Big Lead Sports Bar

11/27/2006

The Relevance of Pitt vs. Penn State

As sports fans, I think it is in our nature to fight. We want to prove our superiority by any means possible, be it physical or mental. We love to argue about the BCS, about what's wrong with the Steelers, and about how the Red Sox could spend $51 million just to negotiate with a free agent pitcher. We love to see our favorite teams battle each week, to the extent of feeling like we are a part of the team. That is why Steeler fans take losing so hard; that is why any true fan takes losing so hard.
With that as the backdrop, an interesting storyline developed in the course of the 55 Things That Annoy Me About Sports discussion last week: the rivalry formerly known as Pitt vs. Penn State. If you haven't read the comments section of that piece, do yourself a favor and check it out. The talk moved seamlessly from gripes about broadcasters to name calling between Pitt and Penn State fans. Each side was trying to prove their superiority. But how do you argue a question when the answer looks like it is unattainable?
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the history, Pitt and Penn State was once one of the more storied rivalries in college football. The all-time record is in favor of PSU, 50-42-4. The game was last played in 2000, when Pitt defeated Penn State, 12-0, in front of 61,221 strong at Three Rivers Stadium. The game ended a seven-game Penn State winning streak versus the Panthers. That final meeting, like many others, was littered with future NFL players, including Larry Johnson, Antonio Bryant, Kevan Barlow, Bryant Johnson, Nick Goings, Bhawoh Jue, Kareem McKenzie, Gerald Hayes, Bryan Knight, Kenny Watson, Shawntae Spencer, and Ramon Walker. This was high-quality college football.
Unfortunately for fans of the rivalry, there are no prospects for the two sides to meet anytime soon. While researching this story, I dug up an article by Ron Cook from August, 2004, on this topic. If you're looking for an answer as to why these teams don't play, I'll let Ron give you an explanation:
"Paterno doesn't want to play Pitt and will use any excuse not to do it...Paterno doesn't want to play Pitt because of a grudge he still carries from more than 20 years ago when Pitt joined the Big East basketball conference instead of his dream all-sports Eastern league."
The title of Cook's article I referenced? "Pitt-Penn State series is bigger than Paterno"
According to Cook's piece, Penn State was only willing to schedule Pitt if Panther AD Jeff Long would agree to a two-for-one deal, in which Pitt would play two games at Penn State for every one PSU would play in Pittsburgh. As Cook said at the time, "The arrogance of that proposal is almost incomprehensible. At last check, Pitt was running a major college program, too."
That's what I thought, too. Remember, Cook's article was written two years ago, so unless he had Biff's Sports Almanac from Back to the Future, he wouldn't know how bad Pitt fell in 2006. But they are by all means a major college program. They play in a BCS conference, use a 60,000+ capactiy stadium, continue to produce NFL talent, and have a bevy of exciting young players and recruits lined up for the near future, including Dorin Dickerson, Pat Bostick, Elijah Fields, and Nate Byham. While it is not pretty to think about just days after the latest debacle, the state of the program is much better than, say, 10 years ago.
Biff failed Ron Cook on this occasion
This isn't meant to be a piece celebrating Ron Cook or bashing Joe Paterno. This is a piece crying out to JoePa to back down from his lofty demands and give the fans what they want to see. I know, I know, Penn State fans claim they don't care about Pitt anymore. To those fans, I ask: do you honestly enjoy spending your hard-earned dollars watching Akron, Youngstown State, and Temple? You really wouldn't relish a chance to shut Pitt fans up on a regular basis? Really?
As much as Penn State fans don't want to admit it, they don't have a true rival on their schedule right now. If they say Michigan or Ohio State, that simply would not be reciprocal, as they are each other's top rival. They try forcing Michigan State upon the public, but we all know that's going nowhere, as long as Michigan State continues to play like Michigan State. The Notre Dame game is nice, but Irish fans will argue that USC is their traditional foe. At least Pitt has WVU to fall back on in lieu of a Penn State matchup. While I'm sure they seethe plenty of venom for their matchups against the Wolverines, Buckeyes, and Irish, the lack of that go-to rival leaves a gaping hole on their schedule.
OK, so Paterno is bitter that Pitt turned his back on him in the early 1980s for his all-sports conference. Here's a good question for JoePa: how many of those Pitt ADs and coaches who decided to join the Big East are still around? What has the current administration done to alienate you?
People get in a huff about the 2-for-1 deal, but I think Paterno just threw that out there because he knew Pitt would never take it. He may be old, but he's not an idiot. He can then say he was willing to compromise, but Pitt was asking for too much. Unfortunately for Joe's strategy, Pitt was able to go out and get home-and-homes with other prominent national programs, such as Nebraska, Michigan State, Texas A&M, and Virginia. So that kind of killed the argument that Pitt was somehow lesser of a program and unworthy of a one-for-one swap.
This is truly intended to be one of those "talk-back" pieces where the fans speak their peace. I want to hear from Pitt fans, from PSU fans, from Pittsburghers, from transplanted Pittsburghers, from anyone...what are your thoughts? Is Paterno wrong? Is Pitt wrong? Is the series dead? Does anyone care?

45 comments:

Trevin Shirey said...

I'm a hardcore PSU guy myself, but I would like to see the rivalry start up again.

Unfortunately, JoePa being JoePa won't let it happen. It's one of the few rivalries in sports where the two sides disrespect each other so much that they won't even play.

I know Joe's in the wrong on this one, but I'm not going to be one to complain about his decisions. Joe's done so much for the PSU program that he can do (just about) whatever he wants and you won't see my complaining.

Eventually, we'll be able to settle the debate of who's the better team on the field. That said, I'm firmly convinced that PSU is still the superior program. Wannstedt has done a nice job recruiting, but his classes don't match up to the past couple guys like Larry Johnson are pulling in to Happy Valley.

This was lengthy, but so be it.

louis lipps is my homeboy said...

I don't think we've seen the last of Pitt/Penn State.

