Pitt and Penn State may not renew their rivalry until 2016, but that doesn’t mean the war of words hasn’t started up already between programs.
Speaking on local Pittsburgh radio last week, Panther head coach Paul Chryst responded to James Franklin’s claim that he is going to “dominate the state” in recruiting.
“I heard people talk about it, I didn’t hear him say that,” Chyrst said. “People can talk about whatever they want to say, I think it’s what you do. You really don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. We know it’s a competitive world. People can talk all they want, the actions are going to speak loudest.”
There is little doubt that while Pitt isn’t winning on a national stage that the Panther program has done a good job in the past several years pulling in local recruits from an always competitive Pittsburgh region full of talented prospects.
Penn State’s 2014 recruiting class only has three recruits from the state of Pennsylvania, largely due to the efforts of two separate coaching staffs recruiting players they were familiar with.
“We were not going to get in a situation where we come to Penn State, find a guy that we don’t know a lot about and start recruiting them. That’s a recipe for disaster,” Franklin said last week. “We weren’t going to do that. We wanted to make sure we knew these kids, knew their families, we had been recruiting them for a long time that’s why you see, uncharacteristic of a Penn State recruiting class, these guys come from all over the country, probably more so than maybe any recruiting class we have had here and that’s because of the relationships we had previously.”
So while Penn State’s recruiting class might not quite dominate the state, Franklin seems more than ready to get back to the roots of the program. And that means going up against Chryst in his city for some of his top talent.
“Our job is to do a great job in this state, and in this region, as well,” Franklin said. “Penn State has done historically a great job six hours from campus but on top of that we want to recruit nationally by position. So we’re not going to have a coach necessarily assigned to Idaho, but if there is a great player from the state of Idaho and he’s at your position you better know who he is and that’s kind of the philosophy we’re taking, that’s how we will cover the rest of the country.”
“First, it’s going to start with this state and then number two to this region, six hours from campus and after that we’ll cover the rest of the country nationally.”
Who comes out on top remains to be seen, but the Panthers and Nittany Lions will take the field in 2016 for the first of four games in the series.