Penn State fans sure don’t like to hear from Pitt fans after a big loss
According to most Penn State fans, they don’t care about Pitt’s college football program, and they don’t think about Pitt’s college football program.
The Panthers are an old rival, not a current one, and even if they were current, they’d be insignificant. And then there are the Nittany Lions supporters and alumni younger than 35 who claim that Pitt as a rival has never even been a thing in their lives. The annual clash ended at some point in the early-’90s when the two independents headed for separate conferences, thus punting the rivalry into the past. Therefore, why would younger Penn State fans even know anything about the history between the two programs?
Of course, this is what Penn State fans normally say to you in person or when they’re calling into radio talk shows, but it’s not what they say on social media, a place where anonymous accounts thrive and trolling is about as common as a Nittany Lions loss to a top school in the James Franklin era.
The Pitt/Penn State rivalry still seems to be alive and well in that arena.
For example, there’s always been an undercurrent of “Haha!” with some Steelers fans when it comes to the ongoing struggles of Kenny Pickett, the team’s second-year quarterback from Pitt. If you did a Venn Diagram of Steelers fans who seem to go out of their way to trash Pickett and Steelers fans who also like Penn State, I’m going to guess that it would be close to a full circle.
And then there’s the constant mocking of attendance at Acrisure Stadium for Pitt games; I don’t have to tell you who often takes to social media to remind everyone how much the Panthers struggle to attract fans on a weekly basis: That’s right, Penn State supporters.
“Haha! We regularly draw 106,000 to Beaver Stadium for Nittany Lions games!”
Let’s not forget about the demeanor of Penn State fans toward the Panthers the moment the Nittany Lions lose a big game like they did to Michigan on Saturday afternoon in Happy Valley. If anyone–especially a reporter–even brings up the loss on social media, rabid and angry Nittany Lions fans immediately take shots at Pitt football, a program that is struggling mightily this year.
“2-7.” That’s how a Penn State fan responded to reporter Paul Zeise on Saturday after Zeise simply Tweeted about the 24-15 loss to Michigan. Of course, this immediately led to a war of Tweets between Nittany Lions fans and Panthers fans that still may be going on as of this writing. It didn’t help that Zeise works for 93.7 FM, the Panthers’ flagship radio station, but that PSU fan would have taken a shot at Pitt even if Jack Ham Tweeted about the Nittany Lions’ loss. Not only did this Penn State fan know Pitt’s 2023 record (it’s now 2-8 following a disappointing loss to a struggling Syracuse squad at Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon), but he knew about the program’s struggles with attendance, as well as the fact that the Panthers haven’t finished in the top 10 since 1983.
That’s a lot of knowledge from a fan of a program who claims that the old rivalry with Pitt is dead and buried.
Face it, Penn State fans, the rivalry with Pitt will never truly be over. It’s percolating in the homes of countless families in Western Pennsylvania. There are siblings who are divided over the two college football programs. There are people who secretly–and maybe even openly–mock their neighbors over humiliating losses.
The Nittany Lions may not necessarily need to play Pitt in order to satisfy their desire to win a national title, but their fans and alumni still need the Panthers when it comes to satisfying the feeling a college football fan can only have after vanquishing a true rival.
Pitt and Penn State may no longer play on an annual basis, but they’re still bitter rivals.
You may not see it on the gridiron, but the hatred and passion are still evident everywhere else in Western Pennsylvania.