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James Franklin on Renewing Pitt-Penn State: ‘It Needs to be an Even Exchange … Needs to Make Sense’

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Pitt football head coach Pat Narduzzi and Penn State football head coach James Franklin shake hands

Penn State head coach James Franklin has weighed in on Pitt-Penn State scheduling — or lack thereof.

A caller asked Franklin Thursday night on his weekly radio show whether there’s a chance Penn State will renew series against Pitt, West Virginia and Syracuse in the near future.

Franklin didn’t sound particularly interested in scheduling any of the out-of-conference rivals at this point in time.

“The more conference games you play and the less regional the conferences are, then those games become more and more challenging,” Franklin said. “And you have to see ‘do they make sense?’”

The fan followed up by saying that the regional rivalries could help fill up Penn State’s Beaver Stadium, and again, Franklin remained tentative.

“That shouldn’t dictate whether we play them,” Franklin said. “If it’s the right thing to do for our conference, if it’s the right thing to do for Penn State, then I’m more than open to doing it. I think our ADs can get on a conversation, get on a call and talk about it.”

And when it came to resuming Pitt-Penn State games specifically, Franklin brought up attendance — which is often brought up from the Penn State side — and whether or not it would be a “fair exchange” that makes sense from the Penn State perspective.

“The thing I do know is when we went and played at Pitt, it was the second-largest, if not the largest sporting event, in the history of Heinz Field,” Franklin said. “And I don’t think you could buy a Penn State single-game ticket unless you bought their season tickets. So it was a very different deal.

“For us, it was an increase of 2,000 fans. To me, it needs to be an even exchange and it needs to make sense. But I think our ADs should get on the phone and work it out.”

It’s a stark contrast to the way Pat Narduzzi approached the idea of Pitt and Penn State renewing their rivalry in the future.

“You’d have to ask James Franklin,” Narduzzi told the 93.7 The Fan’s PM team of Andrew Fillipponi and Chris Mueller in August. “My call is, ‘Let’s go.’ We’ve called, we’ve asked.”

However, Narduzzi was certainly complimentary of the athletic director currently in place at Penn State.

“I have faith in Pat Kraft, the AD,” Narduzzi said.

Narduzzi, who worked in the same conference as Kraft when Kraft was Boston College’s athletic director from 2020 through starting at Penn State in July 2022, said Kraft is a “great guy.”

But Narduzzi doesn’t feel optimistic that the rivalry will return.

“These schedules are filled out for six, seven years (in advance)” Narduzzi said. “It’s going to be a while. I’ll be retired for 10 years, 20 years. I’ll be 70, 80 years old. I’ll be coming back in a wheelchair and maybe a cane.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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kevin
kevin
9 months ago

Is it an “even exchange” with Delaware, U Mass, Kent St, Bowling Green?!?!
Give me a freaking break, sissy! Just be honest and say you don’t want to risk a loss.
H2P!

Jason Huber
Jason Huber
9 months ago
Reply to  kevin

Penn State doesn’t ask it’s fans to buy season tickets when they only want to go to one game. They don’t have to because they can fill THEIR stadium regardless of who they play. Why should Penn State provide Pitt with that revenue when Pitt brings nothing to the table for Penn State.

Kevin
Kevin
9 months ago
Reply to  Jason Huber

Pitt isn’t asking PSU fans to do anything. If you want to go to that game, you must be a season ticket holder, even for Pitt fans – not just delusional, snowflake PSU fans!
H2P!

Jason Huber
Jason Huber
9 months ago
Reply to  Kevin

You are missing the point, when Pitt plays Penn State, their stadium is filled….with Penn State fans. Pitt cannot fill their stadium for other non conference opponents. Penn State can. Therefore it is unequal. Why would Penn State want to provide another school who they recruit against with that revenue.

Mark Borosky
9 months ago
Reply to  Jason Huber

I don’t know. How does Virginia/Virginia Tech do it? How does Georgia/Georgia Tech do it? How does Florida/Florida State do it? Texas/Texas A&M?Oklahoma/Oklahoma State? USC/UCLA? Oregon/Oregon State? Kansas/Kansas State? & so on & so on……………….. It might be about football some times & State Penn doesn’t want to take a chance playing teams that could hand them a loss.

Jason Huber
Jason Huber
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark Borosky

Almost every one of your examples is a conference game. They would have no choice. And why would Penn State fear losing. They were a Deshaun Hamilton drop away from going 4-0 against Pitt. Maybe if Pitt could sell out their stadium based on just their team, the argument might be more even.

Mark Borosky
9 months ago
Reply to  Jason Huber

I don’t know why Jason, that’s the point. You tell me. Pitt is in an NFL city. of course they are going to have a hard time selling out. What does State Penn have to compete with, cows? Oh a dropped pass away, always a ball baby excuse. If you want to talk history, who has more national championships? I don’t want to hear about how long ago either. Yesterday is history the same as a century.

Brian
Brian
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark Borosky

Still have the advantage in head to head wins, all time wins, bowl wins, blue chip status, etc. We’re not begging to play you. You’re begging to play us.

Greg
Greg
9 months ago
Reply to  Jason Huber

Douche-alert

Giovanni
Giovanni
9 months ago
Reply to  kevin

Couldn’t have said it any better.

Mark Borosky
9 months ago

Typical Paterno Jr. B.S. & “Challenging” & “Making sense” for State Penn are key words for scrimmage games we know we’ll win. Ohio State & Michigan are enough. We can’t schedule out of conference teams that may actually beat us! Still the same old Paterno State mind set!

kevin
kevin
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark Borosky

Well said Mark!
Let’s just call it for what it is and has been.
HOWEVER… Things do change – ask Miami. They wanted to leave the Big East for more money, and they haven’t recovered for 20 years.
H2P!

Pittband
Pittband
9 months ago

For 50 years before JoePa, Pitt dictated the terms, when and where then the Steelers started to take the sports dollar and we became also rans.
PS fills their stadium because there is no option for the entertainment dollar within 100 miles.
We share Stealer Stadium and compete with the Penguins for the sports dollar. The simpleton analysis takes none of that into account.
Myself, avoid WV and PS and worry about Clemson, UNC and FSU.

Alex
Alex
9 months ago
Reply to  Pittband

Hate to break this idea but let’s consider some things here. Penn state football fans drive from all over the state each Saturday to go to games. The traffic to get to state college is stupid on game days, so why do these fans do it? It’s because they have so much passion for their team that they are willing to deal with insane traffic driving out to middle of no where Pa to fill that stadium each week. Pitt on the other hand can’t give away seats. They have the built in advantage of a built in population and… Read more »

Matt
Matt
9 months ago

PSU alum here and I see where you guys are coming from and I also believe that inter-state rivalries are important. However, do you understand Penn State’s position? They’re taking all the risk. OF COURSE we’re concerned about risking a loss! It would spoil our season! What do we have to gain by beating you? Not much. What do we have to gain by not playing you? The same. Therein lies the issue. If Pitt had as much to lose as Penn State, it would be more interesting. If PSU goes about their business, playing like they did last season,… Read more »

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