My friend Joe l. has chipped in with his Bio here also.  I had a great dinner with Joe and his daughters before a Pitt bowl game two years ago… Great kids and a great Pitt fan. 

I am a native Pittsburgher, born in Suburban General Hospital in Bellevue in January of 1960. My parents were both from Richmond, VA and were brought to the Pittsburgh area in 1959 when my Dad took a job at the Shippingport Nuclear Plant (Beaver County) following his graduation from UVa. We lived in the Sewickley Manor apartments just off of Ohio River Boulevard, behind the then Holiday Inn (later featured in the movie “Jack Reacher” as the motel Reacher stayed in while in town).

I am told that at nine months, I was sitting in my dad’s lap when Bill Mazeroski hit the home run over the left center wall (and Yogi Berra’s head) to beat the Yankees and win the 1960 World Series.

When my younger brother was born in 1962, we moved up to Coraopolis Heights directly beneath the water tower with a full view of the Ohio Valley. In 1965, my parents then bought a house in Mount Lebanon off of Beverly Road so that we could attend the local school system.

In the late 60’s, I attended my first big sporting event with my Dad – a Pirates game at Forbes Field. We entered the ballpark with “knothole club” tickets through a nondescript door down Bouquet St. Our seats were high up and I seem to recall that the ramps had railings made of bull rope as we ascended to the upper level.

As a part of the knothole club experience, the Pirates sent up two players to meet with our group before the game. As luck would have it, the two players were from Virginia – Jerry May and Gene Alley. Like my father, Alley grew up in Richmond and the two remembered each other from their high school playing days. I can imagine that it was special for my dad and I thought it was really cool that he knew one of the players.

On the way home from the game, I had my first sight of the monolithic edifice that was Pitt Stadium at the top of the hill. It was gone in a flash as we passed by and I asked my Dad what it was. He told me that was the place where the Pitt pennant on my bedroom wall came from and that we’d go there someday. He occasionally went there with friends and I recall that after one Notre Dame game, he came home and went right to bed – with his clothes still on and on top of the sheets. My mom explained that he had a “virus” but she didn’t seem too sympathetic to his plight.

Between that first Forbes Field game and his untimely passing in 1973 at age 38, we attended many sporting events together: Steeler and Pirate games at the new Three Rivers Stadium, as well as the new Penguins hockey team. But unfortunately, we never made it to a Pitt game together.

Aside from the pennant and drive-by view of Pitt Stadium, my exposure to Pitt football was limited until I started playing pee-wee football. One of the dads who attended a couple practices was Ralph Jelic, who was on the on the Pitt football coaching staff as well as a former player. Mr. Jelic’s son’s Jeff was in the program and all the other kids noted with interest that he had Pitt gear, including these things called helmet stickers.

Jeff was involved in football early, but his sport would become wrestling where he enjoyed success as a WPIAL champ and an All-American at Pitt. Jeff’s younger brother Chris would quarterback the Mount Lebanon Blue Devils and played both quarterback and punter at Pitt. (I will share a story about Chris that I hope you will enjoy following my story) Knowing that we had a Pitt coach in our neighborhood really piqued my interest in Pitt football. It wasn’t long after meeting Mr. Jelic that he left Pitt.

With my father’s passing at age 38 in July of 1973, I really didn’t think too much about Pitt football until a friend’s father asked me if I’d like to go with the two of them to a game. Knowing that our neighbor wasn’t with the program anymore made the opportunity less appealing, but my mother encouraged me to go anyhow. I cannot remember who Pitt played that day – all I remember was the hike up that hill and that we won the game.

In my  high school years, a couple friends and I decided to purchase season tickets for the 1976 season. We knew that it was going to be a big year. After all, Tony Dorsett was going to be a senior and we thought he’d have a special year. One buddy usually drove and he had a yellow AMC Pacer (just like Wayne’s World). That car was funny even back then.

I will always remember the game against Army when we had a comfortable lead when the PA announcer informed the crowd that #1 ranked Michigan had lost its game, which meant Pitt was going to be ranked #1. The crowd roared and it was really something special.

For the big night game against Penn State at Three Rivers Stadium at season’s end, we must have piled 10 kids in my mom’s station wagon to get to the North Side. Aside from the great victory, I will always remember locking the keys in the car in a not-so-nice part of the North Side. Poor mom had to get a friend to drive her down to us with a spare key. I’m grateful she didn’t spell my beer breath.

I went away to college (Bethany College outside of Wheeling) but would regularly come home for some night life with high school friends. A number of them were attending Pitt, where I had the pleasure of attending a couple parties in the Towers (some of the images are burned in my memory!) and a few at the fraternity houses. We’d go to meet girls at the Sanctuary and either end up at the O or at Primantis in the Strip – when it was really just a hole in the wall.

I transferred to the University of Richmond and any chance of becoming a diehard Spider football fan was killed when Paterno (among others) pushed for separating the bigger schools from the smaller ones, which eventually led to the creation of Division I-A and I-AA. The Spiders with a small stadium did not make the I-A cut and our scheduling went from playing the likes of Maryland, Wake Forest, Virginia, & Virginia Tech, to smaller lesser-known programs. At the same time, Pitt was a national power and was getting nice national coverage (for that time).

