AD Sandy Barbour says 'complicating puzzle' puts Penn State-Pitt rivalry on lengthy hold
NEW YORK — Penn State and Pitt football fans could wait a decade or more until its rivalry is further renewed.
An extension of the storied series might be revisited at some point after 2030, Nittany Lions athletic director Sandy Barbour said Tuesday at Penn State’s first Coaches Caravan stop. But in the short term, relatively speaking, another renewal isn’t in the cards.
This comes just two weeks after Pitt AD Heather Lyke told reporters in the Steel City that she sent Penn State a four-year contract proposal, starting in 2026.
“We’ve had conversations,” Barbour said at The New Yorker Hotel. “I think at this point we’ve both agreed that based on Big Ten and ACC scheduling principles — and it’s a complicating puzzle nowadays — that we’re probably not going to do anything at this point.”
Barbour’s statement should not come as a surprise. Two weeks ago — after Lyke’s contract proposal became public knowledge — a Penn State spokesperson issued a statement on Barbour’s behalf on the idea of renewing the rivalry. “Sandy has addressed this within the last several months,” the statement read, “and there isn’t anything new to add.”
To this point, Penn State’s consistent message in regards to revisiting the Pitt rivalry has been straightforward: The schedule is booked. Barbour referenced “scheduling principles,” and the Nittany Lions’ approach is to play one non-conference Power 5 opponent per year. Penn State has home-and-home series with Auburn, West Virginia and Virginia Tech scheduled from 2020 through 2025.
Lyke was reportedly holding out hope that Pitt could fill that Power 5 slot on Penn State’s schedule in 2026, but that appears unlikely.
Of course, the Nittany Lions and Panthers still have two more games on the short-term docket. Penn State visits Heinz Field on Sept. 8, and Pitt travels to Beaver Stadium in 2019 to close out the current four-year series.
The past two meetings have kicked off at 3:30 p.m., and while nothing has been unveiled by either program, this year’s matchup could be at night. The Pittsburgh Pirates announced last month that its Sept. 8 game against the Marlins would be moved from 7:05 p.m. to 1:05 p.m. “to allow the University of Pittsburgh to schedule its gridiron clash with Penn State University at night.”
“I have not heard a game time,” the athletic director said, shaking her head. “So I’m not sure what the Pirates were doing.”