New Pitt coach to be in area

| Saturday, April 16, 2011

Cleaning out the notebook:

• In recent years, the Mon Valley Panther Club Chapter didn't have any luck when it came to getting Pitt football coach Dave Wannstedt to att-end its annual sports banquet.

That may not be a problem with Wannstedt's successor, Todd Graham, at the 28th annual affair. Instead of being held in late April as had been the case, the banquet was moved back to May 18 at The Willow Room in Rostraver to accommodate Graham.

While Graham will be making his debut in the Mid-Mon Valley next month, Pitt basketball coach Jamie Dixon won't be able to attend.

Dixon, however, will be on hand for the chapter's annual golf outing, scheduled May 13 at Champion Lakes in Ligonier. The golf course is owned by former Pittsburgh Pirates great Dick Groat, who has been doing Pitt basketball broadcasts with Bill Hillgrove for 32 years.

• Don't be surprised if you see Olympic gold medalist Mary Lou Retton at some California University football games next season.

No, Retton, who at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles became the first female gymnast from outside Eastern Europe to win the Olympic all-around title, isn't connected with the university.

Her husband, Shannon Kelley, is. A former real estate developer from Houston, Texas, Kelley is California's newest athletic fundraiser.

Kelley has a football background. He was a quarterback at the University of Texas from 1984-89. He was on the 1987 Texas team that beat Pitt, 32-27, in the Bluebonnet Bowl at The Astrodome in Houston.

The '87 Panthers, coached by Mike Gottfried, featured Craig Heyward at running back and Darnell Dickerson at quarterback.

The last two years Kelley doubled as the Fairmont State quarterbacks coach and director of the Fairmont State Athletic Association.

The Kelleys reside in Fairmont with four daughters: Shayla (16), McKenna (14), Skyla (11) and Emma (9).

• Two former California University teammates, Gary Butler and Kirby Griffin, will be going against each other in tonight's televised Arena Football League game between the Pittsburgh Power and Jacksonville Sharks.

Butler, a linebacker, is one of the team's top tacklers with 18, including 14 for losses. Kirby is the Sharks' fullback and leading rusher; he also plays linebacker on defense.

There would have been three Vulcans in the game if Power starting quarterback Kevin McCabe hadn't landed on the injured reserve list with a partially herniated disc.

• Sorry to hear that Lawrence Skurcenski, who's better known as "Deuce" to high school coaches, athletes and fans, suffered a stroke earlier this week and will be sidelined for the summer. No one has been to more high school football and basketball games over the last 50 years than the 69-year-old Skurcenski.

• And thanks to Jim Stump, of Rostraver Township, who says your hometown is where they can't figure out how you did so well!

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