PSU has bigger concerns than scheduling Pitt
Think with your head, not your heart. Penn State has to pay for 31 athletic programs.
Pitt has only 19.
Penn State’s attendance average last year at Beaver Stadium was 106,707.
Pitt’s average at Heinz Field was 46,076.
The value of Penn State’s football program is $549.5 million, or 12th in the country, according to a 2017 Wall Street Journal analysis.
Pitt’s football program was valued at $114.5 million, 48th in the country.
Penn State is trying to raise $500 million to renovate its stadium.
Pitt doesn’t have a huge financial responsibility at Heinz Field, and isn’t moving anywhere.
Penn State believes it can compete for a College Football Playoff berth just about every season.
Pitt went 5-7 last year, and it’s over/under is 5¢ wins this season.
These are all facts, not opinions.
If it’s your opinion that Penn State and Pitt should play every year, then you’re thinking with your heart.
You’re being a fan. Which is understandable.
But college football is a business. Big business.
The way Penn State operates its football business, coupled with the program’s lofty goals, it’s not only unfeasible to play Pitt a whole bunch, it’s actually a bad idea.
Penn State doesn’t need Pitt to achieve any of its goals. Now, this is where Pitt fans get upset, because most are adamant that Pitt doesn’t need Penn State, either.
Proof, however, is in the pudding. Penn State can draw 100,000-plus fans for any opponent at Beaver Stadium. Pitt can’t come close to selling out home games unless the opponent is PSU, Notre Dame or perhaps some other powerhouse program.
There’s no reason for PSU to do Pitt any financial favors by continuing a frequent home-and-home series. And there’s no reason for a prideful Pitt program to ever agree to a 2-for-1 that favors Penn State.
But, it’s a great matchup for sports fans throughout Pennsylvania! Yes. Yes it is. No one debates that.
And Pitt can beat Penn State in any given year. Yes. That’s true, as well.
None of that really matters, though, because, well, go back and read what I wrote at the beginning.
These are business decisions. And the bottom line is, Penn State has to play one Power 5 team in the non-conference each season, and it is not going to just have that opponent be Pitt year in and year out.
The Nittany Lions also aren’t going to schedule two Power 5 opponents in the non-con, either, because it’s too risky to their College Football Playoff aspirations. So, PSU has decided to spice things up for fans with other interesting opponents, such as Auburn, Virginia Tech, West Virginia and maybe even Texas.
It would be great if PSU and Pitt could play every year, but it ain’t going to happen.
Four times every 16-20 years is more likely, and that’s probably where the series ultimately will end up.
Cory Giger is the host of “Sports Central” weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m. on ESPN Radio 1430 WVAM.