I watched with interest as other kids from my high school made their way onto the Pitt team: Cesar Aldisert, Bob Schillken, John Rees and Chris Jelic. Of course, there was also this Marino kid (who later married Claire Veazey, who was from another family from my neighborhood and just around the corner from the Jelics).

Upon graduating college, I took a job with Westinghouse through their Graduate Placement Program, hoping to land a spot at one of their locations in the Southeast. Well, I got the east…just not the south. I started in the East Pittsburgh works right around the corner from USS’s J. Edgar Thomson Works. At that time, Pittsburgh’s steel industry was imploding and interest rates were sky high. The prime rate was 20% and when I went to finance my first car purchase, I got a “sweetheart deal” from Ford Motor Credit of 15.15%. I wanted a Honda for its reliability and mileage, but decided it wasn’t smart to park a foreign car in East Pittsburgh or drive it through Braddock on the way to and from work.  Especially as work was being moved out of the East Pittsburgh plant for places like South Carolina and Puerto Rico. Those of you who are my age or older may recall the feeling people had about Japanese steel and auto producers back then as well as the general malaise in Pittsburgh as its industrial base collapsed.

Having arrived back in Pittsburgh, I restarted my season tickets and was excited to see what Dan Marino would do in his senior year. We went to the first game of the year – a night game at Three Rivers Stadium for a national TV audience – and watched our #1 ranked Pitt Panthers struggle to beat the UNC Tarholes 7-6. Following the dramatic win in the Sugar Bowl just months earlier, I thought we would simply rack up the points in the coming season. Notre Dame knocked us off midseason at home and the chance at another national championship was gone. Then the awful Cotton Bowl game against SMU.

I still remember the pain of losing at home in consecutive weeks to Robbie Bosco and unranked Brigham Young and #15 Oklahoma in the 1984 season. My car got towed during that game to add insult to injury.  Jim Everett came to town the next year with the Purdue Boilermakers and thankfully we held on to win with a defensive stand at the end of the game. But it was clear that the magic at the Pitt program was gone. And yet we still went to games, hoping for a return to greatness.

I got married a shortly after that and my wife (expecting our first daughter) and I headed for Richmond for better job opportunities. To those who asked where I was from, I described myself as a Yinzer Expatriate – located away but a Pittsburgher at heart. Career and kids meant my attendance at Pitt games would take a pause for some time, but I always watched them on TV when the games were available.

Unlike many who went to Pitt, I wasn’t all that enthralled with the process of attending game at Pitt Stadium. Having said that, I would have been OK if they had decided to renovate it, but when Heinz was built and I learned Pitt was going to play there, I decided to get back in as a season ticket holder. I’ve been going since then, making 4-5 games a year.

These days, my seats are in the lower level on the visiting team side facing the band. We have a great group of mostly the same people around us year in and year out. Trips from Richmond take about 5.5 hours and we always come up the night before to meet friends and have drinks and a nice dinner. For many years, we’ve been tailgating in the Blue 10 garage and have tried to make our gathering something to look forward to. Win or lose, at least one should have fun at a tailgate! For this season, we are moving to Red Lot 5, with the hope of helping Fran with his special gatherings. Its been great to meet many of you at those gatherings and the bowl games and I hope to meet more of you. I don’t care what anyone says – we Pitt fans are special people. And screw the Nits, btw.

Five years ago, my youngest daughter delighted her father by stating that she wanted to go to Pitt because of all the trips we had taken up there to visit during her childhood. She graduated last Spring and she had a great four-year experience. If any of you took a Pitt Pathfinder tour of the campus during that time period, she may have been your guide. I’m very proud that she selected Pitt and lived vicariously through her these past years.

Chris Jelic story – As many of you probably know, Chris Jelic was not only a Pitt quarterback, but he also excelled at baseball. After Pitt, he turned his sights to baseball as a career. I was able to follow his progress within the Mets system thanks to The Sporting News, which was really a great weekly sports rag before we had the Internet. Chris made it to AAA, playing for the Tidewater Tides in Norfolk.

At the end of one season (1989?), I went to a Richmond Braves game (Atlanta’s AAA affiliate back then), who happened to be hosting the Tides. I went down near the dugout and asked the batboy if he could find Chris. Chris comes out and we have a really nice chat. I was looking forward to watching him play, but he said he was a scratch that day. Later, my buddies teased me that Jelic must not have been very good if he was scratched and of course I was hot about that and said, maybe they are going to send him up.”

Two or three days later, I was home sick with a bug and flipped on the TV to see what was on. ESPN was carrying the businessman’s special from Three Rivers – the Pirates were hosting the Mets. You can probably guess what happened. Chris Jelic was sent in to pinch hit and tags a home run.  That may have been the only homer of his MLB career, but how nice that it happened in his hometown.

Final thought on the Jelics – Mr. Jelic passed away on May 28th. My thoughts and prayers are with Jeff and Chris and their families. They unknowingly played a big part in my becoming a Pitt fan.

