Penn State: Don't De-Arm The Schedule With Pitt
A renewed rivalry between Penn State and Pittsburgh is what college football fans want most in central and western Pennsylvania—other than a national championship for either school, of course.
What people fail to realize is that the only thing Penn State and Pitt currently have in common is that both universities act in private while claiming to be public entities.
Today, Penn State and Pitt are on different plateaus in terms of football.
After slipping into the abyss of the Big Ten for most of the first half of this decade, Penn State has re-emerged as a national powerhouse worthy of consideration for the Bowl Championship Series.
Pittsburgh, on the other hand, can only claim to have knocked West Virginia out of national championship contention two years ago.
Let us not forget Pitt's lone BCS appearance in which they got throttled by Utah.
Other than that, the Panthers have failed miserably despite sending top-flight talent to the National Football League on a consistent basis.
A Penn State-Pitt renewed rivalry series would be no better for the east coast than watching Cal-Stanford duke it out on a yearly basis out west.
The Golden Bears are so far ahead of Stanford right now in terms of talent, coaching, and skill, that it is laughable to those kids under ten years of age learning the game of football today, that the Cal-Stanford rivalry used to be one of the best rivalries on the other side of the Mississippi River.
The first question you may ask is: Why don't Penn State and Pitt renew their vows on the gridiron?
It dates back nearly twenty years ago when Penn State head coach Joe Paterno attempted to form his dream "eastern league" which would feature Penn State, Syracuse, Rutgers, and other schools, including the Pitt Panthers.
Instead of this dream league forming for JoePa, the Pitt Panthers crushed any hope of its existence by joining the Big East basketball conference.
As far as the "eastern league" is concerned, the rest is history.
Ever since then, Joe Paterno has held a grudge against Pittsburgh and the Panther alumni have shaken their fist back at Happy Valley.
The all-time series record between the two schools is 50-42-4 in favor of the Nittany Lions.
One can argue that the Pitt football program is in better shape than it was ten years ago.
One can also argue that Penn State, despite winning the Big Ten championship twice since 2005, struggle against good non-conference opponents.
Calls can be heard from atop Mount Nittany for Penn State to improve its non-conference schedule.
This year they will take on the task of battling Akron, Syracuse, Temple, and Eastern Illinois, all within the confines of Beaver Stadium.
Pitt on the other hand, has three cupcakes scheduled out of conference but will dance toe-to-toe with North Carolina State (away) and Notre Dame (home).
Nittany Lions fans will argue that Penn State will start a series with Alabama in 2010. While the prospects of Penn State—'Bama are enticing, considering the historical ramifications, things are still glim after that since the Nittany Lions are still set to face Youngstown State, Akron, and Temple in 2010 as well.
Financially, a renewed series with Penn State would make sense for those in Pittsburgh, but don't count on it soon.
Penn State needs to bolster their schedule in the future and by scheduling Pittsburgh, they are only taking away from the opportunity to play the Alabamas of the college football realm.
Sparky Anderson, a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame once said:
"People who live in the past generally are afraid to compete in the present. I've got my faults, but living in the past is not one of them. There's no future in it."
This is something that the optimistic should think about, especially those that want to see a renewed Penn State—Pitt rivalry.
Let's respect and learn from the history of the game but move forward and improve on it to better prepare for the future.
College football has survived without the Penn State—Pitt rivalry, and so will you.
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