Penn State could be on the verge of extending their football rivalry with Pittsburgh beyond the four years already agreed to between the schools.
Brett McMurphy of ESPN reports (via Twitter) Pittsburgh Athletics Director Steve Pederson is "very optimistic" a series with Penn State could be renewed.
The two long time, in-state rivals have not played each other since 2000 but agreed to renew the series with two games starting in 2016 in Pittsburgh and returning to State College in 2017. That agreement was later extended to a four-year agreement, alternating once again between home sites for 2018 and 2019.
Penn State will begin using a nine-game conference schedule in Big Ten play starting in 2016. The Nittany Lions will then have three non-conference games to fill on an annual basis. Between 2016 and 2019, the Panthers, who begin play as an ACC member this fall, will fill one of those spots.
The Big Ten will grow to 14 conference members in 2014 with the additions of Maryland and Rutgers. The ACC will grow to 14 members this year with the additions of Pittsburgh and Syracuse and will maintain that 14-school membership with the addition of Louisville in 2014 to fill the loss of Maryland.
Although both conferences will be equal in total membership, the ACC will continue to move forward with an eight-game conference schedule. A handful of ACC members have traditional rivalry games with in-state opponents from the SEC played in the final week of the regular season. Florida State typically plays Florida and Clemson typically plays South Carolina.
Could this be an idea that is used in the revival of the Penn State and Pittsburgh series?
Let us not get too far ahead of ourselves, but it would be an interesting idea to explore that would likely require some cooperation from both schools and the Big Ten.
It remains much more likely that Penn State could be paired up with Rutgers and/or Maryland for the final game of the season, but one idea might be to have the Scarlet Knights and Terrapins play each other in the final game of the season. That could lead to a revival of the Land Grant Trophy game with Michigan State in the final week of the season for Penn State.
Or the conference could open the book on an idea not common in Big Ten play and have a conference member set up a rivalry game in the final week of the year against a non-conference opponent.
The sad reality is this may be nothing more than wild speculation and hypothetical thinking. But it makes sense. Penn State and Pittsburgh used to play each other in the final game of the regular season every season. If the schools are going to play again on an annual basis, then let us put it right back where it belongs: at the end of the regular season.
Penn State leads the all-time series, which dates back to 1893, with a 50-42-4 edge. Two of those Penn State wins have been vacated.
This story was originally published by the author on Examiner.com.