Greatest Pitt QB Ever? Your Take…

Debate question:   How does the POV rank the greatest Pitt quarterbacks of all time?

Written by MissingWlat

 Reed reached out in seeking some POVers to pen an article or two during the downtime between basketball games. Due to a busy work schedule, and pending travel to Pitt to return my daughter to campus, my time is limited this week. So this “article” will be very brief and have zero journalistic quality whatsoever.

However, as I am sure is the case with many of you, the POV is very important to me. The friendships I have made over the past six or seven years, due to the efforts of Reed and Michelangelo, I value greatly. I wouldn’t say that the POV has ever teetered on the possibility of extinction, but the multiple transitions of leadership have this POVer willing to do anything necessary to make Reed’s job easier. We should all want to help keep him engaged for the long haul. Certainly, he has been very active in posting during the recent basketball games, which has been great to see.  

What I have learned over the years of reading the POV is that it doesn’t take a Pulitzer Prize winning article to get the collective blood flowing amongst the POV brethren. Heck, I could do something as simple as this: “Word Association: Cornhole. Discuss”, and I could likely keep the POV entertained for hours. Of course that would likely lead to several of you (See Tex, who is no fan of Cornhole Steve) breaking Reed’s “no swearing” rule. Even the beloved Ike probably wouldn’t have anything good to say about Smilin’ Steve.

I am sorry to disappoint you when I say that today’s POV debate will not revolve around everybody’s least favorite former Pitt Athletic Director. However, I do hope that today’s subject will spark some spirited discussion. Here goes…

I came across a website,, which contained a list of ranked former Pitt quarterbacks. To nobody’s surprise Dan Marino was at the top of the list. However, I believe the remaining list will elicit some discussion, due to the fact that every one of the top 10 on the list played at Pitt during the last 45 years. So while some of the younger POV members have not seen all of these quarterbacks, the bulk of the POV is familiar with nearly every one of them. Here is the list:

  1. Dan Marino
  2. Matt Cavanaugh
  3. Alex Van Pelt
  4. Nathan Peterman
  5. Tyler Palko
  6. Rod Rutherford
  7. John Congemi
  8. Pete Gonzalez
  9. Tom Savage
  10. Rick Trocano

The next five QBs in order are Darnell Dickerson, Bill Stull, Dave Havern (POV Tailgate Celebrity Guest), Pat Bostick, and John Turman.

After I reviewed this list and to give it some context I reviewed the historical statistics of Pitt quarterbacks and made some interesting observations. (Editor’s Note: Here are the current statistical leaders among Pitt QBs both past and present).

The best single season by any quarterback (Marino included) in Pitt history, was the 2003 season of Rod Rutherford. He threw for 3679 yards in 37 touchdowns. His yardage total was the highest in Pitt history, while the number of touchdowns equaled Dan Marino’s total from 1981. Rutherford’s passer rating that year was 157.4. Surprisingly, he only rushed for two touchdowns that season, and had a net total of 150 yards rushing.

The next two quarterbacks in line behind Marino (79 TDs) in career touchdowns are Tyler Palko (66 TDs) and Alex Van Pelt (64 TDs). Notably, all of the quarterbacks topping the career touchdown list played three or four seasons as a starter, except Nathan Peterman (47), who only played two. Had Peterman been at Pitt for more than two years, he very likely would have passed both Palko and Van Pelt. Had he been at Pitt for four years, he may have passed Marino.

The greatest single game statistically by a quarterback in Pitt football history was engineered by Pete Gonzalez. Pistol Pete threw for 470 yards and seven touchdowns against Rutgers in 1997 (admittedly his stats were padded by the game being an overtime win). Pistol Pete gets extra points in my book for beating WVU in triple overtime in 1997, 41-38, where he tossed the winning TD to Jake Hoffart.

That 1997 team was the first team with a winning record at Pitt since 1991, and was the first to go to a bowl since 1989 (I’m working from memory here… am I right: John Hancock Bowl coached by Paul Hackett after Gottfried left unceremoniously???). Pistol Pete led that 1997 team to upsets of ranked opponents Miami and Virginia Tech as well. (Editor’s Note: Correct in all areas – give the man a prize!)

The list does not include Kenny Pickett anywhere, due to him still being on the roster. I’d probably put Kenny somewhere between 10 and 15, although I absolutely love the competitor in him. If that were the criteria, he’d be third on my list behind Palko and Gonzalez.

Absent from the top 10, (and top 15 for that matter): Tino Sunseri. Beloved by his teammates, Tino is 3rd all time in yardage, but fails to even make this list. Hmmmmn.

Here is Wlat’s Top Five after Marino (be mindful that I was 6 years old when Pitt won the National Championship, so I am not qualified to evaluate Cavanaugh, Trocano or Havern).

  1. Tyler Palko (My favorite play in Pitt history was when he trucked the BC linebacker)
  2. Alex Van Pelt (Led us to the 31-31 tie at WVU when I was a Sophomore. I was there.)
  3. Pistol Pete Gonzalez (See above)
  4. Rod Rutherford (Bonus points for scoring the only TD in the 12-0 win against PSU in 1999)
  5. Nate Peterman (Yes, he had a surrounding cast, but he was pretty great)


P/S: This is a great article and thanks Eric. I am grateful for readers who have chipped in and so far the articles have been very well written with good discussable content. I’ll post submitted articles in between BB games. – Reed

167 thoughts on “Greatest Pitt QB Ever? Your Take…

  1. I’m old enough to have seen every one on the list plus a few more. Who can forget Bob Bazylak who led Pitt to its only win in 1967? But I degress…

    Below Marino and Cavanaugh I would have Palko, Rutherford, Gonzalez , Van Pelt and Havern. In no particular order. And for no justifiable reason except that their names evoke happy experiences on fall Saturdays.

