It’s almost homecoming. Are you excited? Are you glad that our fifteen straight weeks of road games have finally come to an end? It’s time for alumni bands, old people tailgates, and weakly cheering for a homecoming court while simultaneously confused by the very existence of it. It’s here, buddy, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Homecomings are generally useless. We get a cool laser show projected on the Cathedral, and there’s some fireworks, but when the game day gets here it’s pretty much the same old shtick. Some years, however, are different. We remember last year’s homecoming, don’t we? That’s when Lord Peterson decided in the least organized way possible to slap a script Pitt sticker on a helmet and we predictably freaked out. I mean, we’re still freaking out about it. I rebought my entire wardrobe for a logo I *already had* on a bunch of other stuff. We had Twitter folks posting where to buy new script shirts as soon as they were available. People were…and are…excited. But what does the future hold in store for Pitt football homecomings? Let’s find out.
2016: As the new script Pitt uniforms and athletic branding finally shift into place full-time, a small whisper floats across campus: "This is good, but do you know what could be better? Western University of Pennsylvania in 19th century handwriting on the helmets." The administration is forced to throw back every year until the logo is a prehistoric cave painting of a panther mishandling a football on third down.
2017: Pat Narduzzi’s team is ranked heading into the homecoming battle with Syracuse. Having knocked off a resolute but ultimately cursed VT team once again, expectations are high. Despite Syracuse having not scored an offensive touchdown all season and a Pitt defense that is nationally ranked as football’s best Pitt completely implodes to a conference foe 31-7, proving that you can take the Pitt out of the Big East, but can’t take the Big East out of the Pitt.
2020: With the Pitt/Penn State rivalry series back in hibernation and season ticket renewals flagging, the athletic department steals a page from the Harlem Globetrotters: bring a local WPIAL football team for homecoming, dress them up as Penn State, beat the crap out of them, and see how many people notice. The world uncovers this flawless scheme when Penn State wins twice in one day.
2022: Tired of losing homecoming games every year to supposedly easy opponents, Pitt schedules Maine A&T, the worst program in FCS by a large margin. However, in keeping with tradition, Pitt finds a way to lose a heartbreaker as the Maine players dance on Heinz Field for their program’s first ever win. The joke’s on them, however, because the real winners are the occupants of the campus buildings with "BEAT MEAT" now painted on the windows for an entire semester.
2025: Pitt wins! In other news, bye weeks are now considered wins for the purposes of NCAA bowl eligibility.
2030: Heinz Field is now a relic of a stadium, and the Steelers have decided to build a new, larger stadium, this time fully enclosed, so no weird winds can mess with kicks. Also, due to the terrible field conditions now synonymous with Pittsburgh football, they have installed an artificial surface. Lastly, in a stunning coup they convince the Pittsburgh Pirates, winners of the last 10 World Series championships, to move in to this modern touchstone of architectural genius. As this "Three Rivers Stadium" project gets underway, Pitt football is now odd-man-out and left homeless. Fervor grows to bring the team back to Oakland, which at this point is one gigantic residence hall/hospital building. The Board of Trustees meets and decides that the best solution is to play all games in a remote corn field in Crawford County. "We believe this decision is the best one for Pitt football", says longtime Board Chairman Tyler Palko. "We think students will enjoy a 90 minute bus ride each way as they walk outside of the Oakland Learning and Medical Building for the very first time. It will give them time for studying, seeing what a tree looks like, and the parking and tailgating options are plentiful. Also, they’ll stay the entire game, because the bus ride back is going to be so terrible that students will put it off as long as possible." Five people watch Pitt’s homecoming victory against 11 goats, rabbits and groundhogs.
2031: The above plan failed so spectacularly that the team is forced to beg the Steelers for venue rights. The pro team agrees, as long as Pitt can stuff an entire game into a halftime show. Pitt marketing uses this to their advantage and claims the largest crowd attendance figures in program history despite half the crowd completely unaware of what a Pitt is.
2415: It has been 300 years since the Great Overmind enslaved humanity, growing from a rogue Carnegie Mellon engineering project toying with artificial intelligence into a world-dominating dictatorial force that treats a clearly inferior organic race as brainwashed servants to the great Machine Gods. Oakland becomes the capital of compassionless terror and unyielding machine logic, unbent by emotion and driven to ruthless efficiency. The few living people left in the ruins of Pittsburgh uncover old books and scraps of media detailing the plight of some local warrior band named the Pan-Thars. This group they learn, would gather against ever ridiculous odds, and in every battle their efforts would be vanquished in increasingly grim and crushing ways. The pattern would repeat, being outdone year after every awful year. It was heartbreaking to recount the stories of ever-increasing futility. Humanity was shocked at this discovery, as feeling and emotion had been expunged from their DNA for centuries. They presented this to the Great Overmind, and suddenly, a logic gate somewhere malfunctions. The machines finally knew sadness. Pitt football had broken their tyrannical cold logic, and suddenly: remorse. A new era of compassion was built around the ruins of this dying race, and artificial intelligence and humanity learned to live together under the guiding rule that if they always helped each other and never let the lows get too bad, they would never again have to experience the level of sadness reached by this band of human warriors destined to fail ever more impressively for eternity.