Pitt Football Notebook: New start time set for Sept. 16 game
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Kickoff time for the Pitt-Michigan State game Sept. 16 at Heinz Field has been moved from 3:30 to noon and will be regionally telecast on ESPN2.
The game also will be seen on select ABC affiliates in Pennsylvania and Michigan.
The change eliminates a conflict with the Pirates, who play host to the New York Mets at 7:05 at PNC Park that night.
By contract, the Pirates guarantee that parking lots between the two stadiums are available to their customers at least two hours before the first pitch. Had the original Pitt kickoff time stood, most of the prepaid lots would have been locked when Pitt fans arrived.
The conflict arose because Pitt's athletic department agreed to the 3:30 kickoff to be part of an ABC regional telecast without first consulting the Pirates. The Pirates have moved their games in the past to accommodate Pitt's needs, but would not budge this time because of Pitt's failure to communicate and because it is Jack Wilson Bobblehead Doll night with a crowd in excess of 30,000 expected.
Originally, the Big East Conference and ABC said Pitt would have to figure out a way to solve the parking problem because they would not switch the time. The Big East relented when an alternative plan guaranteed Pitt and the conference the same amount of revenue from the telecast. Pitt most likely will lose some revenue because noon games are generally not as well attended as later games.
Pitt athletic director Jeff Long did not explain how the mix-up happened, but he said the resolution was a win-win situation for all parties.
"We believe this will actually result in a wider television audience than before, but we won't know until the television map comes out," said Long, who pointed out that in five years the Panthers and Pirates have had only two previous scheduling conflicts and both were amicably resolved. "I expect that if it is not a sellout, it will be close to a sellout. I can't say enough about what the conference did and ABC and ESPN did to make this change possible for us."
More work for Revis
Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said yesterday that junior cornerback Darrelle Revis again will return punts. Wannstedt hoped to use other players as punt-returners because Revis, who averaged a Big East-best 11.6 yards per return last season, is so valuable at cornerback.
"Darrelle will be our guy. I think T.J. Porter and Aaron Berry are both ready to return punts, and Derek Kinder gives us a veteran guy who can catch it," Wannstedt said. "But I've always believed that early in the season special teams play a bigger role in the outcome of games than even offense or defense."
Wannstedt said LaRod Stephens-Howling will return kicks along with either Lowell Robinson, Dorin Dickerson or Kevin Collier.
The Panthers practiced under the lights last night to prepare for the opener next Saturday night against Virginia. "This does three things. We wanted to get our returners and receivers a chance to experience the lights, we felt like we needed a change and this also keeps our guys off the streets on a Friday night," Wannstedt said, smiling. "What do you think is the most important of the three?"... Wannstedt said he expects defensive tackle Mick Williams (concussion) to return to practice today.
First Published August 26, 2006 12:00 am