Here is another nice look back at another Pitt fan’s young life. Our friend Jay 91 is a converted Nitter fan – something you don’t see too often around these parts. Thanks a lot Jay, this is a great story… Glad you escaped the clutches of The Evil Nit Jay.
Why am I a Pitt fan? Maybe I just enjoy the agony..
I’ve been reading these pieces and thought I’d add my kindling to the top of the Pitt bonfire.fr
Let me shoot this shocker at you right off the bat… I was once a Penn State fan. Sorry, I just threw up in my mouth a bit there. But yes, it’s true. The biggest Nittany hater in the world once sported a t-shirt with Joe Paterno’s face on it. But before you banish me from the POV, please allow me to explain.
Both of my parents hail from Somerset County, my Dad from an especially rural area southeast of Berlin, PA. That area is set in big PSU country. My Dad’s brother Dave had attended Dairy U. and my dad (who would later play at W&J) actually attended football camp there in Rip Engle’s final year as head coach. So, growing up in Maryland and Delaware where the NFL is far more popular than college football, I didn’t know any better.
That all changed in 1980. My Uncle Dave’s that guy who the more he likes you, the more he likes to give you sh!*. Well, let’s just say he really likes me. To no one’s surprise I was always willing to give it back and so at the time I realized the best way to get his goat was to root against his Lions. I guess his daughter Barb realized the same and we became THE two Pitt fans in the entire family. It was us against the world!
I still have a picture of her and my Dad in front of the TV after 1980’s 14-9 Pitt victory at State College that year, his face in smirking dejection and her’s smiling ear to ear and holding the winnings of their bet on the game – a shiny quarter. I was all in with Pitt from that look on.
Since then I’ve had to deal with one cousin (Dave’s other daughter Dee) attending WVU, my Mom’s sister graduating with a Masters from ND (it’s ok, she went to nursing school at Shadyside Hospital) and the rest of the extended family soundly entrenched in the cult. To make it even more interesting while I was in high school we moved to the belly of the beast; Central PA, where the local newspapers print four stories a day about PSU football. And that’s only during the off season.
In 1991, I moved into Tower A and despite Reed’s previous contention that no one would do so, I chose Pitt for ONE reason… I wanted to see my Panthers play live every Saturday in the fall and then watch them working out running the floor in Fitzgerald Field House over the winter. I had been accepted to Purdue, Maryland, Michigan, George Washington and PSU but from my first visit, South Oakland had my heart.
That 1991 season started with great promise. Fellow freshmen Curtis Martin, Tom Tumulty and Reuben Brown (RS) combined with stars like Keith Hamilton, Sean Gilbert and Alex VanPelt and the Panthers lept out to a 5-0 start. Then came the trip to South Bend where #12 PItt was clobbered 42-7 by the #7 Irish. Pitt won only once more the rest of the season and ended the season 6-5. There were a DOZEN NFL players on that roster! How does that happen?… I won’t make you endure a recap of my remaining time at Pitt. Just let me say this– Paul Hackett IS the anti-Christ!
I spent far too much time doing far too little in the classrooms of South Oakland and did not graduate (I eventually got my degree from another school) but I am as much an ALUM as any. Pitt is MY school– sometimes I just let you guys borrow it on Saturdays.
I’ll be on campus tomorrow, taking my son back so he can work as a Pathfinder over the summer. As a kid, he always said he never wanted to go to Pitt. But, like his father, he fell in love with Oakland on his first visit and now he’s a tour guide. My 15 year old daughter, on the other hand, has ALWAYS wanted to go to Pitt (she better get her grades up) and used to flip “the bird” to passing cards bearing PSU stickers- as a 5 year old. Hilarious! I’ve even converted my wife. I’ve done my part.
So, when you guys think I don’t love Pitt as much as you do or I’m too negative, I hope you remember these stories. Because, my frustration comes from a place of love.. and passion.. and belief that Pitt athletics can be so much more.
Sure, hanging out in the parking lot before games drinking with friends is great. But wouldn’t it be nice enjoy the POST game drinks a little more often, too?