For being two months removed from its spring football, and another two months ahead from the start of training camp, it was quite a big day at the UPMC Sports Complex. Head coach Todd Graham and select players gathered for an impromptu media gathering, to update the state of the program.
That, however, was not the biggest news of the day. Shortly after Graham's state of the program address, the University announced that it will resume its long-storied rivalry with Penn State, starting in 2016 with a home game at Heinz Field. The Panthers will host the Nittany Lions on September 10 of that season, with a return trip to State College on September 16, 2017.
"This is an exciting day for college football fans," Pitt AD Steve Pederson said in a statement. "The tremendous history of this rivalry is well documented and the passion that fans have for this game is enormous. We are very pleased that this two-game series is now in place and a new generation of fans can experience the excitement of a Pitt-Penn State football game beginning in 2016."
The excitement about the series renewal carried over to the Penn State side as well.
"We are very excited about renewing our rivalry with Pitt," Penn State AD Tim Curley said. "We have worked our schedules to play some of our neighboring rivalries like Syracuse, Rutgers and Temple and are glad to have identified dates that worked for our schedules to play Pitt. The Penn State-Pitt game was one that football fans across the Commonwealth have been passionate about. There have been many memorable Penn State-Pitt games, featuring outstanding players and coaches, and we look forward to playing the Panthers again."
The two teams last met on September 16, 2000 in the final season of Three Rivers Stadium, with Pitt coming away with a 12-0 win. Rod Rutherford scored the game's only touchdown on a 62-yard touchdown pass from quarterback John Turman.
Penn State leads the all-time series 50-42-4, which dates back to 1893. The two schools met every year from 1900-31 and from 1935-92. They resumed the series in 1997 for four more games, but have not met since that 2000 game.
The 2011 season marks the debut of head coach Todd Graham, who grew up in Texas. Coming from a different part of the country, it's not hard for the first-year head coach to know about this rivalry's storied-history.
"As a young football fan in Texas, I used to love watching Pitt and Penn State play every November," Graham said in a statement. "The games were intense and feature some of the greatest players in the history of college football. The resumption of this series is great for the two schools and football fans everywhere."
PITT-PENN STATE HISTORY
Series Record: Penn State leads, 50-42-4
At Pittsburgh: Pitt leads, 34-28-4
At Penn State: Penn State leads, 17-6
Neutral Site: Penn State leads, 5-2
Last Meeting: Pitt 12-0, September 16, 2000 at Three Rivers Stadium