Pittsburgh has cancelled their spring game for 2014. Why? Because that 15th and final practice is more valuable than putting on an actual spring scrimmage, according to Pittsburgh head coach Paul Chryst.
It takes money to put on a spring game, and considering the Panthers drew just a handful over 3,000 fans for their spring game a year ago, the school may have been sacrificing money with little chance to turn a profit. Moving a team to a facility for a spring game costs money for renting the property, transporting the team (and equipment) to the location and paying for any stadium security and vendors. Without a great option to host the game on campus, it makes little sense to open up Heinz Field for the game for a day, which is why Pittsburgh has experimented with playing the game in high school stadiums nearby in recent years.
This year Chryst will hope to take advantage of one more practice instead. The NCAA allows for 15 practices in the spring. A spring game counts as one of those if held.
“These days are really valuable for us,” Chryst said. “I’m not in a hurry to get through spring ball, and I want to maximize every day with it.”
The problem for Pittsburgh stems from being unable to capitalize on the spring game experience. No matter where the game would have been held, it would have been unlikely to draw a decent crowd. This is s great contrast to other nearby FBS programs like Ohio State and Penn State. Chyrst needs to take measures to get fans to get excited about the team, but if a 15th and final practice helps improve the Panthers on the field in the fall, he will have the last laugh.