After Pitt and Penn State play the final game in the current four-year series in 2019, don't expect a renewal before 2026.
That was the message from PSU athletic director Sandy Barbour, speaking Wednesday at a Penn State caravan stopover at the Omni William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh.
“That's our Power 5 slot,” Barbour said. “We are scheduled out in that Power 5 slot through 2025, so it certainly isn't going to be before then.”
Barbour said she knows new Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke “very well,” but they have not talked about renewing the series.
“We've had, ‘Congratulations. Welcome to the state of Pennsylvania,' ” Barbour said, “and we both know we'll get to that conversation fairly soon.
“Obviously, for other than the outcome for us this past year (a 42-39 Pitt victory at Heinz Field), it was a pretty exciting football game.”
Barbour said she is concerned about how the schools' fan bases treat each other.
“I wish our fans bases could treat each other with a little more respect, and I know that's something (former Pitt AD) Scott (Barnes) and I were working on, and I know that Heather and I will work on together, as well.
“That's probably the first conversation that Heather and I will have.”
Asked how the two ADs can accomplish that goal, Barbour said, “First of all, we have to respect each other, which we do. It starts there.
“I don't think the Pitt fan base is going to listen to the Penn State athletic director and the Penn State fan base is going to listen to the Pitt athletic director, but I do think we can message and create expectations for our fan bases about what the game ought to be about. The game ought to be about the student-athletes on the field.”
Franklin talks recruiting: Speaking before Barbour, Penn State football coach James Franklin reiterated his expectations to successfully recruit the best high school players in the state. He's done that in recent years, signing Miles Sanders of Woodland Hills, C.J. Thorpe of Central Catholic and Lamont Wade of Clairton.
“Western Pa. (talent) historically, and I would even say the last couple years, has been really strong,” Franklin said. “For certain kids and certain families, Pitt's a really good option, as well.
“For us to go where we want to go, we want to keep all the best players in the state and all the best players in this region home. When I say home, that's Penn State. That's the land grant university. That's the state school.”
Franklin also said he was unaware his school plans to honor Penn State's 2016 Big Ten championship team before the Pitt game Sept. 9 at Beaver Stadium.
“I don't know when they're doing all that,” he said. “I'm not really concerned about that kind of stuff. Our big game is Akron. That's who we open the season with.”
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.