One thing struck me interesting this past week when it came to Pitt football. Here’s the latest Farrell Files Pitt edition.
First off, I was fascinated with the small drama surrounding James Franklin at Penn State not including Pitt in his final coaches Top 25. As we know, Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi picked Penn State No. 9 in the final poll, and some felt it was petty of Franklin to leave Pitt off. But let’s be clear — the coaches don’t talk about this stuff. Obviously, Narduzzi would include a 11-2 Rose Bowl Penn State team but it’s not like what number he’d rank them is something they talk about. In fact, in my experience, coaches take about two minutes with this stuff as they just don’t care.
But there is something here. Narduzzi had Penn State ranked 9th which is the lowest of any coach who ranked the Nittany Lions as they finished No. 7 overall. Out of all the coaches it happens to be the Pitt coach who ranks PSU the lowest. I know coaches take two minutes with these but it clearly pains Narduzzi to put Penn State anywhere so he chose as low as he felt he could get away with. That’s a rivalry.
And Franklin? I’d say it’s not a huge deal but to have UCLA No. 21 and snub Pitt? Again, two minutes of effort but a clear exclusion with meaning. A depleted Pitt team shocked UCLA in the Sun Bowl en route to a 9-4 season. A case can be made for UCLA to be in the Top 25, and they did finish No. 21 overall ahead of No. 22 Pitt, but to leave Pitt off his list entirely following that head-to-head win seems odd.
So, take it for what you will. Coaches polls are kinda dumb until you see things like this. Franklin and Narduzzi renewed this rivalry in 2016 with Penn State winning three of the four from 2016-2019 and the teams continue to battle on the recruiting trail. Penn State is deemed the blue blood and many fans claim Pitt isn’t a rival. While Pitt fans may not admit it, but they feel disrespected as PSU wants so badly to be rivals with Ohio State and Michigan but have to settle for Maryland while Pitt has a great rivalry with West Virginia in the Backyard Brawl.
If these small coaching snubs in a dumb poll speak to anything it’s that we should push for this game every season. It’s hard now with conference expansion and teams scheduling easy wins, but two power programs in the same state play every year in places like Georgia, South Carolina and Florida every season so why not this one?