New WRs Coach for Pitt Football

Pitt was going to hold a press conference but when handed the microphone Marion dropped and broke it…

Brennan Marion Named Wide Receivers Coach at Pitt 

PITTSBURGH—Brennan Marion, considered one of college football’s top young assistants, has been named Pitt’s new wide receivers coach by Pat Narduzzi.

A graduate of nearby Greensburg Salem High School, Marion returns to his native Western Pennsylvania after spending the 2020 season as wide receivers coach at Hawaii. The 33-year-old Marion has coached three different positions on the offensive side of the ball and owns three years of coordinator experience.

“We went on a national search to find our new wide receivers coach and, boy, did we ever go national by finding him in Hawaii,” Narduzzi said. “We had a ton of interest in this position but Brennan Marion clearly rose to the top.

“It was important that we find a tremendous teacher and coach. Recruiting is very important, but your top priority is always having a coach who can develop his positional room. Brennan is a great hire because he truly checked every box—he’s a great teacher of wide receiver play and has outstanding recruiting ties in key geographical areas for us. He is a high-energy person who builds relationships and connects people. Brennan will be a great coach and mentor for our receivers.”

“Dreams really do come true,” Marion said. “I am extremely honored and thankful for the opportunity to return home and serve the football program at the University of Pittsburgh. Coach Narduzzi and his staff have been building something very special. I can’t wait to get back to Pittsburgh and work in our wide receivers room.”

At Hawaii, Marion oversaw the development of All-Mountain West Conference (MWC) receiver Calvin Turner, who was named the 2020 New Mexico Bowl’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player after compiling 252 all-purpose yards and scoring two touchdowns in the Rainbow Warriors’ 28-14 win over Houston.

In 2019, Marion was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at William & Mary, where he dramatically improved the Tribe’s production in every major statistical category. W&M nearly doubled its scoring average while its total offensive output improved by almost 100 yards per contest.

The Tribe’s improvement was even more impressive considering Marion’s starting quarterback, leading receiver and three of his top four rushers were true freshmen. QB Hollis Mathis, a product of Penn Hills, shattered W&M’s true freshman school records for total offense (1,522), passing yards (976) and rushing touchdowns (eight). Wide receiver Kane Everson drew national attention as a Phil Steele Freshman All-American.

Marion’s first Division I coaching appointment came at Howard University, where he enjoyed two exceptional seasons (2017-18) as the Bison’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Howard boasted a highly potent offense in 2018, ranking fourth nationally in yards per completion (17.27 avg.), 15th in total yards (470.8 avg.), 16th in passing offense (278.0 avg.) and 21st in scoring offense (33.6 avg.). The Bison led the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) in each of those categories as well as rushing yards per game (192.8).

The Bison had seven first-team All-MEAC performers on offense, including the league’s 2018 Offensive Player of the Year (quarterback Caylin Newton) and Rookie of the Year (running back Dedrick Parson). Wide receiver Jequez Ezzard was a BOXTOROW All-American after leading the country in yards per catch (26.3). Newton additionally was named to the HERO Sports FCS Sophomore All-America Team.

In 2017, Newton was named the MEAC Rookie of the Year after becoming the first freshman in the conference’s history to surpass 3,000 yards of total offense (3,185). Offensive lineman Gerald Wright earned All-America accolades, paving the way for a unit that ranked first in the MEAC and 13th nationally with an average of 446.0 yards per game.

Marion’s “Go-Go” offense sparked Howard to a 7-4 record in 2017, including a shocking 43-40 win at heavily favored UNLV in the opener (labeled by one observer as “the biggest upset in modern college football history”). The Bison had won just three games over the prior two years.

In 2016, Marion coached the running backs at Oklahoma Baptist University. Under his guidance, Isaiah Mallory rushed for a school-record 1,083 yards en route to first team All-National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) honors. During the 2015 season, Marion was an offensive quality control assistant at Arizona State.

During his college coaching career, he has earned prestigious invitations to the NFL Quarterback Coaching Summit and American Football Coaches Association’s (AFCA) 35 Under 35 Leadership Institute.

Prior to joining the collegiate ranks, Marion orchestrated two impressive turnarounds as a high school head coach. In 2014, he led Pennsylvania’s Waynesboro Area—which went 0-10 the year before—to the Mid-Penn Colonial Division title and its first winning season in 22 years. In 2013, Marion guided St. Patrick-St. Vincent (Calif.) to the North Coast Section Division IV playoffs following a 1-9 season prior to his arrival.

