Pitt’s Athletic Landscape – Cut or Keep?

Here is another insightful article by our southern friend Tex (although I’ve never really heard Texas as being referred to as ‘southern’) – more like its own country or something. This also ties into some comments made about Pitt’s other sports during the BB thread last afternoon.

That’s a landscape game I play every Spring.  After taking an assessment on how my shrubs and trees performed over the winter.  If they are dead, it’s an easy decision – rip them out.  If they are still alive, then I ask are they strong enough to survive the impending summer heat?  Will they last through another winter?  Personal note – I barely made it through this Winter losing electricity, heat and water for several days.

Now granted, I’ve made some mistakes over time in planting varieties that just aren’t good fits for the Texas climate and soil.  Therefore, I make a rational business decision each Spring to cut or keep while leaving emotions out of it regardless how much I love the shrub or tree.

The same can be said of college athletic teams.  Covid has brought about a very harsh winter in college sports.  Revenues are down significantly due to nearly non-existent ticket sales.  Donations are substantially lower given the economic malaise and shutdowns.  Moreover, Covid caused unplanned costs in regards to testing and other newly implemented health protocols designed to keep players and staff safe.

So since my landscape decision is about two weeks away, I’ve decided to take a fun twist on this subject and apply it to Pitt’s athletic landscape of 19 trees (teams that is) to determine which ones should be cut or kept.  To separate the winners from the losers.  To find the ones that are the best fit for the ACC climate.

Just do a simple google search and you’ll find many schools have already gone through this painful but necessary exercise.  Given the decline in revenues and higher costs associated with Covid, many schools re-evaluated their sports teams. 

Stanford was the first Power 5 school to cut several of their teams in an effort to save costs and stop the hemorrhaging.  Other schools followed by eliminating secondary or Olympic sports, instituting hiring freezes, cutting athletic staff, and cutting salaries.

Thus far, Pitt has not eliminated any of their 19 teams in a response to Covid.  I don’t believe that Pitt is vaccinated or immune to how Covid has fundamentally changed the long term athletic landscape.  At some point, Pitt will need to make the tough business decision and eliminate certain sports that just aren’t good fits for the ACC and are financial drains.  My analysis will focus on those sports that are most viable for long term success.

In college athletics, football and basketball are your prized and profitable sports.  Those two add significant value to your brand and help subsidize the secondary or Olympic sports. The $30 million dollar check that Pitt receives from the ACC each year is entirely driven by football and basketball.  Think of those sports as the two most prominent Oak trees in your front lawn.  The secondary sports are all the trees planted in your back yard.  Every secondary sport loses money.  It’s just a matter of how much.

However, despite the conference money, most colleges run a deficit operating athletics each year.  And a Covid year means running even deeper in the red.  Schools have several options at their disposal to help offset these deficits.  They can eliminate programs to save costs.  They can raise tuition and/or student fees.  They can rely on donations and booster money. 

Schools can also ‘borrow’ more money from the general fund to help balance the books and dig out of the hole.  Lastly, athletic departments can borrow and take on debt (see Pitt and Victory Heights).  Historically, Pitt has always borrowed money from the general fund for its operating budget.  A fund that is not earmarked specifically for athletics.  Pitt uses it in essence as a slush fund.  Feel free to disagree but I’m not backing down from this opinion.

(Editor’s Note: The ‘operating fund’ is separate and non-attached to the university’s endowment – see this article for an explanation of Pitt’s 2020 budget process.)

This continued reliance on the general fund to run at breakeven is not sustainable.  And frankly in my opinion its borderline unethical and at the very least is a poor business practice.  I applaud what the state of Washington made Wash State do.

Washington state is a program that had always taken monies from the general fund to dig out of their athletic hole each year. The state Legislature demanded that the university pay back those funds within a certain amount of time and to treat this practice a loan. They might have even banned the university from doing this going forward. I forget the details but found what the politicians did was admirable.  (Ed Note: Here is an interesting article that outlines WS U’s plans for the financial future.)