    And an honorable mention goes to Tom Yewcic.


  2. This list is as good an explanation as any why Pitt has only three 9-win seasons and one 10-win season in the last 40 years. There’s not even one quarterback on this list that Pitt signed out of HS in the last two decades! Incredible considering how the rules and offenses have evolved to promote crazy passing numbers in recent years.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Very true and if Congemi makes your list it shows just how poorly your school has recruited the position. Misses include: Kosar, Major Harris, Charlie Batch (didn’t meet those higher Pitt entrance requirements), Marc Bulger (Majors told him he’d never play D-1 football), Thaddeus Lewis, Joe Flacco (Wanny wasn’t smart enough to motivate him to stay for a year).

      David Priestly would have made the top 10 if he never injured his shoulder in 1999. He would have been a three-year starter. His 406-yard game versus the Hokies in 1999 was fabulous.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Matt Cavanaugh wears a National Championship ring and probably would have worn a 2nd ring if not for breaking his wrist in the opening game vs ND. He was calm and under control. Would have had bigger passing numbers but ran the veer to perfection with Tony D leading the way. IMO, MC’s PITT years did not have the amount of elite talent that Marino played with which Jackie Sherrill once said was the “ greatest amount of talent ever assembled on a college FB team .”
    After MC and DM it becomes more difficult to rate QBs who played on mediocre teams- at least for me.
    I admire Dave Havern, all 5’9” of him for going up against some of the very best teams in the country during his years… there’s something to be said about memories of watching Greg Pruitt and the Sooners, Mark Harmon andUCLA, Anthony Davis and Southern Cal…. the one cupcake game I remember was Kent State.. and at some point we played William and Mary who (had a player named Lou Biondi ,family owned a car dealership in Momroeville)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ironic that the Steelers drafted the guy who broke his wrist and was a complete bust as a Steeler. He got us twice….


      1. Oh yea….that’s right…Willie Frye. Sort of like a poke in Pitt’s eye. Forgot all about that, thx for jogging
        my memory.

        Another ‘poke in Pitt’s eye’….was the drafting of Mason Rudolph. And they picked up Switzer, who was
        was another thorn in Pitt’s side.

        Are all of these just coincidences ?


  4. IMO, one totally inexcusable absence from the list above is Fred Mazurek, who led the 1963 Panthers to a 9-1 record and a #4 AP ranking (#3 UPI). The only loss was to #2 Navy led by Roger Staubach

    Yes, his passing stats for that year seem modest by today’s standards … 74-127 949 yds, but he also rushed 132 for 646 yds (4.9 ypa)) and 7 TDs. The game was much different then


  5. Thank you for keeping this to quarterbacks and not athletic directors. I could write a book on bozik, Cornhole, Barnes and heather. I’ll keep my comments short.

    Rod had the strongest arm and tightest spiral I saw.

    Tyler was the toughest and best leader.

    I like pistol Pete.

    And Nate was probably the best pro ready qb since Marino but we know how that’s worked out.

    Tino would make my top 5 for worst

    I like Kenny. And Ike.


  6. Really up in the air as to who the BEST Pitt Quarterback of all time might be.

    Performance wise, Gonzalez versue WVU is tough to beat. There is Cavanaugh throwing for nearly 400 yards in the Gator Bowl. Congemi, Van Pelt, Rutherford and Palko certainly had their moments.

    Went to school with Cavanaugh, Trocano, Daniels, Marino, Congemi. Knew them all. As far as who they were.

    Congemi was the nicest guy. Trocano, the craziest. Daniels real quiet. And Marino was let’s just say Marino.

    But by far the toughest was Cavanaugh. Knew him well. One bad dude. A Black Belt in karate.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Daniels to Congemi….you must have been one of those Lifetime Students.

      Unless you’re a shrink !


  7. A good and appropriate article after watching the greatest QB of all time last night night. I used to hate him but always appreciated his talent. He is in a class by himself. Sorry to go off topic but a few comments on the game sort of related to Pitt. First congrats to Whitehead, another name on the Pitt Superbowl Champions Wall. As we have discussed O-lines are the key, and KC’s O-line lost that game.
    Also one of the dumbest coaching decisions ever to call time outs in TB’s last, first half possession, Brady made them pay. Funniest part was Romo trying to convince anyone that Mahomes would bring them back, not last night.

    Agree with most of the comments above, very fortunate to have seen Cavanaugh and Marino lead Pitt’s best modern teams. Good call by wwb, my first Pitt game was Fred Mazurek’s team although few remember him.
    Rutherford had a strong arm and a great physique, but his name should be asterisked because of Larry Fitzgerald, he would have doubled just about anyone’s numbers on the list. Palko’s name too because he caused us to lose, the second best pro QB who is not on the list.

    Unfortunately, there is only one elite QB on that list and I doubt if I will live long enough to see another one, they are rare indeed.


    1. I I don’t think Brady is the GOAT. Too many rule changes protecting the QB and WR’s to award that to him. Greatest of his time, yes…. all-time? he’s inthe discussion, but Unitas, Bradshaw, Staubach, Montana all had to endure more physical harm than Brady.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Seven Superbowl wins, the next guy has four all before free agency when it was easier to keep a team together. No doubt he got hit less than those other guys.


  8. OT: C Peak has a column out today on the 18 former Panthers that were in the NFL this past season. Several of which were on practice squads. Can any of our POV Die Hards actually name all 18? I know I couldn’t. See how many you can name without obviously taking a sneak peek at the Peak writeup.


