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Pitt's spring game a step in the right direction

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Since his hiring, new Pitt football head coach Pat Narduzzi has made a lot of positive decisions. Narduzzi helping to jump start the spring game is yet another one.

Last year, you might recall that the Panthers' didn't hold a spring game. Not only did they bypass on the game, it was for an utterly foolish reason. The reason then head coach Paul Chryst passed on the event? He wanted to have one more practice. That's right - Chryst's reason for not holding the game was to hold one additional practice approximately six months prior to the season beginning.

And I'll even pass on the obvious jokes about how much that actual practice helped the team, which went 6-6 for yet another season.

Pitt isn't going big time and hosting the event at Heinz Field (as they should), but at least it was explained away with the renovations. That implies the Panthers could get back to the event at their primary stadium and that's a good thing for all involved.

My feelings on the spring game are pretty well known at this point - Pitt needs to go big with it and blow it out of the water rather than using the excuse that it's lightly attended to force the game into a high school stadium (thus, continuing to be the butt of easy jokes).

The fact is, though, that holding the game at all is better than nothing. I realize that some think the game is meaningless - and the result, of course, is. But with virtually every other D-I program holding a game, it's just something programs need to do - especially ones like Pitt that are dying to generate more fan interest. There's absolutely no reason to turn down free advertising and not give people a reason to get excited about the program whenever you can.

I also give Pitt some credit for picking a pretty ideal location and time as opposed to the high school thing. The 2013 decisions were a complete disaster as far as I was concerned. Holding the game at Bethel Park made it only convenient for fans in that area to reach - and that was particularly true since it was held on a Friday night, which was another thing about it that wasn't ideal.

This time around, the school got it much more right.

First, the game is on a Saturday, which is just a lot more convenient. It allows families to plan better for attending and at 1:00 p.m., encourages students to go instead of making it happen on a weekend night when most would rather be partying. The 2013 game on Friday night was just a difficult sell with not only the students, but those working barely had enough time to get home after work to pick up kids, have dinner, etc. And depending where you live/work, going home first may not have even been an option.

Also, in Bethel Park, the location wasn't ideal, either. Holding the game at Highmark Stadium over on the south side/Stadium Square makes it not only much more accessible for students, but also for young professionals living over there. And near so many bars and restaurants just makes for a more desirable location for those two groups of people. If the idea was to go with a small venue, I think the school got it absolutely right with this one.

As I said - Pitt eventually needs to get this game to a bigger venue and do whatever they can to make it grow. But for now, it's good to have the game back at all and the decisions on a date and location are far more ideal than when the game was last held.

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