I think a lot of PSU fans saying they don't care about Pitt anymore are just posturing. Do you really like having Michigan State as your top rival.... I mean REALLY? Because if that's your idea of a hated rival, then I guess have at it. A fabricated rivalry with MSU wouldn't cut it for me though if I were you. And you can't have Michigan or Ohio State because they already have each other.

Besides, my sister is a Penn State alum and she still hates Pitt. She reminds me of it everytime we lose.

We Pitt fans, on the other hand, have a "hated" rival that we don't even hate all that much. Sure we dislike WVU greatly, but I think they hate us more than we hate them.

Remember being a kid in Western PA the week of Pitt vs Penn State? School was great that week. All the trash talking with your buddies who were on the other side, and if your team lost you didn't even want to talk to the other kids on Monday morning.

It makes me angry to think that there are kids growing up in the greater-Pittsburgh area that may never get to be a part of that. For that one week in Pittsburgh every year, college football was almost as big as the Steelers.

Now, as a Pitt fan, even I'd be lieing if I said I didn't respect all that Paterno has done in college football (I still hate him though... don't worry), but purposely breaking up a historic, heated rivalry, and inventing a new one with MSU is pretty much a horseshit move on his part.

I think if Wannstedt can recruit Pitt back to respectability, the fan support for the rivalry will pick up more steam. Also, JoePa's almost 80 friggin years old!! He can't coach forever. And being as though he's the guy keeping this rivalry game from happening, I think that at least he's out of the picture the rivalry will start back up.

NittanyBlue2002 said...

Unfortunately, "Raul," the issue is dead. If Pitt and Penn State were to ever play another game in the forseable future, it would have to be in a bowl game. Given Pitt's previous propensity to fall short of such lofty goals, that seems unlikely to happen for a good long while.

However, I applaud you for providing a well-written and compelling argument that's actually supported by relevant evidence representing both sides of the story with factual, historical and even comical information (with references dating back to Ron Cook's column in 2004 as well as Biff's receding hairline and Sports Almanac from Back to the Future).

In any event, your main point of contention is this:
The arrogance of Paterno's 2-for-1 proposal is almost incomprehensible. This is because Pitt considers itself a major program - and major programs don't agree to 2-for-1 deals.

But if you researched your topic more thoroughly, you would've realized (or perhaps even publicized) the fact that way back in the day, Pitt refused to play at Penn State for many many years. Still, we hauled our way out to Pitt Stadium every single year to play the game when Pitt had some negotiating power.
Now that the roles are reversed, however, Pitt's crying foul and blaming Paterno for depriving college football of classic rivalry game.

If Pitt really wanted this game, they have a means to make it happen. Agree to the 2-for-1. Even under those terms, though, I still don't see how it benefits Penn State. Why awaken the few dozen Pitt fans from their sleep by giving them a reason to care again about anything relating to their fallen program?

Paterno gave Pitt every chance in the world to protect this rivalry game forever when he proposed the All Eastern Conference. Pitt rejected it and blew up Paterno's vision of forming an elite Eastern Conference. If Pitt wasn't so ridiculously stubborn and/or driven by personal agendas and petty politics, they wouldn't be complaining today.

By the way, why in the world would a powerhouse program like Penn State schedule a series of 1-for-1 games with Pitt when we could do the same with Nebraska, Boston College, Notre Dame, Alabama, etc?

Just answer this question: What would be the benefit to Penn State. The "rivalry game" reason isn't good enough.

Sean said...

There was talk of the PA Legislature forcing Pitt to play Penn State each year. I also heard an idea of having one game played at Pitt, one at Penn State and a third in Philly. Although a 1-for-1 deal would be better for the schools, that would be a nice compromise.

While this is somewhat on the topic, is this year's Penn State really that good? While they can likely beat Pitt, PSU's best win is over a mediocre 8-5 Purdue (who lost by 30 to Iowa), and they really should have lost to Minnesota. Do you trust Anthony Morelli to lead you to a BCS game next year?

J_Pix said...

I am a PSU alum and season ticket holder. While I do not get excited to travel an hour and a half to see Youngstown State, or Temple, the fact is that 1000,000+ still make the trip to beaver Stadium and plunk down $50 dollars for their seats.

PSU has stated that with the addition of the 12th game it will ALWAYS be a home game simply for financial reasons. If Pitt wants to play it will have to be a 2 for 1 series if ithe series is to be continuous. Penn State has stated that they will play one marque non conference game each year (which has benn the 1 for one series with BC, Nebraska, ND, and alabama coming up).

Why would PSU forfit a home contest every other year which brings in more revenue than to restore a rivalry game which I hate to say since I grew up in Western PA doesn't matter to many of the PSU fans of today.

A New Pirates Generation said...

Senor Mondesi,

I'm starting a blog project for the Pirates, and I'm wondering if perhaps you'd like to participate. I'm having a hard time finding your e-mail address, so if you'd like in, shoot me a line: coryhumes@yahoo.com

Thanks,
Cory
A New Pirates Generation
http://piratesgeneration.blogspot.com

Ambiorix said...

NittanyBlue, you are exactly what the author was describing as the stereotypical PSU fan.

Anonymous said...

I went to Penn State and was completely unaware there even was a rivalry with Pitt. When I'd come home and tell people I went to Penn State, they'd give me nasty looks. I only later realized it was because they went to Pitt.

That says all you need to know about this "rivalry". It's completely one-sided. It's non-existent on the Penn State end. I don't know why Pitt fans are clinging to this long-dead rivalry as if it still means something. Find yourself another rival.

I root for both Pitt and Penn State and I would hate to have to choose between them.

Anonymous said...

So who is Penn State's #1 rival?

pitt lover said...

Aren't you sick of the Penn State arrogance? Well "F" all of them and Joe Paturdo Christ too. Let them play Youngstown State. Or maybe they can forge a rivalry with Temple? Ewwwwwww they're so good in their lily white unis complete with lily white helmets and white socks. How quaint! They must have borrowed the Cleveland Browns' decorator.

What a load of total crap you are Penn State. Mondesi should have put up the picture of Biff getting a load of manure dumped on him because that's what you truly need!

Brian said...

