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November 16, 2013
by Jerry DiPaola


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Injured Pitt will find a way Saturday against North Carolina

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All of sudden, Pitt looks like a team in need of a Band-Aid, perhaps a few of them.
The Panthers will be without five players who would have played important roles in the team’s crucial ACC game Saturday against North Carolina.
The most troubling news — for a couple of reasons — are the back ailments plaguing starting offensive linemen Adam Bisnowaty and Cory King.
King will miss his fifth consecutive game — that’s more than half the season for a guy in his final season at Pitt — and Bisnowaty sits out his second in three weeks. Coaches seem OK with senior Ryan Schlieper moving in for King at left guard. But it’s as much of a shame for King, whose opportunities are dwindling, as it is for the team.
Coaches will look a little closer at Bisnowaty’s replacement at left tackle, freshman Dorian  Johnson.
Johnson, a Belle Vernon graduate, was widely proclaimed as one of Pitt’s most prized recruits in the Class of 2013. He did struggle two weeks ago in Atlanta, but that was in a noisy stadium against Georgia Tech’s Jeremiah Attaochu, one of the ACC’s premier pass rushers.
The same result against North Carolina — a weaker opponent in a friendlier venue — would hurt Pitt’s chances of keeping its offense on track and raise questions about Johnson’s progress in his freshman season.
The other three injured Panthers are backups, but tight end Scott Orndoff (leg) and cornerbacks Trenton Coles and Titus Howard (head injuries) are keys to the cause. Pitt has depth at tight end, but Orndoff has good hands and two touchdowns among his six receptions.
Coles suffered a helmet-to-helmet hit when he collided with teammate Jason Hendricks last week. Howard, one of five Clairton graduates on the team, plays meaningful minutes in the sub-packages. That means starters Lafayette Pitts and K’Waun Williams will be supported by Montour’s E.J. Banks and Jahmahl Pardner, whose first tackles Saturday will be their first of the season. Pardner was a key component in the sub-packages at the start of last season before he suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Enough chatter.
Quick prediction: The offensive line, even without two starters, will block well enough to lead Pitt to a victory. Fortunately, the Tar Heels’ defensive front might be North Carolina’s weakest unit.
Given ample time to survey the field and make decisions, quarterback Tom Savage will have a good day. Maybe a big day for freshman running back James Conner, whose shoulder injury finally has healed.
Pitt 27, North Carolina 21.
One more prediction: Miami will beat Duke today in Durham, pushing the Hurricanes near the head of the class in the Coastal Division of the ACC. Virginia Tech, which lost at Boston College two weeks ago, will assume the division lead and the best chance to get crushed by Florida State in the Dr. Pepper ACC Championship Game on Dec. 7.
For those of you wondering if Pitt has a chance to claim the Coastal title by winning its three remaining games, forget it. The losses to Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech are the back-breaking tiebreakers.

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November 10, 2013
by Jerry DiPaola


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Grading out Pitt’s victory against Notre Dame

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Pitt’s 28-21 victory Saturday night (almost Sunday morning) against Notre Dame was the program’s biggest moment since the coaching upheavals of 2010 and 2011.  It also marked the Panthers’ second win this season against a team that has won seven games (Duke).
Here are my grades in several important categories:
Offensive line — B
Quarterback Tom Savage was sacked only once — that’s happened only three times all season — and running backs Isaac Bennett and James Conner totaled 92 yards on 27 carries.
Skill — A
Senior wide receiver Devin Street’s 63-yard reception and dive into the pylon in the near corner of the end zone was a testament to his skill and determination. It’s what a leader does. And don’t forget Tyler Boyd’s eight receptions for 85 yards.
Quarterback — B
No interceptions, two touchdowns and 243 yards passing for Savage, who was both a productive passer and an effective caretaker. Savage hasn’t thrown for that many yards since the Duke game two months ago.
Defensive line — B-
Not a lot of pressure on Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees, but the line didn’t prevent the Irish’s deep stable of running backs  to control the game such as it did last week against Notre Dame.
Linebacker — B
Again, nothing spectacular, but Anthony Gonzalez’s coverage on Notre Dame’s final fourth-down incomplete pass sealed the victory.
Defensive backs — A
The two interceptions by safety Ray Vinopal are what everyone is talking about, but his partner at the position, Jason Hendricks, shared the team lead with seven tackles.
Kicking game — B
Pitt’s offense did nothing with Lafayette Pitts’ 50-yard kickoff return, but it was the team’s longest of the season.  No field goal attempts for Chris Blewitt, but he hit all four extra points.

