Black & Gold at FUS

STEUBENVILLE – Craig Wolfley never could have imagined the road he has traveled because of football.

He was the last pick in the fifth round of the 1980 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers, No. 138, out of Syracuse University.

Some guy named Tunch Ilkin was the last pick of the sixth round, No. 165.

“As a full-grown blockhead attending SU, I couldn’t imagine God’s grace to me in allowing me to have a brother like Tunch Ilkin for 35 years and do a radio show as well as broadcast the games together,” said Wolfley.

He spent 10 years with the Steelers and his final two years in the NFL with Minnesota.

Wolfley is a member of the game day network broadcast team, and also co-hosts a radio show with Ilkin on WBGG-AM in Pittsburgh.

“The best part of what I do is hanging out with Tunch,” he said. “I get to watch my favorite team in my favorite sport hanging out with my best friend, and get paid for it, not to mention all the free food. What’s not to like?”

He is one of three former Steelers and one current player on hand for the Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Baron Club Dinner on Saturday.

Also on the program are current defensive back Ike Taylor, former offensive lineman Jeff Hartings and linebacker Robin Cole.

Moderating the conversation will be Bob Pompeani, a sportscaster at Pittsburgh’s KDKA-TV, who has covered the Steelers for more than 32 years. In 2013, he received his sixth Golden Quill award, that one for his Pittsburgh Steeler Exclusive reports. Joining him as co-moderator will be his daughter, Celina Pompeani of WTOV-TV.

Wolfley started 98 games at left guard from 1981-87 and every game at left tackle in 1988. He finished his career, one with the Steelers and two with the Vikings, by starting six of 39 games.

“Whether on the field or off the field, as a player or a broadcaster or just as a regular guy, it always has been, and always will be a privilege and honor to most humbly have been a very small part of the Pittsburgh Steelers in some fashion,” he said. “The Rooneys and the Steelers have always been about faith, family and football.

“Faith in a loving God, surrounded by family in love and of course, the love of the game. The ability to slobber-knock someone on the field doesn’t hurt either.”

Wolfley holds a black belt in Freestyle Jiu Jitsu, has more than 19 years of martial arts training and does not take himself too seriously.

It says on his website that his motto is “Sit mens sana in corpore sano” – a healthy mind in a healthy body.

“Actually, the ‘Sit mens sana in copore sano’ was an attempt at humor based on a mere third-place finish in my sixth-grade spelling bee,” he said. “You see there were only two of us, but as I flunked math twice…sooo…”

During Saturday’s dinner, former university president the Rev. Terence Henry, TOR, will present the Baron Club Award to three Ohio Valley individuals for their career achievements and the pivotal roles they play in the lives of young people.

As quarterback and safety, Mike Orlando helped lead Steubenville Catholic Central High School to the 1993 Ohio Division V state football championship.

He also played third base on the Crusaders’ 1994 Division IV state baseball championship team.

Orlando now teaches business classes and is the head football coach at Archbishop McNicholas High School in Cincinnati. Last fall, Orlando led the McNicholas football team to the regional semi-finals.

As the longtime director of the Steubenville Striders, Patricia Herring, Class of 1975, has mentored and coached hundreds of youth who went on to state championships at the high school and college levels in track and field and long distance running. Herring’s award comes on the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Steubenville Striders.

Frank “Digger” Dawson co-founded the Lou Holtz Hall of Fame in East Liverpool, established a $400,000 scholarship foundation for the East Liverpool High School Alumni Association, writes about the history of Potter football and is involved in his community in numerous ways.

The Baron Club Dinner supports the university’s NCAA Division III athletic program.

The event will be held in the newly renovated Finnegan Fieldhouse, home of the Barons. Visitors will be able to see the results of the $5 million expansion project, which increased the size of the fieldhouse by 17,000 square feet and features a 5,100-square-foot fitness center complete with cardio equipment, free weights, an aerobics room double the size of the previous one, and a strength, performance, and flexibility training room.

Reservations for the dinner are $65. Sponsorships are available by calling (740) 284-5210 or visiting FranciscanAthletics.com/BaronClub.

Black & Gold at FUS

STEUBENVILLE – Robin Cole is widely considered one of the best linebackers the Pittsburgh Steelers have ever drafted.

He was the 21st pick by the Steelers in the 1977 draft out of the University of New Mexico and went on to an outstanding 11-year career with the Black and Gold.

Cole started 95 of 98 games from 1980 to 1987.

“My life has been impacted tremendously,” Cole said of playing for the Steelers after an outstanding career with the Lobos. “What type of person will I be in the future? How will I respond to this awesome experience? What purpose is in this chapter of my life? Is this a step os is it the reason?

“I could only wish for and have faith that the vision God gave me was one to never doubt. I realized that the work that you put in, will come back to you in double, triple fold.

“Surprised yes, but prepared. This vision I received as a freshman.”

Cole played in Super Bowl XIII, which the Steelers beat Dallas, 35-31, and the next year helped lead the Steelers to victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl XIV.

He is one of three former Steelers and one current player on hand for the Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Baron Club Dinner on Saturday.

Also on the docket are current defensive back Ike Taylor and former offensive linemen Craig Wolfley and Jeff Hartings.

Moderating the conversation will be Bob Pompeani, a sportscaster at Pittsburgh’s KDKA-TV, who has covered the Steelers for more than 32 years. In 2013, he received his sixth Golden Quill award, this one for his Pittsburgh Steeler Exclusive reports. Joining him as co-moderator will be his daughter, Celina Pompeani of WTOV-TV.

“There is a strong connection between the Steelers and the Tri-State Area,” said Mike Florak, the university’s director of community development. “Generations of parents and grandparents share stories of their favorite Steeler players and games. This event will bring all those memories to life with a format that lets the players go beyond locker room sound bites and share their more personal football memories.”

Cole, for one, understands what it means to represent the Steelers on a night like this.

“It’s very important,” he said. “We must be as professional as we can be. I represent myself first, then as a representative of the greatest football team of all times. It’s an awesome responsibility.”

He also admits there is nothing more important than being a Godly husband and father.

“There is nothing more important than that,” he said.

Cole finished his Steelers career with 16 sacks, 14 fumble recoveries and five interceptions.

He was the right outside linebacker in 1982-83 (when he recorded 10 sacks) and played his final four years with Pittsburgh as the right inside linebacker.

Cole played his final year in the league for the New York Jets.

Taylor holds two Super Bowl rings and is in his 11th year as cornerback for the Steelers. Taylor was drafted in the fourth round of the 2003 NFL Draft.

Hartings played college football at Penn State and then put in 11 seasons in the NFL, including six at center with the Steelers from 2001 through 2006.

He was selected to two Pro Bowls and wears a ring from the Steelers’ 2005 Super Bowl victory over Seattle.

Wolfley played 10 years with the Steelers, from 1980 through 1989 as an offensive guard and tackle. He is a sideline analyst on the game day radio network broadcast team and hosts a Pittsburgh sports-talk show.