POV’s Submitted Ideas for School Spirit

Folks – I mailed a copy of this with a cover letter to Executive Associate Athletic Director, Media Relations; E. J. Borghetti this morning. As you can see it is extensive and , I hope, well written enough to make good sense. Even though the headline mentions football – the suggestions encompass all sports as you will read.

I will say that from my years-long personal experience Assistant AD Borghetti that he will read this promptly and take it for what it is intended – a show of support from all of us Pitt fans to him and the athletic department. This list was edited by me for clarity, etc.

The Pitt POV’s Readers Ideas For the 2021 Football Season

  • Scheduling – we get our rivals back and it might be easier said for basketball though. Why can’t Pitt play UConn, Villanova, and Georgetown again in basketball and Navy (should be every year) and schools like Cincinnati, UCONN, and other old Big East teams?
  • Can the students bring in banners or flags to the stadium?  Maybe have them drop them off the night before, have security bring them up to the entrance the players come out of, then the students go onto field, unfurl, and wave them before kickoff. Then security would take flags back and store them. Think about how the premier league soccer does it.
  • For boosting the alumni and fans, has the university ever recognized a game specific tailgate crew or fans and families? Put a spotlight on these groups and individuals each week at Heinz.
  • Have fans share their stories just like fans have on here (The POV). Questions like; what made you a Pitt fan? Which were your most memorable games? What schools are your personal rivals. Who is your favorite all time players? What was your best road trip to an away game? Which fans come in from the farthest for the game etc. 
  • (Editor’s Note: I suggest you do a few of the above on the big scoreboard pre-game and during commercial breaks – might have to use a seven second delay or better yet record the bits as the fans cross the parking lot or at tailgates. But those TV timeouts are killers for keeping fans engaged and interested.)
  • Drop by the POV tailgate one day.  Take the temperature of the fans and tailgaters and ask them serious questions where their own point of view is received. You will get honest feedback about how true fans see things.
  • Engage with fans, alumni etc. via directed email and social media. The POV has about 700 “followers” on email who signed up to a message every time a new article is posted. Pitt could build an email address base to pass out smaller bits along with big press releases – written towards fans and not the media. You have already built a great website for Pitt athletics but how many everyday fans go and into it, especially when football and basketball are not playing. 
  • Make specific daily (better weekly maybe) type of video and thousands of fans would receive word that you posted it. Send the link to interesting stuff you have done and get it right to who needs to be informed
  • This way Pitt sports are in their face on a constant basis.  Make the emails so they cannot reply!
  • Also, many have talked about those football chalkboard discussions. Open some up so to get some real and genuine meet and greets where reasonable questions get an honest answer. This does not have to be the head coach, but some football or basketball assistant coaches and/or staff members could answer questions about play calling offensive and defensive strategies and preparations.
  • In some spots the AD or one of the Assistant ADs could explain in-depth how things happened behind the department scenes, scheduling for instance… or anything which could open some eyes and get people thinking about the whole of the athletic department and not just the teams themselves. Pat Bostick would be great at this, describing on field scenarios, why specific plays were called and coaching decisions that worked, or even did not work, in detail.
  • Not sure what pre-game day or same game day traditions there really are. But reevaluate your songs, chants, and activities to get more people energized and involved. More than just Neil Diamond please… please!!
  • Have the students and the student/athletes personally interact more.  Might be tough to do with football due to separate housing and cafeteria. Get athletes and students more involved in group community projects. It is far easier to attend matches and root for players when you know someone on the team.  If these are already being done, then get the word out better.  It is known that this already happens each normal year – this is where a dedicated fan email listing would be extremely helpful in getting the word of their good works out.  Maybe a way to wrap fans into this for word-of-mouth advertising.
  • One POV reader wrote: “When I studied at the University of Richmond, defensive back Mike London was a dormitory hallmate, along with a few other football players. When you live near them, they become fellow students with you, and you see firsthand how much work they have on their plates. It makes you want to go to watch and support them.” Surely if you talk to alumni who were at Pitt before the players and students were in separated living, they will have stories like this of their own.
