this time by a score of 31 to 28 in a sold out Heinz Field on a day that ESPN Gameday decided to grace Pittsburgh with their presence. Hokies fans were learning how to hate Pitt even before we showed up in the ACC. It was a very good day to be a Panther Fan right then!

2004 came around and we another winning campaign. This time with back-to-back wins against the only two ranked teams on our regular season schedule. The first one was on Nov. 13th in a game played in South Bend that resulted in a victory over the #24 Notre Dame Fighting Irish by a final score of 41-38.

But it was what occurred after the game that made the headlines. Tyler Palko was a feisty QB for the Panthers; a player with more “want to”  in his head than the “has got” that he actually possessed in pure athletic talent in his body.  That flowed over into his attitude when he played and inti his rhetoric as well  because he gave one of the bluntest interviews after the game on live TV that I think that I’ve ever heard.

Now that singular Irish victory is simply referred to, by those in the know around Pitt fandom, as “the best f____ing Notre Dame win ever!”

Haha! If you don’t get that joke here is what we mean. Tyler’s post-game answer in reply to a TV interviewer’s open ended question of “How are you feeling right now? was… “I’m so f___ing proud of this team right now!!!!”   Ahhh, nuff said.

And just in case if you need to know whether Palko played well enough to back up his strong language his stats for the game were 334 passing yards with 5 TD passes sprinkled in for seasoning! Those five TD passes were a record against Notre Dame.

The very next week, over the Thanksgiving holiday, we played another Backyard Brawl. This one I remember very well because I was at the game with my son at Heinz Field. But it seems to be a classic Pitt win that NO ONE remembers or reminisces about.

Pitt wins 16-13 over a ranked #21 in the country Mountaineer team no less. Palko is again the hero after the dust settled. WVU jumped out to an easy 10-0 lead that they carried into the 2nd Quarter when our FG kicker, Josh Cummings, goes to work after Pitt keeps coming up short on offense.

The Panthers can’t get into the end zone yet but Cummings kicks three consecutive FGs over the next two quarters to close the gap to 10-9. Their kicker adds a FG to make it 13-9 going into the fourth quarter. Pitt wins the turnover battle at the very end with a WVU fumble recovery and a final scoring drive late in the game with a short Palko run for a TD. This clinched the game at a final score of 16-13.

Funny, but when I watched Kenny Pickett run for that over the right-side TD against Miami in our final game this last season, my memory went immediately back to that same QB run situation with Palko on that day in 2004. Really funny how memories work isn’t it and probably why I’m recounting the memory with you guys right now!

In any case, after those two wins Pitt gets ranked as high as #19th in the country. So 2004 was a good enough year at 8-4 to get Coach Harris a second Coach of the Year award.

Fast-forward to 2007 and the Stash Era! I like Wanny and I learned to love him on December 1, 2007, after we played the 100th Backyard Brawl. A pitiful 4-7 Pitt team limps into Morgantown to take on the mighty Mountaineers who are looking past the Panthers to play for the National Championship.

As Lee Corso likes to shout, “Not so fast my friend”. The rest is history, and if you don’t know what 13-9 means and you call yourself a Pitt fan, well, then you need to turn in your Pitt Fan Club membership card then.

2008 was an even better year with Coach Wannstedt getting us to 9-4 record. But in reality it was a pretty forgettable season with mostly run of the mill football and a disappointing loss to Oregon State in the Sun Bowl to finish the year. That was the infamous 3-0 loss to the Beavers. Personally, I never want to lose anything to a Beaver. That is except for two highlight games for this 2008 season. First was a quality win over an unbeaten and 10th ranked USF team, victorious over them 26-21.

These were the Shady McCoy days remember and he was showing his stuff in that game for sure. He did it on National TV too.  And then he had an even better game at South Bend when ND wasn’t anything special and  unranked as well but it was still an interesting game nonetheless.In the longest game in ND history; a five OT loss to the Pitt Panthers 36-33, McCoy had 136 yards and a TD.

2009 was the real Wanny Year though. I went, with my son again, to the Meineke Car Care Bowl  in Charlotte where we beat UNC 19-17 to culminate our first 10 win season in what felt like forever.

Dion Lewis was a beast in that bowl game & for the entire year, for that matter. Should be considered a great season right? Actually it wasn’t so much, because if you experienced it first hand and you know how the season played out, it was just another gut wrenching Pitt football season of “what could have beens”.

Coming off a great Notre Dame win by beating the Irish 27-22 we sat at 8-1 looking strong in the Big East and ranked nationally. What could go wrong? WVU that’s what. The next week they knocked us off 16-19 putting a damper on the year. But we still were able to play for the Big East Championship the next week when Cincinnati came to town.

Brian Kelly was coaching the Bearcats and they came in for the game highly ranked and undefeated. What a game! A cold snowy day, and what a game day atmosphere, the place was packed!

I’ll spare you the painful details but suffice it to say that we let this one get away also losing at the very end 44-45 in one of the most exciting Pitt games that I have ever attended, in a packed, electric filled atmosphere of Heinz Field. It can be done here!

Yeah, so 10-3 sounds good but a GREAT season was right there for the taking, we had 12-1 right there, we could have been a contender,,, a contender I tell you, but WVU and Cincinnati had to spoil our special season!

Now we go quickly past the Coach hiring fiasco period right into the current day “modern era” of Pitt Football, AKA  “after Freddie Kruger”.

A quick tip of the hat to Fraud Graham, who did provide us with one solid bright spot, in his flash in the pan existence at Pitt. That being the drubbing we handed out to USF on a nationally televised ESPN Thursday night game on 10/19/2011. They were ranked #19 too. Beat them like at drum 44-17. Ray Graham churns out 226 yards on 26 carries in that one. It was beautiful.

Well, say hello to Mr. Potato Head. I’m joking because Paul Chryst saved Pitt Football IMO. That big guy served as ballast to stabilize a program that was listing badly at the time. Chryst provided some sparks too during his tenure albeit not all good ones. Who could forget the definitive Pitt loss to YSU to start the party which started another Gloom & Doom time for the program. It got better though, but only after we got embarrassed by Cincinnati again the next week to start 0-2.

Right on cue, what shows up? Another trusty win against a ranked VT team. So we beat the Hokies yet again to shock start our season but still ended up a mediocre 6-7 with a bad loss to Old Miss in our bowl game. If you could have seen the Pitt villagers with the pitchforks and torches drawn after the Cincy game, you would have never bet Chryst makes it through that season.

Now it’s 2013 and the ACC welcomes us into their conference with open arms, kinda. We feel like we have to go sit at the back of the bus to begin with, but at least we’re on the bus.

Chryst did well putting together a decent season with transfer QB Tom Savage who comes in and, lo and behold, we start off 3-1. Then all of a sudden VT figures out how to beat us and slaps us back to reality.  All of a sudden a few weeks later we’re mediocre again at 4-4 with a ranked Notre Dame team coming to town for a nationally televised home night  But it ends up being another great Pitt win 28-21! Can you say Aaron Donald? He was a beast that night on the defensive line.

We ended the season with another nationally televised win against the MAC Champs Bowling Green University  in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit. The heroes of the game were QB Chad Voytik, RB James Conner and WR Tyler Boyd.

