Narduzzi enjoys talking about ‘big game’

PITTSBURGH — Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi has never made any secret of the fact he thinks the Panthers should play Penn State every year, but he knows it could be a long while before the teams meet again after Saturday.

“I’m going to emphasize to our kids, ‘You might be the last team to ever get to play this game.’ It might be,” Narduzzi said Monday. “I don’t know if 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 Lions and Panthers are playing for the fourth year in a row, and Saturday’s meeting will mark the 100th game of the series.

Narduzzi once again reiterated his desire to keep the series going, even though for now it appears the teams won’t meet again until at least 2030.

“Of course, we all want to play this game,” Narduzzi said. “We’re going to jump on the bus on Friday, it’s close enough to get on a bus. We don’t have to go wait at an airport, don’t have to go through customs, we don’t have to do anything. We don’t have to empty our pockets. We jump on a bus and we go. So we certainly want to play that game.?”But it doesn’t matter. And it’s a big game. It’s another game for us, but it’s a big game because it’s a rivalry game, in state.”

Penn State coach James Franklin has always refused to call this a big game, and he likely will do so again today when he addresses the media. Franklin said he treats every game the same and preaches that to his players, as well.

Narduzzi, though, has never shied away from mentioning this is a big game. He even has taken the step over the years — and is doing so again this week — of not letting his players talk to the media before the game.

The coach pointed out he hopes his players prepare a little differently the week of the Penn State game, knowing it is in fact a big one.

Franklin has never and probably will never say such a thing publicly.

Narduzzi said he has a good relationship with Franklin.

“We vacation together,” Narduzzi said. “We do. James is a great guy. We go on the Nike trip every year, and I would call that a vacation, so we do vacation and socialize. But when it’s game day, it’s game week. It’s game week, it’s game week.”

Since PSU and Pitt won’t be playing again any time soon after this weekend, Narduzzi said he would like to get some of the Panthers’ traditional rivals on the schedule.

“West Virginia is coming back, as you know,” he said. “And then Syracuse is our rival. I mean, that’s an old Big East rival, as we know. It’s been a terrific game every year. It’s a talented football team.

“We’re talking about it’s Penn State week. But we have rivalry games. We’ll make one. We’ll make one if we have to. Shoot, we made one back in the day when I was at Cincinnati. The River City Rivalry, wasn’t that what it was called, something like the River City Rivalry? We’ll make one up. We’ll get a trophy made.”


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