Maybe I Just Enjoy the Agony…

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.

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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!

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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. CLut45UUcAACskyThere 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?

63 thoughts on “Maybe I Just Enjoy the Agony…

  1. Great day to be a Panther. You know growing up in the 1960’s I liked Pedo State. I was just a kid and
    had no reason at that point to despise these charlatans of everything that is good about college football.
    At least that was the unspoken mantra that Paterno exuded. “We are above the morass of college football and certainly above the ilk of Jackie Sherrill’ . Or words to that effect.

    One of my teachers in HS was the aunt of Buddy Ellis, the PSU safety circa 1972-1974, Orange Bowl years and I happened to be in Miami Beach, I think for the 1974 Orange Bowl game and attended the Orange Bowl Parade that year, with you guessed it…..the pedo state marching band. (wonder if sandusky was lurking somewhere, maybe he was eyeing me at 14 or 15, who knows)

    So I really didn’t develop my distaste for State Pen until the Johnny Majors, ‘A Major Change in Pitt football’ era.

    Being a Pittsburgher, I supported Pitt naturally. Why most Pittsburghers don’t (other than if you had the misfortune to go to the Dairy College Cult) I don’t truly understand to this day.

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  2. Oh and I enjoyed your story Jay91. I probably should do a bio, but I think everyone knows me, since i’ve written several books(of comments) on the Blather and POV.

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  3. @ Jay…..Berlin Pa. Home of Synder’s Potato Chips ?

    Can’t get them down here in the Carolinas. They do have a brand from PA, that I never had heard of, but it’s from Hanover PA…….Utz Potato Chips.

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    1. Emel – Utz is one of my companies top 5 accounts for the past 7 years.

      Good paying customer –

      They sponsor a lot of MLB teams – Heather needs to visit top management and get some of their potato sacks full of money.

      Jay91 – good article – I would of never guessed that was your reason for hating psux.

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  4. Jay 91 – Thanks for sharing your story. I too never graduated from Pitt, but the contacts I made at Pitt led to a 28-year career and the football teams during my time at Pitt and in Pittsburgh led to my current tortured soul as a Pitt fan. – Hobie

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  5. Jay91.. I too share and enjoy what we share with our PITT football…. maybe we are a “support group!” I will never let go of my addiction to PITT FB.

    Thanks for the early mornin breakfast read !

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  6. Jay91 — enjoyed reading the story of your journey to Pitt fandom. We need more Pitt fans like you.

    Hope you’re enjoying some golf these days and hitting them a ton…

    Go Pitt.

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  7. Jay91, well stated. Thanks for sharing.

    Did you have to mention Paul Hacket? I was doing well in my recovery until reading these stories of the thrill of agony. “It’s a bad week to stop sniffin glue.”

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  8. we might have crossed paths during 1991. I to dormed in Tower A during my frosh year just a few years ahead of you.

    And I drove to Notre Dame that year to watch the beat down with a bunch of older subway alum. Pitt scored first in that game…drove right down the field. After that…nothing. That was the beginning of SOP for me. The drive back from that game was miserable.

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    1. Alex Van Pelt to Ronald Redman. Happened right in front of me in my end zone seat. After that we got destroyed.

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  9. Jay I grew up in Berlin in the 80’s and us Pitt fans held our own. Will never forget the day before the Pitt/Penn State game. Everyone would wear the colors of the team they support. Myself wearing the right shade of blue never backed down to those dairy farmers. I also was at that ND beat down sitting in the student section plastered on mad dog 20/20(I was young). I fell down the bleachers on to a bunch of ND fans I did ruin a few ND fans day.

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  10. I remember being maybe 13 when they canned Gottfried and this schmuck coached to a bowl win, John Hancock Bowl I believe. It’s insane what a Pitt fan I am never going there, I remember being in my backyard tossing a baseball to myself the day Gottfried was hired. I was 8 years old. First Pitt game I truly, truly remember was the 7-3 loss to SMU. First game I remember going to was a torrential downpour against BYU, I believe in ‘84

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  11. If I’m not mistaken the following week after the BYU game watching a middle linebacker from OU nicknamed “Boz” almost take John Congemi’s head off…

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  12. Thanks for the kind words. I realized reading this that I should have proof read this before sending to Reed. I’ll leave those errors alone, other than to correct the ending. It should have read..