Voytik came in after Savage was hurt and plays through the 2nd half.  Boyd runs back  a kick return for a TD and Conner says “Hello World” finishing his play with a dominating 229 yards on 26 carries the Bowl MVP award. It was a great way to finish the season even if our record was only 7-6 in HCPC’s only winning season.

The following seasons should still be fresh in our memories if you’re a Pitt fan. The highlight was DT Aaron Donald just cleaning up by winning the Lombardi Award, the Bronko Nagurski Award, the Chuck Bednarik  Award and the Outland Trophy. He was also a consensus All American as well. Then he went off to the NFL to continue to play like a man possessed.

Now the Narduzzi Era is upon us. We’ve seen the trials and tribulations of James Conner both on and off the field. Him going down in the first game of 2015 opened the door for RB Qadree Ollison to grab the ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year Award while Safety Jordan Whitehead won his own by being named the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year as well.

2016 let us share in Conner’s storybook return to the football field. With his strong will, along with great play from the rest of his team they together beat a good Penn State team in Conner’s second game back from beating Cancer. It was a great way for Pitt to renew the PA interstate rivalry after a 16 year hiatus.

Then later in the season, that same Pitt team proves that it was no fluke by going into Death Valley and handing the #2 ranked Clemson Tigers their first loss of the season and on their Senior Day no less!

Fast forward to the Miami game of 2017 played after a heartbreaking loss to VT just the week before. Please tell me who can’t score from the one yard line with four downs to play? Apparently Pitt can’t and didn’t.

So that same true freshman QB who was in for that devastating  loss has his first college start and puts away an undefeated Miami team who was toying with visions in their heads of playing for the National Championship the very next week. Who in the hell out there in Pittland saw that one coming????  (Edit Note: Reed did)

So there we have it. The last thirty years of Pitt Football.  Are we elite in any of those seasons? Nope. Are we even good? Not really in any consistent way,  but one thing we are, is Pitt Panthers  and to me that means a football team that IS, when it decides to be, a team that can play with and beat any team in the country on any given gameday;  like even right now, like today.

That’s the enigma of Pitt football. If we just really got it together from top to bottom;  from the Pitt Board of Trustees all the way down to the equipment managers, we might just get back to having that elite status again. I lived that top of the mountain experience once for a whole decade and I liked it.  It was quite an experience and a lot of fun. But then again, so is every season and if you’re a true fan you simply have to learn to appreciate the bright spots when they occur.

The good goes with the bad though. Those frustrations and the heartbreaking losses that we try to forget only act to make those unexpected wins taste twice as sweet to me when they come around… but that’s just me talking.

However, no matter how you personally view your reality, tell me truthfully, after reading the above, tell me that Pitt football isn’t a fun roller coaster ride? So please, please don’t bore with us propositions that Pitt football hasn’t done anything good in the last thirty years and diss on the school which you’re supposed to be a fan of.  That is unless you just have to be a contrarian, because frankly that kind of nonsense is, well that’s just bull, pure and simple.

145 thoughts on “Preaching to a Tough Congregation

  1. Nice synopsis of the last 30 plus years of Pitt (script and non-script football) Doc !

    Well we didn’t stink (except from 1992 to 1996) which you kindly omitted. We also had a lot of lost
    opportunities. Opportunities to win 10 games and finish the season in the Top 25. Which has only
    occurred four (4) times since 1983. Let me see, that is 4 times in 34-35 years. Looking at it that way
    that isn’t too good.

    Actually that sucks for a school with our football tradition and the talent we put into the NFL. It really sucks.

    Maybe it will get better……but based on that track record….it probably won’t. As Nard Dog’s first 2 years ended with losses and those losses kept us out of being in the final Top 25 of the season. Again


  2. One thing i noticed looking at our historical won/loss index.

    Pitt has played 113 seasons.

    And we’ve played in 33 Bowl Games.

    And we’ve won 669 games.

    Tell me what this means…and upitt will buy you and your better half dinner a Eddie V’s.


  3. Wow, just wow Doc.

    If I had half a brain, and the time, I’d love to put together the parallel for Pitt basketball over my 37 years watching.


  4. The following should be the benchmark of how frustrating being a Pitt FB fan is:

    As Dr Tom described above, Pitt had its best season in years in 2009 with 10 wins. It also had its 2nd best average attendance ever @ almost 54,000. Lastly, Wanny was considered by many as a very good recruiter.

    Still, PSU’s 2010 recruiting class included two local 4-stars, Miles Dieffenbach and Tom Ricketts Jr. Dieffenbach is the son of then Pitt tennis coach, and of course, Ricketts is the son of a former Pitt All-American and 1st round pick.


    1. since we are fresh off of Bama’s title win, maybe the 2nd benchmark is that Robert Foster went to the bed the night before of his announcement date, telling his parents that Pitt was it.


  5. I go pretty far back as a Pitt fan with my early memories of attending games with my father. Getting to se Tommy McDonald playing with Oklahoma when they ruled, and getting a small palm tree when a George Mira Miami came to Pitt Stadium.
    Also seeing in my estimate two of the best ever college players, Tony D and Hugh Green, ever, who both should have won Heismans in years a lesser player won.
    Along with all the great memories I also can recall administrations seemingly sticking it to the fans. I can recall several times when after successful runs the greed factor set in. It did not matter how long and loyal fans might have been, if you wanted your seats you were going to pay a premium. At one point any donation to the University counted towards these premiums, but that changed it had to be to the athletic department. I know of one group that had been donating significant amounts to one of the grad schools and because of this change lost a significant number of season ticket holders. This held for basketball as well.
    Couple those sort of memories with the apparent lack of support from admistration to the athletic department and it is easy to get discouraged by the performance. Football is mediocre at best and the basketball situation is shameful. I have no idea what happened to Dixon and the transition to this mess we have, but obviously some serious mistakes were made.
    I had high hopes with the move to the ACC, but I fear all the revenue increase have been sucked up in the general fund and not invested in the athletic department.
    I would love to be optimistic, but need some help getting there.


  6. Dr. Tom, thanks for the good read. I took the liberty to look at the overall won -loss record during the 1987-2017 period. 187 wins- 184 losses and 2 ties. Lots of good memories and disappointments along the way – a lot like life “some good days and bad days and going half-mad days” (Jimmy Buffet).

    Based on that record it’s no wonder we have a bunch of glass half full/empty posters.. with all the changes in coaching and administration I think we have fared well. Certainly could have been a lot worse IMO and like the rest of you I am ready for a progression into more consistent winning of 9 and on occasion 10 wins.


  7. Dr. Tom that was a great recount of pitt football history in the last 30 years. I can be pessimistic sometimes on hear, but it’s because I want pitt to succeed. I want to win 10 games more than once in my life.

    Just to see Pitt play for a conference championship would be great. That 2009 seasons we were o so close. In fact when my dad and brother and I were walking out of the stadium after we lost to Cincinnati he said, “Wannstedt will not be coach if he doesn’t win the big east next year”. The painful truth is that he was correct. So despite all my complaining from time to time I have some very cherished memories of pitt football despite all their troubles. I was at the last game at pitt stadium, the cincy game, the disaster against youngstown, bowling green, the almost disaster to furman, a devastating loss to south Florida I believe when they were IA still.

