SOMEWHERE OVER PENNSYLVANIA – This curious dateline comes to you courtesy of Delta Airlines.
For the second time this season, a malfunction on a Delta aircraft put my travel plans on hold.
Two months ago, I was stuck in the Oklahoma City airport for seven hours the day after Pitt’s game against Oklahoma State.
Friday, on the way to Miami Gardens, Fla., via Fort Lauderdale and Atlanta for Panthers/Hurricanes on Saturday afternoon, I was actually in the air for 30 minutes before a member of the flight crew spotted smoke in the cabin.
I saw none, due to the fact that I had my eyes focused on something much more interesting: The book I’m currently reading – a biography of Walter Cronkite.
(Great detail and fascinating anecdotes, by the way, from biographer Douglas Brinkley in his 819-page book. My favorite story: Cronkite was fired from a radio job in Kansas City in 1937 when he refused to believe an inaccurate report from the station manager’s wife who insisted three firemen had died in a fire. Cronkite wanted to get the story confirmed — imagine that! — before putting it on the air.
In fact, there was only a small fire and no fatalities, but the station manager fired Cronkite the next day, anyway.)
But I digress (hey, it’s my blog).
Someone asked me if I was scared when the pilot reported smoke (we later were told it was caused by an oil leak in the engine), but I can’t say that I was. The pilot was very calm and professional, and I even had the presence of mind to snap a picture of the fireman who walked down the aisle to do an inspection.
Our plane returned safely to the Pittsburgh International Airport where I called Delta and found another flight to Fort Lauderdale — through La Guardia in New York City. It is scheduled to hit Fort Lauderdale at 8 p.m., four hours late. I wrote this on the plane, with the snack cart at my elbow, and finished it with a bowl of clam chowder at a place called Bisoux in La Guardia.
That’s fine, I guess, since I asked for a meal vouchers to compensate for my trouble and received $30 worth from the gentleman behind the Delta counter. I’m getting pretty good at asking harried airline employees for favors.
A three-hour layover in NYC awaits. One blessing: The clam chowder was very good. And I got a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty and Citi Field, home of the Mets. (Trib page designer Matt Rosenberg is jealous.)
Onto football matters:
The week prior to Pitt’s game against Miami, some idiot or idiots somewhere in cyber space (or his mother’s basement) posted on a message board that Pat Narduzzi and Purdue are dancing partners. Purdue is looking for a new head coach and reportedly will pay lots of money for him.
Of course, the Narduzzi connection was a joke with no factual basis, but tweeters lapped it up like kittens after spilled milk. One tweeter even hoped that Pitt would hire Les Miles to replace Narduzzi after he goes to Purdue. (No, I can’t make this stuff up.)
Anyway, I don’t get the entertainment value in writing such inaccurate drivel. Does the writer hope it will cause consternation among Pitt fans who don’t want to lose another coach? Most of them are smart enough to know that Narduzzi has no interest in going to Purdue. Hello! He coached in the Big Ten for eight years.
Of course, Narduzzi was asked about the topic at his weekly press briefing Thursday, and denied it. “I’m not going anywhere,” he said.
My complaint with people who like to play with the Internet as if it’s a toy is that some of us actually use it for professional reasons and research. It’s wrong, childish and irresponsible to post information that you know to be false.
Grow up! I have better things to do than chase down your silliness.
Finally, I get to the intended purpose for this blog:
Here’s a little story on how Pitt offensive right tackle Brian O’Neill almost missed the two-point conversion after his surprising touchdown run last week against Virginia Tech.
“Everyone was freaking out,” O’Neill said, referring to the aftermath of his second touchdown run of the season. “I went to run off the field just to get the celebration over with. Everyone is screaming at me and pointing, pointing, `We’re going for two.’ ”
O’Neill sprinted back onto the field where, luckily, there was a dispute on where Pitt wanted the ball to be placed.
“The refs had an official timeout and gave me a second to catch my breath and get ready to think about what I had to do on the next play and stop worrying about the last play.”
I joked with O’Neill – one of the team’s nicest guys, by the way – about what he might do for his next trick. How many offensive tackles can say they scored on two run plays in a span of 19 days? Don’t worry, coach. He didn’t reveal any secrets.
Delta Airlines willing, I’ll be at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday for Pitt’s game against the Hurricanes, live-tweeting and providing complete coverage with stories you can read on Triblive.com and in Sunday’s Trib.
Prediction: I have a feeling Narduzzi will get his defense riled up just enough to pressure Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya, and Narduzzi will make the necessary adjustments in the secondary to avoid a repeat of the Virginia Tech debacle.
Pitt 35, Miami 31