Pitt AD optimistic on series vs. PSU

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. -- Pittsburgh's annual rivalry with Penn State ended in 2000, but Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson said he is "very optimistic" the series will be renewed.

"Whether it's every single year or not, we'll have to see how it works out," Pederson told ESPN on Tuesday at the ACC spring meetings. "My hope is to try to make that work on a regular basis. I do feel like both sides would like to have it happen. I'm very optimistic."

Pitt and Penn State have played 96 times since 1893, including annually from 1900-31, 1935-92 and 1997-2000. They will play four times between 2016-19, but after discussions with Penn State athletic director Dave Joyner, Pederson said he believes the schools will schedule more games in the future.

Joyner concurred, speaking to reporters at the Big Ten spring meetings in Chicago.

"We'd be interested in talking about that. It's a great series," Joyner said. "It's been a great linchpin in Pennsylvania for everyone there. Steve and I will definitely talk about doing that. We've always threatened to meet halfway on the turnpike somewhere at one exit."

Penn State coach Bill O'Brien also told reporters he wants the schools to continue their annual rivalry.

"I wish we could start playing sooner (than 2016)," O'Brien said last week. "Pitt-Penn State, who can forget those games back in the day, usually late in the season, snowing? I think it's great for college football."

With the ACC set for eight conference games, plus one game against Notre Dame every three years, Pederson said he absolutely would welcome an annual series with Penn State.

The Nittany Lions will begin playing nine Big Ten games annually in 2016, leaving only three non-conference openings.

"I would sign a 30-year deal, if I could," Pederson said. "It shouldn't matter who the (university) president or the head coach is, these institutions should always play. It's a great game. It's got history to it, we're three hours apart and in the same state. Those games ought to be played."

While Pitt is seeking an annual series with Penn State, the Panthers will not be able to reinstate the Backyard Brawl with West Virginia on an annual basis, Pederson said. The schools have played 104 times, but the series ended in 2012 when West Virginia left the Big East for the Big 12. Pederson said he spoke recently with West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck about scheduling some future games between the Panthers and Mountaineers.

"We're both trying to figure out when we can do it," Pederson said. "We're both in favor if it's in the best interest of both schools."

Information from ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg was used in this report.