Welcome! This is the last quadrant of Spilly's Bracket of Things 2016 Tournament. In this group, we have the group of individuals who have championed what it means to be associated with Pitt in both small and large ways. Thankfully, this one should be less depressing than PBS's yesterday.
Bracket of Things so far:
To the Bracket!
(1) Tony Dorsett vs (16) T-Rav
Led Pitt to its last National Championship in football. Heisman winner. Superbowl champ. College football and NFL hall of famer. One of the greatest football players of all time. Not much else needs to be said.
A staple of nights in Oakland until a few years ago, T-Rav became famous for his grill cooking up great food late at night for Pitt student party goers. His menu consisted of hot dogs, hamburgers, and pulled pork. Special T-Rav BBQ sauce was free. Always extremely welcoming to students, he would stay open until every customer that came to his grill was fed. He also didn't let the lack of a permit prevent him from keeping his operation going in the later years.
(8)Patrick Gallagher vs (9) Scott Barnes
Mark Nordenberg was celebrated by many for his contributions to Pitt as a whole, especially academics. Patrick Gallagher is quickly making his own legacy in revitalizing Pitt Athletics. His firing of Steve Pederson is one of the most celebrated moments in Pitt Athletics of the last 20 years. His hiring of Pat Narduzzi was exceptional and well executed, and he followed it up with hiring his opponent in this bracket, Scott Barnes. His idea that "Excellence Isn't Selective" has become a standard for the entire university.
Scott Barnes has won over Pitt fans with his outrageous and uncommon desire to actually listen to what fans want. Within months he officially brought back the Pitt Script logo to all sports, established the Fan Experience committee to improve the game day experience, hired an absolute homerun of a soccer coach, and has started the process of capital projects plan to generate revenue and new facilities for Pitt Athletics. Barnes hasn't been on the job even a year and has been a huge success.
(5) James Conner vs (12) EJ Borghetti / Steve Petro
James Conner was an unheralded recruit from Erie, PA that initially committed as a defensive end, but ended up at running back after Rushel Shell went nuts and left Pitt. Luckily for all those involved, James Conner became an absolute monster. In his sophomore campaign, he set the school record for season rushing TDs, total TDs, and points, surpassing Tony Dorsett in all three categories. He injured his knee in the first game of the 2015 season, and announced at the end of the season that he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. He famously said "fear is a choice. I chose not to fear cancer. We’re going to fight, and we’re going to beat this thing." Since then, Conner has made it through 8 of his 12 chemo treatments. The last few weeks, he's been working out and even practicing with the team despite his condition. Conner was known before his cancer diagnosis for his work with charities in and around both the Pittsburgh and Erie regions, and is adored by everyone that knows him.
EJ Borghetti / Steve Petro
Our play in game! EJ Borghetti is officially Pitt's Executive Associate Athletic Director for Media Relations. If you don't know him by name, he's usually the guy standing behind Pat Narduzzi or Scott Barnes during interviews making sure reporters don't get too nosey. If you've had the pleasure of meeting him in person, you quickly learn he is not only one of Pitt's biggest fans, but also one of the nicest and caring Pitt administrators. While some people may yell at him to get off his porch, EJ is celebrated for his fierce Pitt pride and vast knowledge of Pitt trivia, both of which he shows often on his twitter. He's one of Pitt's best administrators, and is integral to Pitt Athletics in general.
Steve Petro is a name you might not know. He is actually the inspiration for the name "Roc" for Pitt's mascot. "the Rock" was Petro's nickname when he played under famous Pitt coach Jock Southerland in the 1930's. He was also an assistant coach, athletic department assistant, and was a life time supporter of Pitt until his death in 1994. Anybody who the mascot is named after is worthy of being on this list.
(4) Larry Fitzgerald vs (13) Hugh Henry Brackenridge
Larry Fitzgerald is the greatest Pitt wide receiver of all time, and one of Pitt's best representatives both on and off the field. Despite him finishing second in Heisman voting his sophomore year (which is still absolute garbage), he was considered a fantastic college player, and has only excelled even more in the NFL. The 2003 Biletnikoff Award winner had his jersey retired in 2013, and has amazed over 13,000 yards and 98 touchdown's in his NFL career. Larry is also known for his extremely humble personality, and work off the field as well.
