Anyone else still a fan of the Comedy Central show “South Park”?
I am. Always will be. Their current season features something Pitt fans must like: ‘Member Berries.
What are ‘Member Berries you ask? Basically it’s talking fruit that acts as Zoloft. These speaking blueberry looking-things do nothing but yammer away about the good ol’ days and fond nostalgic memories like…
…’member Star Wars? ‘Member AT-ATs? ‘Member Chewbaca?
…Yeah! Yeah! ‘Member the Bionic Man?! I Loved the BIONIC MAN!
…’Yeah ‘Member the 80’s. Oh yeah! Do you ‘member the 90’s?
The premise is that the whole town is overwhelmed by the negativity surrounding the election, social media, and race/gender relations that the citizens of South Park get addicted to these ‘member berries as a form of semi-natural narcotic induced escapism (here’s a link for your viewing pleasure).
Guess where ‘member berries will be served in Pittsburgh on Saturday? Heinz Field for Pitt’s homecoming game against Georgia Tech! A hefty bushel of ‘member berries.
The Panthers will be wearing their old throwback uniforms as a way to give fans something else to focus on besides footba… uh, I mean… to enhance their enjoyment of the game.
“Hey! See those old uniforms? ‘Member Hugh Green?! Hey! ‘Member Dan Marino?! Hey! Hey! ‘Member the Sugar Bowl?! Oh, I loved the Sugar Bowl!”
Yup! A stalk of ‘member berries and a hot dog please!
Don’t get me wrong. I love the old uniforms and helmets. And I’d prefer that they be worn every game. And judging by the executive push from this University of Pittsburgh marketing promotion… uh, I mean… effort to restore its roots, the school believes many fans do as well.
TV commercials, radio spots, print/web advertisements, a press conference. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a team focus as much time, energy and commercial dollars towards trying to get people into a stadium based on what the players were wearing as opposed to the sport they were actually playing.
This week it’s not about “COME SEE FOOTBALL!” It’s about “COME SEE LAUNDRY!”
I get it. It’s smart. Marketing Pitt football has proven difficult unless Penn State happens to be the opponent. This uniform gimmick is an intelligent way to boost merchandise and ticket sales. Returning the script Pitt went from a talking point, to a hill some people were willing to die on.
So, sure. Give your customers what they want. Good call. I mean that.
I just wish they didn’t have to be so desperate about it. I wish unveiling the throwback uniforms were a part of the game Saturday. Not the alleged main reason to attend in the first place.
But what else are Scott Barnes and his staff supposed to do? Pitt is still a mid level ACC team that’s clearly a notch below other borderline contenders in the Power 5s. Recent results against Iowa, Oklahoma State, Miami, ND, and UNC suggest that to be the case.
We know why. We’ve been down this road before: “Urban campus in a northeastern NFL city and a basketball conference with a shared stadium with fewer annual/natural rivals on the sched…”
Hey! ‘Member Pitt Stadium!? Oooh! Oooh! ‘Member being an Eastern Independant?! Hey! Hey! ‘Member the Backyard Brawl?! I loved the Backyard Brawl!
Oops. Sorry. Just gobbled a handful of ‘member berries while writing.
The bottom line is that Pitt could eventually overcome all those inherent hardships by winning more and winning consistently. Then people will go to the football game to see current football players and not with goal of being sucked back into some time warp to 1976. Until then the athletic department will continue to have to create ways to wave a shiny blue and gold ball in front of the faces of Pitt fans to get them into the games and distract them from some of the harsh realities of their football team.
Like for instance, this year’s second half defense.
Hey! ‘Member Darrelle Revis?! ‘Member Zeke Gadson?! Yes! ‘Member Burt Grossman?! OHHHH! I loved Burt Gross…
// Featured image: Photo courtesy of The Owl, 1980 student yearbook of the University of Pittsburgh, pg. 102 | Public Domain