  • How about the idea of a ‘Panthers Rewards Card’ to bribe the students to attend games? Once they earn enough attendance points, they can spend it on Pitt stuff at the University Store or the PITT Store. Once students attend an Olympic sport game, they could become hooked and tell others about the fun they had. That will give them a discount and sell more Pitt stuff.  Once students see other students using their rewards cards word will spread.
  • Along those lines Create and pass out T-shirts to first time student attendees at our Olympic and minor sports matches captioned with something like “I finally went to a Pitt wrestling match and loved it!”  They wear it around campus, and you get good advertising for about a couple of bucks a shirt.
  • Name a formal “Fan of the Game” at the home games. Get the cheerleaders to give him or her a Pitt gear gift bag, put them up on the Jumbotron and then ask a few questions on why they think “Pitt is It!” It can be hilarious and focused acknowledgement on them being a great Pitt fan.
  • To get seats in the student section for basketball at the University of Virginia students must attend other school sporting events, excluding football games. The athletic department then gives points for that and one needs to hit a certain point level to get into the student section.  That might be tough with the Oakland Zoo being so popular… and now a business of its own.
  • At each home game have a drawing for a random student, who has remained until the fourth quarter, to have a semester’s tuition waived. Not only might this attract more students but have them stay past halftime. Might have to have late busses from Heinz Field to the campus for this.
  • To drum up fan support (and hopefully donations) Pitt should work with a hotel in Oakland and a hotel in Downtown to reserve a block of rooms and host mixers in the ballrooms etc. Get preferred pricing and develop packages with transportation local and national.
  • Tie in tours of the campus and other entertainment. Market this to Pitt Clubs and other individual alumni and groups. If it is fun and affordable, people will come year after year.  How many groups are out there that would love to see old friends? Phi Epsilon Pi, a defunct fraternity had a reunion a few years back, they did it on their own. If Pitt would market and support these types of events they would happen more often.  Do this for the closer away games also. Could these be done at a reasonable cost to the attendees?
  • Possibly reach out to local/state business who employ a good number of Pitt alumni and fans and draw them into attending the above annual events.
  • Ohio State used to have Archie Griffin speak last at graduation imploring the grads to join the alumni association and to support Pitt athletics…but mainly the Alumni Association. We have many football stars that have played at Pitt who may consider it an honor to be asked.  Using a captive audience seems a great way to lead students to remain involved with the alma mater.
  • Bring a feeling and practice of real sportsmanship back to Heinz and Pitt fans. As it is if one acknowledges a great play by an opponent, he gets screamed at by other Pitt fans. Perhaps a small pregame video about civility/sportsmanship would be a constant reminder and have them stress that “Just like Pitt fans want to have a great time and cheer on the Panthers when we travel to other school to play ball We welcome (name team) fans at Heinz today to have the same thing. Whatever happens on the field today let us all win the day with civility and respect!  Thank you and Let’s Go PITT!!”  I bet some of the less publicly know kids on the team’s roster would love to tape something like this – and all the other PSAs mentioned here.
  • Maybe a football alumnus in a Public Service type video could say something like “I much as I wanted to beat the Hell out of Notre Dame every time, we played I still loved reading and learning about their long football tradition. When we played our away games at their stadium we were playing in “The House that Rock Built” that had some of college football’s biggest stars since 1930.”  Every opponent has something of interest to tie into
  • How about a 60 second video about Pitt’s football or basketball history with the opponent? Something to acknowledge our football past with other school – Notre Dame, Penn State, Navy, WVU, etc. but also all opponents. 
  • Since the stadium is a public facility and Pitt plays there too, how about a Hall of Honor for past Pitt greats too like the Steelers have!  Maybe we could erect a statue or two of past Pitt Greats outside near the gates. We do have a Panther statue outside, but we should have more. Perhaps a better, less costly idea would be to have replicas of Pitt’s College Hall of Fame players’ bronze plaques set near the gates of Heinz – there are always walkers and joggers using that area plus Steeler fans waiting to go in will see them.  If any Pitt players do not want to do it or want a big paycheck then develop plaques that are targeting points in our grand football tradition. Plus, these are easy to remove to a new stadium or such.