    “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?”

    But, I’m thinking you guys got my point.

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  13. Indeed, Jay91. Too much trying to get over losses; too little celebrating wins for us Pitt fans.

    Forgot to post this about Pitt Alumni Golf Outing — they had some members of the alumni band there. They played some Pitt tunes at the beginning before we all went off to our shotgun start. Then they roamed around the course for a while.

    At one point, they were standing on a hill above where our foursome was putting for a birdie. When we sank the putt and started to celebrate, they struck up the band like we had just scored a touchdown! It was neat (as Paul Chryst would say).

    Go Pitt!

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  14. “When we sank the putt and started to celebrate, they struck up the band like we had just scored a touchdown!”…

    Was it the fight song? I hope you guys chanted, “Penn State sucks, Penn State sucks.. P-E-N-N-S-T sucks!”

    Oh wait, we’re not allowed to do that anymore..It’s one of Steve’s bright ideas. You know like “Pittsburgh”, the “Dinocat”, “Vegas Gold” and tearing down Pitt Stadium. All gems. The man’s a menace!

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    1. I heard many “penn state sucks” throughout the day – even one from a lady during the Fight Song before golfing began.

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  15. Hey Jay, that was a great story, Thanks. Crazy stuff being so close to all that psu junk. It would put a chip on ones shoulder for sure. ike

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  16. Does anyone have the breakdown of the players from both PITT and psu for their game in 2016? Wondering how many 5 and 4* players each team had. I’ll bet psu had a lot more than PITT. You know, the game PITT won……..

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    1. Penn state had much more and they end up winning 10-11 games each year while Pitt struggles to win 6. You can throw the stars out in a rivalry game. If Pitt doesn’t get 4-6 four stars each year, it will have a hard time reaching ten win seasons. Stars do matter.

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      1. I heard on XM College Sports radio this morning that scheduling matters – the SEC gets it by scheduling light OOC games.

        Greg McElroy, former Alabama QB stated, scheduling weaker OOC opponents helps get you to the playoffs. You still have to win in conference games of course – Pitt has 3 OOC games with top 18 teams to start the season.

        Interesting debate…

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        1. Interesting Tweet, if true –

          https://mobile.twitter.com/TonyGerdeman/status/999064623507824641?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fpittsburgh.forums.rivals.com%2Fthreads%2Fdid-you-know.131957%2F

          Meanwhile, Pitt will play at #18 UCF and #14 nd in 2018. PSUx is ranked #12 and comes to Heinz Field the 2nd week of the season. No guts, no glory? I don’t think so.

          Pitt needs to catch lightning in a bottle, win the Coastal division and the ACC championship game, all the while remain undefeated to get into the top 7. Alabama doesn’t even have to win their division nor play in the SEC championship game to make the top 4 and the CFB playoffs (see 2017).

          Stretch? You bet. Fact? You decide.

          H2P!

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  17. Just watched Pitt’s opening baseball game in the ACC tournament against GT (which had 3 of the top 4 league batters ) and the Panthers come out on top 2-1 holding GT to 4 hits…

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  18. Jay91

    Nice article, thanks.

    I too am a die-hard non-Pitt alum, owning season tickets for football for many many years and bball for Jamie’s last 2 years. My Dad and wife are Pitt alums which is how I started and continue to maintain the most damaging love affair you can have with a sports team.

    Met my bride of 37 years at a Pitt fraternity party, and have been damaging my liver ever since, drowning my sorrows over gut-wrenching losses to Villanova in the ncaa tourney and 48-14 fball games against State Penn..

    My Dad took me to see Dave Hart and Johnny Mike teams that shouldn’t have been allowed to even call themselves ncaa football squads but my love affair never waned, which sometimes keeps me up at nights!!!

    I graduated from UofDayton which didn’t have D1 football so followed Pitt from afar for 4 years, which unfortunately included the 1976 championship. Hmmm what does it say that Pitt’s greatest years were when I was not living in the greatest city in the USA?