Marion was a record-setting receiver at Tulsa. In two seasons with the Golden Hurricane (2007-08), he compiled 2,356 yards on 82 receptions with 19 touchdowns. He was a two-time All-Conference USA selection and the 2007 C-USA Newcomer of the Year. Marion set NCAA records for yards per catch in a season (31.9 in 2007) and career (28.7).

Prior to Tulsa, he was a standout at De Anza College. In 2006, he led California’s junior colleges with 1,196 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns on 60 receptions.

Following his accomplished collegiate playing career, Marion signed free agent contracts with the Miami Dolphins as well as the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes.

Marion was a four-year letterman in three different sports (football, basketball and track) at Greensburg Salem. He played receiver and defensive back under Golden Lions head coach George Kermer and was an All-Keystone Conference honoree.

Marion is a 2009 graduate of Tulsa with a bachelor’s degree in organizational studies. He has two children, Mariah and Brennan.

Xavier Johnson Has Left the Building…

XMan Johnson, our too flashy basketball Guard has opted for the Transfer Portal. Expect to see hin on the Robert Morris team next season.

Discuss…

From ESPN:

“PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Panthers junior point guard Xavier Johnson is transferring.

The school made the surprise announcement Wednesday. Head men’s basketball coach Jeff Capel said in a statement “it was in everyone’s best interests that we part ways.”

Johnson will enter the transfer portal immediately. The move ends an eventful three-year run with the Panthers for Johnson, who averaged 14.2 points in 81 career games, 78 starts.

Johnson, from Woodbridge, Virginia, arrived shortly after Capel was hired in the spring of 2018 and made the All-Atlantic Coast Conference freshman team in 2018-19. He leaves ranked 30th on the school’s career points list (1,152).

Johnson has been one of the program’s few constants during Capel’s tenure as he attempts to rebuild the Panthers after a difficult run under Kevin Stallings. Although it’s unclear what led to the decision, Johnson was asked to come off the bench rather than start twice this month, including a 32-point performance as a reserve in an upset victory over Virginia Tech on Feb. 3.

The Panthers (9-9 overall, 5-8 ACC) have struggled of late, dropping seven of eight after a win over Duke on Jan. 19. Pitt will visit NC State on Sunday.”

Pitt at Virginia Cavaliers; 2/24/21

Here is the Gameday Thread for PITT Basketball as we play the Virginia Cavaliers at home at 6:00 pm. Following are some websites that might help you all get ready to cheer the team onto a win.  These can be used for in-game commenting research also.

Pitt Basketball Homepage

Pitt Basketball 2020-21 Schedule

Pitt Basketball 2020-21 Stats

Pitt Basketball 2020-21 Roster

Here are some sites for info on our opponents:

ACC Basketball 2020-21 Standings (w/ links to team pages)

Virginia Sports Reference Homepage (current & historical info)

I’ll try to keep these threads correctly updated because actual days and opponents are being jerked around due to C-19 rescheduling.  If you see something wrong with any posts just email me at rkohberger@gmail.com and I’ll try to fix it as soon as possible.

HAIL TO PITT!!

WBB’s View of College FB & BB

College Football vs College Basketball

As you are well aware, college basketball has had a Final Four for decades since 1939.  College football finally followed and started a final four (Semifinals) format in 2014.

Here are just some of the basketball Final Four participants over the past decade:  Butler (2), VCU, Wichita State, Gonzaga, South Carolina, Oregon, Loyola-Chicago, Texas Tech. 

Here are all of the football Final Four participants since 2014:  Alabama (6), Clemson (6), Ohio State (4), Oklahoma (4), Notre Dame (2), Georgia, LSU, Florida State, Oregon, Michigan State

I believe you know where I am going with this article.  The interesting part of this is that the basketball Final four participants qualified for the Semifinals after winning four NCAA tourney games.   On the other hand, football teams like Notre Dame (2018), Michigan St (2016), Florida St (2014) and even Oklahoma (2019) and Ohio St (2016) looked like they didn’t even belong in the football Semifinals based on the way they performed.

There is no question that college football has become an elitist enterprise.   Note that of the names listed above of recent participants, Florida State and Michigan State no longer are considered a threat to crack the final four playoff teams.   On the other hand, Gonzaga and Baylor are currently ranked #1 and #2 in college basketball while blue bloods Kentucky, Duke, UNC, Michigan State and Kansas are unranked.  This would never happen in football.

