The significance of 125: Multiples of 5 are important

By Eli Talbert / Columnist

If you are reading this, you probably know that it’s the 125th year of Pitt football. The fact that we’ve dedicated an entire edition to the anniversary should showcase its importance. 

However, it’s all too easy to take this glorious accomplishment for granted. We should all take the time to reflect on why 125 years of Pitt football is so noteworthy.

To start, let’s look at the number 125. There are few numbers as beautiful, graceful or important as 125. Just think, 125 can be divided into 25 five times, which can be divided into five sets of five. Not to mention, the longest-living person, according to Guinness World Records, lived 122 years, which is three years away from 125, and three, as we all know, is a magic number. That Pitt football — or, indeed, anything — has progressed from being 124 years old to 125 is worthy of celebration.

Football is not merely significant because it has crossed into the 125 year range — it is also the 125th year for the Pitt Men’s Glee club, after all. Rather, we should applaud the particular honor of having a football program a whole 125 years. This is true for a number of reasons.

For one, not every major university has achieved this honor. Sure, schools like The University of Virginia, Rutgers, Princeton, Penn State, Notre Dame and University of Delaware, among others, have possessed football programs for longer — but there is something satisfying about having a program that is older than the last BCS champion, Auburn. There might be many teams better than us, but at least we can feel good that we reached 125 first.

Second, the football program makes money. Pitt football’s program brought in $22 million in revenue, according to an analysis by the Memphis Business Journal. Once we subtract the estimated expenses of $19.8 million, Pitt football makes a cool profit of $2.2 million. Money might not be the most important thing in the world, but we don’t go around honoring bums. We can all certainly appreciate 125 years of cash money, especially since Pitt is not one of the 23 self-sufficient athletic programs that pay for themselves in the NCAA.

To top it off, Pitt’s football program doesn’t just make money. The University itself does that with a self-reported nearly $105 million increase in net assets from operating activities in 2013. Pitt football makes money in a way that we can be proud of. After all, while sadly the days of uninhibited brawls and epic western-style showdowns are over, football allows us to vicariously destroy our enemies. If Pitt football didn’t exist, alumni would be forced to rely on their favorite NFL team to give them that sweet, transferred feeling of victory. Although, with Pitt cruising towards another mediocre season, this still might be the case. Even still, having a major football program leaves open the possibility.

Sure, basketball might have some of the same draw, but what is more exciting: a sport involving passing a ball around, or a sport involving passing around a ball with full contact violence? Football, with the optimal mix of violence and competition, is practically the most American sport out there. 

The point is that it doesn’t matter if our football team is consistently mediocre or even bad at times. The mere act of managing to keep a football program alive is one of the main things that makes our University great — besides the boring stuff like academics and research. One hundred twenty-five years of football means 125 years of awesomeness, and, no matter what happens, the NCAA will probably not take that away from us. 

So celebrate like there is no tomorrow because 125, similar to 124 and 123, only comes once. 

Write to Eli at [email protected]