A Possible Renewal of the Penn State-Pitt Rivalry

In case you haven’t noticed, Penn State doesn’t really like Pitt. Well, if all goes to plan for Bill O’Brien and acting athletic director Dave Joyner, Penn Staters will be able to take their Pitt-bashing beyond Facebook memes and Twitter trash talk to the gridiron, as both schools hope to discuss a renewal of the historical rivalry between the Nittany Lions and Panthers.

Penn State’s acting AD Dave Joyner told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Friday that he hopes to begin talks with Pittsburgh AD Steve Pederson to establish a regular rivalry game between the Nittany Lions and the Pitt Panthers. The two schools are currently scheduled to meet in 2016 and 2017 after last having played in 2000, a Pitt victory over Penn State at Three Rivers Stadium. And before you ask, yes, it was a loss even before the vacated wins. The 96 game series between the two teams, dating as far back as November of 1893, currently stands at 48-40-2 (advantage Penn State), with two vacated victories for the Nittany Lions.

The Penn State-Pitt rivalry was once considered one of college football’s best rivalries, though the teams stopped playing annually after the 1992 season. In order to re-establish the annual game against the Panthers, however, Penn State would have to overcome a few scheduling difficulties. Earlier this year, O’Brien expressed a desire to play a neutral site game (i.e. at the Meadowlands or in D.C.) against “a tradition or new rival, such as Alabama or Notre Dame.” There is also a possibility that the Big Ten will move to a nine game conference schedule in 2017 since the Big Ten-Pac 12 agreement was called off. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany has expressed interest in this before, and these two possibilities could make an annual series tough to pull off.

If Joyner and Pederson can find some way to make an annual Penn State-Pitt game work within these constraints, we can expect some good old-fashioned Pennsylvania football in the future. It is worth noting that in 1992, Paterno had wanted an agreement with Pitt similar to that which Penn State currently has with Temple — two games at Beaver Stadium to one home game for the opponent — which turned out to be a deal-ender for the then annual games between the two schools. I’m not sure if Pitt would agree to a relationship outside of the home-and-home sort, like the series currently scheduled for 2016 and 2017. If the talks between Joyner and Pederson work out, though, the resulting rivalry would be very interesting, to say the least.

In the meantime, Pitt, you still suck.

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Bobby Chen

Writer and photographer, helping tell the many stories of the Penn State community.


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