Pitt revealed a set of steel gray alternate uniforms that it will don for its matchup with Louisville this coming Saturday at Heinz Field. The color and design of the uniforms are inspired by Pittsburgh’s reputation as the preeminent city in the American steel industry, and it features design elements inspired by the University of Pittsburgh’s campus.
Most notably, the color and texture of the helmet and numbers are designed to resemble steel. That steel theme is built upon with a gold patch featuring a steelworker on the right upper portion of the jersey and an “H2P” emblem on the shoulder that incorporates design elements from the U.S. Steel logo.
The nods to the University of Pittsburgh are included on the collar of the jersey. The most notable addition is the black pattern, which is meant to resemble the wrought-iron gates in the Cathedral of Learning. Those gates were designed by ironworker Samuel Yellin, and they are inscribed with a passage from the poem “Ode to Eaton College” by Robert Bridges that reads, “Here is eternal spring; for you the very stars of heaven are new.”
Pitt has made an effort to emphasize its ties to Pittsburgh and appeal to fans of Pittsburgh sports through alterations to its uniforms on several occasions. Under former athletic director Steve Pederson, the school scrapped the “Pitt” nickname and replaced it with “Pittsburgh” in the late 1990s. However, more recently, the men’s basketball team sported black and gold alternates and called on fans to black out the Petersen Events Center.
Another nod to the city by the football team came in the form of small “412” plates on the team’s helmets that were briefly seen at team practices in 2019. However, they prompted pushback from Pittsburgh-area retail store Shop 412 and were quickly removed.
Like the 412 embellishments, Sunday’s reveal falls in line with the football team’s efforts to appeal to recruits from the Pittsburgh area, which has greatly benefited the team in the past. In fact, of the 10 numbers retired by Pitt, six belonged to natives of the Pittsburgh area.
Early in Pat Narduzzi’s tenure, Pitt landed commitments from Central Catholic's Damar Hamlin and Steel Valley's Paris Ford, both four-star recruits. However, local recruiting took a hit afterward, with a number of WPIAL stars heading to Notre Dame and Penn State. That prompted the “Defend Your City” campaign that netted a pledge from Dayon Hayes.
Since then, Pitt has landed commitments from Elliot Donald, Dorien Ford and Nahki Johnson, all of whom are WPIAL stars who will join the team in 2021, and Narduzzi hopes to add more local standouts, with Gateway safety Derrick Davis and North Allegheny tight end Khalil Dinkins still uncommitted at this point.
All things considered, it appears that the goal for Pitt is to brand the Panthers as the college football team of the Steel City, and these uniforms should go a long way in that effort.