Pitt Head Coach Narduzzi Wants Program To Play Penn State Annually
Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi has been a vocal advocate of his program ever since assuming his role as head man last year. It’s no surprise; most coaches are expected to be their team’s loudest cheerleader. But Narduzzi was tasked with reinvigorating a Pitt program that’s stooped to a shell of its former self, meaning he’s got an especially onerous journey ahead. Narduzzi wants to return the program to its former glory, so it would make sense to spark a former flame that used to reign as one of the nation’s prominent rivalries.
But the return of Pitt-Penn State only extends to 2016, and Narduzzi wants to change that.
Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi on the Penn State game: “I think it should be played every year. It just makes sense to me.”
— Brian Hamilton (@BrianHamiltonSI) July 21, 2016
Penn State and Pitt supporters don’t agree on much (read: anything), but the idea of an annual installment of arguably the nation’s most exciting in-state rivalry is a notion both fanbases could find some common ground on. Who wouldn’t want to see Penn State and Pitt clash at least once every year? Given some of the lackluster non-conference opponents Penn State has lined up both past (Army, Eastern Michigan) and down the road (former Division I-AA member Idaho in 2019), having to play Pitt early in the schedule would certainly spice up the season, and with such a high degree of bragging rights on the line, the debate over program supremacy might finally be settled on the field — as it should be.
Joe Paterno took heavy criticism over the rivalry’s cessation, somewhat unjustly. He cited Big Ten scheduling restrictions, namely the conference’s rule that two out of three non-conference games had to be played at home, which Pitt officials swiftly shot down. They did not want to be part of an unbalanced home-away scheduling system, so conversations of extending the rivalry quickly deteriorated. But as SBNation’s Alex Kirshner stated earlier today, James Franklin has a chance to alter his program’s trajectory slightly and make a statement.
Kirshner outlines the potential risk Franklin might assume if he opts to schedule Pitt annually. If his master plan fails, and his program can’t top the Panthers, Franklin would be at a significant disadvantage when trying to woo Pennsylvania’s top recruits — something he’s succeeded with in the past.
Here’s to hoping James Franklin feels the same way as in-state coaching foe. Those two men have the power to make it happen, and I speak for both fanbases in saying there’s nothing Pennsylvania college football fans would like to see more, aside from maybe a Rose Bowl or National Championship.