Time to Renew PSU-Pitt
All the talk this week of Louisville/Kentucky basketball reminds me of one of my favorite topics: Penn State–Pitt.
It was THE game for the Lions and Panthers back in the day. Penn State’s move to the Big Ten killed the nine-decade rivalry in the early 90s, but it’s death sentence was pronounced a decade earlier when Pitt refused to leave the Big East basketball conference, and join a new, all-sport league among northeast school then PSU coach and AD Joe Paterno wanted to form.
JoePa and others wanted to get Penn State, Pitt, Syracuse, West Virginia, Temple, Rutgers, and Boston College, then all football independents, together in a conference. Word was Maryland was considering moving from the ACC if the league formed, and there was serious talk Notre Dame would join. The conference champ allegedly was going to play in the Fiesta Bowl.
Everybody was on board for football, but Pitt and Syracuse wanted to stay in the Big East, then the nation’s premier hoops league, for basketball. Paterno wanted to help the always struggling men’s basketball program, and insisted on all or nothing.
We got nothing, and Joe held a grudge for the rest of his life, particulary against Pitt.
Well, now that the athletic program is entering the post-Paterno era, it’s time to look at re-igniting this rivalry. Big Ten rules don’t allow it to be the final game of the year anymore, which is too bad. But, it could still be a great annual home and home series just preceding the Big Ten schedule.
I know all about Penn State wanting three non-conference home games every year for revenue, but if the Lions get three home contests every other year, and play one other big name school along with the annual Pitt rivalry, I think it would be great.
Let’s start the push for this now.