CM – The Show Must Go On: Pitt, Michigan Avoids Covid Complications At The Peach Bowl

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ATLANTA – The 60-year-old man rushed past Pitt fans on Thursday morning who were in great Number gathered in the lobby of the Omni Hotel. No time for anything other than a specific goal.

With his signature long stride, quick wave, and « I’m in a hurry » look, Pitt’s interim offensive coordinator Tim Salem was easy to identify – probably on the way to a coaches meeting seven hours before kick-off Peach bowl. They don’t call him Turbo Tim because of the car he drives.

To stave off the spread of Covid-19 that plagued college basketball, the NBA, NHL and other bowls over the holidays – despite none of the six games of the New Year – Pitt played No. 12 in the first major bowl in the Panthers ranked 10th Michigan State appearance in 17 years Thursday night.

The pandemic is reconnecting with people everywhere – Atlanta wasn’t immune – but that hasn’t stopped many fans on either team from enjoying themselves. Every now and then someone called « Hail To Pitt » and « Go Green »

This group included Nick Weltz and Julia Feldman, who saved their screams for the kick-off in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The couple planned to visit Nick’s family in Orlando, Florida over the holidays, but that visit was canceled when Pitt Football intervened. The Panthers won the ACC championship and earned a trip to the Peach Bowl.

« Nick said, ‘If Pitt goes to the Peach Bowl, we’ll go to Atlanta instead, » « Feldman said. « We returned the tickets and got a new flight. »

Of course, it was an easy decision for Weltz, a Pitt graduate, and Feldman, a Pitt graduate. Grandfather, grandmother, mother, father, aunts and uncles von Weltz went to Pitt.

Nick said, « My parents specifically told me, ‘You can’t even apply to Penn State. »  »

Before the game, the couple attended the College Football Hall of Fame, just blocks from the stadium. You were excited for the game, but also realistic that the season was fun – win or lose the last game.

« In general, I have the feeling that it doesn’t matter whether we win or lose, » said Weltz. “It will be exciting to see the quality (quarterback Nick) Patti has, especially with (Jordan) Addison as wide receiver. I’m just glad we had such a good season and it’s great to celebrate.  »

Patti, a 2018 backup slince, has been tapped to replace Kenny Pickett, who is eliminated from the game.

Meanwhile, downtown Atlanta, its bars, and restaurants have become a haven – hopefully safe – for fans of Pitt and Michigan State (some wear masks, some don’t).

There have been a couple of rejections, but the good news is that they had nothing to do with Covid. The Peach Bowl Parade and Team Walks were canceled Thursday morning due to rainy weather. On Wednesday night it rained so heavily that the sewers clogged in some streets in the city center and masses of water poured over the sidewalks.

The rain subsided two hours before kick-off, giving hope that the stadium officials could leave it open for the duration of the game.

Jerry DiPaola is a contributor to Tribune Review. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or on Twitter.

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