Our Dear Oakland

I’ve mentioned on here before that I grew up right on the fringe of both the Pitt and Carnegie Tech (now CMU) campuses. Our house was at the top of Negley Hill so we actually lived in Squirrel Hill just above Shadyside. Also, as said before the Kohberger side of the family has a connection to Oakland that goes back generations – at least in the very early 1900’s when my Grandfather was on the staff of the new Pitt Medical School.

That connection goes through all the Kohbergers (in our clan) attending and then, most, working for the University – up to my oldest brother just receiving Librarian Emeritus status upon his retirement a few years ago.

The reason I mention the above is because we have always been grounded in Oakland and pretty much grew up on Pitt’s campus (my parents were married in Heinz Chapel) so there has always been a special place in my heart for that area. Whenever I go back to Pittsburgh I always make it a point to walk the campus and get a bite to eat and a drink somewhere.

While the campus has changed (rather dramatically from 1974 when I was a freshman) I believe the spirit of Pitt’s connections to the immediate area and surrounding neighborhoods remain as strong as ever.

So – when I got an email from the Pitt News with an article about Oakland I read it right away. But the real gem in the article was a bit about their production of a 60 minute audio tour of the campus.

“There was a time when you could ride a rollercoaster in the spot that is now residential North Craig Street. Luna Park, an amusement park built in 1905, once stood at the intersection of North Craig Street and Centre Avenue.

Oakland trivia like this is exactly what you would learn while on a guided, one-hour audio tour of the neighborhood, called Appalachian Paris, a production by Pitt’s theater arts department.”

This tour is really for walking point to point in Oakland then using your cell phone to listen to the audio portion for that specific spot. Well, we ain’t in Oakland are we? I listened to it anyway and was so impressed I wanted to share this so we Pitt people can be transported back in time if only for awhile. It sure did that with me…

Let’s try to make this easy for us to enjoy. This is the website for Appalachian Paris (and yes – Pittsburgh has been dubbed that for many decades. There has even been a book written about it.). Also, please remember this website and production was done by the undergrad of Pitt’s Theater Arts Department students so it is as much fun as fact and has some funky intros to each piece.

If you click the “HOME” at the top of the page you’ll see this drop down menu:

There is a lot there and I urge everyone to spend some time exploring those links, but here are the tracks themselves as they correspond to this map (here is the link to the actual maps):

AUDIO TRACKS:

  1. The “O”

2. UPMC

3. Schenley Quad

4. William Pitt Student Union

5. The Cathedral of Learning

6. Dippy the Dinosaur

7. Carnegie Library

8. Schenley Lock Bridge

9. Flagstaff Hill

10. Phipps Conservatory

11. Columbus Statue

12. Schenley Lock Bridge (South)

13. Schenley Fountain

14. Forbes Field Wall

15. Carousel

It will be interesting to touch base with this site later on to read other’s “Your Own Oakland Stories“.

As a POV Bonus here is a great look at the Cathedral of Learning by our favorite beer drinker:

Enjoy my friends… Reed

Hey! Wait a Minute…

Half truth – half satire…😎

You all know that after I handed the reins of the Pitt POV over to Mike in mid-fall of 2019 I pretty much distanced myself from both the POV and Pitt football for the next 12-14 months or so…and in doing that didn’t pay hardly any attention to Pitt football or the program.

I’d visit on here every so often, make a few comments, but not really on any regular basis and very sparingly. So when Pitt was put on probation for three years by the NCAA I actually didn’t know that happened. It wasn’t until just lately when a regular commenter has mention the sanctions that I looked into the infringement details. I was surprised by something I read…

Both the basketball and the football head coaches had committed Level II violations of NCAA regulations and they were not as minor as some assume. Those Level II violations are deemed “Significant” so not to be winked at.

Each guy did pretty much the same thing in having more staff coaches and staff assistants then to interact with and coach the student/athletes at formal practices are allowed by the NCAA .

Stallings actually cheated on a more regular basis and jumped through some hoops to do it, pun intended, and therefore had a rather serious NCAA “Show-Cause” order levied. Not only did he lie to the Pitt admin about his doings he even deleted video footage showing the violations.

He supposedly ‘retired’ after this but quite possibly no other school would dare touch because of the “Show-Cause” in effect… or maybe because he plain sucked as a HC. But that’s basketball and at this point in Pitt’s basketball history it is a lot of “Who cares?” and I don’t much.

