Rivalries in sports are games that are circled by coaches, players, and fans alike. They are the game everyone wants to be a part of when it happens. It makes sense to have rivalries because it’s good for everyone involved and brings out the best in teams. It also makes sense to have rivals in your own state but this does not always happen. Interstate rivals are exciting and fun to watch plus fans can have bragging rights for a year when their school wins. Coaches can use wins against their rivals to bring in recruits from the state. There is a lot at stake when interstate schools compete.
Penn State and Pitt football teams are set to renew their own rivalry in 2016. However, is this really a rivalry? There is a rich history between these schools, with Penn State leading the all-time record at 50-42-4. The Lambert-Meadowlands Trophy is given to the best team in the Northeast region of FBS football since 1936. Between 1967 and 1982 the Lambert- Meadowlands Trophy was mostly given to one of the Pennsylvania schools. Often times the winner of that game would receive the trophy. The two teams, however, have not played each other in football since 2000. This has put a small damper on the rivalry. One that Pitt’s football coach, Pat Narduzzi is trying to change. Penn State’s head coach James Franklin, however, is trying to muzzle any talks of a rivalry between the two schools.
Some of the biggest college football rivals aren’t located in the same state. Ohio St vs Michigan and Texas vs Oklahoma are two examples of rivals that do not reside in the same state. The Pitt Panthers biggest rivals of recent has been the West Virginia Mountaineers. The schools are separated from each other by a mere 70 miles. The Backyard Brawl with West Virginia has been played each year from 1919 until 2011. This rivals was taken a pause because each team chose to go to a new conference and they left the disbanding Big East. Pitt went to the ACC, while West Virginia went to the Big 12. This game will be on hiatus until 2022. Though the ten year break of this rival will put a damper on the rivalry. Other rivals Pitt considers are Notre Dame, Syracuse, Navy and Cincinnati. Penn State also considers Michigan State, Minnesota, and Ohio State to be rivals.
Since 1989, Penn State has a 7-1 record against Pitt. Penn State has dominated the series when they have played. Though prior to the 1990s, the series was pretty even with Penn State leading 44-41-4. Pitt had been in the Big East since 1982. Penn State went from Independent to joining the Big 10 in 1990. This hurt the series because they scheduling was more difficult. Also, Penn State wanted to play more games at its home stadium during the rivalry games. This made it difficult for the schools to maintain this rivalry.
Pat Narduzzi though has created a stir in the dormant rivalry. He took a shot at Penn State for their lack of coaching skills especially toward their All American quarterback. Then James Franklin put any rivalry talk to sleep and brushed off the comments made by Pitt’s coach saying he is only focused on Penn State. Though when he was hired at Penn State he stated that they would “dominate the state.” It may be just talk but this rivalry has some fuel to it still, though the rivalry has lost some of its luster. The date is set, Saturday September 10, 2016, when this rivalry plays its first game in 16 years. The stands at Heinz Field will be full and the interstate rivalry will get a chance to create a new chapter in the book. This game will be circled by coaches, players, and fans. It will bring attention to both teams and they both want to have those bragging rights. It may not be as big as it once was, but when these two teams meet it will be big in Pennsylvania, thus renewing the interstate rivalry. One that should not have been dormant for so long.