Mark Madden: Pitt fans foolish to resent Penn State for ending series
Pitt football fans have their knickers in a twist because Penn State signed to play Temple in 2026 and ’27 even as the end of the Nittany Lions’ current series with Pitt is in sight. (Pitt hosts Penn State on Saturday. The last game in that four-year contract is next season at University Park.)
Penn State also inked two-game pacts with Delaware and Villanova.
Any annoyance is unfounded. But Pitt fans should be forgiven. They simply can’t see their program as others do.
Pitt is a college team in a pro town. Empty seats at home games are rampant, except when visiting fans (like Penn State’s) make up the difference. Visiting fans (like Penn State’s) will buy season tickets just to get that game. That’s why Pitt wants to play Penn State: Finance, not rivalry.
Pitt football just isn’t a big deal unless it wins nine or 10 games, and sometimes not even then.
The generation that sees Pitt-Penn State as “the” game is dying out. Younger Pitt fans miss the West Virginia game more.
The notion that it’s a civic duty for Pitt and Penn State to play is idiotic. Some feel the state legislature should get involved. That’s even more idiotic.
For Penn State, playing Temple is a sure win. Pitt is only slightly less so, but the surer the better when it comes to the demands of reaching the college football playoff semifinals. Remember, Penn State won the Big Ten in 2016 and still didn’t make the playoff.
Pitt fans want to play Penn State. Nittany Lions fans are indifferent to playing Pitt. Elitism is involved, but it’s well-earned.
Penn State has plenty of huge games in the Big Ten and a fan base that will show up without the trigger of a marquee matchup. It’s not Penn State’s fault Pitt is in the mostly bland ACC and has few hardcore fans.
Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi reacted like this when told Penn State agreed to play Temple: “Ha. Figures.”
That reaction would be more palatable if Narduzzi wasn’t a mere 21-17 in three seasons at Pitt, getting Pitt nowhere near legitimate prominence, and if Penn State hadn’t beaten Pitt, 31-14, last year en route to a 5-7 mark for Pitt.
Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM (105.9).