It all started Monday when Pitt tight end J.P. Holtz expressed his dislike for Notre Dame because of the school’s “cocky” coaches. Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly responded by acknowledging that Pitt doesn’t particularly like Notre Dame.
That day, the “Notre Dame Victory March” blared through the speakers on Pitt’s outdoor practice facility while players went through warmups. Music is played every day, but usually it’s a selection picked by the players. The Notre Dame fight song typically isn’t on the list. “Not a big fan,” offensive lineman Dorian Johnson said.
Then, on Wednesday, while coach Paul Chryst ordered the fight song brought back for an encore performance, student manager Justin Wentz ran onto the field dressed as a leprechaun. Wentz harassed the players while they were warming up for practice before he was playfully (I think) tackled by Aaron Donald.
Chryst seemed to be trying to make the sight and sound of Notre Dame so annoying that by Saturday night, the Pitt players would be ready to fight anything associated with the Irish. At that point, the football team would do nicely.
Actually, Chryst is too smart and too much of a realist to try to motivate his players with trickery. He is simply lightening the mood and having some fun with a group of players that he believes has worked hard this season. Chryst likes his team, win or lose, and poking some playful fun at the opponent was his way of showing it.
Do we dare talk Heisman?
ESPN.com conducted a Heisman poll among its college football analysts and writers, and only one defensive player got a vote — Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald (fifth place). Quarterbacks Marcus Mariota of Oregon, Jameis Winston of Florida State and Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M finished 1-2-3.