I believe the reason for this is that college players cannot be drafted into the NFL until three years after leaving high school whereas they can be drafted into the NBA after just one year.  Thus, most of the basketball blue bloods have to restock year after year. 

Football programs like Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson continue to amass the best football talent around year after year.   And since these players are around for a minimum of three years, the rich are only getting richer exponentially… so the chasm between the Haves and the Have Nots just continues to widen.  Yes, the transfer portal has become popular in college sports, but it seems that best talent available are just traded among the elites.  Ohio St QB Justin Fields began at Georgia, QB Jalen Hurts moved from Alabama to Oklahoma, and Joe Burrows went from Ohio St to LSU.   In fact, three of the last four Heisman winners are QB transfers …. and the fourth (this year’s winner) is a three-year WR at Alabama.

And what is even more puzzling is how schools like Michigan, Miami, USC and Texas can continue to recruit so well but seems to be on the outside looking in.  Michigan just had two more four-star QBs transfer out of its program, the 7th and 8th in the Harbaugh era.   And in this era where offensive football rules the day, Michigan continues to struggle against the really good offenses despite being loaded with great defensive talent.  Its offense just cannot keep pace despite its talent.

I am sure the previous two sentences resonated with you POVers.   Pitt indeed looked bad against the two elite (Final 4) teams it played this past season, no doubt!  But despite these two blowouts, it finished 2nd in the ACC in total defense this year …  cfbstats.com – 2020 Atlantic Coast Conference Team Leaders  … and   third in scoring defense … cfbstats.com – 2020 Atlantic Coast Conference Team Leaders .   When Clemson and Notre Dame are not playing each other, they rarely lose to ACC teams.  In fact, neither teamlost to another ACC team in 2020.

When Clemson and Notre Dame are not playing each other, they rarely lose to ACC teams.  In fact, neither have not lost to another ACC team since 2017 – four years ago.  (note that Notre Dame plays five ACC games per season, 2020 notwithstanding).  Just more evidence of the elite football teams separating themselves from the pack.

Otherwise, Pitt continues to be competitive in the ACC.  The issue is that it continues to lose close games as it has for quite a long time.   This can be improved upon whether it be by the current staff or another, but the chance Pitt football can ever become a national player is extremely unlikely.

That is not the case for Pitt basketball

Gonzaga has been a basketball power for some time.  And while it recruits well these days, it still doesn’t get the top players like Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, etc. does.   But their players are getting to mature, becoming better players and better teammates over a 3 to 4 year process.  And when the seniors (or juniors) leave, you have people who have already been part of the program just step right in. 

I believe this is how Pitt prospered for much of the Dixon era.  Yes, they never made the Final Four but being an annual Top 20 program, and having two No. 1 seeds in a three-year period is certainly nothing to scoff at.  This doesn’t happen overnight and you need to bring in the players that fits your style of play …. At least that is how I believe Pitt did it 10-15 years ago.   Maybe part of the current problem is that Pitt has yet to develop any type of identity or style.  The current coach still may be swayed by the way his recent employer (and alma mater) does it.

Nonetheless, there is a decent chance that Pitt will once again become a well-respected basketball program whether it be with the current staff or another one.  It plays in one of the most respected basketball conferences, it has great student involvement and support, and the NYC/NJ area is arguably the best recruiting area, a place where Pitt has proven to be successful. 

I guess I am just trying to reinforce something that many of you all know.  Pitt can become what it once was just 10 years ago in basketball, but in football … it has a chance to be right there with the top teams in the ACC …. not named Clemson.  

This is not meant to be an endorsement or criticism of the current Pitt coaches.  Whether the current staffs should be retained is another issue that will always be debated.

Pitt’s Day of Giving

Today is Pitt’s annual push for donations to the university.

Here is the website where you can help Pitt accomplish our Mission Statement goals…

Lets do what we can – I’m going to tally up what it usually costs me to attend a couple of football games in a season with a bit extra so we can bribe a decent OC to come to Pitt.

I’ll leave this up or 24 hours or so but don’t forget about the great article by Richard just posted earlier this morning.