Now for all I know, Pitt has gone through this exercise already and has identified programs that are candidates to eliminate.  Pitt evidently thinks they can weather the storm and will be able to absorb some short term financial pain.  But I see this new environment brought on by climate change (Covid in this case) as an opportunity to determine what trees are best suited for Pitt’s landscape, their ACC neighborhood and the new climate for collegiate athletics.  Heck, even in healthy times, can Pitt really afford 19 programs given its paltry revenues and constant borrowing needs just to keep athletics afloat?

The ACC sponsors 28 sports.  Each member school is required to support a minimum of 16 programs and a minimum of eight women’s only sports (Title IX).  In addition, a minimum of 200 athletes must receive financial aid money or grants.  The ACC is often the top conference in performance results across multiple sports as evidenced by the rankings in the Director’s Cup.  It’s a very exclusive sports neighborhood and a big step up from the old Big East.

Below is my assessment on Pitt’s 19 existing teams (10 women’s and nine men’s) and which ones survive my cut.  I’ve based my analysis on several factors such as historical competitiveness, facilities, recruiting success, popularity and yes the weather.  Did I mention I hate snow and ice?  I’m sure most athletes do as well unless you’re a hockey player. (Ed Note: See the 19 teams after the page break)

90 thoughts on “Pitt’s Athletic Landscape – Cut or Keep?

  1. My guess is that Stanford cutting sports is just a ploy to get some of their rich alum to pony up.

    Never understood why athletics had to be self supporting and why it shouldn’t be supported by general funds.

    Athletics are a valuable part of the educational experience and should be supported at all levels.

    Schools certainly have enough of a surplus to support this valuable endeavor. Where will our Olympic athletes going to come from if schools don’t support these programs. We are already down to just a handful of men’s gymnastics programs.

    Our society is a better place with sports.

    It is like our public schools cutting music and art. There are plenty of good careers in music and art, but the only thing that matters is math and science.

    Are we going to end up being a bunch of fat lumps with no creativity?

    Cut outdoor track? No athlete will come to Pitt to solely run, jump, throw indoors.


    1. We’re all familiar with the concept of deficit spending. That practice is not sustainable or viable long term. Those programs that Stanford cut are not coming back anytime soon.

      But many schools have indeed made more aggressive pushes for donations in this covid environment. Schools are focused on finding creative and new innovative ways of raising revenues to help offset the unplanned covid costs.

      However, It’s far more difficult to pull off on the revenue side. It’s frankly easy to cut expenses and eliminate things.

      And just eliminating programs isn’t the answer. Staff reductions in the department and across the board salary cuts are needed. That includes football.

      Is Pitt just going to go further into debt to avoid painful decision making or to prove some childish point?


    2. Fat Lumps with no creativity. Yes that is the plan. Fat lumps produce mega profits for certain
      sectors, for instance UPMC.

      Besides eliminating music and art in most public schools, they’ve also eliminated gym classes.

      Again Fat Lumps are profit makers.


    3. Stanford has already stated that the decisions to cut these sports are final and would not be reviewed- regardless of outside funding.


  2. Question: When ranking a college for the Director’s Cup, how does the number of sports programs of each school enter into the final ranking? Obviously colleges have different numbers of supported sports programs, see Stanford as an example.


    1. Stanford benefits

      I believe they had the most athletic teams under scholarship than any school

      But even if you adjust for that, they still blow most schools away

      Stanford is truly excellent across most sports

      Heck even eastern Michigan had four very successful and good fit programs giving them points and Mac hardware.

      But they were unprofitable and eliminated. Because they refused to touch football to reduce their massive operating deficit.

      Do you think that is right?


  3. I agree completely with Gordon, especially on the outdoor track issue. Athletes who run indoor track will want to do it outdoors- heck, all the equipment and personnel are there. The only additional cost I see is for travel. XC runners are also the distance runners for track, so you would probably lose them too if outdoor was cut. I agree that a track is needed though. Too bad room couldn’t be found at one of the upper campus fields for that. Could they use another gavility- does Bobby MO or Duquesne have a track? That would be closer and less expensive than having all away meets.


