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April 16, 2007

Both beat writers have similar stories, post-Blue and Gold Game, about some of the positions on Pitt’s depth chart. Gorman at the Trib, looks at the positives on the defense with Scott McKillop and Aaron Berry coming in to replace H.B. Blades and Darrelle Revis.

“I hope that answers a lot of questions that anybody had with Aaron and me replacing Darrelle and H.B.,” McKillop said. “So, for me and Aaron stepping up this spring, I think that showed everyone that we could play, too.”

Um, not to be too hard on the kid, but all the two have proven is that they are at the top of the Pitt depth chart at their positions. Not exactly unexpected. Most of the story is on Aaron Berry and his competitive attitude.

“I feel I can cover anybody in the country,” Berry said. “That’s the attitude you have to have as a DB. As long as you don’t get beat deep, you should be fine.”

Although Berry is generously listed at 5-foot-11, 175 pounds, he hasn’t shied away from contact in run support, either. That is occasionally worrisome for secondary coach Chris Ball, who wants to see Berry concentrate on his strengths and not try to emulate the 200-pound Revis.

“With Revis leaving and that spot open, he was the best candidate ability-wise,” Ball said. “He’s got great quickness and athletic ability. He’s not a real big kid, so we’ve talked about how his game has to be a little different than Revis’ because Revis had good size. He’s got to get stronger and learn to play big. He’s got to learn to cover people more with his speed than his body.”

It’s a certainty that he will see a lot more balls thrown his way than Revis did. I don’t think Pitt fans are going to have any problem with his attitude or desire.

The Zeise article for the P-G looks more at the areas that are still wide-open. QB, the other linebacker spots and center are all unknowns.

The center position also is wide open and could require some juggling of positions.

Senior Chris Vangas and sophomore John Bachman were expected to battle for the spot, but Vangas hasn’t advanced as fast as the coaches would like and Bachman has been slow to recover from various injuries. Wannstedt hinted Saturday that senior tackle Mike McGlynn might be moved to help that position.

Yeah, that doesn’t make anyone nervous at all.

Even before the Spring Game, OC Matt Cavanaugh said that the QB spot would be unsettled and that both Smith and Stull had plenty of work to do.

“We need one of them to step up and have a great summer camp,” Cavanaugh said. “The goal is for one of them to make it an easy decision. Kevan is really getting his first look at some things because this is really just his first spring, but if he keeps progressing like he is progressing, there will definitely be some competition.

“The bottom line is one of them in the course of the next few months is going to have to really separate himself and show he can consistently make the right throws and right reads before we’re ready to make a decision.”

Barring a bad injury, it will be about 4+ months before we know.

Breaking news: Pitt and Penn State fans dislike one another. I’ve sometimes heard over the last few years that it’s a “dead rivalry” and that a ton of people don’t really care. Personally, I’ve always wanted to see the annual football game make a return and things I’ve read this week have opened my eyes to see that I’m not the only one and there is still bad blood. It’s too bad this is all being played out by fans and not players on the field, but it’s still happening whether you’re for the return of the game (100% of the Pitt fans and half of the PSU fans) or not (the other 50% of the PSU fans).

The first time in a while that I really started to think about the rivalry was with this post on Mondesi’s House. It wasn’t actually the post as much as the comments, where Adam (a convicted PSU homer) had this to say in response to “Things That Annoy You About Sports”.

Pitt fans who think Penn State is afraid of them. Honestly, Penn State doesn’t need Pitt to generate buzz. There will be 105,000 asses in seats to watch TEMPLE. So c’mon, admit you need us, and admit that Joe was right in going to the Big 10 and move on. Come to Beaver Stadium twice to every one time we go to Pitt and everything will be ok. Otherwise, quit taking pot shots at JoePa on natinal television on what is supposed to be your biggest rivalry game (on a Thursday night no less, can anyone take that seriously?). And remember, your sour grapes go no furthur east than maybe Johnstown. No one else cares the Pitt doesnt play Penn State. We are busy winning.

Oh, the fire was definitely started with that. I’ll save his very first comment of Pitt fans thinking PSU is afraid of us for later in this post. The rest is easy to pick apart though.

It is more than easy enough to cram that many people in a stadium a few times a month for four months when you live in the middle of no where. This is Happy Valley, not New York City. There is nothing to do in central Pennsylvania other than count down the days to the next Penn State home game. Let’s look at that in comparison to the city of Pittsburgh, where on any given Saturday there are many more choices of things to do instead of see a college football game. I’m not saying the Pitt’s excuse for low attendance, but saying how great Penn State’s attendance is in comparison to our’s is absurd.

Adam also makes a great point — in favor of the Panthers. I forget where I read this, but someone made the point that Penn State is a state school, while the University of Pittsburgh represents a city.

Population of Pittsburgh and surrounding metro areas: 2,358,695
Population of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: 12,281,054

So tell me, which is easier to draw fans?

Ending his comment saying, “We are busy winning” had to have been made by someone who very recently jumped on the Penn State bandwagon. Obviously someone has forgotten that PSU’s record from 2000-2003 was 22-26. Busy winning, indeed.

But wait, this all extends into basketball too.

As for the basketball team, did you notice PSU isnt on the Pitt schedule this year? why? because last year we didnt have a losng record. 15-15. Apparantly thats too goo a record for Jamie Dixon to deal with. as soon as we become remotely competitive, we are taken off the schedule. funny dont you think?