 

138 thoughts on “How Joe L Became a Pitt Fan…

  1. JoeL, my accountant and dear friend Greg Sasser , who came attendees Fran’s UNC tailgate is Jeff Jelic ‘s accountant. Small world.

    The 80’s were tough times in Pittsburgh and industrial America. Remember my Dad ‘s plant closing in ‘ 87 and all the folks I knew losing their jobs.

    Like

  2. JoeL – thanks for sharing your Pitt and Jelic stories. They both went well with my coffee and breakfast.

    We will miss you and BigB at the golf outing – make it a great vacation and hit em straight.

    H2P!

    Like

  3. Well done JoeL. Happy you made it through the industrial derevolution. The demise of Westinghouse is still felt in the eastern suburbs. Pittsburgh has finally rebounded nicely. Would love to see the same rebound in Pitt sports. Mt Lebanon was our main rival in sports when I went to school. They always had quality sports teams and plenty of good players. I remember big track meets at Lebo.

    We need a whole lot more fans like you.

    Like

  4. Joe L – Nice article. Thanks for writing. I too remember the ’80’s in Pittsburgh. I was standing in line on the South Side for unemployment benefits with laid off steelworkers. I could hear them talking enthusiastically about what they were going to do with their time off from the mills. I could also hear them speculate about when they were going to be called back. It was sad. I knew they weren’t going back. Maybe they did too. – Hobie

    Like

  5. Joe, but you didn’t mention your neighbor Richman on McCully ;-). NIce article. I love these stories. Note: I watched that PItt vs PSU game last night for some reason. I was shocked that Lee Majors was interviewed on the sideline. I didn’t know he was a Pitt fan/homer.

    Like

  6. Great story JoeL, really put me right there with you. Thanks and will miss you Saturday.

    Lee Majors real name is Harvey Lee Yeary, his screen name is Lee majors and yes he named himself after Johnny, his childhood hero.

    Like

  7. Great job, JoeL!

    Well, I know you do three things well- writing, being a Pitt fan and grilling sausage! Sorry you won’t be with us this weekend.

    H2P

    Like

  8. Joe L… Very much enjoyed and it must have been a bug going around Pitt Stadium. My dad often came home with it and my mom was never sympathetic either. I think I was at the ‘84 BYU game. Was it a torrential downpour? The 1st game I am sure I was at was the 1st game under the lights at Pitt Stadium against Purdue. I’m a bit younger, born in ‘76, hence the moniker…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My earliest Pitt memories are the Purdue game and a game in a monsoon. My dad wanted to leave so bad, I begged him to stay. Can’t remember who the hell they were playing…

    Like

  10. Thanks Joe…awesome job. I recall the monsoon game where the wind was whipping the rain UP our pant legs. Then we went to the Luna and stood soak and wet under a ceiling fan and almost developed hypothermia. Glad you were able to get a parking pass with us in Red 5A. Hope to see you before that though…

    Like

  11. Hey Joe……. I’ll skip the song for now but I do get it about the PITT stadium experience. Seems that most of us and our opportunities to watch a game there came a little late. The building really had no guts to it and it just wasn’t maintained like it should have been. Yet the bottom line it was an iconic building that could have been brought up to the present. Having said that, it was the land that PITT lost when they transformed that hill into some sort of taj mahal basketball arena and oh which btw, was built for idiots. It was built backwards and keeping in tune to lack of the foresight, has so much wasted space on the floor it’s plain stoopid.

    Different topic… it is ironic to me that a lot of the impatience being shown concerning the football program right now yet at the same time we are going way back and looking at our memories from many years gone by. I suppose it’s where all of our humble beginnings come from but when I see a glimmer of hope…… I’m running with it and towards it… not away…. ike

    Like

  12. JoeL — excellent tale of your journey to Pitt fandom.

    Jay91 beat me to it – I was going to ask why no background on your tailgate-grilling prowess…

    I remember having the same thoughts about buying a Honda, but after we had kids, I eventually switched from Chevy to Honda…

    On Chris Jelic, you tell me if I’m crazy, but I remember that in his QB warm-ups, he would throw the last couple of passes left-handed. Kept waiting for a play where he would roll left and throw a pass left-handed…

    I know Chris had some great baseball stats at Pitt.

    Enjoyed reading your article. Glad your a Pitt fan.

    Go Pitt!

    Like

  13. absolutely not Peter! PITT will not have one single football recruit in 2019. I’m thinking Narduzzi is with Heather on vacation? OMG!

    Like

    1. I agree. Narduzzi is with Heather on the shores of OBX ‘vacationing.’ But also plotting a coup against the BoT. I should not have leaked that.

      I do hear there is a 5 star recruit on the island though.

      Like

  14. Brilliant Tx, they captured a 5 star recruit took him on vacation with them and at this very moment torturing him to commit to PITT! The only downside to that is if the kid does commit to PITT he will automatically be reduced to a lowly 3 star according to rivals.

    Like

  15. From the last entry, it looks like most everyone is a 3 plus or minus, not a wide range. no 1’s or 5’s.

    A little surprising, considering some of the posts.

    Like

  16. Jim/Joe, brothers stick together. I got both your backs..

    Hey gc, you make a good point. Just not exactly sure where your confusion comes in though? Is it the posters that want to be down on HCPN that won’t commit to him as a bust or the positive posters that won’t say he’s the savior? Again, very interesting point.