I am a Penn State alum who currently holds season tickets to Pitt football and hoops. I enjoy following both schools, and I can tell you that most of the people at State College cared very little about Pitt during my time there (mid 90's). During that time period fans got plenty fired up for OSU, MU, and just about any other successful Big Ten school. When PSU has a succesful football team (or even a mediocre team) they are going to draw 100,000+ for every game, regardless of whether it is against OSU, Pitt, or YSU. The lack of a "rival" does little to keep fans away. Being a Pitt season ticket holder, and seeing the number of empty seats at Heinz Field, I can tell you that Pitt needs this game much more than PSU. So if PSU wants to do it on their own terms (2 for 1), who can blame them?

And the idea of the PA legislature "forcing" college teams to play each other is one of the most ridiculous statements I've ever heard.

louis lipps is my homeboy said...

Gee.... just what I expected, a bunch of typical, arrogant, pretentious shit talking from Penn State fans. And they wonder why Pitt fans still hate them despite their "we don't care about Pitt... but we sure do hate that evil Michigan State!!" posturing.

Hell, maybe I'm getting old (I'm only 27 though), but perhaps the younger generation doesn't remember how cool this rivalry used to be. I mean, a kid that roots for Pitt AND Penn State... that shouldn't even be legal!

And as for how the great Penn State should get to have a 2 and 1 series with Pitt, yeah... real arrogant guys. You do know that you sucked hard from 2000-2004? I don't care how many fans you put in Beaver Stadium those years.

The great infallible JoePa (who you all wanted fired 2 years ago) is still playing politics over something that happened when I was a little kid, and you think Pitt should give in to his demands? Ummm... yeah...I'll just settle for occasionally stomping your shit in basketball, thankyou very much.

But, if we have kids in western PA growing up rooting for both Pitt and Penn State now, then I give up. I guess I'll start printing "Fuck West Virginia" T-shirts to make a few bucks on the side now.

Anonymous said...

I went to both Penn State and Pitt. Up at Penn State, they truly believe Pitt is their no. 1 rival. At Pitt, it is the same way. There is no reason the game should not be played.
To the genius who stated Penn State always travelled to Pitt for games back in the day.
You should quit revising history and get your facts straight. Penn State wanted to come to Pittsburgh because at the time their stadium couldn't fill the demand for tickets. They are the ones that requested the games be held in Pittsburgh. It gave them more exposure considering at the time the games weren't on TV and a bevy of other benefits to the program.

Anonymous said...

I was just up in State College for the Michigan State game, I usually attend maybe one PSU game per season. If that is what is passing for a rivalry these days, then college football certainly has lost its luster. Pitt and West Virginia is undoubtedly a flawed rivalry in many ways, but the Backyard Brawl was about ten times more intense than the battle for the Land Grant Trophy.

All of that aside, almost every intelligent and balanced Penn State fan that I know sounds a lot more like trevin shirey in terms of admitting that the rivalry still very much exists on both sides and that it is clearly Joe's fault that it was ever ended. And almost every knowledgable and unbiased Pitt fan will admit that the Pitt program is certainly lagging behind the one in State College. But the gap is not as enormous as the perception seems to be, and Penn State fans are deluding themselves if they think they deserve or need a 2 for 1 deal with Pitt, yet schools like Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Michigan State, Nebreaska, Miami and Iowa will all do a home and home. It is nothing but JoePa's spiteful excuse to avoid the game altogether. He was embarassed in 2001 when they lost and saw the Pitt program catching up and didn't want to give them the opportunity to do so again.

Operation Shutdown said...

These Penn St. fans are right; they have no rivalry with Pitt. I guess it's just a coincidence that all of my friends that recently graduated from Penn St. celebrate every time Pitt loses a game. Nope, there is no rivalry here.

tbart213 said...

I think Pitt and Penn State are both gay.

we're better than you, but you won't play us....

You aren't big enough to play with us because......

Shut up both of you. Please. It's not the 80's anymore. No one cares about either one of you.

have a nice day.

homos.

Anonymous said...

This series needs to be played yearly. Why suffer with Pitt and the Citadel and Penn State and Youngstown State? Those are garbage games. The school presidents should mandate the series should be a home and home affair period. It's time to shutup and play the game.

bucdaddy said...

Interesting parallels down here in West By-God. Marshall backed out of a contract to play WVU, then spent years badgering WVU for refusing to schedule the Herd because the Herd wanted a game in Huntington. WVU's standpoint: There's nothing in it for us.

This got the legislature and the governor involved and eventually they forged a compromise: The teams would play three games -- two at WVU and one at Marshall -- and whoever won at least two of the three games would get the fourth game of the series at home.

But the larger point (and some of you have alluded to this) is: Marshall may view WVU as its big rival, but WVU views Marshall as a horse views a horsefly, more an annoyance than a rival. WVU thinks its big rival is Pitt, certainly since Virginia Tech left the schedule, though Louisville is warming up.

But Pitt thinks Penn State is its big rival, or would like it to be, and would like the idea to be reciprocal. But I always thought that was kind of absurd; back in the day when Penn State was playing Alabama and Notre Dame and Nebraska most years, would YOU think your big rivalry was for state bragging rights?

Penn State plays in a league with two of the best three teams in the nation, plus some other good ones (Wisconsin). It schedules Temple for a breather from that, like Pitt schedules, oh, you know, Ohio U. and the Citadel to give itself a break from the rigors of losing to Connecticut.

eh jeh said...

I lived in Wisconsin for a few years (forgive me)... but the Packers do something interesting with their season ticket holders. Half of the home games that the Packers play at Lambeau Field every season are sold to season ticket holders in Milwaukee. Back in the days of the old County Stadium, Green Bay would actually play half of their home games IN MILWAUKEE.

The Packers realize that a large portion of their fan base lives 2 hours away from the home stadium, but still caters to them by keeping half of their home schedule open to Milwaukee ticket holders. Now on to my point...

I should preface this by saying that personally, I have no vested interest in Pitt or Penn State. Being a homer, I tend to cheer more for Pitt as Penn State fans typically tend to bother me.

