Pitt-Six: Why Playing Not To Lose Teaches Us All Valuable Lessons

Tonight, we all witnessed something that as a true college football fan, makes you sick. When you know that you have the better football team, the chips are falling in your lap, you’re getting the breaks when you honestly shouldn’t, the stars are aligning in your favor and yet you STILL find a way to screw it all up.

This is very relative to life, isn’t it? How unfair, how nonsensical it is. You’re the better man. You’re the guy that’s not expected to win. We all love the underdog, don’t we? Yeah, we do.

You see, the insanely simple game of football is easily taken out of its safe, comfortable place and discussed as something impossible to understand. I got news, it ain’t. It’s a lot like life.

There was a point in this football game where West Virginia could’ve sealed the deal and not left the door open for the Pittsburgh Panthers. You guys know the exact opportunity that I am talking about, so I am not going to waste time trying to be some ESPN Writer explaining to you the in-game situation. Follow me.

When there is an opportunity to shut the door presented to you, you must take it. It’s often times referred to as a “gamble”. The all important fact here is that gamblers win, yet they also lose. The fact is, that should never stop a football coach in a rivalry game (where he is an underdog) to fold like a lawn chair. You have to POUNCE, and West Virginia did not pounce. They crawled away like a bunch of middle schoolers at a rundown haunted mansion during mid-October. BUT!!!! Only at the fault of one man.

Coming into this season, I said that this football game was a coach defining game for Neal Brown. The program has experienced peaks and troughs and has yet to establish any real direction towards success while under Brown. This schedule does not get any easier, in fact, it gets enormously more difficult. To lose a football game in this fashion, where the chips were falling in your lap, where the stars were aligning in your favor, it lingers.

Let me tell you what happens if Neal Brown decides to go for that fourth and one, and ultimately in the football game. There’s two scenarios:

You convert the fourth down, bleed the clock and the game is over. You win, door shut and the case is closed. You’re the winner.

Or:

You fail to convert. You turn the ball over and give Pittsburgh life.

What does West Virginia do? They do what would’ve happened had they just went for the fourth down and didn’t convert. You gave the football back. You kept a dying Panther breathing.

You know what I can respect and ultimately accept at the end of the day? Laying it all out on the line. Playing not to lose. If I can end it here, what am I doing giving this team an opportunity to stay alive? It makes no sense. The chips are stacked against you to begin with, so why not gamble? Were you really THAT comfortable? 

Guys, the lesson is this: If you have an opportunity presented to you to shut the door, to win, to give any opposition zero chance of defeating you, TAKE IT. Don’t fool around with a favorite. They are expected to beat you. You have a chance and an opportunity to make sure that that does not have a chance of happening.

You kept a dying Panther breathing.

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