    1. Sorry. I tried to take a sneak peek. But it is behind a pay wall. I would appreciate a list of names if no one provides or the POV group doesn’t come up with all 18.

      My guess are to start with the obvious. McCoy, Donald, Whitehead, Boyd, O’Neill, Ffrench (practice squad), Peterman. Conner, Maddox, Ollison,, Jackson, Lewis, one of Orndoff or Holtz maybe both? (PC), DiNucci,

      That’s all I got.


  9. First, thanks so much Eric for giving us something to chew on today.

    Gordon’s asterisk comment on Rutherford raise for me similar questions.
    – how would Marino have fared without the likes of Fralic, Grimm, May, Covert, Boures, Sweeney…..
    – how would Cavanuagh have done without Dorsett?
    – how would VanPelt had fared with a better HC and more talented roster?

    Which QB did the most with the least might actually be a way to looks at it. And I have absolutely no idea how to gauge that.

    Eric – VanPelt was the QB (freshman) at the John Hancock Bowl that Hackett coached after Gottfried got fired.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No doubt football is a team sport, but still the QB usually has the greatest impact on wins and losses. There are always exceptions, but fewer these days. Last night was a good example, if the teams traded QB’s, Mahomes probably wins that game.

      Brady has been a well protected QB, but his accuracy and efficiency have always been off the charts.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. – how would Cavanauagh have done without Dorsett?

      1977….Cavanaugh was the QB and Elliot Walker was the star RB.

      Cavanaugh was great that year, and won the Gator Bowl MVP in Pitt’s rout of Clemscum.
      Had he not broke his wrist against ND, Pitt would have won that game and maybe
      another NC.

      So very well !

      Great music that year too !

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Van Pelt was a gun slinger. Always thought if he had a better team around him that he would have bee no the second coming of Marino. He’s now a well respected (I believe) OC/QB coach in the NFL.


  10. one thing about Rutherford …. don’t think Walt took full advantage of his athleticism You may remember his one highlight as a natural freshman, scoring the game’s only TD vs PSU as a RECEIVER (a 66 yarder which was more run than pass)

    Walt tried the Read Option without much success in 2001 with Turman. When Rod became the starter in 2002 and 2003, he was a straight drop-back QB. Now I knew Pitt had Fitz and pro-style was Walt’s forte, but I believe Rod’s talents were not optimized. Maybe when Pitt got to WVU’s 10 yard line with about a minute left, a QB draw would have dine some good …. instead of 4 straight drop-backs

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Could have been because Walt knew the dropoff to the backup QB’s would have been severe.
      And running the Read Option with Rod carrying the ball more, taking many more hits even when
      not carrying the ball, but on the ‘pitch’ to the RB’s…would have made him much more susceptible
      to injury.

      But yes I also thought that Rod would have made a great Read Option QB.

      Turned out though, he wasn’t a bad straight back passer….37 TD passes in a season prove it.
      59 TD passes in 2 season. Would have loved to have had that the last 2 seasons.

      We might have won 10 games.


  11. Palko was 19-16 in his three starting years…just about right for Pitt football in the early 2000’s. His stats were good though with 66 TDs to 25 INTs.

    Louisville BB game cancelled – will leave this up and post another FB article in a day or two.

    Next scheduled BB game is against GT on 2/14.


    1. Based on the recent past, wouldn’t be surprised the ACC schedules another game for Pitt before then.

      Palko after ND f bomb wasn’t as good as Palko, pre ND f bomb.

      You can’t do that in front of Touchdown Jesus and not have consequences.

      Liked by 4 people

    1. Shady McCoy was a 4 star. Wasn’t Jordan Whitehead as well ?

      I think he was either the #1 or #2 player in the state that year.


    2. And you do know there are only about 30 five stars every year. And no more than 200 four stars. So as a percentage of the population is the correct way to analyze. But these coaches sure do love to pat themselves on the back for developing guys. And finding those diamonds in the rough. What’s Pitts record these days that shows me you know how to recruit, develop and coach Charlie.


  12. It has come to my attention that some POVers could not read the last Game Thread post. Two at least… I went back and couldn’t figure out why that happened by will keep at it.

    Anyone else other than MajorMajors and one other? Please let me know…


    1. Reed – I could not view it either. Tried reloading, etc. it was odd because I got the notification that it was posted, but I could never access it.


    1. Back then, the QB wasn’t nearly as important, as teams didn’t pass much.
      Pitt played the Single Wing Offense and the QB was even used as a blocker.
      In some Single Wing offenses the QB was even referred to as a ‘blocking back’
      And like today’s Wildcat offense, there were many direct snaps to the RB’s.

      Pitt’s 4 man Dream backfield consisted of :
      Halfback – Curley Stebbens
      Fullback – Marshall Goldberg (Biggie)
      Halfback – Dick Cassiano
      QB – John ‘Chick’ Chicernio


  13. So there is no doubt that Marino was Pitts most talented QB as proved by his professional career.

    But consider this, there is no doubt he played with the greatest group of college players ever assembled at Pitt, at least in the modern era. He threw for 79 TD’s and also for 69 INT’s, so a very good thing that he had Pitt’s greatest defense with him. In his senior year he threw 17 TD’s and 23 INT’s which along with the drug rumors caused him to fall in the draft.

    While he lost very few games, the question is, would a less talented, more efficient QB won just as many surrounded by all those great players? It wouldn’t have been as much fun, I’m thinking Marino to Brown, Sugar Bowl, but he did lose a game each year which cost Pitt the NC three times.

    He also never won a Super Bowl when he didn’t have a defense like Pitt’s.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was at the 1979 Pitt game at Chapel Hill. You can’t blame Danny for that loss.