    1. Pitt in essence gave up their track program back in 1999 when they tore down pitt stadium without a plan for track.

      How can Pitt take track seriously when they don’t even have a track facility anymore?

      Now pitt wants to build an indoor track before building an outdoor one with a field. That makes no sense to me. Indoor track is a luxury.


  4. Think of it this way.

    When the college of arts and sciences operates in the red, they don’t rely on the general fund to bail them out. They do a few things like raise tuition, cut staff and reduce salary.

    If the economics department is consistently losing money, they don’t ask the philosophy department to help subsidize their financials every year. Pitt eliminates that department and the degree.

    If the academic side performs this assessment, why can’t athletics? And many schools not called Pitt already have. It’s painful medicine but one that leaves the athletic department stronger and in a better position for future sustainable growth.

    Athletics is a business. Not a charity or a right. It’s an earned privilege. And should be administered by good financial stewards.

    Football should not be untouchable.

    Tex – a Pitt Econ major.


  5. Enjoyed the analysis, Tex. Was vaguely aware that Pitt’s nonrevenue sports seem to be improving, which your analysis indicates to me that they are. Glad to see it. The optimist in me hopes improvement will spread to Pitt FB and BB too. The optimist in me.


    1. I’m pleasantly surprised by baseball this year. Although the media pundits have projected Pitt to finish near the bottom in the conference and not play in a regional after the season concludes.

      Men’s soccer is the one program that went from nothing to number one in just under six years. Absolutely remarkable what a great coach can do. His secret is recruiting.

      Pitt is required to have 16 sports programs for ACC membership. Does Pitt have the right ones?


  6. If Football and Basketball have to support the non-revenue producing sports, the death spiral will continue as it has in Football with only a very few making it to the top. Basketball pretty close as well except the top schools can’t hoard all of the top players.


    1. If Pitt didn’t receive that $30 million dollar ACC check each year, pitt in all likelihood would be forced to drop at least 4-5 secondary sports. Football does pay the bills and you don’t have to be anything more than mediocre. That check doesn’t depend on performance. Hence pitt has no strong incentive for football excellence.


  7. I don’t see why the endowment can’t be used to provide athletic scholarships to student athletes.
    Also the Commonwealth of PA wrote big checks for the Pete and for Heinz, my guess there will be some taxpayer monies that go towards Victory Heights as well.
    If Pitt’s athletic fortunes depend on Football revenue its no wonder the Director’s Cup results are what they are.


    1. Pitts athletic fortunes are determined by good governance.

      That ACC check allowed pitt to spend money finally on football. It allowed them to maintain and upgrade facilities.

      Pitt would still receive $30 million if Pitt didn’t win a game. It’s driven by the massive football tv monies and to a lesser extent March madness.

      Pitt needs to find a way to leverage their network of over 350,000 living alumni. Pitts gifting rate is the worst in the ACC. ACC schools with half the alumni, donate more than double what Pitt sports receives.

      Kind of goes back to lacking that Pitt sports spirit.


    2. The “endowment” is not one simple thing, but a collection of revenues collected for various- and often specific- purposes. Pitt’s donors overwhelmingly donate to non-athletic departments, projects, goals, missions, etc. Pitt needs to generate athletically-specific revenues in order to fund athletic scholarships. It will fall short if it continues with an of campus venue, mediocre performance and an unwillingness to promote athletics to it’s own undergraduates.

      That is why football success should matter to all Pitt sports fans. It’s also why Tex continues to beat the drum of accountability and achievement.


    1. Diving is a separate sport. Seems silly if you ask me

      Miami only has a diving team

      Both Pitts men and women finished near the bottom in the ACC championships. Very disappointing season since swimming was a strong program back in my day.

      And Pitts men’s team was ranked this season

      Trees Hall is a joke however. My towns aquatic center is a fun venue to watch a meet. Like I said in the article, this sport could be special for Pitt. But they ignore it. Just like track. Disgraceful.


        1. They have renovated the pool side over the years. Victory Heights was set to address the other side but it fell through. Still may happen in phase three. Fitzgerald demo also fell through. It was to become a parking garage.