    One thing Pitt football has done has keep me entertained. I apologize if I’m negative on here sometimes it’s only because I want Pitt to put it all together for one season. There is always next year that’s what keeps me coming back!!!


    1. Just like this site, there is always something bringing you back into Pitt FB. In 2014, when Pitt lost to Akron at home 21-10 … I remembering thinking OK, this is the last straw. Then a few days later (for whatever reason) J Whitehead committed.


    2. A Zach, they already put it all together once, back in 1976. You must want them to do that again though, I guess.
      Understandable. Me too. UCF type seasons are few and far between. Even Alabama was a two loss team this year.

      But if UCF can pull it off, there’s hope, let’s start by beating Albany in 8 months. Little steps.


  8. Geeze Dr. Tom all these memories are rushing into my head how about the opener in 1994 I believe when curtis Martin went off against Texas and almost willed a terrible Pitt team to a win. I was about 10 years old my brother and I threw all our hand cut confetti by halftime.


  9. Pitt has to come to grips with two issues. They are in a P5 conferenceand that is a big change for the mostly independent program for years. The BE was a BB conference and Pitt was playing the same programs that they normally played exception of PSU. Secondly, the mistake of betting on BB has to be reversed and rebuilding the program even without the easy recruiting that WPA afforded them for the first 80 years makes money and commitment a must. Heinz can be a decent venue for Pitt if they win and secondly, develop some rivalries in the ACC. It takes years to become a true member of a new conference and Pitt has to win the coastal for a couple of years to be seen in a better light. But if you add up the positives, they far outrank the negatives.


  10. Dr Tom,

    Great Article.

    I have said for a long time being a Pitt fan is a great lesson in life. There is many ups and downs but when your down those fleeting moments of UP’s keep you alive.

    It would be boring to be an Alabama fan.



    1. THE most optimistic view I have ever read….anywhere.
      “It would be boring to be an Alabama fan.



      1. It would be gloriously boring. But you gotta give it to them, Roll Tide! A true modern college football dynasty


  11. Well thank you Dr Tom. Who knew?? So it’s true, PITT did have some pretty good moments the past thirty years, I’ll be dammed. It does feel good to get an accurate assessment and accounts of PITT’s recent history. Lots of PITT fans wonder why they keep following this lousy football program. Thanks to you good Dr, maybe you’ve uncovered the real reason why people continue to follow. PITT hasn’t been as bad as some want to remember.

    I’ve always thought that Gottfried getting canned was the beginning of the big PITT football fall.. I guess MG had some recruiting issues or some run in with the NCAA but he was doing a good job with the PITT football program at that time.

    I was thinking last night how the POV may have grown up a little with the last couple of articles. Upitt sharing his rough time while at PITT and a few others explaining their feelings of despair with the PITT football program. We are all different for many different reasons. I can be ok with that unless, as you say Dr, I sniff out a complete contrarian. I’m thinking we are all mostly on the same page today… ike


  12. Dr. Tom,
    Thank you for such a well written, historically accurate wonderful trip down memory lane. Well done good Dr.!!!
    Really enjoyed meeting you, Big B, and others at our Georgia Tech away game this past season. A very timely written article and greatly appreciated!
    Jim (Pittman4ever)


  13. Nice history Dr. Tom.

    History is cyclical and we need the up curve. If I was a Pitt student today, I would be furious based on what you described above because I would probably only get maybe one or two tastes of it in my 4 years. My apathy would eventually follow me into alumni hood. H2P


    1. It’s too bad that the Miami game was over Thanksgiving break, that would have been a great game for the students of the Panther Pitt to have enjoyed live. The juice was there with the 35 to 40 thousand fans that showed up. We could have used their youthful enthusiasm to our advantage even more so if they had been present.


  14. “Are we elite in any of those seasons? Nope. Are we even good? Not really in any consistent way..” -Dr. Tom

    That line sums it all up. The roller coaster is not satisfying to somebody that became a Pitt football fan in the 1980’s and knows truthfully, those days are never coming back. I still can’t let go of NOT ONE GD OUTRIGHT BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP competing against only a few programs with budgets in the end. Pathetic. We can wax poetic about history and tradition, but it is living in the past. If you settle for 5-7 with a big upset every decade, you get what you get. Why not strive for and demand excellence from the football program? We are now relegated to celebrating wins in October and November that really mean nothing in the big picture. Does anybody remember Syracuse beat Clemson this year? No. To me, I judge the last 30 years on this…

    Only three 9-win seasons (2002, 2008, 2009) – Rutgers has 4!
    Only six bowl wins (1989, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010, 2013) – Rutgers has 6 as well!
    The best bowl victory in 30 years was the 1989 Sun Bowl against a mediocre A&M team?
    One Pizza Bowl victory over Bowling Green in the last 5 years

    The one golden opportunity to take advantage of the in-state rival’s child molestation scandal and 65 scholarship limit, and the administration goes for Clubber Lang -er Michael Haywood. Fast forward to 2018, and a used car salesman in State College is “dominating the state” just exactly as he said he would. Pitt will never have that kind of opportunity again in our lifetime. Shameful Pitt administration for your futility! Demand more from this administration and this program or they will keep shoveling you this crap and tell you they are “committed to winning championships.” Nonsense.


    1. Hey come on now, the Pizza Bowl is up there in Bowl history with the Sugar and Orange Bowls.
      Wait……I think they changed the name. Sorry.


    2. The Pitt frisbee team’s performance has dropped off as well, since they won the National Championship.
      We got to pump some more money into that ! Make a note to Heather .


    3. Franklinstein has not dominated the state yet. The current series is tied 1-1 and the game this year is at Heinz with Barkley off the the NFL.

      Yes, psu is out recruiting Pitt in PA. Let’s see how that translates to the field, where it counts. Do give the dominator the self impose title yet – Duzz and the rest of us want to win the last two shots we have at them REALLY BAD…

      I’ll reframe from using any cuss words.



  15. Dallas Mike – completely agree! Great article Dr. Tom. Pitt FB does just enough to keep us interested, only to rip our hearts out once we’re hooked!


  16. Look guys, there are a few facts we have to face. One is the BoT isn’t out on the playing field nor coaching on the sidelines.

    I get wanting to point a finger to them but the truth is you should do that after you heavily examine the HC, staff coaches and players.

    DW didn’t have a great amount of admin or financial support at Pitt either yet he won 9 and 10 games and recruited great players.

    I get that fans want to place blame on faceless entities but it starts on the Southside.

    As far as our football history goes I grew up listening to stories of the great Pitt coaches and players pre-WW2…And then went to Pitt the years Dorsett and majors we’re here. But I look at that as being the distant past.

    34 years since we were really good is a lifetime in college football and nothing matters but recruiting and coaching for the next few seasons.

    Our history, as nice as it is, means nothing except talk like this.

    The big donors to the athletic program are literally dying off and the crop of alumni who are getting into their highest earning years can care less about Pitt sports…which is why we have one of the largest endowments in the US for a school our size (rather small in comparison) and hardly any athletic donations coming in.

    Pitt is first and foremost an academic and research school and that’s where the real Pitt Pride shows in in a tangible way.