      As Rick Trocano was Pitt’s starting QB that day and threw close to 40 passes.

      And a lot of great QB’s never won a SB. Fran Tarkenton and Jim Kelly lost quite a few though !

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Look at KC last night and then look at most of Kenny’s Pitt career. Nobody not even Mahomes can play with people in his face. Also, most of the pressure vs Pitt is not by blitz.
    It makes it very hard tp play.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Pitt’s All-Time QB’s when rated by ‘Passing Yards per Attempt’

    1) Matt Cavanaugh 9.3
    2) Nate Peterman 8.3
    3) Bobby Haygood 8.3 (haygood got hurt in Game 1 of 1976 NC year)
    4) John Turman 8.1
    5) Rod Rutherford 8.0
    6) David Priestly 7.9
    7) Tyler Palko 7.8
    8) Bill Stull 7.6
    9) Chad Voytik 7.6
    9) Tom Savage 7.6
    10) Alex Van Pelt 7.5
    10) Tino Sunseri 7.5
    11) Fred Mazurek 7.3 QB of Pitt’s # 4 9-1 1963 team
    12) Pete Gonzalez 7.1
    12) Dan Marino 7.1
    12) Billy Daniels 7.1

    Interesting that Cavanaugh’s is so high since college football wasn’t nearly as
    pass happy back in that era.


    1. it may have helped Cavanaugh to have RBs T Dorsett and E Walker as well as WRs Too Much Jones and Willie Taylor to throw to downfield. Defenses had to pack the LOS


        1. His YPA was based mostly on his 1975 year as the Starting QB. Bobby was the MVP of
          the 1975 Sun Bowl.

          Pitt’s first bowl win since 1937. Kid was a great athlete, he was also on Pitt’s basketball team.

          Pretty good year for music too !


          1. had the album, if memories serves, George Duke om keyboards

            FWIW, I share a birthday with Beck …. as well as Mick Fleetwood, Colin Blunstone (Zombies) and John Ilsey (Dire Straits). Can’t figure out why I have no musical talent … maybe because I’m not British


            1. Come ooooon mannnnn.(my new famous person imitation, btw) I’m sure you have musical talent. Everyone can play the kazoo !

              Max Middleton on the Keys ! You might be getting that famous person above’s problem. lol


    2. I believe in the pros it’s around 7. Big Ben was in the 5’s I think over his last six games. That’s horrible.

      So I’d think anything above 8 on this list is excellent.


  16. I think Biggie was asked to move to FB because Cassiano was too talented so Jock put all 4 in the same backfield…
    Imagine that…great coaching!


        1. Right bro….and you’re spot on about the ‘great coaching’ comment.

          I learned everything (or most everything ) about football from Pop Warner.

          He’s still up here teaching, whenever the Single Wing comes back. haha

          Liked by 1 person

  17. Grew up watching those great Oklahoma 4 man backfield Wishbone offenses of the 1970’s.

    That were fun to watch. Oklahoma/Nebraska games were among the best 3 games of the
    year every year.

    Alabama under Bear Bryant also ran the Wishbone. As did Texas and many top teams.

    USC & Pitt were in the minority, running pro-style offenses that features an Tailback
    in the i formation. Nebraska ran out of the i formation but didn’t pass much.


  18. Bet you didn’t know they named an offense after me !

    The Sutherland single-wing was a variation of the single-wing used with great success by Coach Jock Sutherland of the 1930s and 1940s. Note that coach Sutherland mastered many forms of the single-wing, but the formation described here is the one he invented and was named for him.

    The Sutherland single-wing differs from the traditional single-wing in that the wingback is brought into the backfield as a halfback, flanking the fullback on the other side from the tailback. This allows a more flexible running attack to the weak-side. Both the tailback and halfback are triple threats in this offense

    Liked by 2 people

          1. ikr…who would choose Ranch over…..BLUE CHEESE. Anything tastes better with blue cheese on it !
            Including my finger !

            Labatt Blue also works, as would Moosehead or Grizzly.


      1. Chicken wing that is. Well, in Buffalo it’s called the buffalo wing.

        Franks hot sauce plus plenty of butter

        I prefer the buffalo brew pub wings on transit and main over duffs and the anchor bar.

        Gabriel’s gate also made a good wing in my day.

        Good buffalo times


  19. Until this past season kept us all from going to games in person, i have been to games at Pitt since 1965 and seen a lot of good players and teams as well as a lot of heartbreak ( Carson Long and missing FG’s and Elliot Walker slipping at the goal line in the snow v Penn State at old Pitt Stadium and not scoring by less than a foot stand out on a long list of heartbreak )
    So, I really support moving Rick Trocano up that list to 7 or 8 as great QBs at Pitt. He was a great option QB, threw better that a lot of folks remember and kept Marino on the bench early before he moved to safety. At safety, he was drafted by the Browns despite being a really good QB.
    John Congemi is often forgotten as he was QB as the long decline in Pitt teams began in the mid 1980’s but he was good on the move, had a strong arm and played well despite poor coaching decisions and choices.
    Love the column and site and not too far from our coordinator and leader of this site as I live in Maryland and have made to drive home and to road games for almost 45 years.

    Liked by 4 people

  20. Most of the QBs on the list were not household names when they were recruited. I think the two most hyped QBs were Marino and Tyler Palko. People were hoping Palko would come to Pitt for literally years (his Sophomore year on) since the story line fit so well. Local son of a great high school coach would ride onto the scene and make Pitt a big winner again. But as Reed pointed out, Palko was 19-16 in his three years, not exactly what Pitt fans had anticipated.

