The Penn State vs. Pitt Game is Going Away Again, and That is Fine

By Matt de Bear on May 10, 2018 at 9:20 am
Sep 10, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers head coach Pat Narduzzi (L) and Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin (R) talk at mid-field before their teams play at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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Earlier this week, Penn State Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour made a bit of news while on the road with the Coaches Caravan. She told reporters that there had been discussions with her counterpart in Pittsburgh, Heather Lyke, but that a resumption of the Penn State-Pitt football series was not likely until at least 2030. 

As is typically the case when any discussion of the Nittany Lions and Panthers meeting on the gridiron comes up, the takes were plenty warm. The news was greeted with disgust and anger from many in Western Pennsylvania, while the reviews were mixed among Nittany Nation. Count me in the group that is more than OK with seeing things come to an end between the two programs in 2019.

Sure, the current four game series has been fun. The resumption of the series in Pittsburgh back in 2016 was one of the more exciting games of the season, and dominating the Panthers a year ago in Beaver Stadium was plenty satisfying. But beyond bragging rights, what else is there?

As far as I am concerned, the Pitt program has been nationally irrelevant for nearly 40 years. The Panthers have not finished in the top-25 since 2009, and have not had a top-10 finish since 1982. Beating their neighbors to the west gives Penn State nothing of value from a scheduling standpoint they can't get from playing West Virginia, Virginia Tech, or Auburn. Those three schools will essentially take the place of Pitt in the coming years.

On the recruiting trail, the two are butting heads less and less these days. While the Nittany Lions resurgence has coincided with a return to the upper echelons of recruiting, Pitt has fallen behind. There may be a Lamont Wade, Jordan Whitehead, or Damar Hamlin from time to time, but those are much more the exception than the rule anymore. The result of the game seldom played much of a role in a players decision, but it did create a great subplot to the game years ago.

With nine Big Ten games per season now, the decision has really become "Pitt or someone else?". Penn State must play at least seven home dates per season to keep the robust athletic department budget fully funded, and a recurring home-and-home series with the Panthers quite simply doesn't allow for things such as a renewal of another great old series with West Virginia, or the first ever meetings with Virginia Tech, and Auburn. If the argument is that Pitt should replace one of the two annual "Group of Five" conference games, the simple fact of the matter is the finances of the Athletic Department, and the logistics of the schedule just do not allow it.

If I have to pick between those new series, or a few more games with Pitt, the answer is pretty simple.

Hit up the comments and tell us what Power 5 non-conference games you want to see in the coming years.

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