    Like

  17. Since you asked. I really feel I get misunderstood on the POV about this crazy exuberance that everyone thinks I have for Narduzzi. Yes I think he’s done well so far but certainly not great. The big wins kind of make up for the bad losses but there has to be more of a balance moving forward. The wins were odd but so were some of the losses.. That mean seem like balance but I don’t mean that kind.

    I’m more on the side of patience and PITT finally seeing something through like a coach and a direction in place for as long as it’s obvious that it is working or it is not. Stomping our feet after only 3 years is the exact opposite what I think PITT should worry about and I can say, they are not.. Narduzzi? He’s the guy here now and I think he could be the answer long term but I’m not convinced of it yet. Also, worrying about no recruits on 6/4 is only for blog and message board over-reactors.

    Like

  18. Who’d worried? I was just pointing out that same level ACC-teams as us are already pulling in recruits and some 4*s to boot…

    Plus Penn State is killing it…That sucks as far as local perception goes.

    We’ll get our recruits But I’d like to see some 4* kids this time if not with a 5* thrown in…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. since Franklin came, PSU has killed it, and it’s only going to get worse with the success PSU has had the past 2 years.. Here’s the Rivals rankings for PSU since Franklin came in 2014:

      24th 15th 21st 12th 5th

      compare that to before Franklin came and PSU was under sanctions ….. 2013 43rd and 2012 52nd (Pitt actually had better rankings – 35th and 47th)

      wwb

      Like

  19. Reed, I know the POV is yours but that comment wasn’t directed at you exclusively. I talk more towards the populous you speak of. I would say with a tongue in cheek that you’re more hoping than worrying about Narduzzi losing. Yes I kid.

    No way PITT gets a 5* this year. There just isn’t one in their back yard. PITT will get 4‘s but they won’t be ranked 4‘s. Think hard about that one because it’s true.

    Like

  20. Thanks JoeL for a another great Pitt bio story. I seem to find common ground with something in everyone’s stories. In your case, we both started our college careers at small schools in WV, both worked in Braddock (I did some contracting work as a PT at US Steel), and both had kids graduate recently from Pitt. I look forward to seeing you in the fall!

    Like

  21. Gents – thanks for the kind responses. I’ve really enjoyed reading the other bio’s; they reallly humanize this space and dialog that we all enjoy.

    Regarding that BYU game, there was quite the deluge that day. We took shelter from the storm at the Decade. I’ll always remember the look on a guys face who had was so effed up that he dropped his own keys into a urinal while peeing. Someone said, “Hey! you just dropped your keys in the urinal!” Hope that wasn’t one of you guys…

    Like

  22. Joe L,,,thanks for clearing that up. I thought it was BYU. I was 8 years old. My dad desperately wanted to leave, I begged him to stay. My dad is a great guy and we have season tickets and go to every game to this day. I put him through hell that day, but we stayed til the bitter end,,,

    Like

  23. And yet another great story evoking many memories …. great job, JoeL

    “Knothole games’ certainly brought some memories. Twice a year in the mid/late 60s, we would pay all of 50 cents to board a school bus and ride a hour and a half to Forbes Field and sit in the right field grandstand upper deck. By the 7th inning, we would populate the box seats; ushers never hassled us as long as we behaved.

    But the best bargain may have been the once every summer train ride from New Castle to the Terminal Building on downtown Cleveland to watch the Indians play for the lavish sum of $1.75. It was a Boy Scout function. We would board the train on the west side of New Castle at 9 am and return about 8 or 9 pm. I remember getting to see the Yankees in mid 60s

    wwb

    Like

  24. Pitt will get its first recruits beginning next Monday. Don’t expect any 4-stars (big surprise); it will be mostly 3-stars and maybe a couple non-rated.

    wwb

    Like

    1. And that paints a perfect picture of what has been happening with Pitt’s recruiting staff over the last three years.

      It has been in a state of confusion and either he bagged or was pushed.

      Either way let’s hope we spend some real money on an established recruiting coordinator…

      Like

  25. damn you all & your wonderful Bio’s – you just made me dig deep and buy FB season tickets (4x). although i did drop down to a pair of hoops seats (has more to deal with crowded calendars then recent records). AND YES I let the sales director/panther club rep know it was ALL the POV’s fault. Although I only did course work at PITT, I grew up around the corner from Reed (hes a little older) the GI bill put my dad through school (he latter guest lectured & taught periodic courses) & my grandmother was one of the first women to receive a masters way back in the day. Like many of you, Pitt changed the history of my family. many many family friends were faculty, administrators, etc. the sound of the PA system from pitt stadium reached my street & I will continue to remind my kids of this no matter how much they roll their eyes. h2p

    Like

  26. Here comes another prime example how PITT can’t win and is always the loser. All I’ve read everywhere and not just the POV is PITT has no recruits so far this year. Yet when the recruiting director up and leaves it’s disastrous. VT is his alma mater and even despite the fact he’s from the Belle Vernon area (home of a few POVer’s) he is going back to college home. This is nrs folks. Sometimes 1 + 1 = 2

    Like

  27. I don’t know what to think about a recruiting coordinator leaving in the thick of recruiting season.

    Any way you look at it, it can’t be good news. Maybe not a big deal, but when are we going to get some good news about football?