    So what does that mean? Was he the most over hyped QB in Pitt’s history and was he over rated? 66 touchdowns is okay for a three year starter, but not spectacular. Marino had the surrounding cast to make him great, but truthfully, he only showed above average performance in college (12th in yds per attempt) with some key losses, but he went on and proved his greatness in the NFL. So some would say Marino under performed the hype in college.

    Maybe what this really says is that QBs make a difference but the supporting cast is what determines greatness. So getting that 5 star QB may not be the key missing link for Pitt that everyone says it is.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A five star quarterback not named Bostick can make any receiver look great. Just like any competent o line can make a back look great.

      I’ll take an elite qb any day over a elite wr or rb.


  21. Another great game for Pete Gonzalez was the final game at Pitt Stadium – a win over Notre Dame. My Dad and I were lucky to see it together.


  22. I saw (suffered) all of them live and in person, many sitting with Dinosaur 71. I idolized Freddie Mazurek in 63 and Dave Havern who got us out of 1-9 seasons. I was there when Canenaugh broke his wrist vs ND and in came a QB that couldn’t take a snap from center. I was at the Gator Bowl when that team utterly crushed Clemson. Lots of memories, many not so good.

    Meeting Dave in person at the NCGame pregame was a highlight.

    Someone made the comment that it’s no wonder Pitt has been mediocre so long with this top 10 QB list. I agree.


  23. I start at the Alex Van Pelt era …

    Marino (my era or not)
    Palko/Rutherford … hard to separate these two
    Nate the Great
    Van Pelt
    Pistol Pete
    Billy Stull


  24. Hey Good News for Stiller fans. Maybe I can call them up and get them to add the Dooz,
    if they do a College HC Top 10 Fired/Resigned List

    Not long after Sunday’s Super Bowl completed the 2020 NFL season, released its odds for the champion of next year’s Super Bowl, for next season’s MVP and for the first coach to be fired or resign for the 2021 league year.

    Mike Tomlin was in the top 10 on the list, albeit barely. A bet on Tomlin to be the next coach to be fired or resign would pay 29-to-1, according to Sports Betting Dime.


  25. Marino is probably the only QB on Pitts Mount Cathedral. But cavanaugh wasn’t too shabby. After those two, it’s a big step down. Tough to compare players from different eras though. But Marino would thrive in today’s game.

    Pitt has produced far more running backs and linemen who got drafted and went on to pro bowls. And yes many did have hall of fame careers.

    QB is the missing piece. Another reason why I favor head coaches with an offensive mindset with a background in innovation.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t think. Either their conditions didn’t improve or no other school wants to assume the risk

        Michael smith and Zach Gilbert come to mind.


  26. Excellent article, Eric. Brings back lots of memories. For some reason I remember Pistol Pete being a very late recruit by Majors II. Then Walt brings out the best in him – once he got Pistol to consistently step up in the pocket…

    I liked Congemi – could run and throw.

    I always thought a big miss for us was Mike McMahon. I think he was from North Allegheny and went to Rutgers. Had a great arm and could move. Ended up setting passing record at Rutgers and was NFL drafted maybe in the 5th round. Spent 4 or 5 years in the NFL as a backup. Always wondered what Walt could have done with his talent.

    Another favorite gunslinger of mine is ike!

    Go Pitt.


    1. Yes and McMahon had his way with us if I remember correctly.

      I heard Ike threw twenty straight balls through a tire at thirty five feet back in the early 70’s….. beat Hanratty in a contest.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. Alex Van Pelt was the QB when Pitt fielded a end-of-season ranked team with an interim coach. I remember him leading us back from a 31-7 or so deficit and WVU to tie the game at 34 all. That was 1989. A shame we lost to Penn State by three points 16-13. We could have had a 3-game win streak over the Nitters.

    Tyler Palko was very upset when Walt Harris was let go. And it’s easy to see why. Under the tutelage of Matt Cavanagh and Wanny, his stats went way down.


    1. Mr deleon, I suggest you do a little research before you revise history. It took me less than 3 minutes to find this

      Note the 2004 season under Harris and the 2006 season. In 187 less passing attempts in 06 vs 04, he had one more TD pass and his QB rating was 163 compared to 135. I wouldn’t call that ‘way down’

      The only reason his stats in other categories look better is that he passed much more under Harris. And just because he ran over a WVU LB and led Pitt to a bowl due to a 4-team tie-breaker in a 7 team league in 2004 doesn’t make him better.


      1. Let me rain down on your omnipotence. Mr. Webb in your zeal to know all the stats and share/correct whenever the opportunity can be seized you forget: Palko was coming off a nationally ranked BCS season and under Wannstedt and Cavansugh’s failure to lead ended up 5-7.

        Please take your stats and Big East bashing and put them in the cupboard.

        Negativity can be as much a turn off as bad humor.


        1. And to show how off Mr. Webb is on this on Palko was quarterbacking a nationally ranked team going into Notre Dame. You might want to find those AP voters and their your vitriol abot the Big East with them. Report back.


          1. And to show how wrong you are on this one, Mr. Webb, you should find those AP voters who ranked Pitt before the Notre Dame opener and share your Big East vitriol with them


  28. Didn’t Tino end up rooting against Pitt? Vividly remember the 2011 fiasco in Morgantown cursing Tino. Frauster’s last game at Pitt coach.


    1. the legend of Tino continues. In another 20 years, he’ll be the sole reason for the downfall of Pitt FB

      Meanwhile, in his senior year, he had 21 TDs vs 3 Ints, 3288 yds and a QB rating of 151. No, he was definitely not a playmaker in the clutch, but not even close to the worst QB I ever saw


      1. Ben dinucci was the worst. Hands down.

        And Bostick played like a two star with offers from Elon and holy cross


        1. The Pedo’s use to play Holy Cross every year for about 10 years…in the late 1950’s into the early 1960’s to pad their record and have an easy game before the big game with Pitt.