  17. Reed – you had mentioned in previous articles and/or posts that there were some things going on with the program that “weren’t good or just not right”. Are you able to elaborate a bit more on any of that?


  18. Reed, the BOT did in fact hire the coaches who have led our squads. Perhaps their judgement might have been a tad off? The coaches are responsible for the players and the product, but who actually put those coaches on the field. They in fact are responsible.


    1. Look, Narduzzi is a fan favorite so fans blame the admin. But I guarantee you if Chryst was still the HC at Pitt he’d be getting every finger pointed directly at him.

      This is how it works with Pitt fans.

      There are still some who believe that DW was fired because he never won a championship, or because SP hated him… Anything other than the fact he lost control of his players…so it had to be something other than him.

      That is because fans loved him.

      Pitt fans love Yinzers and there is nothing wrong with that but it clouds judgement when it comes to Pitt football.



        The Administration treats football like a toy and must think changing coaches is good publicity for university since it puts the school’s name in the news. A totally idiotic approach, but that must be the reason.


    1. No Pitt …. but 5 of next year’s opponents including 3 in the Top 10. (see Reed .. I’m starting already!)


  19. Jay, I predict Pitt will make it into the top 25 sometime in the 2018 season. With our early schedule many might be thinking i’m drinking out of the same well that Ike does.


  20. Our Chancellor who reports to the BoT and hires the AD is responsible. So yes, I can point my finger directly at Pitt’s governance. Our previous 2 AD’s nearly ruined football and basketball respectively. Our new one frankly should not be in charge of an ACC program. Coaches can only do so much if they are underpaid and not supported. Wanny got 10 wins out of sheer pride and love for Pitt. No other coach will give you that.

    As my fellow Texan pointed out, Pitt is no better than Butgers. We do a good job chopping wood ourselves. I’m tired of the excuses. I’m tired of 6-6 seasons with the concessional big upset. I want Pitt to be a consistent winner. Pitt will not be a consistent winner when coaches are paid in the bottom percentile, when you dont have the culture to support athletics, when you dont have the boosters.

    It has been a roller coaster ride but with plenty of puking. Our football team can compete with elite teams but our program cannot. To see 10 win seasons, our program needs to change. Yes – good and stable coaching helps, 4 star recuits, easy schedule. But the program needs nurtured. Coaches and players cant do that. We fans can via donations and support. But the BoT and AD can through the right hiring decisions and the right vision for sports.

    I’m still amazed at Pitt’s level of fan support despite what has transpired over the past 35 years. Pitt does have loyal fans but will future generations of fans be just a loyal?


  21. Reed, I’m confused and I’m not trying to be a smartass but… I can keep count on the POV how many times I’ve read how the PITT administration just doen’t feel the need for a complete commitment for the football program. We’ve been told and warned countless times that football is just not a priority for the University of Pittsburgh. Seriously…

    Remember you saying that no way PITT offered Canada one million $$. Why? because they aren’t going to spent the money. I’m confused as hell.

    Or is it now more on the head coach because the tables have turned and it’s Narduzzi?


  22. Just so I’m clear. I do blame the BOT in a very large part in PITT’s inability, instability and a lack of care to invest in a football program that could potentially return the investment 2 or 3 fold at least. PITT is a red-headed step child in their very own city…


  23. Reed.

    I will agree AND disagree..

    Narduzzi and Wannstedt are very similar personalities- the kind revered in places like Pittsburgh. Potato Paulie isn’t and wasn’t. So, we agree there.

    I will slightly disagree on Wanny’s dismissal. I believe he was let go because of the PERCEPTION he had lost control of his players. The SI article was completely incendiary and the administration over-reacted. Additionally, I believe that a different AD would have provided more support and perhaps the outcome would have been different. (Pederson had Nordenberg’s ear but DIDN’T want Wannstedt here anymore.)

    The incidents at Pitt came just a few years after PSU experienced a similar but worse rash of incidents involving its football players.. DIU, public intoxication, vandalism, assualt, domestic battery and even a MURDER. Paterno wasn’t fired. Joe Mixon at Oklahoma knocked a woman unconscious in public and on video and Stoops wasn’t fired. Heck, Mixon stayed on the team. I guess you could argue that Pitt values it’s reputation more than PSU and Oklahoma and has more reputation to protect.

    While You have connections at the University and I do not, I firmly believe Wanny would’ve survived with a better win loss record and an AD that was in his corner.. or maybe with a Chancellor who cared EVEN A LITTLE BIT about athletics- which Nordenberg obviously didn’t.


  24. You know I wonder if ESPN hadn’t gotten in the way of the ACC it likely would’ve selected UCONN over Pitt as they expanded.

    I wonder what Pitt’s fortunes would’ve looked like under the AAC/Big East umbrella for FB/BB as opposed ot being in the ACC.

    I know its a moot point, but would it have made a difference in FB? BB?

    Personally, I think Basketball would’ve remained fairly solid and Jamie likely would still be here.

    Football I think being in the AAC would have averaged 1.5 to 2 more wins every year. Hell if we can only land 3* recruits now my guess is the needle wouldn’t have moved that much on recruiting.



    1. DaveD, I believe the selection of Pitt in the ACC had more to do with the Boston College AD …. who lobbied against UConn. If not, Pitt would probably be in the B12 … since they were approached (in the summer of 2011) before WVU was.


      1. I have read that however, BC flat out denies they did so. I won’t necessarily buy that on face value. As for the B12…perhaps you are right which would have made us the cannon fodder for the B12 meaning no changes in FB.

        Could Jamie have recruited in Midwest? would b-ball have been better off?



          1. You also have to figure if ESPN, was the driver, behind the scenes, of who got into the ACC as that business insider article suggests(which I don’t believe)…..Pitt would have been on the Outside looking in. As ESPN shows Pitt in a poor light as much as possible both before Pitt’s entry into the ACC and after.

            And you gotta believe ESPN would have wanted ‘local team’ Uconn, down the road from ESPN headquarters, in the ACC.


    2. Hi Dave,
      Back when there was a significant amount of conference realignment, I was a regular reader of the blog Frank The Tank, which had a Big10 bent, but it was great reading in all matters related to the movement of programs. He had one particular post that was the work of a couple guys regarding potential expansion candidate for the Big10 and Pitt was on the list. Of course, the big negative for Pitt was that its television footprint co-existed with Penn State’s. Thus no additional households to add to the BigTen Network.

      But here is the interesting thing about that report. At the time, of all the schools one might consider adding to the Big10, Pitt was 2nd in terms of national TV ratings. The first was Nebraska, who was eventually selected by the conference.

      Meanwhile, UConn’s rank in the NYC are was well below Rutgers, ND and Penn State. ND was almost tied with Rutgers.

      So, while ESPN may have wanted to influence the ACC’s decision on the matter, Pitt’s attractiveness from a TV market’s perspective made it a pretty good choice.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Thanks tvax…that’s the song I was referring to the other day. Haha. Now you got me whistling it…


  26. I certainly have not been a raw,raw, fan of Narduzzi by any stretch. I think the one thing we can agree on is there is enough blame to go around.
    The biggest fault I find is there is no strategic long term plan. We simply flounder along, alternating between complaining and hoping against hope we stumble into something.
    I also think we can admit that we haven’t made the best hires in the athletic department. Even given the cheapness of the BOT they couldn’t have been pleased with Haygood(or Haywood or whatever) or Todd. Chryst was a stabilizer but probably not the very best we could do. And Narduzzi May be a decent coach eventually but he is still a jackass.
    If the old time money boosters are dying off why aren’t the old time backward thinking members of the BOT??
    Still would like to know who is the power player on the board. Doesn’t anyone know?


