Sunday, July 29, 2012

Counting down the top Pitt football players of the last 40 years- No.12 Al Romano

I will be counting down my own list of the top 50 Pitt football players since 1972.  I have spent time doing a lot of research and talking to a lot of people when formulating this list, but ultimately it is MY opinion.  The great thing about lists like this is that people will disagree, and feel free to, but just remember that there is no right answer so there's no need to go crazy if you do disagree.  I will post this same intro with all 50 bios because I know the one time I don't, people will complain about not knowing what criteria I used.  I will add at least one a day, maybe two.  

My criteria for selecting the order is as follows:

1.  Productivity.
2.  Talent.
3.  Place in program history.
4.  Only the player's careers while at Pitt are considered, not their NFL careers. 
5.  No current players.

12.  Al Romano (1973-76)-  Romano is yet another Panthers star who took a circuitous route to greatness.  Romano was a high school fullback in Syracuse, NY and had dreams of being the next Larry Csonka.  He originally signed with Syracuse but bad grades forced the Orange to place him in a military school in Virginia.  But Syracuse paid no attention to him while he was there while Pitt checked in with him every weekend.  Consequently, he decided to go to Pitt instead.

"Burt", as was called by his teammates because of his resemblance to big 70's movie star Burt Reynolds, eventually put on enough size to find a home on the defensive line, and he lettered there for four seasons. As a sophomore, he started at defensive tackle beside All-American Gary Burley.  When Burley graduated, the 230-pound Romano moved to nose tackle and carried on the All-American tradition.

As a junior, he came up big in the Sun Bowl as the Panthers beat Kansas 33-19 and Romano was named the game's most valuable lineman.  He ended the season with 101 tackles and honorable mention All-American honors.  As a senior the team captain was dominating in a National Championship season that saw him also become a consensus first team All-American.

As a senior, Romano was considered by some to be the favorite to win the Outland Trophy but he lost by one vote to Notre Dame's Ross Browner.  His 295 career tackles are 16th best all-time but 3rd when he graduated (behind Don Parrish and Arnie Weatherington who also graduated in 1976).  He was then taken in the 11th round by the Houston Oilers but after one season he left for the CFL because he got offered more money.  He played there for three seasons.  


  1. Never knew about this guy before you wrote about him, Doke. Great story.

    Ross Browner was no slouch, and had a long NFL career. I guess the voters had it right (kinda). Why didn't Romano make it in the NFL?

    1. He was a 230 pound nose tackle which even then was small, and then he got offered more money to go to the CFL, so that's what he did. But he was the man on the National Championship team.

      By the way, for the anti-Steve Pederson group, Romano is one of his most vocal detractors.

  2. Ross Browner is Max Starks father,