Yes, Adam, because Dixon is the guy who has total control of the schedule. I also wasn’t aware that schedules were made after each season. Oh wait, they’re not. Too bad that 15-15 record was a fluke; this year’s PSU hoops record was 11-19 with all of 2 wins in the Big Ten.

That’s just one little fan though, albeit one uninformed fan. The debate was brought up yet again at Mondesi’s House with this post. More of the same babble going on — it all died down for a while though.

Then I gave you a story from Penn State’s student newspaper, The Daily Collegian. Many of the comments were what you’d expect: anti-Penn State, calling Paterno names, and all around hatred toward Happy Valley. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking some of the exact same things some people wrote. We had one brave State fan who naturally went with the name “JoePa”.

And Nick, if it’s Penn State’s loss that the alleged rivalry not be renewed, why does this issue eat at Pitt fans so much? –JoePa

I don’t know, JoePa, if the story appeared in “The Daily Collegian” then there must be a fair number of PSU fans that care a little. –Nick in State College

Not the first time Mr. Paterno has been wrong. I think that’s why some Penn State fans aren’t quick to want to see this rivalry start back up. Paterno is looked to as a god by PSU fans, and if a god doesn’t want to see this game get played then neither will his followers. Those followers are also the same ones who called for him to retire after the 2004 season, saying things like, “He’s too old!” I guess he’s not too old to ruin a great rivalry though.

A few days later, that post was then relayed to the masses over at the AOL Fanhouse by Brian Grummell. Grummell says maybe Penn State should join the Big East or go Independent, and while even I can agree with PSU fans that they won’t go Independent, they have nothing special going for them in the Big Ten. No one considers them a real rival while they’d like to think they have something going with Ohio State and Michigan State.

Penn State fans always say how they don’t care about Pitt when they need to take a look at themselves first. Ohio State is too busy playing in the most important games of the decade against Michigan to consider PSU even a mini-rival. Just because you play Michigan State for trophy doesn’t mean that constitutes a rivalry either. In Big Ten basketball, Penn State is dirt.

Meanwhile, Pitt has a solid group of rivals. Sure, West Virginia has beaten us up the last couple years but that doesn’t automatically take away it’s rivalry status, at least judging by the “conversations” that Pitt and WVU fans had during last year’s Backyard Brawl. In basketball, we’re building rivalry games with teams like Marquette, UConn, and a WVU team lead by Bob Huggins.

The last place where we saw this come up in the last week was Black Shoe Diaries. Other than taking a shot at some of our commenters (” Well hey, Pitt fans. At least you’ll always have your dignity.”), there wasn’t anything too special in the post. One thing that did stand out to me was that PSU shouldn’t leave the Big Ten because of “the opportunity to be highly ranked and in the running for the BCS every two or three years.” Well if you guys are as good as you think and the Big East is as bad as you’d have everyone think then wouldn’t you be able to come over here and go undefeated, be ranked Top 10 all the time, and earn the BCS bid every year?

The comments were full of great stuff though. There were a few Pitt fans who comment here that made their point over there.

Now listen, I can’t argue with the results we’ve seen from the last few Pitt football teams. I also don’t consider Pitt to be a top college football program right now and I’m not sure if they’ll ever get over the hump into that top group. I’m have realistic enough thoughts to see this. I do, however, think that sometimes Penn State fans, while they’re busy putting our program down, over-inflate their own program. Remember when the author over there said the Lions were “in the running for the BCS every two or three years.” I’ll let Stuart take it form there.

If by “in the running for the BCS every two or three years,” you mean you’ve made 1 BCS bowl game EVER, then yes, you are in the running. Every 2-3 years would mean you’ve been in 3 to 5 by now. I’m sure math is not a strong suit for you.

That’s not even close to the best comment I saw though. In response to a Pitt fan’s remark, we get this gem.

“So, until you actually win a game against us this decade IN ANY SPORT, remember you are winless against Pitt and will be for the foreseeable future.”

Before you go spouting off maybe you should look first – I prefer wrestling over basketball any day of the week.

Wrestling
PSU-Pittsburgh W 26-19 2005
PSU-Pittsburgh W 28-15 2004

So how many million people out there filled out there brackets for this year’s basketball tournament? How about this year’s wresting tournament? How much money was wagered on each? I laughed out loud when I read that.

Penn State always tries to make excuses about how they don’t care about their basketball team, but this has to be the worst one I’ve heard. At least say you’d rather spend your money on making that stupid ice cream rather than trying to convince us more people care about college wrestling then hoops.

Anyways, remember when Adam said Penn State isn’t afraid of us in that Mondesi’s House post?

A commenter at the Penn State blog gave us the exact reason Paterno won’t schedule us.

The bottom line is we don’t need this rivalry. We’ll get our guaranteed win elsewhere.

It would be horrible to lose a team like Pitt, wouldn’t it? Penn State fans will call us a second tier program, however they know it’s not out of the question that we could be them. How do you avoid that? Don’t play them.

I don’t want to talk money, TV deals, or any of that garbage. In the end, Penn State and Pitt can both live without playing this game. I want to see this game for the fans, for rivalry, for tradition, and for history. By the way, the next time someone tells you a Pitt-Penn State rivalry is dead or doesn’t exist, have them read this post. Have them read the mud slinging that goes on at varioud blogs and websites. Have them recall the last time they didn’t root against any PSU team in any PSU sport (or vice versa for you Happy Valley folks) and then have them tell you it’s dead.

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