When looking at football head coach Pat Narduzzi’s infraction (I was going to say ‘offense’ but since he has no concept of that I decided on a different word) something caught my eye and brought a bit to mind personally. Highlighted it below:

In addition, football coach Pat Narduzzi was found to have been present at a football practice when three former quality control staff members performed coaching duties, which also exceeded the number of permissible coaches. The violation went undetected in part because the football program used a system to play music when outside parties were present at practice, triggering the quality control staffers to stay clear of the student-athletes.

Narduzzi was handed a show-cause order that will withhold him from two days of team practice in August.

Nothing to see here – move on!

Huh, not only did Narduzzi allow the violation(s) to happen before getting found out he actually put into place a mechanism to avoid being caught prior to being busted. When ‘outsiders’ were at practice the loudspeaker music went on and he had used his spycraft training to get the his staffers to drift away from the players until the coast was clear. This way he must have felt there was no chance at getting caught by anyone. It’s a perfect plan!

The NCAA points to one instance but obviously this was done commonly enough for him to institute a fail safe (not really) plan of evasion into effect. Well, we knew he isn’t all that great at pre-game planning and half-time planning and now we know he’s not so great at planning much of anything, in any situation. Is anyone really surprised?

I believe this happened right before the 2017 season – so the trauma of being dragged before the NCAA Tribunal and having his hand held over open flame until he confessed most probably was the cause of our 5-7 season that year.

A few years back I was offered, and accepted, a chance to watch a bit more of a football practice than allowed for by the usual media time limits. This was because I had to drive a nine hour road trip to attend them so couldn’t get to many practices per season and Pitt cut me a break. So after the local media/bloggers were escorted out of the practice field house I was able to enter and then had an extra 30 minutes or so to look and see the team and staff in action. I truly appreciated that and wrote a well-received article about what I saw.

But I’ve always I wondered about the fact that when I first walked into the practice the loudspeaker music started blaring, then it shut off every time I went into the men’s room, only to be cranked up again as soon as I opened the bathroom door. Go out for a smoke – no music; come back in – Casey Kasum is playing the Top 40s .

I hate that song

What was strange is that Narduzzi had the same song played over and over again for me.

That $5,000 fine of the football program imposed by the NCAA probably offset two years of Pitt alumni donations, those being so poor, but even with that our Athletic Director gave the coach a raise in salary.

All the above is nothing that more than many other schools and head coaches have done over the years. Pitt is not alone in this by any means. Not only was it wrong to do but the actual rule-breaking was done in a shabby fashion. You’d think that if it was important enough to risk being caught and have punishment levied one would take the time and effort to design a better and safer way to cheat. As it was the grand plans were to just twist a dial on the stereo volume but… well, again – is anyone surprised?

Might have been better to just scream “Code Royal Blue and Mustard Yellow in the end zone !! Code Royal Blue and Mustard Yellow in the end zone!!”

How Pitt FB Looks to Others

…And why it is so hard for Pitt fans to see the same things.

Where is Pitt again Maude?

Looking at Pitt’s historical RPIs (The Rating Percentage Index, commonly known as the RPI, is a quantity used to rank sports teams based upon a team’s wins and losses and its strength of schedule) under Head Coach Pat Narduzzi over the last six years we see this:

’20-’21 #57 RPI AP #21 in-season; not ranked season’s end (127 D1 teams)

19-’20 #48 RPI No Ranking At All (130 D1 teams)

18-’19 #30 RPI AP #24 in-season; not ranked season’s end (129 D1 teams)

’17-’18 #76 RPI No Ranking At All (129 D1 teams)

’16-’17 #34 RPI AP #22 in-season; not ranked season’s end (128 D1 teams)

15-’16 #45 RPI AP #23 in-season; not ranked season’s end (127 D1 teams)

So, in his six years as the Pitt HC we are averaging at #48 in the D1 RPI ranking with a high of #30 and a low of #76. We have also never been ranked in the Final Top 25 at the end of the year.

Not to pour salt on the wound but in PN’s six years at the helm not only were we not ranked at season end but only one (1) season did we even get “Others Receiving Votes“. That was in the AP poll of 2016 when we got 21 ‘other’ votes – when the #25 team San Diego State had 113.

