It is officially crunch time in the political campaign season. Attack ads flooding the airwaves and flyers filling our mailboxes only clutter our daily lives much like those running for offices clog our brains with campaign promises that may not be fulfilled.
Democratic candidate for Governor in Pennsylvania Dan Onorato addressed Penn State alumni at a campaign event earlier this week and predicted that Penn State will beat Michigan Saturday night 28-21, but that is not the big story as it pertains to Penn State football. Onorato mentioned that if elected to office then appropriations for both Penn State and Pitt would be dependent on the renewal of a football series. The two in-state rivals (Onorato has degrees from both) have not played each other since 2000, with the Panthers shutting out the Nittany Lions in Pittsburgh 12-0. The 2000 game ended a four game series that saw the two schools play for the first time since Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1993 (the most recent meeting before that was 1992, with Penn State winning 57-13).
There certainly is nothing new about government stepping in to get a couple of football teams to play college football together. West Virginia and Marshall had a bitter history between administrations after meeting in 1997. West Virginia accused Marshall of backing out of three future games while Marshall claimed the games were never on the table. The scenario between West Virginia and Marshall was similar as what Penn State and Pitt are on a stalemate on in regards to home games. West Virginia wanted three of four home games and Marshall wanted one of three home games and it took a governor’s acting as mediator to determine the extra home game will go to the winner of the first three games of the series between the two.
Penn State and Pittsburgh also could never see eye-to-eye on home games, which is why discussions of renewing the series have gone idle. Penn State wants one extra home game in any series and Pitt wants a deal with equal home games. You can argue both sides of this issue until you are blue in the face but until one side gives in, nothing is likely to develop.
Penn State and Pitt will play again someday. It is a rarity to see big time programs in the same state stay away from each other for so long. Florida, Florida State and Miami always played each other (when they were in separate conferences). The California schools in the Pac 10 just negotiated a way to keep their rivalries in tact with new divisions on the way. North Carolina’s big schools all play each other, including East Carolina. Virginia and Virginia Tech always played each other before being in the same conference. Penn State and Pittsburgh are the odd ones in college football.
I always felt that in order for these two to play again soon it would take some sort of government intervention. Having Penn State and Pittsburgh play each year would be a good thing for college football and the state. Organize some form of Governor’s trophy and award it to the winner of the game. Throw Temple in the mix if you want.
As much as I, and other fans on both sides, would like to see this series continue I do not feel either school should be pressured in to losing funds for academics. That just would not be fair.
How do you feel about this threat?
Take off your football helmet and put on your fighting gloves because this could be a testy topic of conversation. Should the state intervene between two schools and threaten to take away funding due to not being able to work out a football series? Is Onorato right or wrong?