31 thoughts on “POV’s Submitted Ideas for School Spirit

  1. We can take bets on if I get Media Credentials for the 2021 season. Just kidding – I know EJ will take this in the spirit it was built. There is no real criticism in it – that should be done individually.

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  2. Awesome job Reed for collecting all these great ideas from some very passionate fans who love Pitt and want to see the university succeed both on and off the field or court.

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  3. Very nice job of condensing our needs and WANTS! I think everyone on here should email EJ/Heather and tell them “what he said”. That way they know these are shared suggestions and thoughts. Thank you Reed!

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  4. Great job, Reed! I just hope that EJ doesn’t come back with some lame excuse that they don’t have money or staff to implement some of these ideas. One area that should be looked at, that they would resist, is a review of the organization and structure of the Athletics Dept. That would tell us a lot about what their priorities are.

    There should be an entire section dedicated to organization and planning of events, including travel and accommodations, to support the major sports. A national university should have a national game plan to support graduates spread around the country. Some schools have travel depts. just to organize student trips overseas. So the skill set should be there.

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  5. Reed, you are a terrific writer as I note weekly when you redo my basketball recaps. Agree wholeheartedly with GC that action talks and BS….you know. On many of these we need coaching aching buy in. I don’t see Duzz going along even for a second. Capel maybe. Wonder if Heather will come out from under her desk to make this happen ! Her absence is mystifying.

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  6. Heinz Field inners use to have an area with past Pitt greats. Did they remove it ?

    These are all great suggestions.

    The best thing to increase School Spirit is just win baby win.

    Which is how the Oakland Zoo was born !

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  7. EJ is great. I’ll send him PM’s on Twitter from time to time (good and bad) and he always responds and will let you know if he’s passed the information on. I was particularly embarrassed by the handling of Cam Johnson’s transfer and I felt he honestly appreciated my feedback.

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  8. Just received a very solid response from EJ. He said if it doesn’t come directly from Ike he’s not going to read it!

    Seriously, he received it and we had some back and forth discussion. He told me that he’s already shared it with others in the athletic department. Very quick that.

    Truthfully, since I haven’t been to Heinz Field in three years I couldn’t remember what Pitt has going on inside there…but he can winnow through the items and choose which ones are feasible. My memories is there is some Pitt-centric stuff but far more Steeler propaganda.

    Personally, I think all the video related stuff already has the logistics in place to make those things happen. But really, except for the hotel room and transportation for fan & alumni events everything else looks like it can be done with no major impact to the athletic budget.

    What I hope for most is the email “following” where EJ’s people can keep fans informed and energized aside from press releases. If the POV can have almost 700 followers (way fewer than readers but still…) I’m sure Pitt can get many thousands. Twitter just isn’t built for really interacting in any sort of depth.

    Now, I do wonder if radio/tv/whatever contracts Pitt have in place may get upset about end-arounding them. But then whose fault is it that the local media sites can’t but out even half the stuff the POV does as to articles number and length.

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  9. I think I read somewhere, in the time period since we joined the ACC and left the BigEast
    that Pitt had tried to schedule some of our old rivals from the BE, but they all said nyet.

    Seems they all blamed Pitt, since someone had to be blamed, and Pitt was the logical
    candidate. Syracuse on the other hand, got a pass, and still plays Georgetown every year.
    And has played Villanova and St, John’s a couple times since their exit.

    Also Boston College continued it’s annual game with Providence since leaving the BE
    way back in 2005.