That being said, if Penn State were to play Pitt at Heinz Field: 1) the game would easily sell out 2) the majority of the people in the stadium would be wearing blue & white.

I think it would be nice for Penn State to throw their fans a bone and add Pitt to the schedule. It creates an instant genuine rival, and it also opens up an alternate home game for their fans. So much of their fan base already exists in Western PA, the fans would salivate at a chance to see them play a game close to home once every other year.

Granted, it's not a total parallel to the Green Bay situation as Pitt would reap the financial benefit of hosting the game in Pittsburgh, but the PSU fans would certainly appreciate the opportunity to see the team play without traveling to State College.

Penn State is depriving their Pittsburgh area fans by refusing to add Pitt to the schedule.

Stoosh said...

As a Pitt fan who can certainly respect and appreciate Penn State's tradition and reputation in the college football world, I think any true college football fan would want to see this rivalry renewed.

If some Penn State fans continue to insist that this rivalry is dead, why in fact is it met with such intense response every time a Pitt fan (or anyone else for that matter) brings up the notion of renewing the game? If Penn State fans had such little regard to Pitt, why get this fired up about the debate?

The plug was pulled on this rivalry just as Pitt was beginning to emerge from what was basically a decade or so of irrrelevance, and being able to compete in games against an iconic program like Penn State would've only furthered that emergence. At the same time, the bloom was starting to come off the rose that was Penn State joining the Big Ten, and the program looked to be headed on a bit of a downturn. The rivalry ended right about the time that both Pitt was beginning to close the gap on the field and Penn State was starting to look vulnerable. I know this is the root of the frustration over the ending of the rivalry for Pitt fans. Just as the rivalry was beginning to regain its national relevance, it came to an end.

As far as where it goes from here, I'm not sure. I'd love to see it renewed, but I think it's absolutely preposterous that Penn State demands the game be played on a two-for-one basis. Why? Well, let's forget the fact that Pitt has more to gain and Penn State has more to lose if the game comes back. That is certainly true. Forget the fact that some still perceive the Big East as a substantially-inferior conference, despite evidence which suggests THAT gap is closing as well. And forget this notion that Penn State no longer views Pitt as its primary rival. As I said, if they didn't, why the emotion-laced responses from PSU fans? Some Penn State fans talk about the Pitt-Penn State gap as if Pitt were on par with Temple. So I can't imagine you getting this fired up at Temple fans who argue that they have a rivalry with PSU that's worth keeping around. I can't imagine Penn State fans getting this fired up at Michigan State fans.

So why is this two-for-one idea ridiculous? Notre Dame thinks enough of the Pitt program that they decided to add an eight-year home-and-home series that will commence in 2008 and continue through 2015. Like it or not Penn State fans, but if there's one program in America that can call its own shots and schedule who it wants when it wants where it wants, it's Notre Dame. The money and the arrangements under this home-and-home series with Pitt are good enough for Notre Dame. Notre Dame doesn't need Pitt to validate its schedule. Notre Dame can schedule whoever they want.

As someone else mentioned, other programs with plenty of tradition and iconic status have thought enough of Pitt to be good enough for a home-and-home series either in the recent past (Nebraska, Texas A&M, Mich St.) or near future (Iowa, Miami, VT, Clemson). So what's the real reason?

It comes down to the basic fact that Penn State has more to lose and less to gain. It'll just be interesting to see how the viewpoints change on this if Wannstedt rebuilds Pitt to consistent Top 25-status and the Big East emerges as one of the better power conferences in the country. Some of that is a lot closer than some people care to admit.

Cecil from Cecil Twp. said...

I hear that the reason Pitt isn't playing Penn State in hoops this year is b/c Pitt demanded 12 games at "The Pete" for every game played in State College.

Rev. Harlow Jesse Carpenter said...

I grew up a Penn State fan back when the rivalry was active and heated. Yeah, maybe Pitt screwed up when it rebuffed Paterno's "All East" idea back in the day, but what really f'ed things up was when Penn State joined the Big Ten. That wasn't just thumbing their noses at Pitt - that was thumbing their noses at every other school - WVU, BC, Syracuse, etc. - that had been their natural, traditional rivals to that point. PSU has none now. Out in BuckeyeLand, I can tell you that nobody west of Wheeling gives two turds about any other school but Michigan and whomever OSU's playing for the national championship. Same's true for fans up in The Mitten. PSU is like a phantom appendage to the Big Ten, and sure, they continue to sell out Beaver Stadium and throw bottles of urine at visiting teams' bands and stuff, but the fans in western Pa. will be whistling a different fight song if and when Pitt can finally build itself into a year-in, year-out contender. PSU made a big splash when they first joined the Big Ten back in '94 (or whenever) but it would have been interesting to see how the program evolved had they "stuck with the gals that brought them" and helped get the Big East going - my guess is they would have been playing in bigger bowls more often, their recruiting in the east would have remained dominant, Miami and Virginia Tech would never have bolted, and Paterno'd have another national championship or two notched on his belt. So go Pitt, Mountaineers, PSU (if they're having a good year), IUP... whatever.

louis lipps is my homeboy said...

This arguement has turned into part bitch fighting, but in between the barbs there has been some interesting things said.

First off, the guy who compared Pitt to Marshall was way off. Ok, I get it, we've had two bad years. We're not doing so hot right now. But we're certainly not Marshall. Pitt has won championships and been a relavent college football team before and is a historical program. Sure some of that stuff happened awhile back and a lot of it was buried under the debacle known as "Pitt football in the 90s", but it's not like we're some mid-major here.

One very interesting thing here is West Virginia. Penn State and MSU's "rivalry" is VERY contrived. But Pitt and WVU have been playing since the dawn of friggin time. I know West Virginia fans, and they HATE Pitt. But most Pitt fans, while they don't like WVU by any means, are chomping at the bit to play Penn State again.

Is this being a little disrespectfull to WVU though? Let's face it, loss to South Florida or no, I'm pretty sure this West Virginia team could take this years PSU team by about two touchdowns on most days. They're a good, historical program and a more than formidable opponent. It's also one of the few games the fans will come to Heinz Field to watch during years when Pitt sucks.