          And every year, it was the game before Pitt, so that Pedo State could rest their starters for
          at least half the game and not be caught….looking forward to the big game with Pitt.

          Yea, Holy Cross was that bad…avg score would be like Psux 33 Holy Cross 3.

          Liked by 1 person

  29. 57 years ago this evening, I came in from a cold winter night after checking our trap-line to sit in front of the black and white TV and witnessed history being made…The Beatles on Ed Sullivan!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The big question is whether Mrs. B fainted during the show.
      My Mrs went to see the Beatles with her sister at the Civic Arena. Her sister took one look at Paul and fainted from hysteria.


    2. Eddie had a really really big shoo that night, wonder if Topo Gigio made an appearance?

      Great article Eric, Wlat, the ultimate team player.

      Marino is my all-time fav not sure if he was the best?

      Reed, great job and boy kudos to you for being so engaged.

      Thanks to all for the well wishes. ike

      Liked by 1 person

  30. Had to do some research but we have all missed the most “notorious” PITT QB of all time…Congressman James Traficant who was the QB when Ditka played…Most of we oldies were tooo young to remember when he played. He was a colrful dude in congress and received a little proson time…would love to know if he added any color to the FB program during his days….


    1. Jimmy T…was the QB before Fred Mazurek. Great guy, my sis ran his Presidential campaign.

      Jimmy T had this bad habit of telling the truth, which the Congress Critters despised.

      Liked by 1 person

  31. as an 11 year old, what I remember the most of that Feb 1964 Sunday evening was not the music … but all of those screaming girls in the audience


  32. Marty Schottenheimer just passed. A true Pitt guy. Too bad he didn’t see his HOF induction. He’ll be inducted one day. So many great football guys from the Pittsburgh area either as players or coaches.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hall of Fame….should have a Pittsburgh/Western PA wing.

      Marty grew up in McDonald and went to tiny Ft Cherry High School, where
      another future NFL coach also went.

      Marty was drafted in the 4th round by the Colts but decided to play in the AFL,
      after his Pitt LB career, in the 1965 Draft.

      Marty was a Linebacker for the Buffalo Bills and was selected as an AFL all-star,
      on the Bill’s 1965 Championship team.

      He was AFC Coach of the year in 1986(Browns), NFL Coach of the Year in 2004(Chargers)
      He was also Head Coach for 2 other NFL teams, the Chiefs & the Redskins.
      Marty was inducted in the KC Chiefs Hall of Fame in 2010.

      Marty obviously impacted many lives during his long coaching career in the NFL and while being
      Head Coach for 4 different NFL teams. He had a career winning % of 61%

      In his first 14 seasons as HC, his teams made the playoffs an incredible 11 years. Reaching
      3 AFC Championship games.

      Rip Coach Schottenheimer.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. all Marty ever did was rank 7th on the all time in wins for NFL coaches all time. He also improved every team he ever coached. Go look at what the records of the Browns, KC, Wash and San Diego were before he came, and how they did when he was coach.

        And get this … he was fired after a 14-2 record in 2006 with first year starter QB Philip Rivers after losing to the Patriots in a playoff game.

        As noted above, Marty was from MacDonald, population about 2,000. Hard to believe that this town produced 2 NFL coaches … the other being Marvin Lewis

        Liked by 3 people

  33. Since we are talking QB’s little off topic but Terry Bradshaw, early in his career was known as Knucklehead, but went on to win 4 Super bowls.

    The real knucklehead is Ben Roethlisberger, who did win two, the first with a big tackle to save the playoff run when Bettis fumbled and second with the famous throw to Santonio Holmes, a feat of greatness.

    Other than that, he wrecked a motorcycle almost ending a career, was accused of a number of sexual indiscretions to put it kindly and failed miserably in many playoff games.

    While most look the other way blaming NE for cheating, or Tomlin’s “poor coaching” Ben is the reason the Steelers have failed miserably to win another Super Bowl. Unlike Brady who is extremely accurate and always takes what the defense gives him. Ben is inaccurate and goes for the big play when the easy first down is available. He loves the heroic comebacks, even though many would not have been necessary if he was a better game manager and didn’t throw so many interceptions. He is a bad team mate, look at how many players have left rather than stick with him as opposed to Brady who players want to play with.

    Of course when they leave the Steelers it is because of “money” Steelers are cheap etc. Not that they don’t want to play with Ben. Ben has been surrounded by great players for most of his career but has let them down time after time. Four interceptions in his last playoff game.

    So great arm strength and escapability don’t really matter as much as accuracy and what’s between the ears.

    Congrats to Bruce Arians and Antonio Brown.


    1. I think the Steelers were scarred by the legions of other great QBs they let go in the pre-Dan Rooney years. And in the Dan Rooney years, they passed on Marino. So, I get that they may be a bit clingy with Ben, but this is getting old.

      I just don’t get why anyone thinks he should get to decide when he’s stepping down. To your point Gordon, he’s brought embarassment to the franchise multiple times, acted like an ass at Pgh bars and restaurants and has not lived up to his potential in the playoffs. The guys throws two early picks deep in Jax territory in the playoff game in 2018 and yet gets a pass because most want to harp on the defense.

      Was a lot of fun to watch when he could extend plays and the drive in SB XLIII was awesome. But, he ain’t that guy anymore. TIme to step aside Ben. Do it with class – you owe us.


