If anyone in the Penn State football program knows about the Nittany Lions' longtime rivalry with Pitt, it is assistant coach Terry Smith.
The two teams have not met since 2000. But during Smith's days as a wide receiver at PSU (1988-91), they squared off four times. And Smith still takes great pride in the fact that the Lions went 3-1 vs. Pitt during his career.
Further, Smith was born in the Pittsburgh area, and has spent most of his life there. That included a long run as the head football coach and athletic director at Gateway High in nearby Monroeville.
So he brings great perspective when it comes to discussing the rivalry and this week's resumption of the series at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh (noon, ESPN). In a conference call with reporters Thursday, he repeated over and over that the Lions are treating this as the next game on their schedule. But he also admitted that there is something a little special about this next game.
"For whatever reasons, the series did not continue for many years," Smith told reporters Thursday. "That's for athletic administrators and school administrators to figure out. As a coach, I'm excited we have an opportunity to play in this game this year. It's exciting. The hoopla and fanfare, social media and tweets and messages, it creates a great environment for our kids. When I played, forever ago, we had that opportunity. So it's an exciting week. Our guys are feeling the excitement, they're feeling that there's a little something different in the air. We just can't wait to get to Saturday."
Hear his entire conference call above.
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