So Pitt actually currently has a game on it's schedule every year that it can call a real, bonified, historical rivalry. While Penn State doesn't have one real rivalry game at all. MSU doesn't count, it was an invented rivalry that was forced on the fans. Ohio, Michigan, and Notre Dame fans could really give a rat's ass about Penn State outside of the week they're playing them.

So maybe, just maybe, until the day that JoePa comes around (or retires) we should at least be greatfull that we have one thing Penn State doesn't have: A legitimate rival.

Anonymous said...

Pitt fan here -- I really could care less if we ever play Penn State again. WVU is our rivalry, Penn State is in the Big 10. Good luck to them.

I am here only to point out that about 1/2 of the posts here are from Penn State fans, claiming that the rivalry is dead.

Obviously, if that's the case, then why are they here and why do they care? (This is not a rhetorical question.)

Adam said...

Wow. I'm the fella who sparked this whole debate, and I'm shocked at how far it has actually gone. Clearly, the rivalry in the PITTSBURGH area is not dead. I'm sure every Penn State fan west of Johnstown wants the teams to play. But to say that the rivalry is alive elsewhere in the Commonwealth and surrounding areas (Maryland etc.) may be a bit far fetched. I'm from Bethel and I hear it from Pitt fans all the time when we lose, and I dish it out when they lose. But thats not to say the rest of Nittany Nation doesn't accept MSU as their new rival. Personally, after being at the OSU game last year, and watching this year's edition, I can see a possible rivalry (never PSU-MU strength, but a fairly big one). Anyone who was in Happy Valley that night knows it was perhaps the most memorabble Beaver Stadium night on record. Rivalries start that way.

Anyway, Joe's sour grapes are not completely off base, and any intelligent Pitt fan knows that. As much as some might want to call it elite, Pitt is far from the top. They are in MAYBE the 4th best of the BCS conferences. They are behind a lot of teams in it, and they can't fill Heinz Field. As far as watching a marquee footbaall game, Pitt is hardly on Penn State, or anyone elses radar. keep that in mind, we aren't the only ones who won;t play you.

Finally, a brief review of PSU's season showed more than a reasonable fan could have expected. Penn State took OSU and MU to the wire, and was in a position to at least tie both games. Did anyone think Penn State could pull that off? I said going into the season that top 15 was about all we could hope for, and if they win the bowl, top 20 is not out of the question. I think thats a fairly successful season. As far as one person's questions of Morelli? sure, I'm fine with him at QB and possibly riding him into the BCS next year. If he learns to look at his check downs, and not always at his primary receiver, we will do OK. He hasn't thrown a ton of INTs, however, his taking sacks that dont need to be taken must improve. However, with an experience O-line, and a punishing Austin Scott to go with the talented WRs and the ever intense defense, PSU can run with the best for the National Title. I'm not saying they will, but they are almost as complete as a college team can be going into the future.

Stoosh said...

Adam,

I don't know how PSU fans who live on the eastern side of the state or outside of the Commonwealth altogether still view Pitt as a rival. I know a lot of Pitt fans who no longer live in Pittsburgh still hate PSU as a rival.

No matter how you try to rationalize it with some of these "new rivalries" that may be emerging at Happy Valley, I think a lot of Penn State fans will still agree that their traditional rival is Pitt. If that wasn't the case, I can't imagine why this issue still provokes the intensity on both sides. As I said in my post above, the tone of many responses from PSU fans isn't one of general annoyance at Pitt fans. It's something much more intense than that.

Another poster hit the nail on the head - Michigan fans and Ohio State fans might get fired up to play Penn State, but you don't see anywhere near that kind of intensity for the Penn State game that you'd see from either Michigan fans or Ohio State fans when those two schools are playing each other. Notre Dame fans might be excited the week leading up to the game against Penn State, but it doesn't hold a candle to the anticipation their game with USC provides every year. If there's one game that Penn State plays where the hatred is reciprocated on both sides, it's the game against Pitt.

I'm not saying Penn State can't develop rivalries with the likes of Ohio State, Michigan or Notre Dame. I just can't envision Penn State ever replacing Michigan as Ohio State's traditional rival or USC as Notre Dame's.

In your above post, you say Pitt is far from an elite status. I don't think any Pitt fan will argue with you there. Contrary to what a lot of people have said, Wannstedt did not inherit an elite program, BCS appearance aside. Any smart Pitt fan will tell you they backed into that game. Pitt won a four-way tie for first place in a very mediocre 2004 Big East, mostly because Boston College gagged away a game against Syracuse that would've sent the Eagles to the BCS game had they won.

But I hate this argument that Pitt doesn't fill Heinz Field. So what? The University of Miami seldom fills the Orange Bowl, even when they're universally regarded as a top five program. I don't see exactly what Pitt's attendance has to do with the Pitt-Penn State argument. If Pitt was the only game in town, Pitt would have a stadium that seats 100,000 people, too. There's a reason college football is so big in places like State College, PA, Ann Arbor, MI, Columbus, OH and Austin, TX. It's the only established big-time football those places have.

In the sports universe, Pitt football doesn't define Pittsburgh the way Penn State football defines State College, Wolverine football defines Ann Arbor, and Gators football defines Gainesville. Steelers football defines Pittsburgh and everyone knows that. The Steelers suck this year and the Pens are good, yet the Pens are still second-page news most of the time. But I also had season tickets in 2003 to Pitt football, and I was at the VT and Miami games that year. That place was just as packed and just as loud as it was for any Steeler game I've ever been to. By and large, Pitt doesn't compare with the atmosphere at a program like Notre Dame or Penn State, but not many other schools can. That doesn't mean it can't change and it doesn't mean that it won't. But again, what this all has to do with the rivalry, I'm not sure. Perhaps you can enlighten me on this one.

"As far as watching a marquee footbaall game, Pitt is hardly on Penn State, or anyone elses radar. keep that in mind, we aren't the only ones who won;t play you."

Big words coming from a program who's more than willing to keep picking on the PA program from the OTHER side of the state. You know, the one that's been so bad for so long, it got kicked out of that inferior conference that Pitt plays in?