  27. We are moving up in women’s volleyball, our young grapplers just got a huge win, babes on the men’s BB team who play hard with many mistakes/turnovers. Have to wait at least a year or two to see if we are trending upward. Didn’t we hire a top coach from Notre Dame for one of our sports? Pickett is the ticket for ’18. Hope a descent OL is operational early in the season. Dr. Tom prognosticated the D pretty accurately in ’17 and that side of the ball will be our strength heading into next year.

    I have come around to Huff’s way of thinking by scheduling as easier OOC while trying to keep the Nits ore Eers on the schedule. Pad the wins where we can.

    Regarding the BoT – I feel a real disconnect -totally the opposite of being a poster in this medium where I feel the love for our Panthers and we know each other’s names and faces.

    The BoT seems to operate in a vacuum isolated from people’s opinions/ideas that should matter. Thank God we have Richman on point. It’s easy to understand why the donations are minimal…they don’t know me and I know not them….


  28. Ike, you are correct with the systemic problems that we have in the football program itself that continue on and on and onand they are the administration and the chancellor and the Board of Trustees.

    But we have also seen that coaches and players can win football games as much as 9 and 10 wins with the exact same administration problems that both chryst and narduzzi have had and that’s what DW had also.

    No BoT member said kick to the great Cincy return man; nor run so times against VT or not make halftime adjustments on defense…etc, etc.

    All of these things hold blame but we have also seen schools with lower football budgets out recruit us and have consistent success on the playing field. How does that happen? Well, for one they hire smarter and better coaches with their more limited funds.

    No one thing is to blame, but as I said, in close games or on the recruiting trail the Admin isn’t on the field or in the living room.

    It’s like some asked me on here yesterday…if we paid Narduzzi $3M would he be a better coach and the truth is no.

    But Pitt then has to find and hire a better coach for that money.

    Wins and losses are on the team principals… The overall state of the program is on both the admin and the HC’s leadership.


  29. Wanny was a victim of the Brian Kelly(UC coach) hire to Notre Dame before the Pitt game that year.

    Only thing that explains that bizarre game.


  30. We don’t know if Dave W told the punter to kick to Gillyard either?

    I’ll be the first to say that Narduzzi has had a rough time adjusting to being a head coach at first but I’ve seen improvements each year. I certainly don’t think Narduzzi told Aston to fall down at the one inch line or Peterman to throw a pick on second and goal. I also doubt that he instructed Henderson to fumble at the one yard line this past year. … and from what I understand. Pickett had the option of keeping the ball at the VT one yard line during that goal line stand by VT, he didn’t You know the play…. the one he ran for a TD in the Miami game

    Point is.. PITT football is a total work in progress and I understand it is a process. I do put most of the blame on the cheapness of the administration and at the same time understand that Narduzzi has to work out his coaching staff and refine it, which I think he’s doing this year. I like the coach and the direction in which PITT football is headed.. I really have enjoyed the POV blog, Fran’s tailgates and watching my absolutely favorite college football team play their hearts out. I’m a happy camper, No one or nothing will make me feel bad about that… ike



    1. As I said, admin, coaches and players…all contribute.

      But you are correct in that I don’t ever see Pitt’s admins putting the attitude or resources into the athletic dept to build a powerhouse program. I believe that Pitt considers sports very far down on its important missions list


  31. Part of Pitt’s problem is a media problem I believe. We are the red-headed step child in our own city as ike mentioned above.

    When you get bad media coverage in your city, that is a lot to overcome and one of the reasons, imo, we lose so many local kids .

    And since we get very little to no respect from the local media, the national media notices that too !


  32. Only Wanny got 9 or 10 wins. He did it with recruits and his Pitt passion. It sure wasnt due to coaching. I think Narduzzi is a better coach. He has the passion. He needs the recruits. If so, we have 9-10 wins. Then the BoT needs to pay him what 9-10 win coaches in the ACC make.

    Of course the bigger question is what coach or AD wants to come to Pitt given the toxic culture for sports.


  33. When the media and the BoT is infiltrated by Nitters who work against you, you have an uphill battle.


  34. I believe Peduto is on the BOT?? PITT can’t even get Bigelow closed to spread the campus and greenery. He sucks…


  35. I liken our sports to Wake Forest. Small old line school that has been in the ACC forever and just down tobacco road from big sister schools. Some history in sports but very occasional. Money is good and that is it. BC and Cuse not far behind.


  36. Too lazy to do the research, but do we really have Nits on our board?

    I would rather have Neer’s and folks who never obtained their GED than a bunch of pompous, egocentric, holier-than-thou Nits.
    How could they possibly have Pitt’s best interest at heart?
    Please tell me this is a joke.


    1. Nope, the last time someone posted a link to the BoT members page, we counted at least 4 Pedo’s on the board. So you got Pedo’s on the BoT and Pedo’s in the Pedo Gazette, all over the Sports dept. Trib is slightly better. The FAN, Pitt’s flagship radio station is a joke.

      You can’t have all this negativity in the media in your own city and have constant success.

      And certainly in this media driven age when the kids your trying to recruit are plugged into the media 24/7/365 and carry it around with them.


  37. there are at least 4 of the voting 36. Now granted not alot but any is too much. you also have political hacks on this board. Its too way large and not enough people who know anything about sports.


  38. oops wrong one but interesting Peduto is on both. Is that a Mayoral thing?


  39. I would not say Chryst would be terrible at Pitt now. When you pay your people in the 50% range, expect 50% results. I am waiting for someone to argue why the expectations should be different?

    Free market principles apply. Best results guys get the most money or go where they get the most money. We are what our BoT says we are and wants us to be, mediocre.

    The sad fact is that the talking Administrative heads have been promising we the people, championships and always competing for championships and we the people believed it. Where is the cult talk here? “We are here to win championships” “we are here to win championships”. I don’t say that to be mean.

    Demanding championships when you pay garbage, is garbage. Demanding top notch recruiting when you pay garbage, is garbage. I like Narduzzi. I liked Chryst. I liked Wanny. It isn’t the coaches. It’s believing the lying AD’s and Chancellors. We are the fools and they know we are the fools and we accept it.

    When we pay our coaches top 25 money and give top 25 recruiting budgets, expect top 25 results and then determine if your coach met or didn’t meet the goals. Any other expectations are heaped in the great “hide the ball strategy”. Any law schoolers out there that haven’t heard that from their professors. Dilly dilly!


    1. Late 1960’s early ’70’s player Bryant Salter is on it. And I think a lineman from the ’70’s Jimbo Covert.
      And Brian Generalovich of bball team in ’60’s.

      A lot of pols and ex-pols and 2 Governors. So you would think they could get some things, like lite rail and things to connect Pitt’s campus.


  40. The Chancellor and AD treat us fans as sheep. If I wanted to be a sheep, I’d be living under a Porch in Morganhole and raped endlessly.