Matchup

Notre Dame center Nick Martin got a lot of help from his guards while holding Donald, Pitt’s All-American candidate at defensive tackle, to one tackle and one quarterback hurry.
 

 

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November 8, 2013
by Jerry DiPaola


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Terry Hanratty hasn’t forgotten his Butler roots

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– I had two interesting conversations this week with the Hanrattys (father Terry, son Conor), both of whom will be in Heinz Field on Saturday night.
Conor is a backup guard for Notre Dame; Terry is his dad, the former Irish All-American quarterback, who played eight years in the NFL – seven with the Steelers, winning two Super  Bowl rings.
A self-proclaimed diehard Steelers fan, Conor started the first game of his collegiate career last week against Navy. You think Dad wasn’t bustin’? My story will be on triblive.com, Twitter (@JDiPaola_Trib) and Facebook by Friday morning.
Conor may not start Saturday against Pitt — coach Brian Kelly is hoping regular guard Chris Watt has recovered from his knee injury — but he may be the first reserve lineman off the bench.
Terry, who went to Butler High School, still keeps up with his alma mater, but he’s puzzled by the football program’s current hard times.
“When (former coach) Art Bernardi was there, a Division I coach had to stop in Butler every year,” he said. “It was a who’s who. Woody, Ara, Bear. Every coach known to man.”
Hanratty said Bernardi sent 63 players to Division I schools in 20 years. That included Hanratty and his running backs, Rich and Ron Saul, both of whom played a dozen years in the NFL.
Not sure how to look this up, but that 1965 Butler team might have been the only one in history that had three members of its backfield play eight or more years in the NFL.

– I ran across a list ranking the top 50 high school teams in the U.S. Six of them had some interesting connections:

No. 2 Allen (Texas) — Todd Graham coached there.
No. 7 Hoover (Ala.) — Pitt practices there when it plays in the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham. Which is more often than not recently. I once spent a January afternoon watching the Hoover basketball team practice because Pitt’s practice was closed.
No. 14 — St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) –  Pitt 2014 quarterback recruit Wade Freebeck is getting ready to lead STQ on what could be a long playoff run.
Nos. 33, 39 — Upper St. Clair and Central Catholic, the top seeds in the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs. No one will be surprised if coaches Jim Render and Terry Totten guide their teams into Heinz Field for the title game in two weeks.
No. 40 Southlake Carroll  (Texas) — Former Pitt quarterbacks coach Todd Dodge led Southlake Carroll to four state championships.
Here is the entire list:

http://www.studentsports.com/blog/2013/11/04/fab-50-week-11-national-football-rankings/

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November 7, 2013
by Jerry DiPaola


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Of a leprechaun, the Notre Dame fight song and knowing the right buttons to push

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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.

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November 1, 2013
by Jerry DiPaola


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Pitt’s visit to Atlanta, Georgia Tech is a chance to make amends

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From the 18th floor of the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta:

If you don’t like heights, keep the drapes drawn or don’t look down. But it is pretty cool. If you dare, copy and paste the following to see what I’m talking about: twitpic.com/djlyb9

Of course, the Pitt team isn’t interested in sightseeing. Saturday night’s game at Bobby Dodd Stadium against Georgia Tech is particularly important for the Panthers, who haven’t lost two in a row yet this year (after doing so a total of five times during the 2011 and 2012 seasons).

