Video credit: Paths of Glory: 100 Years of PItt Football
By R.J. Sepich
As the Pitt football team prepares for its first season in the ACC, many Panther fans would select a legendary quarterback wearing No. 13 to receive an extra year of eligibility and be under center next fall if they had their wish.
We asked fans this week if they could select any former Pitt student-athlete to earn another year of eligibility to suit up for the Panthers, who would it be? Dan Marino was a popular pick for Pitt fans.
Justin May was one of those fans: "Dan Marino," he responded to our question. "They had a chance to win a national championship while he was there."
Chuck Young agreed: "Dan Marino! The greatest [quarterback] of all time!"
Marino (quarterback, 1979-82) was a hometown guy, coming to Pitt from Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School. The 6-foot-4 pocket passer quickly earned the Panthers' starting quarterback job in 1979, and he would rewrite the Pitt passing record books over his tremendous four-year collegiate career.
Finishing with an incredible 42-6 record as a Panther, Marino left Pitt holding almost every school passing record. He remains the Panthers' leader in career passing touchdowns (79), passing touchdowns in a season (37) and most yards passing by a junior (2,876).
As a professional, Marino made the 26 teams who passed on him in the 1983 NFL Draft regret not selecting him by becoming the NFL's all-time passing leader, until Brett Favre broke his mark in 2007. A nine-time Pro Bowler, Marino was named NFL MVP in 1984, the same season he led the Dolphins to the Super Bowl.
Since retiring from football, Marino has had his No. 13 retired by both Pitt and the Miami Dolphins, and he was inducted in the College and Pro Football Hall of Fames. He currently serves as an analyst for CBS's pregame show on Sundays, NFL Today.
Some other popular responses to our question asking what former student-athlete Pitt fans wish could receive just one more year of eligibility include:
Heisman Trophy winner Tony Dorsett (running back, 1973-76) - "Tony Dorsett," replied Ron Meyers. "Greatest college running back I had the pleasure of watching."
Heisman Trophy runner up Larry Fitzgerald (wide receiver, 2002-03) - "Fitzgerald!" answered Tyler Harrison. "Dude was a beast!"
Current San Antonio Spur DeJuan Blair (power forward, 2007-2009) - "Blair, Blair, Blair," wrote Lorraine Smith Siegel. "So great to see a player who just loved the game and enjoyed every minute!!!"
Three time All-American Hugh Green (defensive end, 1977-80) - "Most dominant defensive player ever," responded Adam Lawyer.
Even Pitt gymnastics head coach Debbie Yohman inputted her own candidate for an extra year of eligibility: "Gymnast Alyssa Adrian. Larry Fitzgerald also a good choice!"