  41. The Board of Trustees oversees all charitable, scientific and academic activities at the University of Pittsburgh. The board consists of 36 voting members, including 12 who are appointed by Commonwealth of Pennsylvania officials (lie. lots of political hacks)


  42. You use to be able to click on the names of the Board members, to get their bio’s which is how we found their Creepy Valley State connections.

    That feature seems to have been removed. hmmmmm


  43. “The University’s mission is to:

    • provide high-quality undergraduate programs in the arts and sciences and professional fields, with emphasis upon those of special benefit to the citizens of Pennsylvania;

    • offer superior graduate programs in the arts and sciences and the professions that respond to the needs ofPennsylvania, as well as to the broader needs of the nation and the world;

    • engage in research, artistic, and scholarly activities that advance learning through the extension of the frontiers of knowledge and creative endeavor;

    • cooperate with industrial and governmental institutions to transfer knowledge in science, technology, and health care;

    • offer continuing education programs adapted to the personal enrichment, professional upgrading, and career advancement interests and needs of adult Pennsylvanians; and

    • make available to local communities and public agencies the expertise of the University in ways that are consistent with the primary teaching and research functions and contribute to social, intellectual, and economic development in the Commonwealth, the nation, and the world.

    The trustees, faculty, staff, students, and administration of the University are dedicated to accomplishing this mission, to which they pledge their individual and collective efforts, determined that the University shallcontinue to be counted among the prominent institutions of higher education throughout the world.”

    See anything at all about athletics, even being alluded to? Of course not because that isn’t even on Pitt’s radar.


    1. Reed, doesn’t this negate your thoughts on Narduzzi and Chryst. It is the BOT. It’s their own doing.. I can live with that. But I call a spade a spade.


      1. Which is why the Pitt administration has been a collection of dullards dating back to the 1980s. A coach who wins seven or eight games like Gottfried and Wannstedt should have been our two coaches from 1986 to present. Zero explanation for either being fired.

        These dullards and many Pitt fans want to win big on the cheap and with 85 angels. Impossible, but they still want it.

        Too bad I didn’t grow up one of those Steelers/Buckeyes fans.


  44. you need to Facebook or use Llinked in on every BoT member now. They are on to us.

    These members get nominated by a ‘nominating committee’ whose qualifications and composition is unknown.

    Then the BoT votes on their acceptance.

    Its smack of cronyism. Nothing is transparent. Its like a damn secret society.

    You change the nomination process…you change the BoT.


  45. Penn State’s 38-member Board of Trustees is composed of the following: Five trustees serve in an ex officio capacity by virtue of their position within the University or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. They are the President of the University (non-voting); the Governor of the Commonwealth (non-voting); and the state secretaries of the departments of Agriculture; Education; and Conservation and Natural Resources. Six trustees are appointed by the Governor; nine trustees are elected by alumni; six are elected by organized agricultural societies within the Commonwealth; six are elected by the Board of Trustees representing business and industry endeavors. Additionally, one student trustee, one academic trustee, the past president of the Penn State Alumni Association and three at-large trustees are also members of the Board.


  46. so the mission says nothing about sports despite collecting millions from ticket sales, merchandise and oh yes that nice ACC check???

    The university makes millions upon these scholar athletes. The region makes millions off sporting events. University donations rise and fall with their sport’s teams performances. Yet its like Pitt doesnt have a sports program or maybe the powers to be dont want athletics coming close to the academic mission. Yet millions are coming in and the Pitt brand is very much impacted by sports.

    Sports is a step child locked in the Cathedral basement.


  47. Penn State for all its faults is far more transparent and democratic than Pitt Yet this governance still allowed child abuse to happen for a long period of time. They appointed Joe Pa Emperor. There has to be some middle ground.


  48. It would be neat to see who and how many were on Pitt’s BoT back in the 70’s and 80’s.

    Have we EVER elected BoT members ? Anyone know ?


  49. Emels choice of words is very important. ‘Elected’ members. These members are NOT elected. They are nominated by a committee who composition and qualifications are unknown. Then the BoT selects their own members from this nomination process.

    The community, fans and alumni have no input.

    Maybe if ‘WE’ did, Pitt’s academic rankings would not be plummeting. Maybe donations would be on the upswing. Maybe sports would be relevant.

    Our Chancellor is ultimately responsible for everything Pitt and he reports to a 36 person committee comprised of politicians and Nitters. And you wonder why Pitt is so screwed up?


  50. Decided to check on the 3rd biggest State University in Pa. Temple University.

    Temple University’s Board of Trustees comprises 36 voting members, 24 of whom are elected and 12 of whom are appointed by officials of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Learn more about the Board of Trustees.


  51. Even Temple’s BoT seem to be composed of mostly (if not all) Temple grads. Sans the political hacks.

    What is up with Pitt’s BoT ?


  52. Sorry to be late to the party,Dr. Tom, but thank you so much for this ray of sunshine down memory lane. So often we lament the last 30 years of Pitt football, but again I guess it depends on your perspective but it has been a helluva roller coaster ride and I’m so “F’ñ proud” to be a fan of this team. Sure this program isn’t perfect, but I think there aren’t many schools that wouldn’t trade their football history with ours. Thanks for the reminder. H2P!


  53. Rent payments at Lincoln are substituted for mortgage payments with an OCS. Plus 100% of the take from parking and concessions. But you’ve now got maintenance expense. Is Temple just a football only venue or will it be multi-purpose (sports, academics, business). If a venue can be used 365 and 24/7 it will generate a far greater ROI.


  54. Great news hearing Jurkovic say Pitt did the most negative recruiting during the process. Glad we have coaches who play this game like many, many others in the cesspool. Our BoT won’t like hearing this, along with some fans, but kudos to the staff. I feel even better about Narduzzi now.


    1. Thanks Iek.

      Gotta be honest. And I would never insult a kid. Comes across a bit arrogant. Kelly the QB killer will destroy him. I predict that he doesn’t finish 4 years there.

      I’ll take Kenny Pickett.


      1. remember, this is the kid who planted a Pine-Richland flag right in the middle of the North Allegheny field after a win this season …. I’m not making this up


  55. Pitt coaches just told him the truth about playing for Kelly. He’s horrible for QB’s. He’ll demean you and chew your arse out for no good reason. He’ll keep recruiting other QB’s over you. He’ll throw you under the bus at first chance to save his arse. You’ll be miserable there and have little chance to develop or even play. I guess the truth hurt the kid.

    Heather is probably getting a call now from Gallagher to have a talk with the Coach since this isnt the Pitt way. Pitt wasnt meant to be anything more than mediocre and recruit 3 stars. BoT = Boneheads on Thorazine.


  56. So Tx_, we can agree. The PITT Bots are trying to kill us sons of PITT. BTW, this is a true story being told.


  57. The Ohio State University is the model 21st-century public, land grant, research, urban, community engaged institution.


    The University is dedicated to:

    Creating and discovering knowledge to improve the well-being of our state, regional, national and global communities;
    Educating students through a comprehensive array of distinguished academic programs;
    Preparing a diverse student body to be leaders and engaged citizens;
    Fostering a culture of engagement and service.