          Original cost for victory Heights was around $200 million. Now it stands at close to $300 million and several projects have been shelved that were part of phase one.

          Why? It was poorly received by the boosters. Why? Football wasn’t the focal point.

          Fundraising amounted to less than $30 million in commitments. Debt financing will be used and scared Gallagher enough to let it slip publicly.

          Do we really think a new venue for volleyball will improve their attendance and help them win more games? Only marginally.


  8. I believe Pitt’s share of ACC money isn’t from just football revenues for the conference but all sports…even though FB &BB are really the only money makers


    1. Correct. Based on a recent article I saw, roughly 80 percent is driven by football…tv contracts and bowls. The rest by men’s basketball primarily March madness.

      The ACC network could also bring in between $5 and $15 million extra each year. But you need Comcast. Pitt invested $12 million in the network. Probably won’t recuperate the upfront costs for years.


  9. Two things that I don’t think have been mentioned, Title IX being the first, the Federal Government requires equality in many areas for men and women, sports being the most widely known. Women’s sports are all run at a deficit ( except at UConn and Tenn. so how does it make sense that football and men’s basketball have to carry the load without support from the University. This is required of all schools that take Federal dollars so why shouldn’t some of those dollars be used to support the athletic department?

    Also, who pays for the Band, Cheerleaders and Dance teams who exist largely to support athletic events?
    I don’t know the answer to that one, but they all have uniforms, travel budgets, coaches etc.

    Just saying that these are all school activities and should be supported by the school, not run as cost centers.


  10. Regarding the ACCnetwork and Comcast, don’t understand why political pressure hasn’t worked to get a remedy. Many of the schools are state schools, all take federal dollars. Certainly some one has the clout to get something done. Two years of lost revenues for both sides makes no sense at all.


    1. As far as Cable TV…..North Carolina is dominated by Spectrum (Time-Warner) who interestingly
      enough built the system in Pittsburgh, in Cable’s infancy. Those were some fun times !

      Much like when they put in the Subway !


  11. Tex

    I say drop swimming and diving. That gives real estate for an OC stadium. Knock down Fitzgerald, Trees, OC lot, etc. 😀


    1. Well my partner in crime, compLit, wanted it where frick resides stretching down to the tracks and parking lot below. Including roughly 40 homes. I didn’t believe the site was large enough until I saw google maps and the parcel of land in person. Yep it would fit. And boy what a endzone view of the cathedral.

      Yes. The OC lot and cost center is large enough. I’ve personally taken the measurements…overlaid the outline of a stadium. It fits.

      The Pete also sits in the old footprint of pitt stadium.

      The Fitzgerald and trees sites can support a smaller 45k venue as well.

      VA hospital site and the Hill next to the ball and soccer fields are also location candidates.

      But victory Heights has landed that precious real estate on the hilltop, and pitt will build a 3500 seat facility for volleyball, wrestling and gymnastics instead. Indoor track proposed in addition.

      Fitzgerald is over 70 years old. Trees is approaching 60. Both are embarrassments. Their history while notable doesn’t justify their continued existence. Very limited in modern amenities like basic heating and cooling, functionality and form, and costly to maintain and upkeep.

      So pitt would rather spend $300 million on victory Heights to support 4 programs. But doesn’t see the value in spending $600 million for something supporting over ten programs and being a symbol of pride and brash statement that Pitt is committed to sports excellence and the future.

      Moreover using the new MPC as a revenue engine so as not to raid the general fund each year to stay afloat.

      What could have been.


      1. Makes absolutely no sense to spend $300 Million( and of course the final total will be higher) on 4 programs that produce no revenue.

        Utterly absurd. Like you wrote, that money should (if spent) go towards a MPC. That will help
        increase the main revenue maker. FOOTBALL.

        And besides spending that obscene amount of money on 4 non-revenue sports, they’re wasting
        the real estate’s possible usage for something that will make them revenue.

        These schmucks knowing about business, nor do they care one iota. It’s not their money.


    1. Federal stimulus could save the day. At its heart, it’s a infrastructure project. Oakland could get some much needed transportation things we’ve been talking about for decades.