Pitt wasted a big opportunity to take a 5-2 record into Atlanta when the defense couldn’t find a way to solve Navy’s triple-option offense in the second half last week. I got the same feeling in that game as I did late in the Notre Dame triple-overtime affair last year — the other team would have scored on 10 more possessions if the game lasted long enough. Pitt just doesn’t have good fortune with mobile quarterbacks. Munchie Legaux of Cincinnati, Notre Dame’s Everett Golson and even Duke’s backup Brandon Connette all proved to be too fast and elusive for the Pitt defense.

Georgia Tech’s Vad Lee also runs well, which suggests to me that Pitt may be in trouble. If someone wanted to know what Pitt needs most to bolster its roster in the next two recruiting classes, I would say speed on defense. Outside linebacker Todd Thomas combines fleet feet and toughness, but he’s only 1/11th of the defense. Aaron Donald has, perhaps, the quickest first step among the nation’s defensive tackles, but he’s only another 1/11th.

Pitt has 15 sacks — eight by Donald. Pitt has forced 14 fumbles — and recovered three. Throw in six interceptions and that’s only nine turnovers in seven games. A total of 104 FBS teams have more fumble recoveries; 84 have more interceptions.

Maybe Pitt fans expected more with eight defensive starters returning from last year’s team.

But, as Paul Chryst likes to say, every week brings a new opportunity. No matter how bad the situation appears to be — and at 4-3, it’s really not terrible – there are five games remaining for Pitt to make amends. A couple of big plays on defense might lead to a 3-2 finish, which probably would mean victory against  North Carolina and Syracuse and either Georgia Tech, Notre Dame or Miami.

Would you sign for that right now, Pitt fans?

I’m not going to jump to conclusions and predict Pitt’s record over the final stretch of the season, but I do believe Georgia Tech will win Saturday night: Make it, 28-17.

One final personal note: Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium will be the 14th first-time venue for me since I started covering Pitt in 2011. It’s the oldest on-campus facility in college football and is celebrating its 100th birthday this year.

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October 25, 2013
by Jerry DiPaola


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Pitt vs. Navy: A look back, a look ahead and a prediction

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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.

 

 

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October 17, 2013
by Jerry DiPaola


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Pitt’s Price making strides toward reaching his full potential

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Pitt defensive end Ejuan Price is making strides toward becoming a good pass rusher. That’s according to someone who should know – Price’s position coach John Palermo, who’s been guiding young defensive players every football season since 1977.
Still, Palermo believes Price, a sophomore from  Woodland Hills, has a long way to go.
“I, personally, don’t think he is close to be where he needs to be at some point,” Palermo said. “He just needs to understand that as a player. That’s something he and I have constant conversations about.
“It’s easy to be average. It’s hard to be good. If you want to be good, you have to spend the extra time to be good.
“I think he’s headed in the right direction, but he’s not where I want him to be yet.”
Palermo doesn’t apologize for pushing Price toward his full potential.
“I always tell them, `If you can handle me in practice, you can handle anything in the game,’ ” Palermo said.
Palermo concedes he is asking Price to play out of position as a 6-foot, 230-pound end in a 4-3 base defense.
“We are asking him to play like he’s a 260-pound end and he’s not, but that’s the system that we’re in.
“There comes a point in football where you have to overcome coaching. A good player sees and that’s what Ejuan did (on a few run plays) against (Virginia) Tech. Ejuan closed hard, but he saw the ball handed off and as a result, we gained him in the alley.”
Another sign of a good football player: Thinking on your feet.
Palermo sees plenty of potential in Price, who will start ahead of the more physical David Durham on Saturday when Pitt plays Old Dominion and its dual-threat quarterback Taylor Heinicke at Heinz Field. Bryan Murphy retains his spot at the other end.
“Murphy and Ejuan, I thought, played very well (against Virginia Tech),” Palermo said. “Going into this football game, those are our two starters.
“Dave is better suited when you have a tight end or two tight ends in the game. He’s more of what I call a grinder, a banger, the physical part of it.
“The athletic part of it, I think Murphy and Ejuan handle much better.”
Price plays when the coaches are looking for speed off the edge, but the fact that he is still seeking his first sack – after getting four as a freshman in 2011 – is of no concern to Palermo.
“Some of the things we are doing with Ejuan gives (Aaron Donald) a chance to get more one-on-ones,” he said. “A.D. is an exceptional player so he takes advantage of the opportunities that he gets.”
Palermo said the number of sacks isn’t always an indicator of a good defense. Making the quarterback uncomfortable, forcing him out of the pocket and occupying blockers are just as important in the eyes of a coach.
As an example, Palermo points to his time as an assistant with the Washington Redskins in 2008-2009.
“We were fourth in the league in defense and 27th or 26th in sacks,” he said. “The following year, they go out and spend all the money and bring (defensive tackle Albert) Haynesworth in and we end up 10th in the league in sacks and eighth in the league in defense.
“We got more sacks, but we got worse defensively.”
Palermo also had some interesting insight into Heinicke, who has thrown for 2,088 yards and added 235 on the ground in only six games.
“This is nightmare week, if you ask me,” Palermo said.
“I will say this and I believe this: The quarterback is as good as any quarterback that we’ve played, including the guy from Florida State (Jameis Winston), as far as a pure quarterback.
“He’s not 6-5 and he doesn’t weigh 250 pounds (actually, he’s 6-1, 205) and he doesn’t run guys over, but he can sure run away from the rush.”