    Like

  28. Zero recruits and now no recruiting coordinator. Oh yeah, I like the way this class is headed. It is really just depressing. Pitt is destined for mediocrity or less. Friggin figures the great years they had I wasn’t born or was too young to like football. Looking at my old Iron City can that said “1 in ‘80! It lists the 9 National Championships…1915, 1916, 1918,1929,1931,1934,1936,1937,
    1976. Good for guys that were there to enjoy ‘76 or anyone out there to enjoy that run in the ‘30’s. I will be 42 in September and have no doubt, zero, none, nada…I will go to my grave never seeing Pitt win a National Championship or even making a college football playoff. Sad, but true…

    Like

  29. Again, from what I’ve heard it’s a real mess. All the way around. Regardless of the reason, this just makes them look like bumbling fools. No way to sugar coat this one!

    Like

  30. I do have a picture of me in my playpen from the 70’s with a Pitt hat on my Dad took. 1st Pitt game I ever remember watching and being interested in was bowl game against SMU. 7-3 Pitt loss of course. Was at my grandparents house. Maybe I’m a jinx?

    Like

  31. Ike, his departure sets back the recruiting process at least a bit because a new guys coming in doesn’t know any names, doesn’t know any targeted recruits, doesn’t know anyone on the staff. This is just another thing that’s a bump in the road for Pitt and they seem to happen often.

    Let’s not kid ourselves… something is wrong with Pitt’s recruiting process.

    Like

  32. Pap76, get back from that ledge! Heather has her arms around this.
    I am relaxing with FB and not stressing (too much) by watching what our new BB coach is doing…

    Like

  33. The last time I read this much negativity on this site, Jeff Capel was hired 2 days later.

    No, I’m not expecting a few 4-stars committing in the next few days but I am expecting a handful of 3-stars in the next few weeks

    wwb

    Like

  34. Hand ringing on this site is a daily event. Am I happy about the recruiting coordinator leaving NO. Am I worried about Pitt’s recruiting for the up coming year NO. There is plenty of talent just waiting for an opportunity and too few scholarships available for all the power 5 programs. Thus IMO Pitt will get its fair share of good players from this class. And if Pickett lights it up for Pitt this season as I believe he will they will get more than their fair share in subsequent classes.

    Like

  35. Similar to the basketball coach hire, Pitt is at another fork in the road with the recruiting coordinator opening.

    Hire someone like Capel, and just look at the results that he has had in the last 2 months…bringing in high 3 and 4-star kids that almost nobody thought were possibilities prior to his hire. On the other hand, hire cheap, or someody’s “buddy” — and the cycle of underwhelming recruiting in football just continues.

    It is an opportunity…let’s see which path Pitt will choose.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Once again, the high school head coaches have the answers as to what is wrong with Pitt recruiting. The AD should launch a study and talk with 2-300 coaches/players that accepted or did not accept offers from Pitt. Is coaching turnover the problem? Are high school head coach recommendations the problem? There have been some nasty reports on this site that the Pitt coaches don’t take well to being turned down. This could affect the head coach’s view of the program the next time Pitt comes around to recruit a kid. People don’t like rudeness or desperation.

    As for the gut punch of Diethorne leaving, the VT connection is total nonsense. every coach is from somewhere else, it goes with the territory. Where is this guy’s loyalty to his employer to leave in the middle of a contract? He is no better than Fraud in my view.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Recruiting is a programs life blood. True story, one of my cousins was going to come from FSU and be Pitt’s recruiting coordinator, At the very( and I mean very) last minute Dave Hart decided he’d do it himself. How’d that work out?

    Like

  38. Oh no. Sorry guys, The first 2-star turned me down. He said something about yellow seats and not enough free Fanta. Plus, he said he has to graduate from Jr. High first before his dad will let him commit. This job might be harder than I thought. I might have to reneg. on my application. – Hobie

    Like

  39. Love it, Hobie. This Diethorne thing got my dander up, but you made me LOL. I guess after 40 years I’m just sick of this SOS. If recruiting is a problem, why don’t they treat the position with more respect? Why don’t they just pay the guy?

    Like

  40. More bad news. Heather called and said she didn’t Lyke my efforts on behalf of Pitt. Plus, my application is not being seriously considered at this time. Wouldn’t you know I’d get shelved just when I think I had a quarterback lured away from Notre Dame. I think he’s from Pine-Richland. – Hobie

    Like

  41. Your problem Hobie was that Heather was NOT on vacation. You have to catch her when she’s in Disney World.

    I’m not saying I don’t have concerns with the recruiting so far this year just willing to give Narduzzi more time. 2019 recruits are still a very long way from being in Oakland.

