Pitt and Penn State played football against one another for the 100th time in 2019 at Beaver Stadium, and there was every indication at that time that it would be the last meeting between the teams for the foreseeable future.
Despite multiple attempts by multiple Pitt administrations to extend the most recent, four-year series, Penn State has continually rebuffed such advances.
Alongside a crowded nine-game Big Ten schedule, the Lions can essentially only play one non-conference game on a home-and-home basis annually, and instead of playing Pitt every year, PSU athletic director Sandy Barbour has said that she and the Lions faithful prefer a more diverse schedule.
And so Penn State scheduled Auburn in 2021 and 2022, West Virginia in 2023 and 2024, Virginia Tech in 2020 and 2025 and Temple in 2026 and 2027.
Penn State wasn’t saying they wouldn’t play Pitt again, but the Lions’ actions on the subject were louder than the words. By the time the Panthers and Lions filed out of Beaver Stadium last fall, everyone was operating with the knowledge that it was the last meeting for a long time, if not forever.
But one man hasn’t given up the ghost just yet. Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi would still like to see the series continue, despite his 1-3 record against PSU, and when asked about the future of the series in an interview with Andrew Fillipponi of 93.7 The Fan, Narduzzi showed a surprising amount of hope for the future of the series.
“In my lifetime? I would say in my lifetime, we will play Penn State again,” Narduzzi said. “And again, I’m only 54 years old. In my career here, before I’m 60 or 70, will we play them? I don’t know. I sure hope so.”
Some recent events may have fueled that optimism. Penn State did not travel to Virginia Tech this season due to COVID-19-related schedule changes for both squads. As a result, VT athletic director Whit Babcock announced earlier this week that the Hokies will not visit the Lions in 2025, with the whole home-and-home contract called off.
“I heard their Virginia Tech series got canceled, OK, just the last couple of days I read that somewhere,” Narduzzi said. “I’m like, OK. Pittsburgh, we can work them in.
“I think we need to get it out on Twitter, that hey, that Virginia Tech game got canceled and we can play right here in Heinz Field. Let’s line them up and let’s go.”
Penn State has just one other non-conference game scheduled for 2025, a home game against Villanova, while Narduzzi may be signing up his squad for a real gauntlet. Pitt has non-conference games scheduled at West Virginia and at Heinz Field against Notre Dame already for the 2025 season.
Penn State would likely have to play host in 2025, so that the Lions can maintain their desired schedule of eight home games per season, but could play a return game in Pittsburgh in 2028.
“I would say there’s a chance,” Narduzzi said. “In my lifetime, yes.”