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September 28, 2013
by Jerry DiPaola


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Predicting a close call for Pitt today in must-win situation: Panthers 30 Cavaliers 27

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How important is Saturday’s Virginia game for Pitt?
Look at the upcoming schedule. After an off weekend, Pitt will visit Virginia Tech on Oct. 12, and the Hokies’ defense is clearly one of the best in the nation. Nice test for the newly energized Pitt offense. Coach Frank Beamer knows what went wrong last year when his team lost to Pitt, and will fix it. Plus, Logan Thomas will be a better quarterback than he was at Heinz Field last year.
Tough game, especially in Blacksburg.
Later, Pitt must play at Georgia Tech, at home against Notre Dame and North Carolina, Syracuse at the Carrier Dome and Miami at Heinz Field in a five-game gauntlet that will be difficult to navigate.
So, when schools such as Virginia appear on the schedule, it becomes just short of a must-win situation.
Looking at the matchups, Virginia’s defense will be a formidable test for Pitt’s offensive line that has played well so far this season. If Pitt can’t handle Virginia quarterback David Watford, who has thrown six interceptions in three games, the concern for the defense will morph into full-blown hand-wringing. It’s not like there’s help on the waiver wire. Only better recruiting will solve the problem for the future, but that does no good today.
That being said, I’ll take the underdog Cavaliers to cover the 5 1/2-point spread, but Pitt will win the game.
Call it: 30-27.
Which still will call for significant improvement on defense, but that’s a crisis for another day.
As expected, senior middle linebacker Shane Gordon (ribs) won’t play and will be replaced by yet another freshman, Matt Galambos. Also junior defensive end Bryan Murphy (ankle) is out, giving the start to sophomore Ejuan Price and shoving freshman (that word again) Shakir Soto up the depth chart.
And stay healthy center Artie Rowell. Your backup Gabe Roberts is out with a shoulder injury.

 

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September 18, 2013
by Jerry DiPaola


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ESPN’S Congemi likes the direction Pitt football is taking

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Former Pitt quarterback John Congemi, a college football analyst for ESPN, said he likes how the Panthers’ offense is developing under the direction of senior quarterback Tom Savage.
“I didn’t think they had the talent to stay with Florida State for four quarters, but I was glad to see they picked an identity and tried to stick with it,” he said. “I think (Savage) is really going to help this team grow up faster than it would with a guy who isn’t as seasoned. They have a pretty good idea of what he does well and what he likes to do. When you have that, you can fit the offense around him.

