This past weekend marked the beginning of a tradition held dear both here at the University of Pittsburgh and in college towns across the nation. Tailgate season is back after its extended absence. In the off season fans had to avail themselves with country and Jimmy Buffet concerts, but for the purists who waited, their prayers have been answered.
“This is the Panthers’ season,” says Paul Chryst, Pitt’s head coach. “We’ve never seen this kind of enthusiasm from fans before, and it’s really encouraging. All I can say is that we’re looking at a superb season ahead of us.”
Tailgate season comes as the culmination of months of university sponsored advertising. One of the main attractions for prospective Pitt students is the school’s Division I status, as well as its membership in the ACC. The university stressed this all summer long, in an effort to engage the new freshmen class in a tradition that stretches back longer than any student can remember.
“We really want the first year experience here at the University of Pittsburgh to create well rounded individuals,” said Kathy Humphrey, Vice Provost and Dean of Students. “That’s why we provide bussing down to the Heinz Field area. I personally think that if any freshman student misses out on the tailgating, we the administration are failing them.”
Pitt fans were not to be disappointed in the tailgate itself. Starting as early as the beer distributors would open, and sometimes even earlier, students were in the parking lots, tents pitched, corn hole set up, and beer flowing. Soon the smell of grilling filled the air as more and more undergrads showed up. Students were glad to return from the long offseason and to be back at it in the parking lots. Their mood could only be described as electric.
“It’s not really day drinking unless you start in the morning,” a senior who would only go by “Dave” told us as he relieved himself in some bushes behind a pickup truck.
“Can I just say, I freakin’ LOVE UPitt! Wooh!” said Natalie, a freshman at her first tailgate. Clearly another lifetime fan had just been created.
The university administration was pleased with turnout and the general atmosphere of the tailgate. Both the coaching staff and the administrators responded favorably when asked for a comment.
“The average BAC was hovering somewhere around 0.13 or a 0.15,” said Coach Chryst. “We were looking for a number a little north of that, but there were some stand out stars who broke the 0.20 barrier, or were even higher. Keep in mind this was the season opener. I believe there is a lot of room for growth, and that in the coming weeks we will see that number rise.”
“I’m glad that our students were able to get out there and show their school spirit,” Dean Humphrey said. “And I’m even more proud that we got to light the victory lights afterwards. Hail to Pitt!”
Additionally, the Pitt Panthers defeated the University of Delaware FIghtin’ Blue Hens with a final score of 62-0.