Updated: May 29, 2020
At long last, the Panthers can finally return to their rightful place among the college football elite. After all, the only thing that held Pitt back in the last 20 years has been this one issue. That's right, ever since the original Pitt Stadium was torn down 20 years ago, stadium location has been the exclusive hinderance to the program's ability to regain relevance.
I’ve grown up a Pitt fan my whole life. The honor was passed to me from my dad who went there in the 70's.
I remember when I was 7, my dad started crying while we were eating hot dogs at The Original Hotdog Shop on campus ("The O" as locals call it). We stopped there after a Pitt basketball game in 2002. That was during the inaugural season for The Peterson Events Center which was practically built on the grave of Pitt stadium.
At first, I was really confused why my dad was choking up so bad -- he could barely hold his hotdog. It was super awkward, and as a 7 year old child I had to basically grab my dad and tell him to get ahold of himself. People were concerned.
"Why was he crying?" I thought to myself. Pitt had just won a big game against Syracuse, and Glenshaw native Yuri Demtris came in to attempt a garbage-time foul shot which ignited The Oakland Zoo before he missed and the final buzzer sounded.
I never knew what was wrong with him that day. I often spent hours replaying the memory of it in my head. I couldn't show my face at The O for a long time, and It might have been the last time my father ever stepped foot in Oakland, or ate a hotdog.
That all changed on Monday, when he called me on the phone and asked me to meet him "where it all happened". I knew immediately that I needed to leave work and drive straight to Oakland. That's where I found him, eating a hotdog at The O and holding his phone up for me to see.
On his phone, was a poorly designed website called NewPittStadium.com. The site had the blueprints to a new football stadium to be built right on campus.
"This is finally it," he told me with a large grin on his face. "Forget Dave Wannstedt, forget The Big East, and forget about High Octane promises. This is the future of Pitt football, and this is why The Panthers are heading back to the National Championship."
I was speechless. Not only did it finally dawn on me that my dad was crying for 20 years because Pitt Stadium was torn down, but I was finally SURE that Pitt fans are completely out of touch with reality.
I will admit, tearing down Pitt Stadium was probably ill-advised (though it was reportedly a dump by the time it crumbled). But the "woe is me, boo-hoo" Pitt fans need to get over it. It’s gone, and it's not coming back.
That stadium didn’t translate into wins for Pitt then, and it surely won't be the reason now or in the future. Pitt slumped away from their glory years into a dismal abyss in the 1990's. That was all while playing in an on-campus stadium. By the way, if you think Pitts attendance at Heinz Field is bad, look up the attendance numbers in the 90’s.
Some Pitt fans seem to think that game attendance will improve performance on the field, when it's actually the exact opposite. The product on the field will attract fans no matter where the stadium is.
Moreover, have you ever tried driving on Fifth Avenue towards downtown? It takes 3 and half hours to get through Oakland. Have you ever tried parking in that area? You're better off paying the local frat bros to park your car on their lawn.
Heinz Field isn’t the problem for Pitt Football. Here’s why:
WPIAL talent has dried up. Moms and dads are worried about their precious little boys, so they've traded in their football helmets for paint brushes and video game controllers. Men officially had their balls removed sometime around 2006, and now we're so worried about CTE and fancy medical mumbo-jumbo, that it's yielding frail-bodied, over-educated, weirdo-children that don't decide what gender they are until their 16th birthday party.
That means Pitt‘s recruiting demographic, much like the rest of the northern schools, is shifting south.
You think these kids in Florida would rather play at a mid-rate stadium in the middle of Oakland as opposed to the house of one of the most successful and iconic sports franchise that exists (aka The Stillers)? Don’t kid yourselves, Pitt should do everything they can to play up and sell the shit out of that unique relationship they have.
College Football is all about money. So they should spend $400 million on a new stadium, right? No that’s stupid, and that’s not why teams win in college football. Clemson was basically Pitt before this recent jolt into the elite tier of competition. So if Clemson was middle of the road from the mid 80’s to late 00’s, all while playing in an on-campus stadium, what changed?
As in, recruiting budget and support staff. Clemson has the 2nd highest recruiting budget at 2.2 million, and at this point even have coaches labeled “Director of Player Rub and Tugs.”
You get the point, they have staff that recruit and game plan better than anyone. Pitt, as opposed to paying 400 mil for a stadium, should focus on recruiting and support staff. That’s a way better ROI, and would have a much greater impact. Until Pitt does this, their fans will spend every offseason crying as they look at 20 year old pictures of Pitt Stadium.