Did you make sure to park your high horse out back before you joined the discussion?

Take a look at what I wrote in my post above. Plenty of "name" programs have thought enough of Pitt to put them on their schedules in both recent past and future seasons. Pitt has had home-and-home games with Nebraska and Texas A&M, two traditional Big 12 contenders. Clemson and Iowa are on board for home-and-home series in upcoming seasons. Virginia Tech and Miami are coming back on the schedule. And there's the little matter of some school out in South Bend that just signed on for an eight-year commitment with the Panthers. And I believe many of those schools have just as much, and in some cases, more prestige and tradition as yours does up in Happy Valley.

Don't lean too far forward, Adam. You might fall out of that ivory tower.

Anonymous said...

First of all, Pitt fans (and I am one of them) only start the PSU complaints when Pitt season is a wash. So this is a timely discussion, save a bid to the International Bowl.

As far as state legislation "forcing" the game, I can't think of a bigger waste of the taxpayer's money. WVU and Marshall are in this situaion, as arranged by Governor Joe Manchin. Tell me his time couldn't be spent more wisely on mine safety legislation. WVU-Marshall is a 5 game, home and home series - the team with the better record after the third games gets the fifth. In my opinion, it was not the brightest move on WVU's part. They diluted their schedule with a mid-major, furthering the national media's BIG EAST complaints that they "don't play anybody." It's a lose-lose: if they beat Marshall, who cares, they SHOULD beat them every year - but if WVU loses, well, Coach Rod will have a worse week than he's having right now.

Back to Pitt-PSU, few thoughts: (1) Penn State will sell out Beaver Stadium every week, regardless if they are playing Pitt, Ohio State or Central Catholic so the home and home is of no-issue, the bottom line is that they will make money (2) Pitt fans do not even travel to Heinz Field, so the State College trip out 22 is entirely too far; (3) if this contest was scheduled today, we wouldn't even see it till 2011 as PSU schedules that far out, (4) Pitt (and it's fans) need to be concerned about beating the teams on the schedule, making some bowls, and showing the BCS you have a fan base that will teavel and spend money - this is what creates leverage when it comes to schedule time.

No matter what the Panther loyal may think, in Joe-Pa's barely-lucid mind, Pitt-PSU is a lose-lose: Lions win, who cares; Happy Valley loses, well...then they'll give JoePa another year to recruit and rebuild. How does PSU tell one of their biggest donors "no?"

JLA said...

There are two common fallacies espoused in the above comments:

1. Yes, PSU played at Pitt most of the time until Beaver Stadium was expanded. This was specifically because PSU wanted to make more money by playing on the road than they could at home. It had nothing to do with demands from Pitt.

2. Pitt screwed PSU by not joining the all-sports conference JoePa wanted to create in the early 80s. There is a bigger picture here that represents several incorrect assumptions on both sides. JoePa had the perfect solution for a great conference, but only PSU was a major football revenue generator at the time, and the terms of joining were not beneficial to the other schools. Hoops and Olympic sports money would by shared, but football would be kept, so there was no benefit for Syracuse, WVU, Pitt, BC or Rutgers (who was willing to join, anyway).

Pitt's (and other Eastern 8 schools) administrators missed the boat by not coming to consensus about football revenue sharing, and joining a basketball alliance instead. However, the terms of Joe's conference revenue sharing was far from equitable.

Personally, I'd like to see them play.

JLA said...

Forgot to mention that Adam is a RACIST PUNK for calling Matsuzaka a "Jap." Fairly typical of a former Happy Valley resident, a place seldom known for celebrating diversity. Enjoy your Klan meeting, exalted grand wizard.

DC Chak said...

"I can tell you that most of the people at State College cared very little about Pitt during my time there (mid 90's)."

I know at least one PSU fan that doesn't fit your description.

I attended a Penn State at Indiana game in 1995, when Penn State came in ranked #1, and exited ranked #2, because they didn't pound the Hoosiers enough. At that game, in Bloomington, Indiana, I saw a "48-14" button on the breast of a Penn State fan.

Pitt-Penn State rivalry fans know exactly what that score button was about. That was the score of the 1981 game, when Jackie Sherrill's and Dan Marino's Pitt team came in undefeated & ranked #1, went up 14-0, and proceeded to give up 48 straight points to Todd Blackledge & Co. The next year, Penn State won the NC.

Some 14 years later, that Penn State fan still wore that badge with pride. And as a Pitt fan, I knew exactly what he meant the minute I saw it.

All colleges are whores to the $ today; they all want to add cupcakes when they get the 12th game. St. JoePa is one of the earliest, and the biggest.

Don't get me wrong; he's done a lot of good things for his school, and for the sport in general, but there is nothing good about his choice to jump to the Big 10 or to drop the Pitt rivalry/playing hardball with them.

tarponman10 said...

The reason this game was not picked up by PSU was because of Walt Harris running his mouth and the fact that Pitt is so hard up to sell tickets they were making PSU fans buytickets to thier Temple game in order to get tickets to the PSU game. Joe is only looking out for the best interest of the school and our fans by not allowing this to happen again.

Tony said...

Being a Penn State student, I believe my opinion represents my fellow classmates thoughts as well. Its obviously been said that Pitt fans want this to happen, and PSU fans supporting JoePa's choice of only a 2 for 1 option for the games. I love JoePa, but he is not God. I understand he is not perfect. It would be stupid to not have my own opinion and just agree with him at all times.

That being said, I would love to restart this rivalry of Pitt vs. PSU. I agree with everyone saying PSU lacks a true rival. Come on PSU fans - Michigan State? its pathetic! osu and um are awesome big 10 matchups that gets everyone pumped up, but would anyone in their right mind compare PSU/OSU to OSU/UM or ND/USC? PSU/Pitt would replicate the Auburn/Alabama rivalry, one of the best in the game.

I agree, this younger generation I am a part of does not all know of the once storied rivalry that was PSU/Pitt, but why does that mean it cant be renewed? An in-state rivalry is whats missing in PA college football (unless you count PSU/Temple...). I honestly am upset that JoePa is lowballing Pitt to a 2 for 1 deal, Pitt deserves more respect than that.

