The Beast: Another Thursday Night In Pittsburgh

I have bad memories when it comes to Thursday night games in Pittsburgh.

I guess I should blame my parents since they decided to have me in 1976. Most would think that was a cool thing, after all I’m a bicentennial baby. Just two months into my life, there were fireworks galore everywhere. However, what my parents didn’t realize is that by having me in ’76 meant that my time as student at The U would include the probation years. If only I was born a few years earlier – or later – I’d have been able to celebrate a championship as a student. Instead, I got 5-6.

So fast forward from my year of birth twenty-one years to 1997. That fall was supposed to be one of great fun for me. I was a senior at UM and one of the senior broadcasters for the WVUM sports crew. This meant after years of calling mostly women’s hoops, and mostly mid-week baseball games, I was now in the driver’s seat able to get the prime time games.

The fall didn’t start as planned. Because of one incident or another (and there were a few in my four-plus years on campus), I was suspended from calling game for the first four weeks of the football season. I missed a trip to Baylor – the same game that I talked about last week with Richard Mercier on allCanes Radio. (For those who missed, check out that show here).

I also missed doing the first home game of the year, a loss to Arizona State, as well as a prime time Thursday night clash with Pitt on the road. I wasn’t happy about having to miss these broadcasts, so when I missed the Thursday night affair I chose to watch solo in my dorm in Mahoney Residential on UM’s campus.

I went to Publix, loaded up on football food; more beer than anyone should consume alone and a can of spray cheese. (It was about this time I came up with my philosophy that all beer-drinking college students always need spray cheese on hands, but that’s for another time and place.) I settled in, turned on my crappy college kid TV, turned the volume down and turned 90.5 up and listened to my friends call the game.

Before kickoff, Pitt paraded Mike Ditka around as they retired his jersey that night. Why does it always seem like opponents retire jerseys and honor former players when Miami is in town? I remember watching a ceremony honoring Bruce Smith at Virginia Tech before they roughed up the Canes, as well.

If you’re ever at a road game and some legend is being honored, good chance it’ll be a long day for the orange and green. Just saying.

The game started and I predicted a big win for the Canes. Though they recently lost to Arizona State, I was still naive enough to think this team, hampered by probation, could still get it done. Obviously I was wrong.

The night hardly went as planned. Miami native Pete Gonzalez, a Coral Park High grad, torched the Canes in a 21-17 upset. A precursor of what was coming the rest of the season.

That night, I tore my dorm room a new one. If you lived on my floor that year and were in your room that night, you probably thought a UFB bout was going down. That evening, my R.A. asked me to clean up backrest filling from the hallway and the following morning brought a trip to Bed Bath & Beyond so I could replace several assorted broken items and new sheets.

That night officially made me a non-fan of Thursday night games, even though the Canes are often successful in those late-week, primetime showdowns. Still, I get a bad feeling when Miami hits the road on Thursdays. Case in point, a few years back when UM got thumped 41-23 against Georgia Tech in Atlanta, 472 rushing yards later.

Still, I believe Miami gets the win tomorrow night. I think Pitt (I still call them Pitt even if they don’t want me to) is still missing too many important players, due to injury and suspension – and that combined with what Miami has to make up for after the loss in Columbus, should equate in a Canes’ win. Still, there’s something about those Thursday night games…

We all know ESPN loves Miami. Even though the Canes don’t always get a fair shake from the news side of The Worldwide Leader, the programming side is all about The U. UM has played in most of the most-watched college football games on the network and their most-watched documentary was about our beloved Canes.

Win or lose tomorrow night, it’ll get numbers for ESPN as just as many fans will tune in to see Miami lay the wood as will watch to see the Canes get beat down.

One big thing in Miami’s favor? Dave Wannstedt. As long as he roams the other sideline, the Canes have leg up. I personally have a lot of respect for Wannstedt the man. I’ve met him at countless functions and he’s always been a quality guy, however there’s just something about his coaching that keeps me from being able to root the guy on. Maybe it’s the Wannstache.

I believe the Canes get the win tomorrow night. Miami is favored by 3.5 points on the road and I think UM covers and then some, though we won’t hoist the victory cup just yet. Again, it’s a Thursday night in Pittsburgh and for all we know they’re going to retire Gonzalez’s jersey.



2 thoughts on “The Beast: Another Thursday Night In Pittsburgh

  1. Beast,

    Being the same age as you and having suffered from being equally naive in the mid-90's due to past team success, I can relate to your cautious optimism. Thursday night games are something any fan loves because they give us all another day of football and are "spotlight" games. Re: this game – The U is all but forgotten this year by most college football fans after last week's loss in Columbus, but I'm going out on a limb a predicting a blowout tonight. Just hope I'm not cursing us. Lord knows I've done that before.

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