“I just hope the defense can hold up. They are not real big.” Congemi, who is working the Marshall/Virginia Tech game Saturday in Blacksburg, Va., for ESPNU, has a long history of working in television. He has served as an analyst for ESPNU games since 2005 and  worked for the Big East Network from 2000-2011.
He also is part of ESPN history – as a player. Congemi was Pitt’s quarterback for the 1984 opener against Brigham Young at Pitt Stadium, which was the first live telecast of a regular-season college football game on ESPN.
Among the more notable TV games Congemi remembers prior to ’84 was the Pitt/Penn State 24-24 tie in 1983. It was shown on tape delay with Bill Hillgrove and former Pitt All-American linebacker Sal Sunseri (now an assistant at Florida State) calling the action. Congemi also said Brent Musburger worked the ’83 West Virginia game for CBS.
Congemi is proud to be part of ESPN’s past and present.
“If we knew what ESPN was going to become, we would have been that much more excited,” he said.
Congemi played quarterback for Pitt from 1983-1986, and is sixth on Pitt’s all-time passing yardage list (6,467).
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September 12, 2013
by Jerry DiPaola


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The day Bob Davie invited Ellwood City’s Al Campman into the Notre Dame huddle

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Something happened to me Wednesday on a conference with New Mexico coach Bob Davie that was pleasing, unexpected and helpful all at the same time.
In this business, that’s a trifecta you don’t treat lightly.
While Davie, the Moon High School graduate who brings his Lobos to Heinz Field on Saturday to play Pitt, was chatting with the crew assigned to telecast the game (Channel 4, here in Pittsburgh; 95 markets nationwide via the ACC Network), I listened respectfully to the conversation. At the end,  when it appeared the allotted time for the call had expired, I butted in to introduce myself.
At that point, Davie said, “Give me your number. I’ll call you.”
I’ve been on a lot of conference calls, but never one that ended in the gem of all sports journalistic gems — the one-on-one interview.
I had a nice chat with Davie, who was a roommate at Youngstown State with former Ellwood City basketball coach Al Campman.
“I remember those nights in the dorm,” Davie said. “Al couldn’t sleep unless he had this fan running that sounded like a damn helicopter.”
My story on Davie http://triblive.com/sports/college/pitt/4683780-74/davie-coach-mexico#axzz2eh6aEqlc is on Page C19 of today’s Trib sports tabloid, but there was one Davie story that Campman mentioned that I didn’t have room to relate, so I’ll share it here.
When Davie was the head coach at Notre Dame, he invited Campman and three of his buddies, Mark Stanley, Jim Thompson and Brad Ovial, to the Irish’s spring game. Prior to the game, Davie spoke to the guys, but had other commitments and left after a brief hello.
Campman understood, of course, but he was a bit disappointed that Davie couldn’t spend more time with them.
“When you are the head coach, every minute of the day, you are doing something,” said Campman,  who was the point guard on Farrell coach Eddie McCluskey’s final PIAA championship team in 1972.
During the game, an announcement came over the public address system for Campman to report to the press box. Campman thought something had happened at home, so he was deeply concerned as quickly left his seat and headed upstairs. But as he crossed the back of the end zone to get to the elevator, Davie stopped him and said, “I want you on the field for the game.”
Campman was thrilled — “He knows I’m  a football coach at heart; I just happen to coach basketball.” — and even got as close as the Notre Dame huddle.
Perhaps Davie was trying to pay back Campman for the time when he came to one of Campman’s football games when he was coaching at Trinity High School in Garfield Heights, Ohio.
“It was pouring down rain and here comes a runner right at him,” Campman said. “Knocked him head over heels and he’s drenched. He hurt his leg and was even limping around.”
Campman steered clear of any Notre Dame runners that day, and the two men — whose Youngstown teammates included NFL quarterbacks Ron Jaworski and Cliff Stoudt  – remain close friends. Davie was in the stands at the Fitzgerald Field House when Campman’s Ellwood City basketball team lost to Beaver Falls in the WPIAL championship in 1985.
“I was a little more straight shooter than him,” Campman said of their days at YSU. “Bob liked to go have a little more fun than me, but when it came down to hard work, we both did the same thing.”

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