For all the PSU fans thinking im out of my mind right now, think about it; would you rather walk down curtin road on a saturday morning getting ready for the ferocious TEMPLE OWLS or would you rather get the juices flowin all week leading up to the battle for the Pride of Pennsylvania?!?! CMON PEOPLE WAKE UP

PSwho said...

brainwashed valley.

1. yeah pitt needs to win more, but get off your high horse. so do you, pitt and penn state have identicle records this decade, yet psu is top tier team according the the sheep. give me a break

2. psu would automaticly sell out heinz field iwth 60k fans wearing blue and white....right. just like 2000 when the game wasn't a sellout and psu brough less than 10k?

I'm a Pitt fan since the 60's and want nothing to do with the rivalry. Pittsburgh used to be a penn state town awhile back, now it is not. not a bit, you don't see psu gear when you go out to the mall or w/e, a person here or there but not very much at all, 15-20 years ago there was as much psu gear as pitt gear, not even close anymore. psu does not have pittsburgh as a recruiting base like it once has, pitt is spanking them here and thats after 3 terrible years. immagine when they start winning this year, if joepa doesn't leave, and soon, and they get back to playing pittsburgh it will slip away for good. which is exactly what pitt fans need and should want.

Ken Powers said...

I am a 1992 graduate of Penn State and I really miss this rivalry. Yes, I enjoy being in the Big Ten. Yes, I have come to hate Michigan and I love our games with Ohio State. But the fact is, we had a 100-year series with Pitt and nothing we have in the Big Ten can match that.

I really hope we can resume this rivalry after JoePa retires.

dougalmac said...

Having grown-up in Happy Valley, I'm not surprised at the trash talking nonsense here from Pitt fans who continue to whine about "the rivalry." You can bash Penn State and JoePa all you want, but it's it's just a lot of shrill bitching from people who wouldn't give Penn State any respect no matter what we do. Beaver Stadium is the largest stadium in the country. Of course it's Penn State's advantage to play home games there, duh! But I would be in favor of a home on home series, so long as the game at Pitt is played at Heinz Field. Of course Pitt is our rival, that's only natural, but I don't think Penn State has suffered from not playing Pitt. I agree that the rivalry should be renewed, no doubt about it. But blaming JoePa is stupid. All college teams schedule teams like Youngstown State to give them a breather from or get them ready for their conference opponents. So Pitt fans have no credibility criticizing Joe for that one. Claiming Joe fears Pitt on any level is also stupid. And no real Penn State fan ever considered Michigan State to be our rival. Blaming Joe for not playing Pitt is absurd, he's a legend in college coaching, and his accomplishments speak for themselves, no matter how much Pitt fans attempt to bash him.

48-14 said...

I am sick of Pitt fans bashing Penn State and acting like they are better. Time to make some statements.

Penn State beat Pitt 7 of the last 8 times.

Penn State leads the all-time series.

Pitt fans say there are better things to do in the city than out in the country like Penn State, where the only thing to do is watch football. If you think there are so many things better than going to a football game, you are not a fan, and I wonder why you are even on this blog. USC and Miami seem to sell out, and I believe there are things to do in Los Angeles and Miami.

Pitt is wasting away in the Big Eas, who only has 3 BCS worthy programs (Pitt, Syracuse, and West Virginia).

Every school plays weak opponents. I don't know of any team that plays a schedule of 12 BCS schools. Plus, Penn State actually plays good teams in the Big Ten.

It is a considered a bonanza when Pitt sells out.

No big-time recruits will want to come to Big East schools. I can't think of anyone outside of Noel Devine.

Current Big East teams have won 3 AP titles ever- Pitt in the 1930's, Syracuse in the 1950's, and Pitt in the 1970's.

Pitt's most talented team ever got embarrassed by Penn State 48-14.

Penn State's stadium is filled with white, Pitt's with gold. Beaver Stadium gets its color from its fans, Heinz Field gets its from its empty seats.

There is no national analyst, outside of possibly Mark May, who thinks Pitt would beat Penn State.

Pitt fans make fun of JoePa's age. But, the goal of coaching is to win games, not be young. Obviously, JoePa achieves his goal.

Joe Paterno is the winningest 1-A coach ever. He is in the conversation for best ever. Dave Wandstedt is usually not in that conversation.

There is no way Penn State is afraid of playing Pitt. Everyone, but Pitt fans agree that Penn State would win.

Who cares if JoePa gets injured and takes bathroom breaks during games. At least he leads his teams to wins.

So, I would like Penn State and Pitt to play again, but I don't just take shots at Pitt out of the blue, like Pitt fans do to Penn State. Therefore, I just had to give you some plain facts.

Razz said...

I didn't go to Pitt or PSU but I grew up in eastern PA and I used to be a pretty big Penn State fan. As a PA native, I used to love that rivalry game-- even though I didn't really have a dog in the fight. It was just a beautiful, historic rivalry game between two storied football programs in a football-rich state.

As a college football fan, I think it was criminal for JoePa to back out of a 92 year-old (58-consecutive-year) in-state rivalry game. Aside from the Eastern League snub/grudge, the truth is that once Penn State joined the Big Ten, JoePa didn't want to risk any more losses by playing Pitt every year. So he loaded up the non-conference schedule with cupcakes like Temple. Prior to joining the Big Ten, Penn State's schedule (as an independent) was typically loaded with cupcakes and a couple of good teams, so JoePa usually had good records. But JoePa knew that once Penn State started playing decent Big Ten teams week after week, that he couldn't risk playing Pitt anymore. In the decade prior to joining the Big Ten, Penn State had the upper hand on Pitt, but PSU only won 6 out of the previous ten games. Once Penn State joined the Big Ten, JoePa just couldn't risk another loss, like the many losses that he knew he would take against the Big Ten. If he beat Pitt, he would get no credit (like beating Temple) but if he lost, it could cost him a title. So JoePa wimped out.

