|The site of Pittsburgh's 2012 BlueGold Spring Game. Source: Flickr|
Dave Wannstedt once set out to build a wall around western Pennsylvania in an attempt to keep recruiting rivals out of the fertile recruiting grounds in western Pennsylvania. It was a bold philosophy that didn't quite work out for The 'Stache, but that doesn't mean that Pittsburgh realizes the value in making strong connections with the high schools in the region.
That may be why Pittsburgh will play their annual spring game at North Hills High School on April 14, rather than inside Heinz Field.
"I may be new to Pittsburgh, but I've respected and known about the traditions of Western Pennsylvania high school football for a long time," Pittsburgh head coach Paul Chryst said. "As a first-year coaching staff, we feel it is important to get out and engage the people and communities who have built that tradition. The spring game is a perfect opportunity to do this and we're really looking forward to visiting North Hills in April."
Having the Blue-Gold scrimmage on their own football field is a boost for North Hills High School as well, as it will put the school on a big stage at least for one day.
"Pitt football is opening a new and exciting era under Coach Chryst and we're honored to be part of the program's first spring game under his leadership," North Hills High athletic director Dan Cardone said. "This is another stellar example of how Pittsburgh's highest-profile football teams, the Panthers and the Steelers, are invested in the communities of Western Pennsylvania. It is a winning equation for everyone involved and we're excited about hosting Pitt next month."
For Pittsburgh, bringing their brand and football program to the high school level is not exactly a new concept (we previously discussed Arizona hitting the road), but it is one that is becoming pretty trendy.
Pittsburgh has always been solid with recruiting western Pa talent, picking up 12 recruits in 2012 compared to one each at Penn State and West Virginia and none by Ohio State. Will this be a way to improve the relationships with western PA high school football programs?
That is what Pittsburgh is banking on. And they will need to do everything they can.
Brady Hoke looks to be on the tear with recruiting with Michigan always being a player in the state. Urban Meyer will be quick to establish his own relationships in the region. Bill O'Brien at Penn State could bring a new energy, as he has already starte to do with the Class of 2013. And let's not rule out the possibility that Temple, yes Temple, is going to be able to sell recruits many of the same exact things Pittsburgh can offer recruits as the Owls move in to the Big East.
From Pittsburgh's perspective, this looks like it coudl be a very wise decision moving forward. What do you think?