    Like

  42. I’ve shared this before but appropriate again right now. My moms 2nd husband, after my dad passed, owned a small restaurant in North Side years ago. One day Bear Bryant walks in for lunch during a recruiting trip. He orders a chicken salad sandwich. My step dad goes over to talk to the famous Bear and asks him “why are your teams always so good? Bear points at his half eaten sandwich and says “this sandwich is very good – why? – because the chicken salad in it is excellent!… you can’t make a good chicken salad out of chicken sht and you can’t make a good football team out of sht players either!!!”
    Need I say more?

    Liked by 1 person

  43. The worst has happened. Heather ripped up my shelved application. Here’s what happened. I called her back and told her that I’ve been studying the best practices in recruiting in the ACC and was fully prepared to implement them at Pitt. I talked about the challenging courses offered by North Carolina so as not to tax the brains of the student athletes and the type of entertainment young men really like, which I learned from Louisville. I heard a ripping noise in the background and she hung up. Go figure. – Hobie

    Like

  44. Hobie,
    Heather was due for a bad decision sooner or later!
    We need you now – so reapply and maybe she’ll come to her senses! :>)

    Like

  45. Big B…thanks Lol. I try to be positive, or at the least optimistic. I was a huge fan of the Duzz hiring. But I’m losing faith. I’ll be at Heinz every home game til I die, and a road game every year( Southbound this year, never been there, very excited) But I became a Pitt fan in ‘83. Hasn’t been a whole lot to cheer about. Thouroughly enjoyed the hoops run under Howland/ Dixon. Been some great memories in football too, no doubt. Just feel the trajectory of the Duzz is not heading in the right direction. This year is very big for him and the program. Seems dramatic, but I wanna say “make or break”

    Like

  46. To Hobie, do you really want to be the next PITT football recruiting director and have Reed breathing down your neck 24/7? 🙂

    Like

  47. All he has to do is fill up about 30,000 seats at Heinz per game with paying fans for every Pitt game. That should be easy enough.

    Like

  48. Pitt needs to average 50,000 per game. To do this you need a good team and a couple big games. It will take time to get people to show up for ACC games.
    Pitt needs to figure out how to segregate the home from visiting fans. Also how to fill the lower bowl first. Also how to deal with empty corporate seats.
    These are logistical problems that will make a better game day experience if addressed.
    Hopefully improving the student seating was only a first step.

    Like

        1. Yes – because Pitt will seldom average more than 45k for any season. The 40 year historical range is 30-55k. So why play in a stadium that is too large for the fans? Your enemy is the 15-40k yellow seats each game.

          I damn well expect the BoT to at the very least consider an OCS for Victory Heights. Populous did a study last summer. Why hasn’t Pitt released the recommendations? Probably because the engineers, architects and urban planners concluded that a stadium was indeed possible on campus.

          Like

  49. The more I think about the recruiting coordinator leaving the more confused I get. The timing is strange. If he was no good why would VaTech want him. But if he was good wouldn’t a lot of problems not happened. Is the situation so toxic he just wanted out. Is our pay scale that out of wack? Pitt football is a mysterious beast that will never fail to surprise me.

    Like

  50. Pap76… Carolina, Wake .. we will have a nice contingent attending… I will also be at the Virginia game…

    You poor suffering bastad… you are a true fan.. you have witnessed some crap times..hang in there… this recruiting drought is making a lot of us edgy

    I asked Reed for you email.

    Like

  51. One other thing. I really don’t know how concerned I should be, as the RC is not a major deal(or is it)? It’s simply another head scratcher. Why, and why now??

    Like

  52. Pitt is now the only school without a recruit commit. AZ state just got a commit from a QB.

    Timing is strange and bad for a recruiting coordinator to leave. I think it’s rats jumping the ship.

    If this year turns out to be five wins and no four stars, I’d seriously think about finding a new coach. Stability be damned. Perception matters. There is no excitement or momentum right now. Unlike basketball.

    Tex

    Like

  53. Seems the unhappiness with HCPN is increasing but where is somebody better out there? Be careful what you wish for.

    Like

  54. Will this be Narduzzi’s first year with a home grown QB? Another late start in recruiting shows things are not improving. This is a class that they have worked on for three years and still no early commits. I am not impressed. Something is wrong, there should be at least a few guys that want to come to Pitt as a first choice and not a backup plan.

    Like

    1. the schools that are elite or top 20 have on average 10 recruits. Even MAC schools have about 5 commits right now. Pitt is the only P-5 school with ZERO. Something is rotten on the South Side. I cant say Oakland since Pitt is the runaway son gone for the past 17 years.

      Like

  55. Narduzzi is only as good as the QB and the 4 stars he recruits. He had a very good QB his first two years and it showed in the record. He hasnt been able to reel in the 4 stars and that will catch up with him. And his choice of assistants has been poor. He has no more excuses.

    Like

  56. I heard this morning on XM College Sports Radio that Florida State is playing in the National Championship series for women’s college softball.

    The same team that beat Pitt in the ACC championship with a walk off HR to end the Panther’s season.

    Fla State won the first game last night and can win it all tonight.

    SOP! SOP! SOP!

    Like

  57. Pitt played them tough and should have won if they didnt blow a 4-1 lead going into the last inning. The eyeball test got me. Pitt looked like a bunch of pygmies competing against amazons out there. The State girls really look the part.