Clemson has had the upper hand over South Carolina and Iowa over Iowa State, etc, but nothing could stop those in-state, out-of-conference rivalry games. The people of South Carolina would rise up with pitchforks and lynch any coach who queered the historic rivalry game by demanding a ridiculous 2-for-1 home game arrangement. It is to JoePa's eternal shame that he killed one of the greatest rivalries in the history of college football because he held a grudge and he was scared of taking a loss. And Penn State fans should be ashamed of themselves for allowing it to happen.

Penn State is an awkward appendage to the Big Ten and Penn State will never have a true rival in the Big Ten. Never. Penn State will never be a rival to Michigan State. Michigan is far more important.

Penn State, Pitt, and the fans would have been better off if Penn State had joined the Big East.

If I were king of the US, I'd decree that Penn State and Pitt renew their rivalry. Hopefully JoePa will retire and that rivalry game can resume as nature intended.

Matt said...

PSU was willing to do a one and one with Pitt, if Pitt was willing to lift the ticket restriction that you buy their two shittiest games if you buy Pitt vs PSU

psufightonstate9 said...

i'm a psu fan, if the name doesnt say it all right there, and id just like to say that the 2-1 series is completely reasonable. Have you been to Pitt games lately? if its not against WVU, then the stadium doesnt even get 40,000 people. i went to a game last year, a non-conference game, such as PSU would be, and i couldnt even tell where the student section was. Half the crowd would be PSU fans at heinz field, so the AD of Penn State is right on when they say it should be a 2-1 series. Maybe if Pitt starts selling tickets then we'll start talking. but as of right now, PSU has a 107, 000 seat stadium, and fills over 100, 000, even against crappy MAC teams such as Temple. Pitt cant even fill out a 60, 000 seat stadium, or come close to it often times, even for an in-conference game. I would know, my family has front row seats to pitt games, so im often dragged along, even against Rutgers, USF, etc, the stadiums upper decks are more than half empty

ajdomjr said...

penn state's refusal to play pitt has nothing to do with joepa being mad at pitt for joining the big east.
it has to do with sue paterno's tickets at pitt stadium in the late 1970's. honest. joepa the sicilian donkey (jackass) has not forgotten and will never forgive.
it's all true. you can look it up.

scottin4 said...

Pitt really when was the last time u guys even came close to beating a good team. The worst team in the big ten could beat Pitt. I currently attend PSU and a Pitt vs PSU game wouldn't be nearly as big as a game against Ohio State or Michigan i would not wake up for a Pitt game. Predicted score if we played tomorrow PSU 59 Pitt 10. Your ten points came when we put our back ups in. haha clowns

LETS.GO.PSU. said...

I am a huge Penn State fan, but I live in Pittsburgh. For all of the PSU fans who live outside of Pittsburgh I can fully understand why you don't care about Pitt. most of the Pitt fans who comment on here show Pitt's true colors. They talk a lot of shit and say how bad they want to play, but have no idea why it means nothing to Penn State.

When you get 100,000+ people at each game, there isn't that much to wory about as an AD. you are doing your job.

Pitt can't fill a stadium that holds 65,000. i have been to several Pitt games and it is almost boring for me to go to them.

Nevertheless I would love to see Penn State and Pitt play again and hope every Penn State fan in the Pittsburgh area does. I think it would be a lot of fun for both sides and maybe it would give Pitt fans the chance to go to a game at Beaver Stadium so they can see how a real program does it.

Kyle said...

heres some food for thought: I'm a Penn State student. Im from Pittsburgh. I Don't like Pitt, mostly because I was born and raised in blue and white.

Anyway.. to my point. I go to Penn State and really have to bring up something that nobody else is touching. I would say about 25% of the students here are form Pittsburgh. TWENTY FIVE PERCENT. The rest quite frankly, DONT GIVE A FUCK about Pitt, or any game between the two (Most people are form Philly, Jersey, NY, Baltimore region).

Pitt cares far more about Penn State for one major reason: so they can prove themselves against a huge football program sine they have been, admittedly not rightfully so, looked upon as the lesser of the two programs. Seriously, thats not me being biased, Pitt just doesn't have the respect that PSU has in the football world. But the reality is, PSU doesn't need to prove anything, and playing Pitt does absolutely
NOTHING except reignite a rivalry that would satisfy less than a quarter of the students that go there. Most students at PSU would agree that they wouldn't care about the Pitt game on the schedule more than any other game, or look at it any different than playing another non-conference game.

As for me? I would love for the two to play. But it won't happen, and not just because of JoePa.

Sorry, Pitt fans, but you need to look at it from PSUs point of view. We don't need to play you, but you need to play us. It all comes down to business, profits, and ticket sales. And in those categories, there is no need for us to play you. As for the other way around, it would help Pitt tremendously, so I can see why you are bitter about JoePa not wanting to play you.

Now Before we go off on tangents about each school being ""better" and how JoePa is senial, lets just come together for one agreement.. There is no need for Penn State to play Pitt. I'm not going to touch the "PSU needs a true rival" argument, because thats just plane silly.

So please, somebody give a logical reason why PSU needs to play Pitt, and then we can start a logical argument about why they aren't playing each other.

psu>pitt4life said...

to all pitt fans. you guys are the arrogant ones! there was a time when pitt play 34 straight games at home vs penn state! and all of you are complaining about joepa ended the rivalry with the 2-1 home deal. it is only fair that that's the way the rivalry will be renewed. and plus penn state loses money with a 1-1 deal because penn state almost triples the attendence of pitt fans per game. so all pitt fans are arrogant to think that the 2-1 deal is unfair. so go "F" yourselves.
WE ARE... PENN STATE

davidpsu said...

If you look at the series history, 96 games have been played, BUT 72 OF THOSE GAMES HAVE BEEN IN PITTSBURGH! Only 24 in State College/Bellefonte!

Penn State has the larger stadium. Since Pitt has already hosted 72 out of 96 games in the series, I find it hard to believe Pitt would not accept the 2 games to 1 offer. Isn't that the fair thing to do?

Can any Pitt fans out there please offer the reasoning behind Pitt declining to continue the series.