Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi expresses his disappointment that series with Penn State is ending

Centre Daily Times (TNS)
Pitt head football coach Pat Narduzzi

After this weekend, Penn State and Pitt likely won’t meet again for at least another decade — and that’s something Panthers coach Pat Narduzzi doesn’t want to see.

When asked Monday afternoon if he’d prefer the two programs meet every season, the head coach replied, “Of course I do — but it doesn’t matter what I think.”

He continued: “I’m going to emphasize to our kids: You might be the last team to ever get to play this game. It might be; I don’t know when it’ll be played. I’m either going to be in a coffin or retired probably, so I don’t know which one it’ll be.”

The Panthers have reportedly tried to renew the series several times over the years, but the Nittany Lions haven’t budged. Last year, Pitt Athletic Director Heather Lyke told reporters she sent Penn State a four-year contract proposal starting in 2026, but that never came to fruition.

Penn State Athletic Director Sandy Barbour addressed the issue late last spring.

“We’ve had conversations,” Barbour said at the time. “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 added that the rivalry might be revisited “some point after 2030.”

The Big Ten moved to a nine-game conference schedule in 2016, while the ACC still has an eight-game conference slate. Penn State would seemingly prefer to host as many home games as possible, although it will travel to Virginia Tech next season.

“I think everyone in the state of Pennsylvania that’s not sitting in a football office somewhere in the state would say, ‘Hey, why don’t we play this game?’” Narduzzi said Monday. “So I think I’ve answered that question in the past. Of course, we all want to play this game ... but it doesn’t matter.”

No. 13 Penn State (2-0) will take on Pitt (1-1) at noon Saturday at Beaver Stadium in the 100th overall meeting between the two teams. It is the final meeting of a four-year series that started in 2016.

Players get shielded: Just as he has done in the past (with one exception), Narduzzi has shut off all contact between his players and the media in the week leading up to the Penn State game. It’s the only time all season he hands down such an edict. The regular half-hour viewing window at Tuesday’s practice also was canceled.

Last season, he allowed seniors Quintin Wirginis and Connor Dintino to speak to the media, but all other access was denied.

“I appreciate you guys. I love the media. I love you guys. You guys know that,” Narduzzi said. “I’ll do anything for you. It’s nothing against you guys.

“I want to keep things tight this week again, just kind of what we do when there’s a big opportunity.

“I’ll talk every day if you want to talk. But I just want to keep it tight with our kids and let them focus on what they need to focus on.”

The (Greensburg) Tribune-Review contributed to this report.