      I still want to tunnel Forbes under for five blocks and create a pedestrian walkfare and park above.

      I also want porch front balconies, blue and gold beeds and open drinking like bourbon street. But that’s me dreaming.


  12. Tex – thanks. A great piece. Thats twice now. Well done and you have a nice writing style.

    That said, you commented so much to your own article I hoped you would get into an argument with yourself.

    I had never been into Trees until a few years ago when my daughter was trying out for the dance team (a popped hamstring ended up getting in the way). I was actually pretty wowed by the pool itself – what a spectacular view into Pgh. Gotta believe no one else has something like that. And the person who took me in there explained all the moeny that had been spent on the pool, including a system to eliminate the heavy chlorine odor one normally runs into. I will agree that the exterior of the building looks like something in the Eastern Bloc, but the pool was cool.

    My undergrad dropped soccer believe it or not, along with track in order to add lacrosse and keep within Title IX. One long time deep pocketed alum was p-o’ed and another younger well-heeled alum is all smiles. UR Spiders are ranked in lax now.

    Anyhow, good job and look for to more interesting topics for thoughtful discussuion befitting of the mission of the POV.


    1. When trees was built it was one of the 7 wonders.

      Largest indoor at the time. It was heated. Had audio under water. Had windows under water for viewing.

      What I envision is that same spark of ingenuity and creative genius for a future pool.

      Pitt really could be a power in swimming. Olympians come from the college ranks.

      Yes modernize the exterior. Go green. Incorporate more natural lighting. Open the roof and one end viewing the City. Think beautiful. Players will be honored and inspired.

      You are right. The view is fantastic up there.


  13. Nice take, Tex. But I do disagree about baseball. I want Pitt to have a great baseball team and I don’t want it to play in the fall. I want it in the spring, especially after a run at the NCAA tourney. The ACC excels at baseball and Pitt should compete at the highest level.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There has been talk of a fall schedule by northern and Midwest teams because spring just stinks weather wise.

      Now the southern schools would never go for it since they know they have a competitive advantage.

      But even February in Texas is bad weather for any sport. Case in point negative 4 on February 15 with five inches of snow.

      I honestly would rather play in 100 degrees…and have many times. My body can’t take the cold these days.

      There is a reason why northern teams rarely get ranked come seasons end. Its the weather impacting practice and games.

      You do see many northern schools front loading their schedule with southern teams and tournaments until the ground thaws back home.

      I’m impressed with the PA talent on Pitt. It’s actually better talent than Pitt football depth wise.

      I think Pitt has a good one in coach bell. He came from a winner. Been part of a good culture.


      1. Yes, Tex, I remember sitting at high school baseball games even into March here in Houston that were just frigid. And even academic powerhouse but athletic wimp Rice won a national baseball championship not that long ago adding proof to your assertion about baseball power in the South. Pitt had a few good Big East seasons but as I remember St. John’s had a pretty good program and, of course, Pitt played Notre Dame, Penn State, and West Virginia.

        By the way, is the Penn State boycott full-on? I don’t even see the Nitters on our baseball schedule this season. Looks like we’re scheduled to play a single game against West Virginia.

        I have to confess, nothing’s better than taking a weekend out of Houston to watch Pitt play baseball. It’s spring, so the weather is usually okay, no large crowds to contend with, and the Pitt baseball fans are all-in for the team. Just a great scene.


  14. Tex — Thank you. You obviously put some serious thinking and writing time into this article.

    BTW, I just heard the last couple of minutes of Coach Bell being interviewed on the Fan by Paul Zeise. Coach sounded good.

    I still remember us getting our only pre-season batting practice in that dark and dingy batting cage under the stands in the Field House… Tough to square-up Doc Medich’s heater in there… And I don’t know why or how, but one day Jon Matlock, the Mets pitcher, showed up and was throwing to us…

    Playing baseball in cold weather is no fun.

    Go Pitt.


    1. The dreaded stinger from a fastball that hits the label in early March. My hands can still feel it 30 years later. Ouch.


  15. Pitt can still build the volleyball, wrestling, gymnastic building next to the Pete. It includes Olympic sports weight room, health care, etc, Money well spent.