Hugh Henry Brackenridge
Hugh Henry Brackenridge is credited as being the founder of what is now The University of Pittsburgh. Originally born in Kintyre Scotland, he emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1753 when he was 5 years old. He graduated from what would eventually become Princeton University, and served as a chaplain in George Washington's army during the Revolutionary war. After getting his law degree, he moved from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh in 1780. He helped establish the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as the first western newspaper of the time. That same year, he was elected to the Pennsylvania state assembly, and obtained state endowments in 1787 to establish the Pittsburgh Academy, modeled after Benjamin Franklin's University of Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Academy would eventually become the University of Pittsburgh. Couldn't have Pitt without the school being founded, and having a dorm named after you is pretty baller too.
(6) DeJuan Blair vs (11) Jerome Lane
The actual basketball matchup!
DeJuan Blair was the anchor of Pitt's best basketball team in 25+ years. He was a consensus first-team All-American, and shared Co-Big East Player of the Year with Connecticut's Hasheem Thabeet, who he completely dominated in their first meeting that year. He famously grew up just a few hundred yards from the Petersen Events Center, where help Pitt stayed undefeated in his sophomore year in front of the Zoo. He has an infectious smile while playing, and was one of the most fun players to watch for Pitt.
Jerome Lane is famous for making arguably the greatest dunk of all time. He was a first round pick in the 1988 NBA draft, and played basketball professionally through the 2000 season. Bill Raftery's call of the dunk set his own broadcasting career in motion. Lane provided something incredibly awesome for Pitt to be remembered for on the basketball side.
(3) Mike Ditka vs (14) Cathedral of Learning
The pentultimate badass of Pitt football in general. The man needs no introduction.
Cathedral of Learning
The building that is the symbol of the University of Pittsburgh and the subject of thousands of Instagram posts referring to Cathy (yeah, that's right) as "BAE" (look that one up, boomers) . The Cathedral was the idea of chancellor John Bowman, who had a vision for a centerpiece for the University in the 1920's. It was paid for by donors and a campaign that collected dimes from local school children, and was built in the midst of the Great Depression. It opened for classes in 1931, and has stood proud since then. It's pretty much impossible to find weather or a time of day that the Cathedral does not look fantastic.
(7) Patrick Narduzzi vs (10) Hot Name Coach to Replace Jamie Dixon
Pat Narduzzi has been the architect behind a revitalization of Pitt football since his hire Christmas 2014. In his first year, Pitt improved to 8-4 on the season in a difficult schedule that included more than a few come from behind wins. His personality and demeanor have been a huge hit among Pitt fans, and he's breathed new life into the attitude around the program especially on the recruiting front. He's very active on twitter, and forced older fans to learn what "subtweeting", "emojis" and other millennial type things mean so they can understand his emoji references to package deals and the "chain gang".
Hot Name Coach to Replace Jamie Dixon
Who's the hottest lower level coach this year? Because many fans want him over Jamie Dixon! Some team will go on a run in this year's tournament, and a yinzer Pitt fan will call for Dixon to be replaced with that team's coach for the next 3 years no matter what Dixon does. That unnamed coach gives fans hope that he can somehow improve upon Jamie Dixon being the best Pitt coach of all time. All he has to do to beat Dixon is have the highest winning percentage in the ACC of all time, take Pitt to its first Final Four, be the fastest to a certain amount of wins each year of his coaching career, recruit all the elite players from all over, play an exciting brand of basketball, make the NCAA tournament every year no matter what, schedule hard out of conference team's to come to the Pete, never entertain jobs from other schools, and probably be paid less money than Jamie for all of that. Good luck, Coach Insert-Name-Here!
(Author's note: I recognize Jamie Dixon's deficiencies. I've written about my problems with his coaching several time this year. This paragraph is a joke one offering perspective. Relax)
(2) Dan Marino vs (15) Hemingway's Bartenders
Dan Marino is one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game, and is a Pittsburgh guy to boot. After going to high school right down the street at Central Catholic, he led Pitt to 33 wins and 3 losses in his first 3 years with Jackie Sherrill before Foge Fazio. His draft stock dropped significantly his senior year, and was chosen behind 5 other quarterbacks in the first round by the Miami Dolphins. Pitt has always put an extreme effort in keeping the local high-profile talent of western PA home, and Marino was one of the best from that group.
You know the three of them. They've been there every weekend night for years. Hemingway's is likely the most popular bar on Pitt's campus mostly for it's laid back atmosphere, decent half-priced food, and cheap alcohol. The Hems bartenders have anchored behind the bar since most recent Pitt graduates can remember. Just finished an exam? Celebrate at Hems! Just got dumped? Commiserate at Hems! Birthday? Hems! Pitt away game? Hems! Those three bartenders have likely been a part of all those occasions.
Please make your votes, and don't forget to ridicule me on my seeds or other Pitt heroes I forgot. Happy March!