Susquehanna assistant coach Bob Pittello died Thursday night, Jan. 6, at Pottsville (Pa.) Hospital where he was being treated for blood clots in his arm. Pittello, a member of the SU Sports Hall of Fame, was both a player and coach for the Crusaders for nearly five decades and was active in the collegiate football world for more than 50 years with a direct line back to Amos Alonzo Stagg.
“There was not a person on Earth who met Coach Pittello who did not love him,” Susquehanna coach Steve Briggs said. “He said many times that he was never blessed to have children of his own so God blessed him to be a football coach and have thousands of sons. He touched many, many lives as a coach for over 50 years. He was Susquehanna University and is as big a part of SU football as any person in its history.”
Pittello, a 1951 graduate of Susquehanna, had just completed his 19th season in 2010 as an offensive line coach at SU, making him actively involved with the football program for 48 of the past 63 seasons.
The Mount Carmel, Pa., native had been with the team as either a player or a coach longer than anyone in the history of the program and was the only player in team history to have his jersey number retired. The school retired his No. 66 during the 1998 season. In addition, in 2001, the football locker room was formally named in Pittello’s honor.
Pittello’s playing career at Susquehanna began in 1948. He was the starting guard for the Maroon and Orange under co-head coaches Amos Alonzo Stagg, Jr. and Sr. Pittello began his coaching career with Susquehanna in 1953 under Stagg, Jr. and went on to serve as an assistant coach with the program under five head coaches.
During his tenures, he helped guide SU to two undefeated seasons and three MAC Northern Division championships. Most recently, he was a member of the coaching staff that helped lead the Crusaders to the 2009 Liberty League championship. That performance awarded Briggs and his staff conference Coaching Staff of the Year honors.
In 1985, he was reunited with former SU head coach Jim Garrett at Columbia University as an assistant to Garrett. Pittello also served three years as an assistant under legendary prep coach Joe “Jazz” Diminick at Pittello’s alma mater, Mount Carmel Area High School.