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Second chance pays off

By BRIAN LANDMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 19, 2000


TAMPA -- Like every other freshman, Dave Moore heard the speech about being an adult and acting accordingly as soon as he showed up on the Pittsburgh campus for the 1988-89 school year.

For many, that's among the toughest adjustments from high school to college. Moore was no exception.

"The decision-making was all your own," he said. "You were now accountable for everything you did."

Pittsburgh coach Mike Gottfried hammered that point home a few weeks later.

The Thursday before the Oct. 15 home game against Temple, Moore broke the team's 10 p.m. curfew. He had an excuse -- a good one, he thought. He had a midterm exam the next day in a geology class and was in the library studying until about 12:30 a.m. He got an A-minus, but it came with a price.

Gottfried found out he missed the curfew and suspended him for the game. The coach wouldn't allow Moore, a fullback at the time, even to dress for the game. Instead, Gottfried gave him his complimentary tickets and a harsh message.

"He said, "You're lucky I'm not kicking you off the team,' " recalled Moore, who sensed that his coach didn't believe his story. Moore even obtained a copy of the library sign-in/sign-out sheet as proof.

A shaken Moore called his father, Pete, who was planning on making the 61/2-hour drive from his New Jersey home for the game, to tell him what had happened and to forget about coming. His father decided to come anyway.

"I was thinking that at least I could give him a little comfort, we could talk about it and just hang out together," Pete Moore said. "So I go there, and then the question was: Are we going to go to the game? He didn't really care too much to go and watch it, but I said we ought to."

Good thing. With Pitt comfortably ahead 28-0 at the half, assistant coach Frank D'Alonzo mentioned that if Moore weren't suspended, he could be playing. Gottfried suddenly saw an opportunity to revisit the severity of the punishment.

"When I suspended Dave, it hurt me; I really felt bad," he said. "Believe me, I cried when I told him."

Taking a chance Moore was at the game, Gottfried had the public address announcer page him to report to the Panthers locker room.

"We looked at each other and couldn't believe it," Pete said.

Moore weaved his way through the crowd, reached the locker room, was handed his equipment and told to suit up. He played the entire second half of the 42-7 win, becoming the first Panther to watch a game from the stands and play in it.

"As I ran out onto the field, coach Gottfried grabbed me by the shirt and said, "If you're ever not where you're supposed to be again, you're gone,' " Moore said.

Point made. So much so that the incident remains fresh. A few years ago, Gottfried, an ESPN college football analyst, visited a Bucs practice, greeted his former player and heard the same story he had in October 1988.

"Coach. It doesn't matter now, but the time you suspended me, I really was in the library studying for a test," Moore said.

"I told him, "Dave, I believe you. I believed you then,' " Gottfried said. "It was great that he was in the library, but he still was supposed to be in his room."

Q: Dave, do you remember the 1989 Super Bowl?

A: I followed professional football in high school, but once I got to college, I kind of lost touch with it. I was trying to make the adjustment to college. ... But I remember (later) Sam Wyche talking about it all the time.

SUPER BOWL XXIII

Jan. 22, 1989

Miami

49ers 20, Bengals 16

MVP: Jerry Rice, 49ers wide receiver (11 receptions for game-record 215 yards and one touchdown).

IN THE NEWS: April 19-on: Thousands of Chinese students take over Beijing's Tiananmen Square to rally for democracy. Mid-May-on: More than 1-million people in Beijing demonstrate for democracy. June 4-on: Thousands are killed in Tiananmen Square as Chinese leaders take a hard line toward demonstrators. Nov. 9: Deng Xiaoping resigns from China's leadership. Nov. 11: After 28 years, the Berlin Wall is open to the West. Nov. 30: The Czech Parliament ends the Communists' dominant role. Dec. 15-on: An uprising in Romania overthrows the Communist government.

BEST PICTURE OSCAR: Rain Man

MUSIC OF THE MOMENT: Rhythm Nation 1814/Janet Jackson

EVERYBODY'S WATCHING: Roseanne

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