    Scrap the indoor track and lacrosse field.

    Mow down Trees, Fitzgerald, parking garage, cost center for Football stadium.

    New student rec center already planned to connect lower campus to upper.

    Tex would be positive all the time. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Why aren’t you on the BoT? Seriously your analytical reasoning and more of it from leadership is needed. Maybe your thinking is viewed as too outside the proverbial box.

      Why indoor track when no outdoor exists

      Why only a 3500 capacity venue. Why put an arbitrary and artificial constraint on capacity.

      Why a separate stand along field for lacrosse when the soccer field is perfectly suitable

      Why waste prime real estate on money losing secondary sports. The boosters already voted with their pocket books. Heather raised practically zilch for this project. Gallagher is scared the debt incurred could BK the university

      Why then pursue this project???

      To green light anything you need 50 percent down in cash commitments

      Make football the focal point.

      My god forbid we question our dear leaders.


  16. Great article Tex, very informative. And even with it’s length, your writing style made it an easy
    and enjoyable read.

    Trees Pool was a marvel when it was built, as most Eastern schools had either no facilities or very old
    and/or small ones.

    Pitt Stadium was also a marvel when it was built as well in 1925, seating 69,400 fans.


    1. Thank you. I try not to take things too seriously. Although I’m very serious about pitt achieving excellence. I like to use analogies. My Russian lit prof at Pitt can be credited with my writing style. She was Bobby knight like.

      Pitt just needs to think bigger. Then get trusted and charismatic people to sell that vision. Money is cheap these days. The economy will come back. Federal monies could be available for Oakland infrastructure. The timing is right to be bold.

      Again, if you view the stade Pierre mauroy video clip of the roof opening and the flooring being elevated and hydraulically rolled away and then the pit setup with stands rolled out, you can’t come away unimpressed.

      Minutes to open and close the roof

      Three hours to fully open and setup the pit.

      It’s nothing like the carrier dome.

      Is there a need?
      Is there a location?
      How much will it cost?
      How will it be financed?
      What is the return on investment?

      That’s a feasibility study my friends.


  17. Pitt offers a 6-10 Center from Winston Salem, NC. (What are the chances???)

    He’s ranked the No. 15 Center in the class of 2022.

    Go Pitt.

    PS: Reed, for some reason this article by Tex doesn’t show up when I go to WordPress. I can only access it thru the link you provided in the comments of the previous article….


    1. I can chip in some Mexican pesos. Some balcones bourbon, breakfast burritos and a signed UT football from Matthew McConaughey.

      Tex – that’s my bag


    2. Same here, John. I have been looking at inactivity on the last thread for over a day now. Turns out there are over 70 comments on this thread that never appeared on my WordPress view.


  18. If I was Pitt, I’d be promoting this ranking. And being 3-0 in the ACC. The toughest b ball conference. And for just sweeping a perennial power on their home field. But does Pitt know how to market. This stuff is so easy.


    Personally I feel the pitt baseball team could beat the pitt football team in a game of Cornhole on a neutral court.


    1. Tex— when I was a Soph., our best two pitchers were Doc Medich, who played TE on the football team; and Frank Gustine, who played some QB on the football team.

      Go Pitt.


  19. Tex: Kudos to you. This article is great. Really fantastic.

    Investing 300 million into non-revenue sports while waiting another 10 years for the Steelers to move to Coraopolis? Not smart. Pitt will be left at the table with zero good options.



  20. I submit that our commander ought to forward this article to EJ…provided he isn’t already an addicted reader of the POV! Well done, Tex!

    OT… I cannot help but to be intrigued by our new receivers coach. In particular, the sudden bulk of offers going out. PSN has posted an article about this. I was already going to comment about, not only the quantity of offers, but the location, star rankings, positions and the class of the kids.

    The location… I should not be surprised given the vagabond career of our new coach (cue Ike for some Johnny Cash.) While it remains to be seen how many of these kids give Pitt any serious consideration, it speaks to the contacts that coach may have that could prove fruitful. And I am sure that many of these kids were being recruited by him prior to his arrival at PItt.