Along with that our HC just did a great thing for Pitt’s future football program needs…from a Pitt press release:

Narduzzi Family Makes Six-Figure Gift to Pitt Football Championship Fund  

PITTSBURGH—CoachPat Narduzzi and his wife, Donna, have made a six-figure financial gift to the University of Pittsburgh’s Football Championship Fund, which serves the program in such key areas as student-athlete development, facility improvement, technology and recruiting.

“I take great pride in wearing that Pitt Script on my chest each day as the University of Pittsburgh’s head football coach,” Narduzzi said. “This is an outstanding place with so many amazing people. Donna and I feel incredibly blessed to call Pitt our home.

“This gift is an expression of our thankfulness for the people of Pitt, especially the student-athletes we get to work with each day. Our responsibility is to give them the finest experiences possible—academically, athletically and personally. Donna and I feel truly honored and fortunate to be able to provide support for that mission at Pitt.”

The Transfer Portal; (Recruiting Part 2)

This is Richard’s companion piece to his article College FB 2021 Recruiting – Part 1

 and how it is changing recruiting.

On October 15, 2018, a new era in college athletics began – the introduction of the NCAA approved and sanctioned Transfer Portal (TP). Prior to the TP, the student athlete was at the mercy of the head coach, the school and the athletic conference where his school resided. Restrictions were placed on future school destinations. Loss of current scholarship was threatened. Graduate transfers had another hurdle to jump as their post-graduate degree had to be in a field not offered by their current school. Once all these hoops were jumped thru, it was up to the transferee to initiate contact with approved schools.

The TP ended all that. The potential transferee now goes to the school’s compliance office and asks to be placed in the portal. Within 24- 48 hours the compliance office must place his/her name in the portal. All restrictions have been removed. I imagine a transferee can still initiate contact, but he can also sit back and wait for contact.

As we all know, the NCAA has granted an extra year of eligibility for those on the 2020 roster. In Pitt’s case, I believe 12 scholarship players will take advantage of the extra year. Those players will not count against the 85 man scholarship limit. Pitt can end up paying for 97 scholarships.

At this time, TP additions are subject to both old scholarship limits (85) and sit out rules. Marcus Minor, a grad transfer is immediately eligible but is included in the 85 roster cap. Devonshire as a non-graduate is included in the 85 limit, but he also has to sit one unless an appeal is made and granted for immediately eligibility. At this time, the NCAA has not passed the “first-time” transfer rule for immediate eligibility.

Both types of TP additions are also considered as a recruit. As a recruit, they are also included in the yearly 25 man cap on recruits. That cap is easily breached. You can backdate a 2021 recruit to the 2020 recruiting season as long as the school has room under the 25 cap in the prior year, the recruit(s) enters school in January and the school has available scholarships open from the prior year.

Speaking of early enrollment, that is another trend that has ballooned in the past few years. Pitt has nine early enrollees. Some of that is due to the year of the Covid. But the trend started earlier and IMO with the introduction  of the early signing period. But I ramble.

The above is my understanding of the current TP. I do not have links to back up my thoughts. Just snippets of remembered info from reading articles. I can be wrong. If so, let me know.

I use 24/7 to gather my ACC TP activity. I find the Rivals TP activity lacking. I am not going to bore you with links and what I do. But basically, I gather what I need from 24/7 and use the Rivals recruiting ranking data. That way, I am always using Rivals as a common language.

24/7 has three years of data and some very limited data on prior years on FBS TP entries. The main time frames are: 2019 – 10/18/18 thru 7/31/19, 2020 –  8/1/19 thru 7/31/20, and 2021 – 8/1/20 thru /31/2021.  IMO, 24/7 starts there new year count on 8/1 to coincide with a date that is approximately in line with the start of fall camp. By 8/1, a team roster is set for the upcoming season.

According to 247 for the first year (2019), there was 1,720 portal entries. 2020 had 1,695 and almost seven months into the 2021 year another 1,719. The 2018 and 2019 numbers are usually in every article I read on TP entrees. Never thought about the numbers until the last few weeks when I started to read a third  24/7 article that gave a weekly 2020 update and that got me wondering.

If you divide 1,719 by 130 that is 13.2 PT entries for each FBS (P5 and G5) team. Then it dawned on me that includes walk-ons both preferred and regular. Then it made some sense. Those kids want to play, and someone may give them a scholarship at the FBS, FCS, or D2 levels. I almost went down a rabbit hole with a screed on 24/7 vs. Rivals recruiting rankings. You should be thankful.