    We understand that diversity and inclusion are essential components of our excellence.

    Shared values are the commitments made by the University community in how we conduct our work. At The Ohio State University we value:

    Diversity in people and of ideas
    Access and affordability
    Collaboration and multidisciplinary endeavor
    Integrity, transparency, and trust

    Nothing about athletics here either. The universities sell themselves as higher education. They have to or they lose non-profit tax exempt status. . They can’t sell athletics or they be viewed as hypocrites. Pitt Administration and BoT didn’t get the memo that you publish and promote community and education, but in order to be successful as a university, you support athletics above all. Dilly dilly.


  58. Two things….nice review DOC ….how many times over the past 30 years have we as fans said to the Pitt coaches..” get the other QB some playing time”!!! Look at Bama…this passing QB played meaningless minutes in every Bama when he was finally needed in a big time situation…the game wasn’t too big for him!

    On the BOT…don’t know if you POVers know this but when you are elected or appointed to a BOT, you are expected to give a great amount of $$$ to the University Board! Those serving do have skin in the game!


  59. From regarding one of Pitt’s 2018 non-conference foes –

    UCF: Defensive coordinator Randy Shannon has signed a 3-year deal with a salary of $300,000 per for the 2018 and ’19 seasons — during which he’ll be paid out a $2.2 million buyout from Florida — and then jump to $1 million during the 2020 season with a $300,000 retention bonus in February 2020, tweets Steve Berkowitz.

    Any news on Pitt’s new DC hire or promotion from within?


  60. I guess Dan’s millions he’s already given and his service to Pitt wasnt enough to get nominated.

    And yes a university’s primary mission is academics so publicly you will never hear about advancement of students via sports. But everyone knows that sports is a huge part of tOSU business model.

    And a ‘culture of engagement and service’ often gets its start in sports.


  61. As a non-Pitt alum, I have refrained from the BoT discussion, but don’t you think you’re putting too much emphasis on them for Pitt athletics’ results? I still maintain that Pitt’s main issues deal with:

    — it is located in a city and must compete with 3 very popular pro teams … for attendance and PR.

    — it is a much smaller school than many of the schools you aspire to be, and must compete with on recruits … OSU, PSU, etc.

    — Western PA is no longer the large fertile recruiting area that its was through much of the 20th Century. I believe there were only two consensus blue-chips this year in the WPIAL/City. The town of Erie actually produced more (although I believe some were recruited fro outside of the area by Catholic schools.)

    — it has limited on-campus space and has a non-definitive campus area. While the students / alums may know the campus well, there no or very little campus feel for an outsider.

    Now, having said that … I have long claimed that one of the issues is the varied emphasis that the admin puts on athletics, and especially FB. In the 60s, Pitt’s did not emphasize and the program produced losses and professionals (Drs, Lawyers, etc). In the 70s, it is well documented how things were turned around, but by the 90s, things reverted back. Under SPI, more attention was given to athletics yet the SPII era seemed to produce less emphasis. I maintain that if Pitt is to achieve a constant level of athletic success, a continuous emphasis on athletics by the admin is required.


    1. wbb – “The town of Erie actually produced more (although I believe some were recruited from outside of the area by Catholic schools.)”

      You are correct with that statement – I know first hand and it is happening right now as I type this. Erie Cathedral Prep, who won a PIAA state title in FB in 2017 is cherry picking stars from around Western PA to re-load.

      I could name names, but that is not fair to the young man/student/athlete. But I don’t mind naming the school, cause I have first hand proof…


      1. Despite James Conner’s success, PSU is more popular in Erie than Pitt (like it is everywhere in PA outside southwestern PA)

        — because the Nits receive much more national exposure

        —- PSU Behrend Campus, which is actually as large as many small colleges

        And it’;s getting worse as long as PSU keeps finishing in the Top 10


  62. Our Chancellor who reports to the BoT said he values a front porch and would build one for Pitt. That to me sounds like a re-commitment to sports. However, there are very little tangible results thus far to back up those words (realist/pessimist) or maybe the results arent coming fast enough (the optimist in me). Yes – Pitt has challenges…everything you mentioned. It also doesnt have the culture to support sustained winning across sports programs. That culture is influenced by the BoT.

    I believe that Pitt is happy with mediocre records. Finishing in the middle of the pack. Maintaining a financially sound athletics department. Having athletes maintain grades and graduate. Having athletes stay out of trouble. Being a part of a good conference that allows it to generate regional awareness for its brand and healthy revenues to support its sports programs. Nothing wrong with those objectives.

    Pitt will never be elite for many reasons but we can be consistently good with some effort.

    My problem is that my definition of what a front porch should look like is different than Gallaghers. I dont think 10-11 win seasons is what he has in mind. 7-8 seems to be his comfort level. Its better than mediocre but still not at the higher level that would require more effort and some fundamental changes. The porch is more than a DIY project.


    1. The fact is that”Front Porch” reference has been around for many years and quoted by many other school’s chancellors and ADs.

      Gallagher was just parroting them when he said that.


      1. Correct. But what is our front porch going to look like? Right now our porch is pretty bad. Do we want our football team to achieve 10 wins or are 8 win seasons and a crappy bowl ok. Do we want to make some NIT appearances or NCAA appearances. Do we want our overall athletic programs in the top 25%, top 50%? We’re bottom 10% now.

        Liked by 1 person

  63. Not really wwb. The BoT knows that a university receives more applications and subsequently a better academic quality pool of applicants based on a recognizable sports brand. In addition, the better quality student that we bring to campus, allows for a better paying job upon graduation. Once receiving better wages, there is a better opportunity to give back to the university. They all go together.

    That is why tying in the student to the university while an undergrad is so critical to future endowment success. OCS help provide the totality of the collegiate experience. These things all go together for an enterprise. Unfortunately Pitt Administration and Board can’t get out of their own way and have mixed things up quite significantly. The Board needs a strong leader. The athletic Dept. needs a strong leader. When the leaders can be married together in the direction and mission, great things can occur.

    But again, it takes strong leadership. Tressel would have demanded that from the Board and Gallagher before taking the position because he is that good. Great AD’s can do that. Average to less than average AD’s cannot.


  64. Dr. Tom

    Great job. It is easier to be negative I guess. I fall into that category sometimes.

    I will stay positive for the football off season with the thought of the Miami victory fresh in my mind.


  65. Just to be clear, the above words about osu were not mine. Direct from their site. Probly get the same thing at Dairy and other programs.


  66. Speaking of Pitt history, I’m frankly just disgusted to see the basketball program be something I was so proud of as a student and now it is a humiliation. If we fail to win a single conference game, I am ready to drive three and a half hours to the Pete from Lebanon, PA for the last home game and be a part of a mediocrity parade just as the Cleveland Browns had last Saturday. I watched the Browns parade on Youtube and thousands showed up and shamed the owner, coaching staff, and players. (I am not angry at the players.)

    I know not many people care about Pitt athletics in comparison to a pro football team, but we need a march and we need to have our voices heard. Pitt fans deserve better athletics, we demand better athletics, and we want more accountibilty from our coaches, admin, and the BOT.

    Also, I agree with other posters that our academic ranking has slipped considerably (dropped at least 20 spots in national university on US News and World Reports) since I became a student in 2004. This is just as concerning if not more than the athletic piece.

