This is another reader submission. Here is a take by GC on Pitt football…
My participation in athletics as a young guy and observation as a fan of many sports has led me to a simple conclusion. Winning depends on four things; the absolute excellence of a team’s star players, the availability of a quality supporting cast and needed depth, the level of your competition, and staying healthy.
Winning championships usually requires one additional element, that of luck, unless you are just overwhelmingly better than the other guys.
Quality coaching is a factor, but far less so than the other factors.
I have participated on Championship teams (high school), and have been lucky to live in Pittsburgh since I was 10 years old when “Beat ‘em Bucs” was first heard, waved a terrible towel even before they were printed when Myron Cope told us to bring any old yellow towel to the games. And I watched the rise of Mario Lemieux, Crosby and Malkin with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The common denominator was that those teams, and the champion Steelers, all had superstars, plenty of depth and the intangibles.
Let’s look to Pitt Football and how these factors apply.
Although I heard of Marshall Goldberg and saw Mike Ditka play in the pros, my observation of Pitt Football didn’t start until the fall of ’68 when I enrolled and began witnessing some of the most pitiful football ever seen at Pitt. By the time I got my graduate degree, there was a “Major change in Pitt Football”
So you probably see what I am getting at, the most important thing that ever happened to modern Pitt Football was Tony Dorsett coming to Pitt. Sure we can point to Al Romano, Matt Cavanaugh, Gordon Jones, Elliott Walker and a few others, but it really was Tony Dorsett’s amazing play that won our 1976 national championship.
He and a lot of quality help and I don’t mean the guys on the bench or second string. I am talking about the other 2 starters, the kickers, special teamers and anyone else who played a role.
That Championship led to Majors leaving to go back to his hometown and Jackie Sherrill taking over then many more stars and quality depth coming to Pitt. Marino and Green were the headliners, but there were many others who went on to be NFL Hall of Fame members and other stalwarts.