    2. Ben makes too much. Has no arm and no legs. I’d cut him or Work out a trade or draft a QB the following year. I think both he and Tomlin need to go. And I think the minority owners need to buy out the Rooney share. And then move to cranberry and build that 80k retractable roof stadium. Demo Heinz. Let’s see how Pitt reacts to that scenario.


    3. last week, Bruce Arians was asked how different QBs he coached prepared for games. He confirmed what everyone knew about Brady …. nobody was more meticulous. As for Ben …. he said that Ben never cared much about film and strategy; all he wanted to do was go wing it.

      You can blame coaches all you want …. but in the NFL, the veteran QB is first on the food chain … good or bad


    4. Yeah Brown is a head case, and as many off the field problems as Ben but he was an awesome talent and made Ben look good for many years. Would have been an HOF if not for the indiscretions, but Ben is a certain HOF. Double Standard?
      Circus catch after circus catch.


    5. Tomlin was never anything but average to below average. Ben in his prime was very good. Tomlin wasted the talent he inherited because he is not a very good coach.

      I also askes a guy who worked with all of the Steelers in the 70’s. Is Terry dumb? This is like in 1980!

      He said ya like a fox!

      Look at what Terry has accomplished.


      1. Yep…Terry had the Lil Abner routine on Tonight Show with Jay Leno…down pat.

        We should all be so be dumb !


    6. His Hall of Fame statistics defeat your argument, GC, but if that isn’t enough, take a peek at the winning drive in the Super Bowl against the Cardinals. Epic, including the dime he threw to Santonio to win the game. Who left? AB and Bell? Terrible examples. Bell was ALL about the money. Gambled and lost. Steelers offered him more than he eventually got from the Jets. Brown was a selfish baby who subsequently got booted from the Raiders and the Patriots. Ask Maurkice Pouncey how he feels about Ben. Is Ben Tom Brady? No. But neither is any other QB who ever put on an NFL uniform. Ben has won as many Super Bowls as any of the Hall of Fame QBs of his era not named Brady. More than most. I’ve never viewed him to be as good as Brady, Manning or Brees. But we’ve been fortunate to have him for nearly 20 years. Nearly every NFL team should have been so lucky.


  34. SB Ratings continue to decline. Even in a pandemic when many many more people are marooned
    at home….. during these lockdowns and closures.

    Super Bowl LV averaged 96.4 million viewers across TV and streaming, according to CBS. That number was down from last year’s Super Bowl, which averaged roughly 102 million viewers across Fox and streaming.

    22,000 people were allowed to attend in person, including this nut/fruit streaker.


      1. True… least the current group.

        Pitt should hire him as RB coach and alternate uniform consultant !


        1. I’ll take his ideas on uniforms. Anything is better than Pitts coal greys.

          No visible skin allowed for the players though. However he’d be the guy for updating the cheerleader attire and maybe some new dance routines.


          1. Ok I’ll go for the cheerleader or dance outfits. We’d have to get rid of the chubby ones though !


  35. Tex – I think you were at Pitt at the same time as me in the 90’s. Marty was a regular on Pitt’s campus visiting Cowher and swinging by the O. Probably third to Jagr and Mr. Rogers in celebs on campus … Jagr loved the stool outside of CJ’s. Schottenheimer would always stop and talk to students. Very nice guy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I was. And I did see him on campus. Never had the courage to walk up to him. Saw plenty of celebs on campus during the early to mid 90’s. Good times.


    2. Last time i drank on campus…I think was 2002 at Peter’s Pub.

      Bought the whole place a round ! (good thing it was a weekday)


  36. Yep, Big Ben is on his last legs but the Steelers will be lucky to ever see the playoffs with the backups they have currently on their roster. They will need to pull a rabbit out their hat on draft day and hope they get real lucky to find a Big Ben replacement.


    1. Mason is a better QB than Ben at this point. And he’s not paid $30 million per year. Ben can move back to Ohio. He’s a big headed despicable human being. The stuff I flush down the toilet is a better representation of a human being.


      1. Rudolph isn’t better than David Woodley. Weak arm.

        Ben still has a better arm and always will.


  37. Both Ben and Mason are statues. I pass. Sure, we just saw the GOAT statue win the SB, but he was surrounded by a very good assembly of players and he’s the GOAT.

    I don’t want to see Pitt try a QB like Yellen because Pitt’s not going to be able to surround any QB with a bunch of above average offensive players, so, IMHO, Pitt’s offense needs the added threat of a QB who can run some…

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Ben vs Brady Career TD’s vs INT’s

    Ben TD’s 396, INT’s 201
    Brady TD”s 581, INT’s 191

    Playoff records

    Ben TD’s 34, INT’s 28
    Brady TD’s 83, INT’s 38

    You be the judge. You can’t blame Tomlin for that Playoff ratio. Especially with great O-linemen and wide receivers.

    As far as the 11-0 start, It is not how you start but how finish that counts.


    1. I would argue that you really can’t compare the two. If you wanted to get a closer evaluation, I would suggest using the stats versus the same team, during the same year. That would seem most appropriate (although some opponents get better during the year, and some have injuries and vice versa).

      Ben beats Brady in non-helmet wearing concussions from riding a motorcycle. Agree with the start verse finish. Only one team wins it’s final game for the year and Brady has won 7 of his last 10 games in a year and Ben has won 2 out of 4?

      TD’s and INT’s, same way. Interceptions on 3rd and 4 are much different than Intercepts on 3rd and 15. It’s all about time place and circumstance. I care about winning or losing.

      Tomlin is awful as a coach and administrator. Anyone have any scoop on the Steelers v. Green Bay? Allegedly the steelers didn’t really practice leading up to the game because the players didn’t want to?? Can that be real? Someone reported it here and the news you get here is more reliable than wikipedia.