    Anyone else in on a march?


  67. Not so fast my friend aj, Hold up on that parade. PITT could shock the world tonight with a big upset over Duke…On second thought, does the parade start at “The Pete” or end there?


  68. Regarding the negative recruiting:

    I wrote an article a few months ago and in it I mentioned that I had had a long phone conversation with an ex-players family member about a lunch he had with a Pitt staff member and how he was told that the current Pitt staff’s recruiting was “a mess” and the ‘worse he’s seen in years’.

    You know – that “Fake News” as a commenter on here called it. It was far from fake news and isn’t much of a secret among those who closely follow the goings on on the Southside.

    Heavy negative recruiting on the part of this staff was part of that conversation, along with not returning recruit’s & their parents phone calls and recruits being passed from one staff recruiter to another and then not being followed up on. Apparently we lost some pretty good recruits because of that mishandling.

    I have had one on one conversations with recruit’s parents (now Panther) who said they were surprised at the volume of running down the other schools, but signed on anyway because their kid really wanted to play here.

    Let’s not point fingers at other school’s negative recruiting and think that it doesn’t happen here. It sure does and it gets worse when you start missing out on all the big targets who end up going to other schools in the vicinity…or like ND. Like we did, and narduzzi spoke publicly about, with the 2017 class.

    Jurkovec committed to ND in May of 2016 so this staff had a full year to try to get him onboard even before he committed — you know they did what they felt they had to. I read the other day that Jurkovec said he was being recruited by Pitt right up to the week of the early signing period in Dec – so we sure wanted him.

    I think that negative recruiting – as far as it is based on reality, i.e. ‘That school won’t educate you as well as Pitt will” or something to that effect is fine, but we know it goes overboard both here and elsewhere – and we all have heard recruits that signed with Pitt tell of the negative stuff said about our program; not winning, attendance and stadium, etc….

    it happens everywhere.


    1. I mostly agree. I do not like negative recruiting although, face it, it occurs everywhere … and to an extent by all schools. I am quite sure the recruiters competing with Pitt makes disparaging jokes about the number of yellow seats at Heinz. Negative recruiting .. but not fake news.

      In the same token … it is not fake news when the Pitt coaches point out how Brian Kelly chews out his QBs …. it is quite fact.


  69. There’s no question Reed that negative recruiting happens everywhere. You bring up Jurkovec as an example. I think the way PITT may have recruited him may differ with how they might recruit another young man and his family that wasn’t in an absolute love with Notre Dame. It’s just like coaching a kid, you want to treat them all the same way but the reality is that each kid is totally different from each other and you have to realize that and coach each kid as an individual.


  70. BTW Reed, I caught your comment that I need recruits to have between 20-25 years to see if they are any good or not.


  71. It is no big surprise that recruiting is a dirty business. Plenty of incentive to do the wrong thing.

    It is incredibly challenging to sell Pitt to prospective elite players who can go anywhere.

    The number of obstacles to overcome are overwhelming.

    Wanny could tell recruits that he knew how to get them into the pros, because he had been a pro head coach.

    He could also tell them about his love for Pitt and Pittsburgh because he was a hometown guy.

    Narduzzi has no special sales pitch and he has to fight all the obstacles every day, starting with the half filled stadium, the last thirty years of mediocrity, the weather in Pittsburgh and everything else the opposition throws at him. The fact that there are fewer local players that he can convince to stay home and play for your home town team is a big factor.

    We suspect that Pitt also plays it pretty clean in terms of benefits that are offered to players and families, another obstacle to overcome.

    There is also the correlation between budget and success on the field. Maybe the biggest obstacle of all.

    Anyone in sales knows how important the “Pitch” is, What is Narduzzi’s Pitch?


  72. What dirtier recruiting tactic then paying off the family with a poke full of cash on their back-porch or a SUV in the driveway…..??


  73. In terms of negative recruiting, Jurkovec says it almost laughingly in that interview so I don’t know how to read into that.

    This might be the homer in me talking, but I can’t say I’m surprised that Pitt comes across as negative especially when going for the local players, given the local competition. We all know that tragedies that occurred at PSU at the football facility, OSU also allowed their football program to get too powerful (and specifically in connection to a western Pennsylvania kid) and has a current head coach that seems a bit flaky, and a person died at ND on Brian Kelly’s watch during one of his practices. It’s kinda crazy that the school I can’t really say much bad about is WVU — the coach might enjoy gambling but that’s about it. I don’t know if that necessarily makes it right to use negative tactics, but I can’t say I’m surprised by it.


    1. I understand that negative recruiting happens everywhere, but maybe I’m in the minority, but to use something like the PSU tragedy or the death of a student, even thought Kelly is POS, in recruiting to me crosses a line. You can say stuff about coaches, facilities, education, and such, but hopefully they are not using those kind of things as that appears rather inappropriate.


  74. I think the recruitment of Donovan Jeter sums everything up in a nutshell. First off, he received both a FB and a BB schollie offer from Pitt when he was a soph. He was consistently on campus to watch his older brother play at Pitt .. as well as watch Pitt FB practices and a a handful of times, as well as a couple FB games. His dad had tweeted a few times how great a relationship Donovan had with HCPN.

    Jeter went to South Bend in Sept of his senior year to watch an ND game and tweeted what a fantastic big-time atmosphere it was, and a two days later committed to ND. A month or so later, Harbaugh got him to attend a Mich game … and two days later, he flipped.


  75. Dr. Tom,
    From one dentist to another, really nice job of summarizing the program we all love. This is a new era in sports and things change. The money continues to escalate and that will be the determining factor going forward the next 30 years. Thanks for the memories!


  76. Thank you for that write-up Dr. Tom and the pleasant memories.

    Bill Parcells said, “You are what your record says you are.”

    Over the past 30 seasons, 1988-2017, Pitt’s record is 179-179-2 exactly .500, with 14 of those 30 seasons having a losing record. Just one 10-win season in the past 30 years and one major bowl appearance, a woodshed beating by Utah in the Fiesta Bowl, and finishing in the top 20 three times in three decades of play, the high being #15 in 2009.

    That is the harsh reality when looking at it not through blue and gold tinted glasses.


  77. Once Pitt get momentum, the Pitt BOTS step in to ruin it. Mike Gottfried was recruiting well then the Pitt administration raises academic standards for athletes…Three years later Pitt is getting pounded and the academic-friendlt coach Hackett is fired. Bam!

    Coach Harris had the Panther passing attach in high year, beats Notre Dame and West Virginia, then Jeff Long, one of the worst ADs in Pitt history, fires him. Bam!

    Pitt is too pussy-footed to bring back Sherrill so they hire has-been Majors for an episode of Pitt football only a little better than the Dave Hart era. Bam!

    Wannstedt has the best record in 30 years and Steve Pederson, concerned about bad press, fires him. Bam!
    No attempt by Cornhole to address game day coaching issues or offer real assistance. Just reach for the explosives.

    Just imagine if Pitt BOTS weren’t setting fire to Pitt football.

    Is there another explosion planned by the Pitt BOTS when Narduzzi gets his nine or 10 win season? The BOTS are no doubt lining up the incendiaries right now.


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