    I have a feeling our Pitt football team will look and play the same way against the Nitters this year. Heart can only go so far. Talent wins out in the end. State has been averaging 14+ 4 stars compared to Pitt’s 2 over the past 4 years. You cant compete against that unless you get lucky.

    And I’m starting to feel like Franklin is actually a better coach than Narduzzi. But Franklin has good assistants. I think thats the difference in coaching outside of talent.

    Like

    1. The Fla State catcher who hit the HR to beat Pitt hit the game winner last night to beat Washington in game one of the NC series.

      Tonight in game 2, she has a 2 run HR and Fla State leads 5-3.

      SOP?

      Like

      1. she also played terrible D in that game against Pitt (costing FL St 2 runs) and was one of the reasons Pitt kept it close

        Like

  58. 3.78 star avg for Nitter Nation
    only GA, OK and Bama are better this year

    compare that to Pitt’s avg star of 3…oh I got ahead of myself…its ZERO as of today

    that 0.78 difference is YUGE

    Franklin doesnt really need to coach with talent like that.

    Like

    1. Let’s see how Franky does without OC Morehead.

      Some nitters believe Morehead saved Franky’s job. Some say Sandusky keeps giving …and Joe knew.

      I predict Pitt beats the nits in 2018.

      Like

  59. Here I go getting myself into trouble again. This is not excuse making for Narduzzi or being overly optimistic but rather a possible scenario and a different slant on why the slow recruiting process by PITT right now. I do not have any doubt that PN is in the middle of where PITT was and where he wants it to be in recruiting. Think about that?

    The thought is PITT is waiting on players over their heads to be turned down or get nervous about their offer drying up they may finally come around. They have offered so many young men that they have almost zero chance of getting a commitment from but you just never know. AJ Davis may be an example of that and I’m convinced Antonio Bryant was as well. It happens.

    What this means to me is that Pat is willing to wait and get the best of what the big boys turn away. Sorry to say but this is what PITT recruiting has to be right now. Time is always on the side of the bird in hand.

    You just don’t beat psu, Clemson and Miami and just plain have no chance. s far as the coaching being sub-par? That is making a slow change as well and we will see a defense out on the field this year that will change minds.

    Like

  60. Stop comparing Pitt recruiting to PSU. When Pitt football has they same budget, then you can compare. Compare Pitt to a similar ACC school. I can’t think of one. Maybe GT.

    Like

    1. Pitt will probably never get 14 + stars like the Nitters do each year but they really do need around 6 to compete in the ACC. I dont think budget is an issue with Pitt now. Pitt needs to find ways to close on these recruits.

      Like

  61. For those of you that follow old Pitt football players, our ex-qb from Seneca Valley, Kevan Smith, made his 2018 Major League Baseball debut catching for the Chicago White Sox. He had an rbi single in the first.

    Liked by 1 person

  62. Good to see we are keeping company with Sam Houston State in our recruiting.

    Look the truth in recruiting is that the really big blue chip kids either sign early in the spring or they signed just before Loi day.

    Pitt has mostly gotten their best recruits early on, really just after spring and right before the season starts, so I don’t think we’re going to see any of the really big recruits coming our way this year. I don’t think narduzzi has it folks… I think that his personality and his approach to recruiting is overboard and easy to see through and I’ve heard that from more than one other person I’ve talked to. It’s as if he sits there and thinks that Pitt is the best football program in the world and if you don’t want to come to Pitt right away then well, maybe you need to look somewhere else.

    DW did that is first year or two and then he realized it’s better to say we want you to come to Pitt but why don’t you look around and then come back here for an official visit. But he was getting a lot of recruits to come on official visits and Narduzzi’s not doing that.

    For instance in 2007’s class DW had 41 recruits come to Pitt on official visits. He had nine 4* kids come and he signed six of those…

    Last year in the 2018 class PN had 28 official visits with only one (1!) 4* recruit willing to do so and we signed him.

    That is a real problem folks. The better 4* and 5* recruits don’t even want to take one of their five official visits to Pitt any longer… They are visiting other schools.

    Like

  63. There is no buzz or excitement with Pitt football. No momentum. Look how easy Capel is having it. Its his personality.

    Here’s my suggestion – get rid of Narduzzi after this year or next. Tell recruits you’ll be playing in a new on campus stadium in 6 years.

    That creates excitement and hope.

    Recruits see Pitt as just another mediocre program and the future is more of the same.

    Like

  64. Sigh… until Reed is wrong, I’m afraid he’s right.

    Hey, not to split hairs or to minimize it, but Diethorn was not recruiting coordinator. That role is held by Harley. Diethorn was Director of Recruiting. The latter role is a bit of a jack of all trades (see job description), which can be back-filled for a short time – a short time – by a group of folks among the Athletic Dept. with strong admin and communication skills. And there is a compliance aspect of the role as well, which is probably a core competence of the Athletic Dept. – so help is available.

    As for being in this situation in the first place, if HCPN is not strong on the operations/admin side of things, his assistant head coach should be. Surround yourself with people who’s skills complement yours. If the issue is attitudinal, well help yourself to a big dish of humble pie Mr. HC.

    In the meantime, you aren’t getting the Glengarry leads and coffee is for closers, btw.

