UTEP’s Joe Golding Comes Through With Big Assist, Drives Pittsburgh Football Players 9 Hours To El Paso For Bowl Game

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The ongoing struggle for folks trying to navigate the winter weather that affected air travel across the country had three Pittsburgh players in a bind. The Pitt Panthers are playing in El Paso against UCLA in the Sun Bowl this week. Thanks to UTEP basketball coach Joe Golding and his family, those players made it to town for practice.

Travel options across the country were limited for most of the weekend. Still, the three Pittsburgh players made it to their bowl destination, nine hours away from their grounded plane.

According to Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi, several players were stuck in Dallas after the weather delayed their flight to El Paso. It turns out Joe Golding and his family were in the same situation.

Pittsburgh head coach Pat Narduzzi before the bowl game. (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Most of the Pittsburgh team arrived in El Paso in time for their first practice, but three players were trying to figure out a way to make it in time. Well, without knowing Narduzzi or his players, Golding offered to get the guys to their team.

Golding rented a car with his family, loaded up the three Panther players and drove nine hours to El Paso.

“My family and I were blessed to give a ride to Samuel, Jake,and Hudson. They were terrific young men that represented Pitt football in a first-class manner. I educated them on West Texas, they educated me on Pitt football and Stack’d burgers! I’m a Pitt football fan now!” Golding said Monday night.

The Hospitality Of The UTEP Community In Pittsburgh

Narduzzi was left shocked to hear the story of how this transpired. He was certainly grateful for UTEP’s Golding when speaking with the media on Monday.

“Yesterday afternoon, we had a couple guys get delayed with their flights and got stuck in Dallas. Joe Golding, head basketball coach for Texas El Paso, him, his wife and child picked up and took our three guys, drove them cause the flight was delayed. They got here late last night and I just wanna give a shoutout to those guys.”

Head coach Joe Golding of the UTEP Miners. (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)

Also, it’s not as if Narduzzi and Golding had a previous relationship – they’ve never met.

“No, not until last night when I heard. They kinda bumped into each other at the rental car, they were in the same condition, flights were canceled, it’s a blessing,” Narduzzi noted on his lack of familiarity with Golding.

Pitt quarterback Jake Frantl was one of the players who got a ride from Golding. He mentioned this would be one Christmas he’d never forget.

“Great man and awesome family! Will never forget this Christmas story,” Frantl tweeted.

Through all of the struggles folks were dealing with on Christmas, it’s good to hear that this situation had a positive ending.

It might not have been the best holiday for many folks, but it’s cool to see sports bring this unlikely group together.

Written by Trey Wallace

Wallace started covering the SEC in 2012, as the conference landscape was beginning to change. Prior to his time in Knoxville, Wallace worked in Nashville for The Read Optional, where he first produced content that garnered national attention. His passion for sports is evident in his work and has led him to break some of college football’s biggest stories. His social media reach and natural podcast proficiency continue to make Wallace one of SEC’s most trusted sources.

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