Trust me, I SO wanted to go with the old late ’70s/early ’80s bank button slogan instead of this mid-’80s, Devo-inspired phrase. You know the one. It was the only time as a kid that we could swear and get away with it. The hate for Pitt was so deep it didn’t take even the little Lions like me very long to catch on and take full advantage of the freebie, as our parents and grown-up fans all nodded in prideful unison.
If you can feel the nostalgia, it’s because these old slogans of a once-proud rivalry made their way back into our dialect over the past four years. But alas, times have changed and that one, in particular, is best left stowed away as a great memory of days gone by. So ‘WhipPitt Good’ it is, as we say sayonara and adios to an old in-state foe that hasn’t put up much of a bite in the series renewal dubbed ‘The Keystone Classic.’
Sure, they snuck one in on us in 2016, but that just served as motivation as a run to the Roses and a Big Ten crown proved there were bigger fish to fry on our schedule that year. That game also served as the catalyst on a string of second-half comebacks that have marked these Nittany Lions ever since. As recently as last week Buffalo became the latest victim of that Penn State-wrath starting in the third quarter. So maybe it wasn’t just a case of Trace needing time to get warmed up but actually a trait of a James Franklin-coached team instead. I don’t have enough interest in Vanderbilt to sift through his time in Nashville but I’d be willing to bet they had their fair share as well.
Last year in Pittsburgh in fact, it was another nail biter heading into the locker room before Penn State took off the gloves, got amped up during halftime and came out in the third quarter to smack those Panthers around like the downtrodden little stepbrother they’ve turned into over the past four years. For all the love we old heads may have for those Thanksgiving weekend clashes back in the day, this series has only served to prove this is clearly two programs going in opposite directions and it’s not even close.
This is not that Pitt of the Dorsett, Marino, Hugh Green, and Jackie Sherrill heydays. This is the Pitt that gets lucky once or twice a year, but all-in-all continues to struggle to stay above .500. There’s nothing to gain by beating them and everything to lose if we end up on the wrong side of the scoreboard. So consider this old head glad this revamped series goes into another long siesta come Saturday afternoon. I’d almost rather give one away to Temple every now and then than take one on the chin from Pitt. Four years of Pat Narduzzi is enough for all of us. FrankLion lives inside his head rent free but now it’s time to move on to bigger, shinier toys.
Bring on Auburn, Virginia Tech and even WVU but Pitt, please just take a seat in the back of the bus you ride around in claiming all those championships you won prior to the first World War. Consider us completely and unequivocally unimpressed. I’m sure there will come a day that we will meet again somewhere down the road but as we embark upon our 100th meeting in Happy Valley at high noon on Saturday, I say goodbye and good riddance. Don’t go away mad, just go away. Penn State 44, Downtrodden Stepbrother 10.