Almost exactly a month ago today, first-year Pittsburgh head coach Todd Graham stated very publicly that he would not be averse to renewing the school’s in-state rivalry with Penn State, going so far as to say that “[i]t would be something that we’d be very much in favor of.”
Today we learn that both schools are very much in favor of it as well.
In a press release issued by the school, the Panthers announced that the series will resume as an agreement on a home-and-home series has been reached. Pitt will host the initial game at Heinz Field on September 10, 2016. The Panthers will play at Penn State on September 16, 2017.
“This is an exciting day for college football fans,” Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson said in a statement. “The tremendous history of this rivalry is well documented and the passion that fans have for this game is enormous. We are very pleased that this two-game series is now in place and a new generation of fans can experience the excitement of a Pitt-Penn State football game beginning in 2016.”
“As a young football fan in Texas, I used to love watching Pitt and Penn State play every November,” Graham said. “The games were intense and featured some of the greatest players in the history of college football. The resumption of this series is great for the two schools and football fans everywhere.”
The series, first played in 1893, has been on hiatus since 2000, a 12-0 win for Pitt at Three Rivers Stadium. Penn State, however, leads the all-time series 50-42-4.
With all of that said, major, major kudos to the two schools for this renewal. These types of rivalries are what makes college football the great sport that it is on the field, and those responsible for getting Pitt-PSU back on the schedule — even if it’s only for a couple of years right now — should be applauded and given a back-slap or two.
UPDATED 5:56 p.m. ET: Interestingly, Pitt chancellor Mark Nordenberg, and not yet head coach Joe Paterno — hmmm, wonder why that is? — has also issued a statement on the renewal of the rivalry.
“Pitt and Penn State not only are longtime competitors in athletics but also are longtime partners in a broad range of academic and civic initiatives. The renewal of our football rivalry is consistent with that broader relationship, is good for both universities, will be welcomed by college football fans around the country, and presents another important opportunity to showcase Pennsylvania, the home state that we proudly share.”