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Steve Pederson and Todd Graham Press Conference




June 14, 2011

PITTSBURGH -

Athletic Director Steve Pederson

Opening Remarks:
Certainly we’re excited about this and I think really it’s exciting for college football fans. It’s the renewal of one of the most historic and exciting rivalries of all time. This is a two-game series. We’re anxious to get started. We’re talking about a whole new generation of fans who are going to get a chance to experience this game. It’s a game that has tremendous passion among fans on both sides. Some of the greatest players in the history of the game have played in this game. I think it’s a great day for the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State, and for all of college football.

On the initiation of these talks:
Penn State had an opportunity in 2016 and 2017 and I appreciate the fact that they were willing to approach us about discussing the opening, if it could work and how it would fit into everybody’s schedule. Tim (PSU Athletic Director Tim Curley) and I were pretty quickly able to put all this together. We really started at the end of last week. We felt like as soon as we reached agreement on all of this we would be able to move forward. We got this put together pretty quickly.

On what this does for Pitt’s schedule:
It’s exciting for us too, because we certainly have a great conference schedule, but then non-conference we’ll be playing the opening game (against Penn State) here and then traveling to Notre Dame that year. The next year we’ll go to State College and Notre Dame will come here. Two of the great games in all of college football each of those years will include the University of Pittsburgh.

On the prospects of this rivalry continuing beyond those two years:
Tim and I have talked about continuing the conversations and looking out to the future. We’re certainly hopeful that we can continue to come up with ways to play. This opportunity presented itself and we felt we needed to get this set and get this on the schedule. Then we’ll begin to look at opportunities for the future. Tim and I have been longtime friends and we’re going to keep the dialogue going. Hopefully good things will come.


 

 

On being surprised at how quickly this came together:
Generally, if both parties think it’s a good idea, then it doesn’t take long to put things like this together. That is what happened here. As long as our schedule worked and their schedule worked, then it was pretty easy to pull the pieces together.

On if this was an eventual goal:
It’s kind of funny. I don’t go very often without someone mentioning this game. We’ve been hopeful of that. We’ve tried to continue to elevate our program and hope that opportunities would come along where we could do something like this. Fortunately it has, and we’re thrilled.

On what week(s) the game will be played:
This should probably be game three in both seasons. We’re playing September 10th here and September 16th there. If the calendar falls right, that should be around the third game.

On Coach Graham and Coach Paterno’s feelings on the renewed rivalry:
I do know this: like Coach Graham, Coach Paterno was supportive of this. The first person I talked to about this was Coach Graham and he was raring to go.

On what this means institutionally:
You have these two great institutions in this state, both such an important part of the fabric of the state. Then you have the athletic component of this. It’s really a feel-good thing for everybody in the state of Pennsylvania.

On recapturing the spirit of the rivalry:
I would say the spirit of the rivalry got regenerated about an hour ago. By the time we get to 2016, it will really be at a fever pitch. I think about what that game is going to be like at Heinz Field in 2016. Buy your tickets now. The history, tradition, and longevity of this rivalry reignite things instantly. That’s already happened and it’s going to be exciting.

On being surprised by the phone call:
To some extent you’re always thinking that maybe some things can happen, but certainly we were pleased to get the phone call.

On the perception that the hold-up was on PSU’s end and if there has been a mindset change:
I can’t really speak for them. From our standpoint, we’ve always wanted to play the game and were hopeful that we could. We’ve scheduled out, thinking that we’re going to keep going with what we’re doing – playing Virginia Tech, Iowa, Notre Dame, and so forth. But, this worked out perfectly for us. If we keep talking, hopefully more things will continue to happen.

On the importance to resume the rivalry and setting a long term series:
We both felt that we had to get this done. They’ve got some scheduling commitments out for a ways, so it may not work as quickly as we might hope. But, we felt this was an opportunity to play two great games.

On the chance to play in 2018:
I think they already have scheduling commitments for those next couple of years. I anticipate that (a break in the rivalry following 2017).

Head Football Coach Todd Graham

On the excitement of the rivalry returning:
I’m really excited. The opportunity to renew one of the nation’s richest rivalries is exciting to me. Our players want to play in these types of games. I don’t think anywhere I’ve been where I’ve talked to alumni, lettermen, and fans that they haven’t mentioned that this is our biggest rivalry and the importance of this game. It’s great to see us restore a rivalry with such a great tradition. It’s exciting to look towards.

On watching Pitt-PSU games in the 1970s:
I remember very physical and very passionate games. As you talk to our former players, they remember it as the rivalry for Pitt. I remember some very physical and hard-fought games. Growing up in Dallas, I watched these games. It tells you how far out that reaches -- this type of rivalry. It’s important to play in these games.

On what this does for recruiting:
It can’t do anything but help. When you look at our schedule and you can tell kids that they’re going to play Notre Dame and Penn State, those are the types of games that kids want to play in. When I talk to former players, to the guys that played in these games and won these games, and the memories that creates for them, it really enhances recruiting. The 2012 class will be impacted by this. It can’t do anything but help recruiting.

On possibly coaching against Joe Paterno:
I’d be excited. I’ve had an opportunity to spend a little time with Coach Paterno and he’s a living legend. That would be an honor.