    Like

  65. Tx panther: capel is off to a great start and i love him. But Let’s just hope fans don’t turn on him like they have Narduzzi after his first bad season.

    Like

  66. Joe L – that is what is important about Diethorn’s role – Harley has recruiting as a collateral duty to his primary role as LBs coach. But the Director of Recruiting (Diethorn) is the highest full-time recruiting employee so he has the reins, and most control, over the recruiting program and process.

    What schools do is instead of giving a staff coach a raise – which ups the public salary number he’s getting – is they give them other duties (such as Recruiting Coordinator) so that guy gets his regular salary plus the bonus for the recruiting side.

    That allows Pitt to pay the next LBs coach just the salary Harley was making strictly as the LBs coach and not the total compensation he was being paid.

    That is the sole purpose of the ridiculous “Assistant Head Coach” designation for certain staff coaches also – it is just a way to pay them more so they won’t leave but then allows Pitt to advertise only the ‘salary’ they were getting for the next guy they hire in that position.

    Dave Borbely is a good case in point when he was at Maryland. He wouldn’t leave on his own after they wanted and hired a new OL coach to take his place in 2017 so instead of paying that last year of his buyout they gave him the “Special Assistant to the Head Coach” title and then didn’t renew his contract.

    http://www.umterps.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=29700&ATCLID=210633615

    So titles are just that sometimes- something the Admin slaps on someone whenever they feel like it – most times they mean nothing really. Although “Recruiting Coordinator” means more than the “Assistant to the assistant whatever” does.

    Like

  67. Here are the Rivals 4-stars committed to the previous staff

    Chad Voytik
    Adam Bisnowaty
    Ruschell Shel
    Dasean Rippy

    Tyler Boyd
    Dor Johnson (5*)
    Trayvon Chapman

    Mike Grimm
    Chris James
    Alex Bookser
    Adonnis Jennings

    Note that 7 of the 11 were local … and of the 4 not local, only Voytik saw any significant action .. and 3 of them transferred away and the 4th never enrolled

    Not only is PSU not on sanctions and recruiting better than ever, there has been a dearth of local 4 stars these past 2 years.

    I stress patience as experience has shown that Pitt’s recruiting picks up in June and then post-season .. (and that goes for PC and DW too)

    wwb (the POV devil’s advocate)

    Like

  68. When football teams fail to make it to a bowl game, the standard comment is that it is actually better for recruiting so that they can spend more time focusing on recruiting and get a good start. So what has happened with Narduzzi? Any benefit gained from the additional recruiting time has not produced early results.

    Our only real hope here is that Pickett produces some winning seasons before graduating, and PN is then able to translate this into a few good recruiting years to continue to build the program. But that is putting a lot of pressure on Pickett.

    Like

  69. Please don’t compare Coach Duzz to Coach Capel as recruiters. Pitt has everything to offer an elite BB recruit.

    While in football, we do not have the crowds and atmosphere. Other schools surely use this against Pitt in recruiting. I think elite kids more and more, thanks to the internet, want the whole enchilada…

    If there is a FB Coach out there who could recruit 4-Stars to Pitt based on his personality, would he really take the Pitt job?

    Go Pitt.

    Like

  70. Reasons Pitt will win more than 5 this year.

    Pickett instead of Browne and Dinucci
    Aston returns
    Two 290 pound tight ends
    Hall, Ollison and Davis
    A new DC with an attacking philosophy
    Young defense has another year of maturity
    Paris Ford
    A stronger linebacker Corp

    Feel free to disagree.

    Like

    1. Wriginis at middle linebacker will be an additional game changer. 2019’s recruiting results affect this season’s record 0%. 2018’s W-L record can have a major impact on recruiting here at Pitt however.

      If we expect Narduzzi to live out his current contract with successful results, then THIS season is the turning point. No excuses, 8 wins minimum to label this season a winner.

      A winning season will produce a satisfactory recruiting class for 2019. A class that will begin impacting the season of Pitt football come 2020 forward.

      No doubt about it, THIS is the make or break season for Pat Narduzzi. I’m hoping for a breakout season. By the time we see the final score of the UCF game at the end of September, Pat Narduzzi’s future will be emerging dependent on his on field results.

      We’ll see.

      Like

  71. Grizz:

    A cardboard offensive line.
    No bonafide stars at receiver.
    No stars at rb.
    Tight ends that weigh 290.
    Lackluster kicking game.
    A QB who has thrown one touchdown pass and has no substantial replacement.
    And a coach who, while occasionally winning the big game, has failed to win all of the small ones…UNC, Northwestern, etc.

    Like

  72. Gas,
    First and foremost football is a team sport, bona-fide star players make it easier to win but are not a requirement in winning. It is not yet an absolute that the O-line will be terrible, although it may be based on the lack of P5 experience. The kicking game is pretty much a complete unknown going into the season.

    A little bit of optimism is warranted due to potential of some of the inexperienced players. Five wins is a very low bar to get over.

    Like

  73. Great post joe L. I lived two houses behind the veazy’s And used to jump on their trampoline. Lebo has some great athletes in those days.

    Like

Leave a Comment Please and Keep It Civil...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s