With the NFL collective bargaining agreement on hold, Pittsburghers have to get their football from somewhere and it seems that the Pittsburgh Power might satisfy the football “jones” of most of “dem dere Stillers” fans, well at least for the time being. However, if this NFL “work stoppage continues beyond mini-camp you just might be hearing some “here we go Power” chants “dawntawn.”
The Power seems to have a pretty good product to please their fan base. The ownership group is led by the former Steelers Hall-of-Fame wide receiver Lynn Swann. The team appears to have an excellent marketing strategy but there appears to be one glaring flaw. I suggest the team concentrate most of their ticket sales in the lower bowl of the Consol Energy Center so that it will appear as if there are more fans for the television cameras.
The official attendance for Saturday’s game was 9,190 and it is my opinion that the fans satisfied their football addiction and got their money’s worth. The atmosphere was pro family and definitely pro Pittsburgh. Ticket prices are buyer friendly and I suggest that if you want to get that football “monkey” off your back, then take your family, friends and neighbors and mosey on down and check out a Power game. If you like offense; you will love the style of play of the Power. They took care of business beating the Iowa Barnstormers, 58-28 for their initial AFL win (they lost their home and season opener 58-52 in overtime to the Philadelphia Soul). I was impressed by two local college players who made the team, fullback Joshua Rue from Duquesne University and former Pitt Panthers defensive back Josh Lay. Both players had above average performances and if they remain healthy have a chance to have solid AFL and possibly NFL careers.
Elizabeth I think I lost the “Big One” again.
The look on the face of Pitt coach Jamie Dixon as he and his team were about to go down to Butler University 71-70, reminded me of the late Redd Foxx when he portrayed the character Fred Sanford on the TV series ‘Sanford and Son’. Every time Fred was faced with adversity he would call up to his late wife and say, “Elizabeth I’m coming up to join you.” Redd would then clutch is chest as if his heart could only pump one or two more beats before his introduction to Jesus was about to commence.
Before the game, Dixon appeared as if he was too busy picking out the right suit, spending far too much time observing himself in the mirror, making sure that every single hair was in place. His “mirror” time might have caused him to miss the introduction of a lifetime to a higher power which was crucial because in the end Dixon needed all of the help he could muster up. The University of Pittsburgh has a serious character flaw when it comes to recruiting and utilizing athletes that perform on their men’s basketball or football squads. They want publicity for their program and coaches but they sort of covertly shun pushing personal accolades because what do you know, an athlete might want to declare for the NBA or the NFL before their four years of college “eligibility” is exhausted.
As I was exiting the Power game, one of “Pittsburgh’s Finest” was manning a traffic light at the corner of Washington & Centre Ave a few feet south of the Consol Energy Center. I made a sarcastic remark and criticism about Jamie Dixon’s strategies almost always failing in the big games. He said to me as serious as one of Fred Sanford’s imagined heart attacks; “you can only coach them; you can’t play the game for them too.”
I instantly flashed back to the recent Big East tournament loss to UConn and the 2009 NCAA tournament loss to Villanova. During the final seconds, Dixon decided to call a half court press when the Wildcats were about to inbound the ball with almost no time left. “Nova” read it like a bad romance novel, inbounded the ball almost three quarter lengths of the court to one of their best shooters and bingo, there goes the ballgame. Was that flawed strategy the players fault? In fact Pitt had just called a timeout to draw up a defense for the play, what a waste!
Pitt took the same path with Dixon as they did with former football coach Dave Wannstedt. They gave them perverted money because it was possible they could have been “lured” away. Wannesdt ended up getting canned anyway. He, like Dixon, was a great recruiter but along with their coaching strategies, they both seem to melt under the lights of primetime. When the going gets tough, their coaching mechanisms get ghost. Let’s hope Jamie Dixon will never have the “big one” because, hey it is only basketball, but will any of his squads ever “win” the “big one?”
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.)