There is now a generation of Penn State and Pitt football fans that have little to no memory of the rivalry between the two in-state institutions on the football field. The last time the two played was in 2000. That series will be revived in 2016 when Penn State visits Pittsburgh in the first of a four-game series to be played from 2016 through 2019, and the head coaches — Pat Narduzzi of Pitt and James Franklin of Penn State — of both programs have stated they would like to see the series be on a more long-term deal.
“I think it’s an in-state rival,” Narduzzi said before Tuesday while touring the state. “It’s two Power Five conferences that can go head to head. … To me, why not keep the money in state and play (a game between) the two best schools in the state? I’m a firm believer that you keep those rivalries going as long as you can, especially in state.”
Franklin has said something similar on his bus tour this spring, although he has also cautioned the scheduling problems that are coming up.
“The Pitt series, I think the four-game series is really good,” Franklin said Tuesday in Philadelphia. “Everybody’s talking about extending the series. The problem is, the schedules have been set five years out.”
While some will hold out hope Penn State and Pittsburgh can one day become annual rivals once again, Franklin is also stumping to continue playing games against another in-state opponent; Temple. The Nittany Lions open the 2015 season in Philadelphia against the American Athletic Conference’s Owls, and Franklin sees positives in Penn State playing Temple as well.
“Temple is a great situation for both schools,” Franklin said Tuesday. “We should sell out the stadium between both fan bases, which I think is a real positive. I think it’s real easy for our fans to travel to it, and maybe we’ll attract some fans that don’t make it to Happy Valley all the time, so I think that’s really good.”
Franklin has sung the praises of Temple and head coach Matt Rhule this offseason, and has suggested Penn State should be playing Temple and Pittsburgh regularly. If the three could ever set-up an annual series similar to Army, Navy and Air Force do, I would like to suggest The Keystone Trophy.