Between 1893 and 2000, in-state rivals Penn State and Pittsburgh met on a football field 96 times and, in the process, became one of the most heated — and thoroughly enjoyable — rivalries in the sport.
Unfortunately, since that September game in the first year of the new millennium — and with the schools having previously shed their football independence for conference membership — the series has gone into hibernation. At least one of the coaches currently involved, though, would like to awaken and renew the rivalry.
Speaking after a meeting with five high school coaches representing the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association, first-year Panthers head coach Todd Graham seemed very enthusiastic and excited about the possibility of the two schools once again getting it on.
“I can remember watching that game growing up and the tremendous tradition that that game was, and we would actually love to play that game in the future,” Graham said according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “It would be something that we’d be very much in favor of.”
Graham made it clear, though, that he had not broached the subject with Paterno, who was also in attendance but did not speak to the media afterwards.
“No, no, I did not. No, I did not. But I gotta get rolling, guys,” Graham said.
There was a push by some in the state government a couple of years back to renew the series, but the intensity and pace of those talks has substantially subsided.
Our guess? There’s a chance you won’t see the two schools meet on a football field again until JoePa steps down, which we’re guessing will be 2020 at the earliest. Pitt turned down what was essentially the legendary coach’s idea of an all-sports conference made up of Eastern(ish) schools back in the early eighties and, as the Lehigh Valley Express Times wrote back during that mini-push in ’09, Paterno has never forgiven Pitt for its decision.
Hopefully that’s either changed or wasn’t the case in the first place as college football is a better game when rivalries like PSU-Pitt exist. And are actually played instead of being relived through fading memories.