    Love this blog even though I seldom contribute, so thanks to Reed and all the regulars, even the ones who provide what some may call negative views, but others defend as realistic.

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  19. Pitt football has seen good and bad coaching for some years but the problem is the administration seems to have always had a knack of loosing or firing the good coaches and replacing them with poor ones a la Gottfried to Hackett et al. Behind that has always been the tendency to hire cheap and not proven HEAD COACHES.Love the stories.Live in northern Somerset county know rt. 30 s.outh territory. I did first 2 yrs at Pitt Johnstown then 2 more on campus.The Pitt mantra is total here daughter and 2 grand sons follow grandpas lead. Sons chose not to go to college but are die hard Pitt fans. This is something not enough Pitt parents do . Glad to see on here I am not alone in this nepotism for next gen students and fans. H2P

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  20. Nice write up Jay, as we started the same fall (I was in Breckinridge Hall) and I remember that ND game vividly as well as the Syracuse and East Carolina heartbreaks that followed right after, always hated Jeff Blake after that… Hackett does not get enough grief, he had a loaded roster and set back Pitt for a decade somehow and I will never understand how he got hired by USC after that!!!!

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  21. Bingo

    Again – how Pitt couldnt win with the level of NFL talent on the field and on the sidelines is just mind boggling.
    I credit Gottfried for the talent on the field. But those players were definitely not choir boys.

    Gottfried was fired prematurely and his departure marked the end of Pitt football as many knew it until the hiring of Wanny.

    After Hackett, Majors nearly destroyed it. Walt saved the program and is truly underappreciated for what he did. Wanny came in and finally got Pitt over the hump only to be prematurely fired.

    Always 1 step forward and 2 steps back with Pitt football

    Thats why we should have patience with Nard Dog but our AD should also make some demands…open practices, tarp Heinz, step-up recruiting

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    1. Only answer Tex is: what I now call the Deep State Football powers that be and all of what that entails is obviously against us. The Pinstripe Bowl and all that game entailed, including no Northwestern players being ejected for blatant head shots against our 2 star players (Connor & Pederman), after even knocking them out of the game….is very indicative of the mountain of obstacles Pitt must deal with. I have many other examples, but we’ll keep this short.

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  22. Tx_ continuity and direction is the answer you are searching for. What PITT fans are the most guilty of is asking the same question over and over again when we know the answer the whole time. So when I can see a glimmer of hope……. I roll with it instead of being a doubting Thomas. Getting up off the deck is what it’s all about imo.. ike

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  23. Best laid plans EE. I get it but we all hit the deck one time or another? If you will, I’ll add perseverance to continuity and direction. The need to thrive to survive. You just can’t beat someone who refuses to be defeated.

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  24. Really good story Jay.
    Thank you very much.

    Reminded me of when I was a teenager and the neighbors a few houses down were huge penn state fans. One day, their 3 year old came up to my house with his sisters to play with my sisters.

    Next thing I know, I find myself in the yard playing around with the football with the 3 year old. While we were playing, I taught the kid to say Pitt’s #1 over and over.

    The next day at school, one of the sisters told me her 3 year old brother got in big trouble last night for saying Pitt’s #1 over and over and over..

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  25. I made a mistake there. I read that at first as an homage to psu that they are #! in Pitt’s fans eyes. You know, the real Italian salute. Here’s to you psu..

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  26. Jay, just catching up on my POV reading today. Loved your bio! I find that I share something with every bio that I have read so far, and utter disdain for PSU is what I share with you Jay. H2P!

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  27. I guess I was lucky that my time at Pitt included winning football teams, but the hoops team sucked. I never went to any basketball games. I worked for the wrestling team for 3 years, so I was at the Field House a lot. Just not for hoops. My freshman year we won the National Championship- yep, how lucky can a gal get? So it followed that the next 3 years were great under Jackie Sherrill too. I am still waiting for the football program to reach those lofty heights… Like Ike, I am the eternal optimist. But being a realist, every time Pitt is beating a tough team late in the game I have a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that somehow they will figure out a way to blow it. I can’t enjoy the game while we are winning because I’m afraid my heart will be ripped out of my chest at the end AGAIN! Ah, the burden of being a Pitt fan. Hail to Pitt!

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