After 100 years this game feels more forced than natural in terms of a rivalry
For the 100th and most likely final time, at least for the foreseeable future, The Pennsylvania State University and the University of Pittsburgh (Penn State-Pitt) will square off at Beaver Stadium.
I’m not a “fan” of either team, but as a military brat who grew up all around the world, I always followed the two programs. I used to always say “I like” Penn State and Pitt but I was never a fan of either one. When you grow up as a military brat you identify with teams from your home state. I have always been a college football junkie, so Pitt and Penn State were my squads.
And I followed each equally because in the 1970s, 1980s and even into the 1990s both programs were pretty darn good. I always like Pitt’s uniforms more, but thought Penn State was the more polished football program.
I enjoyed when they played. But this rivalry has become annoying on so many levels the last decade or so. To be honest, the way college football is shaped today, there’s no need for these rivals to square off. And it’s no longer a fair fight. Penn State, as a football program, is miles ahead of Pitt.
And neither school respects each other anymore, either. That lack of respect is a two-way street. I’m not talking about a healthy lack of respect for the other. This is the nasty and hateful kind. Social media has made it worse. As a fan of college football, I’m glad to see this game go away.
College football is no better off or worse in 2020 because Pitt and Penn State don’t play. You could not have said that 15-20 years ago.
And I hope Penn State wins the game at Beaver Stadium. Why? Because Panthers coach Pat Narduzzi doesn’t get it. I’m not a fan of his coaching style, I believe his teams are phony tough and he barks like a yappy dog and so rarely do his teams perform on a big stage to back up that bark.
Do I think he’s a bad football coach? No, I actually think he’s a very good football coach. But as a CEO of a college football program he’s a train wreck.
Another example of why he doesn’t get it is the coach is shielding his players from the media this week in the run-up to the Penn State game. He’s automatically setting his team up for failure by treating this game different than any other. What’s the point in doing that?
Just go about your business, let reporters come to practice like normal and talk to your players like any other week. Why is this week different?
He did this two years ago as well. And Pitt lost. Last year he allowed a couple Panthers players to speak before the game … and the result was the same – a Panthers loss.
That’s why the silent treatment is so confusing and petty.
Treating this game different makes no sense. It just shows me how little true and honest respect these programs and the coaches leading them right now have for each other.
The feeling of dislike is very mutual, too. The value proposition for Penn State doesn’t add up, there’s an inherent lack of healthy respect for each other and the football game has been a bit of a muddy mess that last two years. The end of this rivalry is near. And something tells me both schools and football programs are better off for it.