A reader chimes in on the Pitt-Penn State fiasco (write your own Fanpost over to the section on the right)
I guess the best place to start is at Three Rivers stadium, September 16, 2000. It was the fall of my senior year in high school. I had decided to go to Pitt over Penn State and I was not going to miss the last meeting of the two. Pitt had an exciting young team, featuring Antonio Bryant, John Turman, Kevan Barlow and hard hitting safety Ramon Walker. We took out Penn State who was on there way down, but still as a future Panther, I was confused as to why such a storied rivalry was coming to an end. Depending on who you ask, Penn State demanded a 2 for 1 swap, or Joe Pa was still salty about the eastern 8, regardless it was clear in my mind that it was PSU's fault. From that day forward I hated, absolutely HATED Joe Paterno and Penn State from depriving me of the chance to be part of one of the countries most storied rivalries. Just a few seasons later, the first exodus to the ACC occurred and Pitt football became destined for meaninglessness.
In the meantime, Penn State put up a bunch of crappy seasons, and my hatred of them grew. Surely if we had the chance to play them over the last 8 years, we could've pulled the series closer (for the record PSU has us by 8 wins). Of course if you tried bringing this up to a Penn State fan, they would laugh it off and act like they could care less. I mean I still hear P-E-N-N ST Sucks during our fight songs at games. But hey I guess Penn Staters enjoy their tough matchups against the Louisiana Tech and whatnot rather than a traditional rivalry game. They must be as psyched as I am when I see Youngstown State or Wofford on the other sideline.
All that hatred has melted away with the news of the actions of Jerry Sandusky. In case you've been living under a rock, basically the story goes that Joe Paterno knew something unimaginably bad was or may have been happening, and the university elected to cover it up. IMHO, this got botched back in 1998 when the DA elected not to prosecute, thus dropping the ball and thus allowing a sexual predator to roam free. That being said, in 2002 when Joe Paterno got word, he had to have known that this needed to come out. Perhaps he was lied to, but still with an accusation of that magnitude, he needed to do more. This is a horrifying story and there really was no way Paterno was surviving it even if he blew the whistle back in 2002. There is much to speculate on, but for now what is known is that enough was not done.
What is a Pitt fan to do? Do we crack jokes? Do we relish in karma coming around to rain hatred all over our selfish former rival? NO. As much as I want to enjoy this, it just isn't possible. When your rivals face tragic circumstances, you should feel empathy. I find myself strangely rooting for WVU and PSU to do well, so that Pitt can cause devastation and trauma. Either way, there is no right or wrong action based on how you feel or choose to interpret the horrifying events that leaked on Saturday.
To wrap this all up in a neat little bow, let's talk about the affects on Pitt. First question a Pitt fan should ask are what are the positives? First the obvious, it's clear that we may be able to poach some recruits away. 4 star Recruits already committed to PSU? Consider them all available. A kid losing sleep over Pitt or Penn State? With the ACC move done, and now this, those kids will rest easy choosing Pitt. Also, we could see a spike in attendance once we move conferences with an influx of dejected non alumn PSU fans. This also could end up being a revenue boost down the line now that the BIG 10 has been dealt yet another death blow. Sure they have Nebraska, they may not have Ohio State, Michigan is not what it once was, and now Penn State is going to deal with lost recruits and financial handicaps. So look for the ACC and subsequently Pitt to benefit. While all of that is nice, the negatives are staggering. First and foremost, the renewal of the rivalry just isn't quite as exciting. After years of waiting, all of the air is just sucked out. Worse yet, since Tom Corbett took over as governor, yes the one who was originally prosecuting the Sandusky case, funding to Pitt (and all state schools) has been cut significantly. IF PSU football is crippled financially by this in any way, it could lead to the downfall of the entire school, or it could potentially adversely affect the dollars allocated to Pitt, Temple and other state schools as PSU gets a bailout of some sort. This isn't over and this is about to get really really really ugly.
For now, a moment of silence for the career of Joe Paterno. I always hoped he'd leave after getting embarrassed by Pitt, but he's gone as is his reputation and legacy.
Hail to Pitt