    But I believe Pitt has St, John’s scheduled next year, so that will be our first current BE opponent
    from the old BE to schedule a game with us since we left.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Reed, you tell EJ all these ideas have my complete support and should be implemented first chance. Also the PITT band needs to be utilized a lot more. For instance, they could be deployed strategically at all the student exits until the game is over, keeping them at the stadium while playing “Sweet Caroline” over and over.

    btw, my tv schedule has PITT playing ND at 8:00 tonight on the ACC Network?

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      1. Sorry, I looked again and it’s the women’s game. The POV has made a nice turnaround with great discussions. Whipple has had the QB running to the sidelines for awhile now for the plays. It’s totally unnecessary.

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  11. We joke about Heather a lot, particularly about her being AWOL. But seriously, where the heck is she? It’s beyond embarrassing that she disappears from the public eye for such long periods. Is this by design to keep PN and JC in the spotlight, or is she afraid to step up and defend what they are doing (or not doing)? Someone who knows EJ should quietly ask him this question.

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  12. Great job Reed!!! Thank you for bringing these great ideas to the attention of the administration. Hopefully some if not all will be implemented.

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  13. Would appreciate either a POV interview with Lyke, EJ or Bostick covering what PItt is doing and not doing to further improve the front porch.

    Things that might be interesting to read could include:

    Issues the BOT Athletic Committee discusses
    What is keeping the football program from becoming Top 25
    Does the BOT and Admininstration understand that many fans believe that there is not enough being done for the front porch.
    Why does Pitt lag other ACC schools in Alumni giving to Athletics (root causes)?

    Would want real candor and not a puff piece.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. While that is a great idea, Pitt is caught between a rock and a hard place. No matter what they would say they would be ridiculed on the blogs and by the media. That is why we only get puff pieces which are still ridiculed. Candor in our society is hard to come by.

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  14. I don’t think pitt would give real honest answers anyway. But would love to know if they see the same problems and issues as many of us. Pitt can’t hide from facts. They can’t live in their own reality.

    Pitt is revenue poor and was financially struggling to support 19 programs prior to covid. The situation only got worse.

    Scheduling, coaches and a quarterback would be honest answers for the top 25 football question.

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  15. Some things to consider..

    – Pitt has a larger contingent of commuter students than many state universities (PSU, OSU, etc.);
    – Pitt is an urban campus, competing with major league sports teams, cultural and historical attractions, theme parks, etc;
    – Pitt has a much smaller undergraduate enrollment than most football powers;
    – Pittsburgh weather certainly isn’t for everyone.

    Something more important to consider..

    All of these things were also true from 1915-1937 (164-16). And they were true from 1973-1989 (136-56-7).

    So, while certain issues might be “facts” it doesn’t mean they are causal to the problem.

    The real issue? When Pitt wants to be good, they’re good. When they don’t care, they stink. If the issues listed by everyone for Pitt’s mediocrity have remained constant throughout the 130 year history of the school, they simply can’t be cited as REASONS for mediocrity. Call them what they are.. EXCUSES.

    Like many have said, Pitt (and more accurately the leather elbow patch-wearing academics) are so terrified of being ruled by athletics that they actively work against their own success. Why did Sutherland leave? They took away his ability to compete versus his peers. They let Sherrill walk for the same reason. And when that silly and irresponsible article about Wannstedt’s Pitt teams made it to the ivory tower- out went another winning coach.

    Whether you agree with this approach or don’t, it simply is how this school operates. The “nerds” hate the “jocks”. And when athletics becomes the “thing” at the University, leadership steps in to “knock them down a few pegs.”

    Because of this outlook, Pitt will never promote athletics as a vital part of the “Pitt experience.” And they will continue to struggle to compete or build a relationship with students and alumni.

    But, there’s hope on the horizon. My daughter, an athlete, sports fan and life-long Panther addict, recently was accepted to the University of Alabama. As she put it to me, “I’ll always root for Pitt but at least now when I come home to visit, we can share a team that actually cares about winning.”

    She’s 18 and gets it. It amazes me how so many others don’t.

    Roll Tide!

    Welcome back, Reed. It’s long overdue.

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