  39. Van Pelt was under-rated and a very competent QB and Pitt could have been nationally relevant if he had a better D like Marino had or better O line like Cavanagh had.

    Trocanno was one of the toughest and better athletes who ever played QB at Pitt.

    Rutherford was another great athlete who wasn’t properly used, but still had one heck of an arm.


  40. On the regular season numbers you can make the case that Brady played in the weakest conference, with Miami, Buffalo and the Jets every year while the Steelers had Baltimore, but that is only two games a year.


  41. Were the Steelers the worst 11-0 team in the history of the NFL? Was there ever another team that started 11-0, then finished 1-5? I’d rather start 7-5, then go on to finish 8-0.


  42. Folks, as I read through the comments some jumped out to me as in pretty poor taste, especially referring to someone as a “fruit” and “chubby” cheerleaders.

    These were unnecessary and should never be posted. Put it this way – think about these comments being descriptive of you, your wife or children. You (and I) would consider that insulting at the least. The posters might have thought them witty but they really weren’t.

    Don’t do it any longer. I took the blog back for you readers and commenters…no other reason. Please don’t make me have to read everything to police for something that, in this day and age, is disrespectful.

    I have, from Day 1, worked hard to separate the POV blog from other sites, especially message boards and the like, all I’m asking in that you put a small effort into doing the same.

    Liked by 2 people

  43. Some reminiscences of Marty and Fred Mazurek.. Marty playing linebacker against the Army team at PITT STADIUM. Army QB Tom Blanda (George’s younger brother) attempts a field goal that ricochets off an upright with a loud what seemed to be a metallic sound, Marty running around on defense like a crazy man, doing everything he can to tackle any Army player in sight. He was an English major like me and wore glasses, also like me. A very tough player but polite off the field. Fred played in the same era as Beaver Falls’ Joe Namath. Both were highly ranked as football players and baseball players. Picked to be the PA QBs in the Big 33 football game, they instead used their status as American Legion baseball all stars to play in an all star baseball game. On Pitt’s baseball team he batted .465 as a senior and was named an All-American as a center fielder. Fred was also an outstanding basketball player at Redstone HS, earning scholarship offers from Duke and Fordham. Heavily recruited, he said he went to Pitt because his father liked Pitt. He was a fine student at Pitt, dated and married Head Coach John Michelosen’s daughter. He was not a big young man, listed as 5-10 and 180 pounds; he looked smaller. I remember watching one lonely winter afternoon in the Student Union where he sat at a grand piano and played some songs all by himself in that empty room. He became a lawyer after playing flanker for a few seasons with the then Redskins and moved to CA. That 63 team was great in many ways other than on the football field. I am proud that my senior year and theirs coincided. Uninvited, maybe, as their team watches were inscribed, but not unimpressive. To me they will always be what Hail to Pitt really means.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. so the ’63 QB became a lawyer. And the noted All-American on that ’63 team also became a lawyer (after a decent pro career)

      and the starting Pitt QB that took over after the aforementioned QB graduated became a dentist …. as did the star Pitt BB player who also became a Steeler draft pick (yes the Steelers, as well as the Patriots in AFL and Knicks in NBA)

      don’t mind me. I’m just meandering

      Liked by 1 person

  44. My first Pitt game was that year. My Dad wanted me to see Paul Martha play.
    It was a pretty big deal, I only attended a couple Pirate games before that.

    Liked by 1 person

  45. sorry, late to this, but I guess the take on Pitt’s QB history is no surprise, it’s Marino #1 & Cavanaugh #2, and overall we have historically not recruited the QB position very well.

    I know this isn’t a hoops blog, but I see an interesting comparison between Sean Miller & Jeff Capel, in that both are known as very good recruiters, and their coaching career successes are yet ‘to be determined’. The advantage Sean Miller has is that he is allowed to blatantly cheat and AZ just turns a blind eye, but it still amazes me that even with this advantage and netting the #7 recruiting class in 2019 & #5 in the country in 2020, his teams continue to be mediocre. I can’t imagine what our message boards and blogs would be like if we recruited top 10 classes year after year and weren’t even in the top 25. On second thought, I think I can imagine….

    Liked by 4 people

    1. a few thoughts …

      I agree with you. But Capel is finding it a bit harder to recruits at Pitt than Duke.

      But remember, It came out that Zion Williamson was paid a lot of money before committing to Duke …. but of course, not by anyone associated with Duke. They handle it much better than Arizona apparently. In last years documentary, former Dukee Jay Bilas made the statement “Face it, college basketball players have been getting paid for years” .. and sadly, he didn’t seem at all to be alarmed by it


      1. to clarify …. the documentary was about the cheating incidents in college basketball linking the shoe companies to assistants at Louisville, Arizona, Kansas, etc


  46. Note that the 4th ranked 1963 team was likely filled with professionals (not NFL) people. I assume the 2nd ranked team Navy also was full of graduates.

    Nowadays, I’m willing to bet that Alabama and Ohio State (2 finalists) are full of people who won’t smell a diploma, but will make much more than their teammates who will.

    Here is the best I can do …

    Hopefully someone else can find a better source. Maybe you Pitt fans can point out others who became non-NFL professionals such as Mazurek and Martha. I assume EJ’s dad did OK for himself

    Liked by 1 person

  47. Back in the day many Pitt Football players became dentists, maybe cause they had their teeth knocked out prior to facemasks and mouth guards. My optician in the Medical Arts Building was a Pitt Football player.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. I played a bunch of tennis with Paul Martha. He is a terrific person. My high School coach and my uncle coached him at Shady Side.
    They were like 20/1 over a 3 year period and beat Penn Hills.

    Liked by 2 people

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