The 24/7 site identifies a TP entrée as a “Grad”. I take them at their word. Then I got to wondering why some 2016 recruits were grads and others were not. I finally concluded that their status as a Grad depends on their status when they enter the TP. Some non-grads could be Grads by the time they physically enroll at their new destination. That means my data my understate the number of Grads transferring.

Now that I have over explained the TP, how has it changed recruiting? Here is a summary chart on 2021 (8/1/2020 – 7/31/2021) ACC TP activity. (Rivals ranking data.)

This chart my be out of date by the time this article is published. The TP is constantly adding new entrees and future destinations.

So far this year the ACC as a whole is averaging 8.8 TP entrees out. It is actually more but I do not include in my data any 24/7 name that is not a Rivals recruit.

How do I interpret this chart? First off, I have the advantage of knowing the underlying data. Basically, you have to know when a player enters the portal. As an example, let us look at Boston College (BC). None of the 7 TP entries were graduates. Three entered the TP before the 2020 season end. BC now know they have 3 2021 scholarships available and can increase their overall number 2021 of recruits (26 by the chart). They still have four slots to fill and they took in Three Grad transfers (the other TP entry in was a 5-star from FSU). BC is building by normal recruiting. 

On the other hand, Georgia Tech (GT) is using the TP as a recruiting tool. Only 16 new recruits and seven TP ins. Only one of them was a Grad. GT is using the TP as a recruiting tool.

In Pitt’s case, I only have one TP entry – Michael Smith. He was not on the 2020 roster due to a medical exemption but was a prior recruit. I know his history as a Pitt fan, I added him as a TP entrant. Since I do not know the medical exemption of other ACC teams, I decided to add him to Pitt’s list to be consistent. Pitt uses the TP as both a perceived hole filler (Minor) and a recruiting tool (Devonshire).

If you look at Pitt’s 2021 24/7 TP page, you will find five names in total. Besides Smith, Minor and Devonshire, there is D.J. Turner and Paris Brown. Turner signed with Pitt on 9/1/2020, played during the 2020 season and is not returning for 2021. Brown was a 2019 walk-on. I exclude walk-ons from my data.

What do four of the five teams with double digit TP outs have in common? Florida State, Louisville, Georgia Tech and North Carolina all have had HC changes prior to the  2019 season. There is a chance BC will join them this year in the double club and probably in the 2022 TP year as rosters shake out. I have no clue on what is going on with Syracuse. All of the non-Grad TP adds may be good moves if the NCAA first-time immediate eligibility rule is passed this year.

A huge problem with recruiting and TP activity looms on the horizon. At this time (for all teams), the expanded roster for the additional year ends after the 2021 season. Currently, the roster cap and recruiting caps will return to 85 and 25 for the 2022 season.

How does the old roster/recruiting caps effect Pitt for the 2022 recruiting season? By my count, there will be 12  members of the 2017 (of the 24-man recruiting) class returning for the 2021 season. Only Kenny Pickett will have used all his eligibility including his “free” year at the end of the 2021 season.

Without the “free” year, it was going to be a small incoming class with normal attrition and prior years grad transfers using up the last of their eligibility. IMO probably no more than a 20. If 10 or 11 decide to stay, that would mean only single digit actual recruiting class, not only for 2022 but also thru the 2025 high school recruiting class. Does Pitt keep them all or push them into the TP or do they get on with their life.

One idea being discussed, is a registry of players with a “free” year.  My understanding is that all teams would submit a list of all players eligible for the free year to the NCAA. This list would allow that player to not count against roster/recruiting caps in their “free” year on whatever team they could be on. It seems a simple solution but may meet resistance from some FBS teams (think teams with consistently low ranked recruiting classes that have no problem with pulling scholarships) that see this as an opportunity to upgrade their rosters.

The NCAA created a problem with the “free” year. I believe they did it with good intentions but did not think it through. Now they have to solve the problem.

Here is a link to the 24/7 TP data. The opening page is a listing of all players in the TP. By using the dropdown tab “team”, you can find that individual team activity.

2021 Football Transfer Portal (247sports.com)

Here is a link to an article link, I found on Pittsburgh Sports Now (PSN). It is actually a link to West Virginia Now and references TP activity in the Big 12.

Transfer Numbers High Across Big 12 Football | WV Sports Now

Once again let me know if you take any issue with my interpretation of what is going on with the TP, Recruiting and the NCAA.

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.