John Steigerwald's Sports Column
If you miss Pitt-Florida State, catch it again in a dozen years
Get those Pitt-Florida State tickets while you can.
The Pitt athletic department thought that scheduling a Labor Day football opener at Heinz Field was a big enough deal that it called a news conference to announce it. I don’t recall a news conference to announce last year’s opener against Youngstown State or the addition of Gardner-Webb to the 2012 schedule.
Florida State is a big deal. It’s a national power and probably the most respected and feared football program in Pitt’s new conference, the ACC. The announcement was celebrated all over Western Pennsylvania, and not just because FSU is not YSU. It’s a perfect way for Pitt to start its ACC era, it’s going to be on national TV in prime time and it’s exciting for local college football fans.
But there also is a good dose of college football stupidity that might have been lost in the euphoria.
Do you know when Pitt and Florida State play at Heinz Field again after this season’s opener?
How about 2025?
That’s right, because Pitt and Florida State are in different divisions of the ACC and play each other once every six years, home and home. Which means Florida State will play in Pittsburgh three times between now and 2037.
This, of course, is all about teams wanting to play seven home games, which means they can’t schedule only conference opponents, which is what, you know, makes perfect sense. I understand that this is what makes it possible for the field hockey team to pay for its trips to Tallahassee and Atlanta for conference games, but it’s still stupid.
Not to be a party pooper.
• Dennis Rodman established himself as an idiot a long time ago. Who knew he would reemerge at age 51 as a useful idiot?
Rodman was part of a group, which included some Harlem Globetrotters and an HBO documentary crew, that went to North Korea. After meeting with the young thug in charge for four days, Rodman declared Kim Jong-un to be “an awesome kid.” By all accounts, the food was “awesome,” too.
Rodman has nose rings that cost more than most North Koreans have earned in their lifetime, and food is so scarce that there are people who dine on grass and field mice, but Rodman called Kim a great leader and was sure to point out that Kim really loves his wife. Kim’s father and grandfather are responsible for tens of thousands of people being sent to labor camps that have been compared to Nazi concentration camps. Rodman called them “great leaders”, too.
In 2013, how many years of being an idiot does it take before you are ignored, much less chosen to unofficially represent your country in enemy territory?
• This little nugget comes from ESPN and is one of the most amazing factoids I have seen in years: The last quarterback drafted by Kansas City who led the Chiefs to a win was Todd Blackledge, who was drafted in 1983 – same year as Dan Marino and John Elway. The Chiefs recently picked up quarterback Alex Smith in a trade with the 49ers.
• ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper also had some interesting numbers to spew while covering the NFL Combine. Back in 1979, when he entered draftnickdom, Kiper said the top five prospects at offensive tackle averaged 6-foot-4 and 264 pounds. Now they average 6-6, 314. Centers were 6-3, 242, now they’re 6-4, 304. Guards were 6-3, 250. Now they’re 6-4, 317. Guards now weigh almost 70 pounds more than they did 30 years ago. Defensive linemen have increased from an average of 263 to 288. Adventures in nutrition.
• One of the big attractions of the ACC for schools like Pitt was its reputation for academic excellence. That reputation took a major hit when it was revealed that, for years, North Carolina players had been going to classes that didn’t exist. And receiving “A’s” for grades.
An outside review board is scheduled to pay a visit to the campus this spring, so the administration is conducting unannounced inspections of classes to confirm that they exist. The fraudulent classes involved “student-” athletes and the African-American studies program. Call me a cynic, but I don’t think it took people peeping in windows or taking pictures – which is what they’re doing now – for people on campus to know that athletes were getting away with not being real students. It went on for decades.
Here’s hoping someone commissions a study to determine where some of those student-athletes, who were shamelessly exploited, are now.
John Steigerwald writes a Sunday column for the Observer-Reporter.