There is more going down on the East Coast besides the crumbling of the Big East.
Although, of course, that is indeed still happening (you can’t just accept Tulane and East Carolina and call yourself a legit national power, are we right or are we right?), two regional schools are taking real steps to stoke a fire under their respective fan bases.
Again, bringing in East Carolina just isn’t going to get anyone excited.
So, while the Big East teeters on the brink of obscurity, Penn State and Pitt have announced a rekindling one of the most fierce rivalries in the history of college sports.
Dave Joyner is the acting athletics director for Penn State. He and his Pitt counterpart, Steve Pederson, are the two that hammered out the details of what will be a four year series beginning in 2016.
“We are excited to extend our upcoming series with Pitt to four consecutive years,” Joyner stated. “The Penn State-Pitt game was a premier rivalry that was anticipated by college football fans across Pennsylvania and the nation. There are more than 50,000 Penn State alumni and fans in Western Pennsylvania and we look forward to playing in their backyard.”
Bill O’Brien, in his first season leading Penn State, won the 2012 Big Ten-Dave McClain Coach of the Year award. The award had originally been named for the man O’Brien succeeded in a full-time capacity at PSU, Joe Paterno, but all of us not living in a cave know how that went.
O’Brien led a team decimated by defections and scholarship limitations to an 8-4 finish. He will not be able to guide his team in a bowl game for another three seasons and he has been looking for a way to thus bring some added excitement to the regular season.
Although the rivalry will not be renewed until 2016, O’Brien could not curtail how excited he is about it now.
“We are thrilled to have the University of Pittsburgh back on the schedule for several consecutive years,” said Coach Bill O’Brien. “Regional rivalries in college football are special. I have been involved in a few as a coach. Penn State versus Pitt is a rivalry rich with history and tradition. We have a great deal of respect for Paul Chryst and the Pitt Panther football program and we are looking forward to competing against them on the gridiron.”
The Nittany Lions have met the Panthers more than any other opponent – 96 times – with Penn State owning a 48-42-4 series advantage.
However, the two have only met sporadically since Penn State joined the Big Ten and have not butted heads at all since 2000.
Penn State was one of the schools that switched conferences before making a change was the ‘in vogue’ thing to do. In fact, Joe Paterno was trying to establish a conference known as the Eastern League, and he had invited Pitt to join, as the two were each other’s biggest rivals in the ‘70s and ‘80s. However, Panthers coach Jackie Sherrill and JoePa hated each other, so Sherrill’s Pitt program joined the Big East instead.
Oddly enough, by 2016, Pitt will be a member of the ACC, and the Big Ten will have at least 14 members (you do the math).
Luckily enough, these two rival fan bases will still hate each other in 2016 — 123 years after the fans established their disdain for one another.
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