    Star rankings…coach isn’t afraid to go after some top dogs. Landing them will be more impressive, but I welcome this change. For too long it has seemed that our coaching staff was under a mandate to only recruit 3 stars, with an occasional 4 star or two thrown in.

    Positions… A lot of wide receivers being offered. Hmm, a wide receiver coach offering wide receivers? May seem like a “Well, duh!” observation. However- looking into the measurables of these athletes, where they are geographically, and their star rankings- I am hopeful this indicates that the groundwork for the GO-GO offense is being put into place.

    Class… And if that groundwork is indeed in the implementation stage, coach is getting in early with a handful of offers to freshman. Maybe he is passing out copies of his book (sorry, that’s too old-school for these kids. He likely would refer them to YouTube for highlights of his offense and whatever today’s version of downloading books to multimedia devices is.)

    As I am in dire need of some excitement from this football team, I am hoping like H-E-DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS that this was a good hire and that this coach is just what we need to move the offensive needle from being just that- offensive- to something resembling college football in the decade of the double twenties.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Pitt football and excitement ? That is a great concept. Have seen it in the past, if i recollect. Was at Pitt
      during it’s height. Pitt beating Clemson, made it a possibility again. That will be 5 years ago
      come this fall. Whipple and excitement.

      Sorry I can’t get excited about that thought. 3 yard passes on 3rd and 10 will do that !

      New WR coach is doing it right, i think. You have to get your name out there, even if most don’t come.

      Hopefully he’s a good salesman or has a lot of contacts. Contacts always works well, even if
      you can’t sell. Cause we know the Doozer isn’t much of a closer. You better CLOSE yourself.


  21. Late to the party but wanted to thank Tex for offering all his thoughts to incite some good conversation here…I lyke analogies and metaphors.
    Tex, you’re turning out short stories like a young O. Henry…


    1. My next short story will be Rivalries. It ties in well to the school spirit piece and our constant complaining about scheduling.

      Liked by 2 people

  22. OT…fans allowed in Penguin game tonight. I think only 1500 or so but its a start.


  23. Does that mean fans are now allowed at the Pete?

    But then again would anyone show up to watch this dark comedy.


  24. Thanks, Tex for your thought provoking contributions to the POV. I am somewhat with Gordon in that I am okay w some General Fund monies being used to support athletics. I’m sure the Liberal arts programs surely aren’t making money or revenue neutral.

    Also, good catch by Jamers99 on the possible correlation between the new WR coach and the reported flurry of scholarship offers since his arrival. Let’s see how he does as a closer.


  25. I think I found a good comparison to Pitt. Vanderbilt. In a large city, other pro teams and tons of entertainment. Football team worse than Pitt. Stadium is ancient and a bowl. Attendance avg 26k.

    Sporting attendance will continue to decline. Baseball stadiums successfully shrank years ago.

    Pitt doesn’t need a stadium over 35k which would easily fit in Oakland.


    1. Future pandemics will influence future stadium design particularly indoor venues. Ventilation and air circulation is key.

      The tv experience at home is often better than watching in the stands. More convenient. Less expensive. More comfortable.

      But teams will always need homes and there will be some fans that prefer to watch live and in person for a true game experience.

      But I do think smaller is better. That’s been the design trend. Functionality is key.

      Pitt football really only averages about 35k real butts in the stands right now. If anything, that number will decline over time regardless of team performance given changing demographics, preferences and viewing options.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I personally pprefer the full view of the field to see how plays may unfold. Understand that technology may permit folks to choose their view, but it cannot be the same.


  26. Thank you very much, Tex, for taking the time and making the effort for a very cogent analysis. This really should be required reading for anyone (everybody) in the Athletic Department.

    With just a bit of inspection, it appears Victory Heights is a colossal waste of money, where the ROI is next to nil. Build the fr**ckin’ MPC !!


