Bags packed, I’m off to Maryland on Friday morning for Pitt’s game against Navy on Saturday.
First thing, though, I need to pick up some Marriott points at the BWI airport and visit — at the gentle urging of co-worker Bob Cohn –McGarvey’s in Annapolis. “You gotta try the crab cake pretzels,” Cohn said.
It’s said — or, Cohn said — that McGarvey’s was a favorite hangout of Walter Cronkite, who used to dock his 48-foot yacht nearby.
First, though, let’s clean up some loose ends from the week.
— I got an email from Pitt grad Sam Zacharias, who did the color commentator along side Beano Cook, for the closed-circuit telecast of the famous 1963 Pitt-Navy game. Among Zacharias’ halftime guests were Pitt Chancellor Edward H. Litchfield and the nation’s 37-year-old attorney general Robert F. Kennedy.
“It was a heady experience for a 20-year-old student,” Zacharias wrote.
RFK, like his older brother, was a big Navy fan. Staubach said he remembers Robert playing touch football outside the team’s hotel before the Michigan game in 1963.
— As we were concluding our conversation Wednesday, former Navy quarterback and college and pro football Hall of Famer Roger Staubach poked a little fun at his two losses to the Steelers in Super Bowls X and XIII when he was with the Dallas Cowboys. “I sure am glad we beat Pitt in 1963,” he said. “We didn’t have much luck with that other Pittsburgh team.”
— What was interesting about the ’63 game was the level of success players from both teams enjoyed after football. Staubach was the only member of his team to play in the NFL, but seven of them became admirals in the U.S. Navy. After football, Staubach made a fortune in commercial real estate, and continues to work to this day at the age of 71 as Executive Chairman-Americas of the Jones, Lang, LaSalle global commercial real estate company in Dallas.
Pitt quarterback Fred Mazurek, who has a law degree from Michigan State and a graduate law degree from Wayne (Mich.) State, retired four years ago as the chief tax officer of the multi-national, biomedical firm Beckman Coulter Inc., in Fullerton, Calif.
Mazurek, who married Pitt coach John Michelosen’s daughter Suzanne, was an All-American centerfielder at Pitt and attracted interest from the Philadelphia Phillies, Pirates and Minnesota Twins, who drafted him in the 19th round. He also briefly played for the Washington Redskins before entering the real world.
Former Pitt baseball coach Bobby Lewis said of Mazurek: “He’d go four-for-five and come back to the bench and ask what he was doing wrong.”
Lineman Ernie Borghetti has been a successful dentist in Youngtown, Ohio, since 1971. His son E. J. is senior associate athletic director at the University of Pittsburgh.
Another member of that team was longtime NFL head coach Marty Schottenheimer.
“Not only did we have quality football players, but we had quality people on our team,” Mazurek said. “That ’63 team is greatly admired because of what they accomplished on the field and what we did after that.”
(OK, enough of the past. Back to the present.)
— Pitt defensive coordinator Matt House revealed this week that the Panthers coaches spent some time this off-season with Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, whose team plays Navy every year and runs a similar, ground-oriented offense.
House said Calhoun said: “Make no mistake about it. They are going to be there to whip you.”
Air Force (1-6) lost to Navy, 28-10, on Oct. 5.
— North Allegheny graduate and Pitt senior Ryan Schlieper will make his second consecutive start at left guard Saturday, replacing Cory King, who is dealing with a back injury.
Schlieper started the first eight games at right guard last season before missing the final five with a foot injury. Then, he became a backup this season when coaches moved former tackles King and Matt Rotheram to guard.
“It was like old times. It was good to be back out there on the field,” said Schlieper, who has made 18 career starts. “I really missed it a lot.”
He admitted that it was difficult accepting the fact that he lost his starting job.
“You get upset, you get hurt,” he said. “You come back (from injury) and your spot is not there. It’s hard not to get mad.”
But Schlieper has a incredibly mature attitude about the situation.
“I said to myself, `There is no reason for me to be bitter. I had my limelight. It’s time to pass it on to someone else.’ ”
He said he was able to wrap his head around becoming a backup again because the players on Pitt’s offensive line are close friends.
“If it was someone I didn’t like, that would probably make it a lot worse,” he said.
He said everyone on the line shares in the others’ successes and failures.
“You don’t get judged (as) one person,” he said. “You are judged as five people. You’re a unit. It’s a living organism.”
Schlieper, 23, has graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history and is pursuing a second degree in administration of justice.
— Freshman wide receiver Tyler Boyd, who took a lot of snaps at Clairton High School, said the time is coming for him to run the Wildcat, but he promises to be patient.
“I think it’s coming,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s going to be this year.”
I can’t say I’ve seen a copy of Chryst’s playbook, but it’s safe to assume the Wildcat holds no prominent place in it. He has called for nine handoffs to Boyd, which have gone for 106 yards and one touchdown.
— Oh, one more thing: Pitt 27, Navy 21.