Sorry my Pitt friends – but that pretty much sucks.

For those very forgiving fans who believe a HC really shouldn’t be judged until his first recruiting classes become upperclassmen (or in his system for two years) that would be years ’18-’21 which give us an average of #48 RPI for those years and no post-season rankings.

Perhaps more importantly we have seen the Panthers come in on an average RPI of a 38th percentile out of all the D1 teams for those years.

That isn’t an average of a 38th ranking folks but an average RPI of 38th of all D1 teams.

Now – are these just numbers or do they mean something and why talk about them now? Well, it is an offseason after another disappointing 6-5, no bowl season when PN and all his minions and camp followers predicted a great (great I tell ya!) nine or 10 win season.

Oh, right – Covid! No excuse what so ever friends, because every D1 team played under the same constraints, or worse, as Pitt did last year.

The common theme of Pitt’s fans downtime conversation is always ‘do we really want this HC (who ever it is) to keep being the HC of a mediocre team and program’.

I say no. With that $4,900,000 salary he’s pulling in can we honestly point to anything he has done to make Pitt a better football team than those who came before his time here? Has he done anything so well and set the bar so high that it would be impossible for anyone following him to match?

Of course not, and let’s not kid ourselves – he has also done relatively nothing with some pretty damn good players. All the really good commits he convinced to play here were on the defensive side of the ball of course. That is because when someone mentions the word “offense” he pees his pants a little.

Forget the old saw about having to start over with a new HC and staff. Every D1 school save a double handful or so has to deal with that sooner or later and no one has died from it yet.

JUST FOR FUN: Here are some of the teams that finished higher in the AP ratings and the ‘others receiving votes” than the non-existent Pitt after our three best 8-5 seasons:

’15: Western Kentucky; San Diego State; Toledo; Appalachian State; Temple

’16: Western Michigan, Kansas State, Air Force

’19: Appalachian State; Cincinnati; Florida Atlantic; North Dakota State (!?!) and Louisiana. That isn’t LSU but ‘Louisiana’ whom I have never even heard of.

That isn’t all but only some schools I picked because I was laughing so hard I couldn’t see through the tears to list them all…

That is after our ‘good’ 8-5 seasons fellow suffers. Why do you think that is? Well, here’s a hint. These polls are really popularity contests for every spot from, I’d say, #10 and below through the others/votes. So why isn’t Pitt popular when we have better records than other teams ranked ahead of us?

Inquiring minds want to know.

So we stink, what’s it to you!!

Advice From Our Parents

I was picking up my mail the other day – we have a communal mailbox down the street – and as I got out of the car I did as I always do; walked around the rear of the car to get to the mailbox. I did this because I kept the car running while I walked over to the box.

When I got back home I was woolgathering and wondered how I learned to avoid killing myself if the car jumped a gear like that. Then I remembered my father taught me that back we I was a little kid.

That got me wondering about how many other small tidbits of advice and wisdom I received from my parents, teachers and other adults as I grew up. So – I thought maybe this would be a good topic to comment on so that we might learn some valuable advice that we, or our kids and grandkids, might benefit from.

Here are a couple from my parents:

When I was 13 years old my dad sat me down and said this; “If you want to be popular with girls here is what you do – every time you are at a party walk straight up to the prettiest girl and introduce yourself then ask her name. Other boys won’t do that because they are shy or whatever – but that girl will probably be grateful you did it because everyone else is scared of her.”

Here is the kicker to that, then he said: Start a conversation with her and let her talk. When she does, listen to her like she’s an actual human being (love that part) – don’t talk about yourself but ask her follow up questions about what she’s saying.”

Worked pretty damn well if I do say so…

Also, my mother told me once “Beware of small minded people with small power.” How right she was! Her belief was that sometimes those in a lower bureaucratic position who can say yes or no to simple requests will many times say “no” just because they can. It is the only power they hold over others. I’ve found that to be true many times also.

When I was about six my oldest brother told me “Don’t eat yellow snow” but I thought he was joking so I asked if that was true. Then he slapped me on the head and called me an idiot but that wasn’t anything new.

Have any of these bits of advice to share? Please do…

Also on a separate note – this is a follow up to the incident I was involved in a while back. The Howard County police sent me these nice things:

Now – I asked if my future traffic citations could be tossed for 2021 and got a resounding “NO!”.

Reed