  27. Trees in Pitt’s landscape

    Football: old pine
    Basketball: weeping willow or ginkgo
    Soccer: red oak
    Volleyball: sugar maple
    Wrestling: hickory
    Softball: dogwood
    Baseball: sweetgum
    Swimming: beech
    Track: mulberry
    Gymnastics: Bradford pear
    Lacrosse: redbud

    Hockey: hawthorn
    Rowing: river birch


  28. I wanted a solid but mediocre tree for football so a tall spindly pine works.

    And a stinky tree for basketball. Those ginkgo trees along fifth ave were always stinky like rotten flesh.

    I probably should have gone with elm as a tree comparison for track since Dutch elm disease would kill it and I don’t know how a school can have a track program if it doesn’t even have a track.


  29. Regarding Pitt going after higher rated players with new coach…that looks like the case but really isn’t. For last year’s class Pitt had offers out to 12 5* recruits and 105 4* recruits. Which is about typical of any recruiting year for Pitt since DW.

    DW didn’t offer a lot of 5* kids because he basically knew he wasn’t going to get them. His thoughts were why waste time and effort on a long shot when you can concentrate on 4* kids and land them.

    ’06 – seven 4*

    ’07 – six 4*

    ’08 – one 5* and six 4*

    ’09 – four 4*

    ’10 – four 4*

    The last 5* we got was Dorian Johnson by PC.

    PN has averaged 2.2 4* kids per class with no 5* players.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pitt is not landing seven 4 stars again unless they start winning nine games or more in a season.


      1. And that won’t happen until Narduzzi is fired.

        That will be Riddicks first major decision.

        Heather will bolt for Sparty by spring 2022.

        Narduzzi and capel, not my problem

        Victory Heights, don’t care

        She would look slightly better in green


  30. I heard Richman will be in attendance tonight at the Pitt hoops game…he may have to dress…I’m thinking power forward.
    Bring us a winner my man!

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Tex, excellent article… I appreciate the work and effort you bring to the table….

    Trim the branches that no longer bear fruit… they can always be grafted back to the vine at an appropriate time.

    Why and the heck do colleges have to have so many sports????

    Do other students have to partly cover the costs of sports programs through their tuition $$$ ???


    1. Thanks!

      Sometimes it’s through tuition. But mainly it’s through student fees and University’s don’t itemize those fees. When they do, students revolt.

      And of course through internal departmental money transfers and borrowings like debt financing.

      Pitt probably has about 4 sports too many given its revenues.

      Heck Narduzzi could save a sport like gymnastics if he took a million dollar pay cut.


      1. But Pitt are national champs in frisbee football. Watched them on ESPN one year while playing down in Austin. Wasn’t driving 2.5 hours to watch that sport. I’d rather hop on a broom.


  32. Tex, very well done and thanks for keeping the blog content going.

    I generally agree with your analogies, and can’t really argue with your “cut” and “keep” suggestions. As for baseball Pittsburgh is not going to ever attract the players in the warm weather states and it’s local programs are not going to consistently generate the talent necessary to keep competitive.

    Also, with a pro team (if you want to generously “call” the Pirates a pro franchise) in the city there is a natural competitor for attendance.

    However, as always, I feel the need to be the counter-point to the inevitable discussion regarding and OCS. Finding a footprint that can be used to squeeze a field onto in Oakland is only about 30% of the problem, which why it’s frankly fool-hardy to even discuss.

    I am a season ticket holder at both Pitt stadium and Heinz Field. Before any even inkling of a thought would be given to building an OCS, Pitt should poll it’s existing season ticket holders and ask whether they would buy season tickets to an OCS in Oakland. I would venture a guess that 33-50% of the holders would say a resounding “NO”.

    I’ve sat in traffic on Forbes Ave for 45 minutes just to get to a parking lot and then walk 15-20 mins to Petersen for basketball games that only drew around 10,000 fans. A football game drawing 30,000 fans would likely increase traffic to the point that the travel alone to the game from the Oakland exit would be an hour to 90 minutes. Even if an additional 2-3,000 students showed up at an OCS it would never make up for the 8-12,000 fans lost who aren’t students.

    Oakland can’t and never will have the infrastructure to successfully have an OCS, sorry it’s simply a reality that anyone who travels regularly to games can attest.


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