I went to Pitt’s Football Kickoff Luncheon last Friday and here are some thoughts. First off seeing Scooter and Fran at an adjoining table was wonderful. Fran changed into his blue & gold “Shady” T-shirt and showed off his long locks! Fran texted me some thoughts I’ll share in a bit
Now, I must ask, and excuse me if I automatically revert back to my sometimes negative take on things related to the subject, who in the world decided to pack a crowd of over 600 Pitt supporters, administrators, coaches and players into a room which had the marching band playing at top volume for over 30 minutes? I mean a big part of this day was to see old friends and make new ones under the cover of Pitt fandom but even the lobby outside the conference room was so loud any conversation, let alone discussing detail football subjects, was almost impossible.
Maybe the band had a set of music that they absolutely had to play the whole way through and that was why the 11:30 am program didn’t start until almost noon.
But that’s OK because as soon as the program started we were pleased to see the great introductions of almost all of the Seniors on the current roster. Why do I say ‘almost’? We’ll get to that later… The conference room was so big they had to use two huge-screen TVs to show the proceedings and I got a kick out of seeing how the seniors were dressed (well) as they walked through the cheerleader gauntlet. All looked good and some even had on new sneakers…
Then we were blessed to hear not only the 93.7’s Larry Richert crack semi-funny jokes but also Chancellor Pat Gallagher not talk about why he was leaving Pitt (I mean really why). I kept thinking couldn’t someone have straightened his tie before he got to the podium? He looked like he never wore one before (says the guy who had to wear one in a military uniform for decades.) Up next was the sponsoring Huntington Bank President talking about how great Pitt is (which is true) but nothing memorable after that.
Something I did appreciate is that the assigned tables already had the luncheon desserts at your place so if you wanted to you could grab some cheesecake, roll it up into ear plugs and look stuff up on your phone until someone started making sense up there. After the rest of lunch was served – I kept asking for the progressively needed wine list and was ignored – which was surprisingly OK fare we got into the more interesting cast of the speakers.
Yellow bloused Heather Lyke did a good job of continually begging us for yet more for money to win the Backyard Brawl Giving Challenge, interspersing that with some pretty funny bits about Pitt and it’s people. I especially liked that there is a check box for a $13.09 donation. Creative and insulting to the ‘Eers at the same time! Have to love that.
Next up was our own superstar running back LeSean McCoy, remember him? He did a wonderful job of speaking from the heart with only a few quick glances at some notes he had and we listeners felt, at least I did, like were were sitting somewhere and talking over a beer or two about his football time before and after he came to Pitt.
His story about the team’s bus ride to the WVU stadium for the night game in ’07 was hilarious. He was sincere, emotional, sometimes very funny, and the love he has for the University was and is very evident.
I did have to cut my time at the luncheon short because I had family waiting at the hotel, had the program started on time I’d have seen all of it, so I had to bag right after McCoy gave his speech – and I missed Pat Narduzzi and the rest of the scheduled parts. But quite honestly, after hearing McCoy deliver that heartfelt talk I truly felt that I not only got my money’s worth, but was put right back in the proper frame of mind for the upcoming season.
Now – the question of the day at our table, and on Fran’s mind also, was why wasn’t QB Nick Patti, as a redshirt Senior, included in the program. He wasn’t listed in the handout nor was he in attendance with the other Pitt seniors and there was no explanation of his absence. My tablemates wondered that had he been required to be somewhere else, like home or whatever, he would have at least been listed and mentioned. But…crickets as they say. I have checked the Internet for any news and such but didn’t see anything that would explain it.
Bottom line – I very much enjoyed the event and let me share a few things that stood out.
What was pretty surprising to me was how many people in attendance recognized my name (we had nametags) and wanted to talk about the POV – very nice to hear that they really enjoyed the writing lately and I made sure to pass the credit onto to the readers who actually wrote the articles. Had some talk about the Pitt Blather also.
As I said about LeSean McCoy I also felt that each of the speakers I heard were genuine in their pleasure of being there and that all felt the turnout was great – packed to the gills actually.
Here is what Fran texted to me about the parts of the event I missed:
“I thought Duzz gave a good speech and I was never a fan of his public speaking in the past. He talked about rivalry games and his history with Michigan while with MSU and the impact it had on family.
“My kids had to go to school and the talk was about the defensive coordinator that sucked.” He spoke of the humiliation his family felt. That he learned from that and worked harder preparing for rivalry games “for family”…that the Pitt players are family is an important part of the culture at Pitt.
(Shady also spoke of the same family atmosphere at Pitt).
Duzz also announced the names of the team captains and except for Dennis who is a junior and was not in attendance each captain spoke of the importance of their role. Even Slovis seemed to embrace the leadership role and was humbled by being named a captain after only being with the team for a few months.
My take is the kids really like Duzz…it seemed genuine when they spoke of him in conversations I overheard post event in the ballroom as players mingled with the audience.”
Thanks Fran and it was great to see you – next time at your Tennessee game tailgate!.
The only negative part of the day was in the evening when I went down to the bar in the William Penn for a quiet coffee and as I was sitting at the bar I heard” Hey, see that guy – he runs that crap Pitt POV blog.” So I turned around and this fat drunk guy stood up and yelled ‘Noticed that once Pitt had a great year you didn’t have anything to say about it you f*cking prick!”
So I walked over and calmly explained the situation with my son’s illness from late September until his death in early February, that that took all of my time and energy, that football was the least of my concerns and if he had a problem with that I’d be waiting outside the door. His wife stood up and screamed at him “This is why everyone hates being with you.”
That bit of drama aside I had a good time, talked with a lot of both Pitt football fans and some POV readers and drove back to PGH really looking forward to Thursday night and the rest of the season. I think it should be a good one…
Hail To Pitt!