Sporting news writer Matt Hayes has issues with the way Penn State football schedules its out of conference football games - and for that, he's right. Since Penn State and the rest of the teams that play major college football in the Northeast couldn't get together for an all sports conference years ago, eastern football has turned out to be Mark Prior's pitching career - wasted potential. As a result, we currently have a Big East conference that doesn't have enough teams for football, has entirely too many for basketball (a lot of which aren't even in the east) and Penn State playing in the Big 11.
So when Hayes is critical of Penn State for not resuming their long rivalry with Pitt, that makes sense to me. His solution - catering to Penn State's greed with a pie-in-the-sky scheme and having Penn State play Pitt instead of another traditional rival on their schedule (Syracuse), does not.
The reason the series with Pitt was cancelled was the same reason the series with Syracuse was cancelled in 1990 - Penn State wanted to play more home games than they were willing to return. Penn State knows it can sell 100,000 tickets to Happy Valley and it doesn't make sense for them to play teams with smaller fan bases like Pitt and Syracuse on the road. Hayes argues that a title sponsor could be found for Pitt-Penn State and the series could resume.
First off all, I don't know who in their right mind is going to be the title sponsor for Penn State-Pitt. Its not like Pitt is, or has been, a college football power. Their only BCS appearance was a the end of the 2004 year (the year after the Big East had been raided and played with 7 teams) and ended in a humiliating 35-7 loss to to Utah. Its not like people in Western Pennsylvania are lining up to see the Panthers play, they finished 48th in the nation in attendence in 2006. If you've ever seen a home Pitt game on TV, the crowd noise will never be confused with something like Colorado - Nebraska. Pitt football has tradition, but that city always has been, and always will be, a pro football town. So trying to find a "title sponsor" for this game seems pretty tough. Let's be honest, Central and Western PA isn't exactly Wall Street and the last time I checked Poulan/Weedeater was out of the football sponsorship business.
However, what I, as a suffering Syracuse fan, have the most issue is Hayes closing his above column with:
"That Syracuse game, everyone, should be Pitt. And Pitt's series against Iowa should be Penn State. "
"There's nothing bogus about that."
Look, Syracuse football sucks right now, there's no arguing that. You know what else there's no arguing? That Penn State and Syracuse are traditional rivals that have played 68 times! Syracuse got screwed by Penn State and their demands a decade before Pitt, but 68 times is tradition. Don't fault Syracuse because the athletic department got it right and got Penn State back on the schedule - point the finger where it belongs, at Joe Paterno and Penn State - because when you argue that it's "bogus" that Syracuse is playing a rival - well there's a lot that's bogus about that.