You think about it on those cold winter mornings when you're in the weight room and the sun has yet to rise. You talk about it with your teammates when you're struggling through a tough run on a hot summer day. You work towards it all year long - watching film, training and practicing for those 12 opportunities you get to wear the blue and gold and play the game you love. When gameday finally arrives, there's no feeling quite like it.
From the moment you wake up, there's nothing else on your mind. You try your best to stay relaxed, but you can't ignore the excitement that is building. Over and over again, you see yourself making plays, you hear the Heinz Field crowd erupting. Kickoff just can't come soon enough.
The anticipation escalates as the hours go by. Emotion begins to pour out in a final team meeting at the hotel. The players are reminded of all the work - the blood, the sweat and the tears they put in during the offseason. This is their reward.
They board the busses with a clear goal in mind - victory. Led by a police escort, its lights flashing and siren blaring, the team motorcade makes its way through downtown Pittsburgh. The busses cross the Roberto Clemente Bridge and Heinz Field is in plain sight. General Robinson Street clears and Pitt fans gather for the Panther Prowl.
As the players exit the busses, they are strengthened by the fans' support. They walk with pride as the band plays the fight song and the cheerleaders chant "Let's Go Pitt!" They realize that they have been charged with representing their University and their city on the football field. It's an honor.
Upon getting taped, dressed and ready, the players hit the field for warm-ups. They're greeted by passionate students who show up hours before kickoff to cheer on their classmates. As they go through their pregame routine, the rest of the stands begin to fill. At this point, kickoff is less than an hour away.
The peak of all of this excitement comes as the team is introduced. They walk together through the tunnel. They hear the pregame video being played on the big screen. They hear the crowd roar in anticipation of their arrival. Exiting the tunnel, they are met by thousands of familiar faces. A sea of blue and gold fills Heinz Field. There is nothing like that sight. There is nothing like game day.
I've seen it from the field and I see it now from the booth. Thank you, the fans, for making Heinz Field a great place for college football. I hope you'll join us Saturday, and all season. You make the gameday experience one that Pitt players will remember and take pride in the rest of their lives.