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Adrian Reminisces Of Home

Brilliant native takes on his alma mater

September 11, 2011
By JIM ELLIOTT - Staff Writer (elliott@theintelligencer.net) , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

MORGANTOWN - A lot has changed in the small town of Brilliant, Ohio since five-sport star Pete Adrian left it 45 years ago to fulfill a dream of playing football at West Virginia University.

His affinity for the place has not.

''I thought it was a great place to grow up,'' said Adrian, now the head football coach at Norfolk State University. ''Everybody knew everybody; you didn't have to lock your doors at night. Every town had sports - Dillonvale, the whole 9 yards - so it made the rivalries. And everybody was working in the mill and that just made it great.''

Adrian was one of a trio of recruits from the Ohio Valley that year, along with Terry Snively and Ron Pobolish - a couple of very good future coaches in their own right.

Adrian's career at WVU might not have gone as planned, but the entire experience is something he wouldn't dare give back. He played one year of freshman ball before playing parts of three seasons with the varsity team under Jim Carlen and his offensive coordinator Bobby Bowden. Adrian's senior year was cut short, but he was offered what was basically a graduate assistant coaching position that year and he was well on his way to a ''brilliant'' coaching career.

Everything else was setting up nicely, too. During his sophomore year, he met a girl named Christine. They had a little in common because she was an Ohio Valley native too, having grown up in McMechen. The two eventually married and had two sons, Rocco and Zach.

On Saturday, Adrian took his Spartans to Mountaineer Field to play a game he set up with an old friend of his in former WVU coach Bill Stewart. It was the first time he'd seen a game in the ''new'' stadium, his own career keeping him plenty busy during football season.

Christine was there, too, and so was her 85-year-old mother and her brother. He has a brother that still lives in Steubenville.

Adrian, as you might expect, had mixed emotions about this particular reunion, giving his team outplayed West Virginia during the first half, then was - his word - ''murdered'' during the game's final 30 minutes.

''I liked the first half,'' he said. ''I didn't think much of the second half.''

That happened because of numbers. Norfolk State really only played roughly 30 players when things were still in hand. It wasn't enough.

''We just got tired in the second half,'' he said. ''They really didn't make any adjustments. We were tired and they got behind us.''

Adrian's career has taken him from Morgantown to Rhode Island to Idaho, to Florida, to Chicago, to Pennsylvania, and Virginia. In all, he's been a head coach, assistant coach, and a high school athletics director.

Some of those spots are vacation destinations, meaning his family visits him more often than he gets back home to the Ohio Valley, which he estimates he does every few years. Let's face it, when the option is an ocean or a river, the ocean wins nearly every time.

Despite wanting it to lose Saturday, Adrian certainly keeps tabs on his alma-mater.

''As an alumni, I wish them luck,'' he said. ''I hope they win all of the rest of them. Shoot, I'll go to a bowl game.''