On Thursday, Pitt announced its 2019 Hall of Fame class. With the inaugural class being inducted last year, the Panthers’ biggest names were off the board. But since this is still a relatively new thing, the second class was full of big names, too.
The complete list is below and here is Pitt’s formal announcement.
- Sam Clancy (Men’s Basketball)
- Jimbo Covert (Football)
- Don Hennon (Men’s Basketball)
- Najuma Fletcher (Women’s Track and Field)
- Sue Heon (Women’s Swimming)
- Charley Hyatt (Men’s Basketball)
- Lorri Johnson (Women’s Basketball)
- John Majors (Coach: Football)
- Mark May (Football)
- Lee McRae (Men’s Track and Field)
- Joe Schmidt (Football)
- The Peery Family (Wrestling)
Head football coach Johnny Majors and players Mark May, Joe Schmidt, and Jimbo Covert will arguably lead the way in terms of fan interest. But basketball players Don Hennon, Charley Hyatt, and Sam Clancy shouldn’t be far behind. I’m not going to rehash all of the accomplishments of those guys. The Pitt announcement does that fairly well and plenty of more info is on Google. Also noteworthy is that former basketball player Billy Knight is the new Chairman of the Hall of Fame.
But I did want to touch on one notable induction, and that is the one of the Peery family for wrestling because this will get overlooked by practically everyone.
You might recall that last year when this whole thing was first announced, I brought up the Peerys. Father/Coach Rex really turned Pitt into a national powerhouse while his two sons became All-Americans. It goes without saying that they undoubtedly belong and, given the people inducted, probably should have gotten in last year.
But while I’m glad to see them get in, lumping them together as ‘The Peery Family,’ which is what Pitt did here seems a bit dismissive. All three are in but they are classified as one single entry.
Now, outrage for this will be a bit minimal for a number of reasons. First, they’re all technically getting in. Second, it’s for a sport that not everyone cares about. And third, we’re talking about people that have since passed away and were active decades ago. That all would have been calculated in the decision-making, I expect.
It might seem trivial if you don’t really care about this stuff but envision this scenario. But for the sake of argument, say Tony Dorsett’s father was the head coach at Pitt when he played and that Dorsett later had a son that played at Pitt (which, of course, he did). Now say all three were equally deserving of getting in and the three were lumped in together as the Dorsett family. We know how great of a player Tony was and he certainly deserves to be recognized individually. A group induction would seem kind of odd, right?
Interestingly enough, an interesting parallel exists with the WWE as they actually induct stables/groups together. But they also induct individuals from those groups in on their own merits (thus, you can get inducted more than once).
And while it might seem easy to induct all three together as one entry, make no mistake about it — the three were very much singularly excellent. Rex, as stated, built the Pitt program, starting it from nothing and turning it into a national power. He had some help from sons Hugh and Ed, who both won three consecutive national titles (as in, ‘each’). They, by the way, followed in Rex’s footsteps in that measure as he did the same thing as a collegiate wrestler at Oklahoma State. Winning one national title is incredibly special. Winning three in a row? That doesn’t happen every day. In other words, all three definitely belong in on their own merits and classifying them as one entity sort of downplays their individual feats.
The problem here is one of space. My guess is that Pitt wanted to find a way to get all in while only taking one of the 12 allocated slots. Put them all in separately and that means that two more folks will have to wait until next year. I can appreciate that plight o to some degree.
Some of this is due to being a pretty enthusiastic fan of the wrestling program and some is due to old age. Blame either and trust me when I say this, but no one will care. Plus, believe me, I’m glad all three are in. But I think the classification of all three as one singular unit is a bit dismissive to their accomplishments — particularly in such an individual sport such as wrestling.