Share This Page

Penn State's Bradley reflects on Pitt rivalry

Making Pitt-Penn State an annual football event is more difficult than how the two-game series between the teams in 2016-17 happened, Nittany Lions defensive coordinator Tom Bradley said Wednesday.

"People want us in Philadelphia and New York and over here and over there, and it's a push-pull for (athletic director Tim Curley), and that's obviously a tough job," Bradley said.

Curley and Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson announced Tuesday that the universities will resume their rivalry with a home-and-home series beginning in Sept. 10, 2016, at Heinz Field. Pitt travels to Beaver Stadium on Sept. 16, 2017.

Curley called Pederson on Friday after efforts to land a series with Miami (Fla.) fell through. Four days later, the decade-dormant series was revived.

Bradley, who has played and coached at Penn State since 1975, said the renewal of the Pitt series — even for just two games — is a welcome development among Nittany Lions fans.

"Out in this neck of the woods, I think they understand it," he said. "It's one of the rivalries, to them, that is so traditional."

Bradley, who spoke yesterday on TribLive Radio, said he has received several telephone calls from friends in Pittsburgh who already are starting to talk trash.

One piece of fodder is Penn State's 15-13 victory in a snowstorm at Pitt Stadium in 1977. The game between the Nittany Lions (who came in 9-1) and the Panthers (8-1-1) ended in controversy when Penn State's Matt Millen and Bruce Clark stopped Pitt running back Elliott Walker on a two-point conversion try, with snow obscuring the goal line.

"Some of my best friends from Pittsburgh told me we really didn't hold them," said Bradley, a player on the '77 team.

Reminded of Penn State's 48-14 victory in 1981 when Pitt was undefeated and No. 1 in the nation, Bradley said he was impressed by the number of future pros in that game. Indeed, 45 players, including nine first-round picks, were selected in the next three NFL drafts.

"(Pitt) had their moments, too," Bradley said. "They kicked our rear ends, too, when they had Tony Dorsett and won the national championship (in 1976)."

Bradley, a special-teams standout for the Nittany Lions, said Pitt coach Johnny Majors moved Dorsett to fullback after halftime, and the future Pro Football Hall of Famer ended up running for 224 yards and two touchdowns. "He was a blur," Bradley said.

The game marked Pitt's first victory against coach Joe Paterno.

"Pitt has had its moments. Penn State has had its moments," Bradley said. "There certainly have been enough to go around."

Bradley said he is looking forward to more when the teams get together again in five years.

"I just hope I'm living by then," he said. "The Penn State people out here, they understand football, they understand rivalries, they understand tradition. It will be a heckuva two games, I'm sure."

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.