UNIVERSITY PARK - Much to the chagrin of everyone except Joe Paterno, Penn State will not be playing Pitt in football anytime soon.
It's just not going to happen, folks, regardless of how much fans complain or state politicians waste time and taxpayer money pursuing it.
Penn State isn't likely to budge from its 2-for-1 home game demand, and Pitt essentially would be admitting it's an inferior program by accepting such a deal.
With the great rivalry dead for now, PSU fans can only look forward to settling a score with the coach who beat the Nittany Lions the last time they played Pitt.
Walt Harris will return to Beaver Stadium on Saturday as Akron's quarterbacks coach. Harris departed from Pitt as a hot coaching commodity five years ago, but he had a quick fall from grace as he lasted only two seasons at Stanford and was fired following a disastrous 1-11 campaign in 2006.
Harris took a couple of years off before landing at Akron in February. One of his former assistants at Pitt, J.D. Brookhart, is now the Zips' head coach and jumped at the chance to bring on his friend and former boss.
"He has a wealth of knowledge that he gets across to the staff," Brookhart said Monday, "so we're very fortunate to have him."
It would be great to pick Harris' brain and, if he were being completely honest, find out just how badly he would love beating his former rival this weekend. Unfortunately, several attempts to contact the coach through Akron's sports information department in recent weeks were unsuccessful.
Even Brookhart admitted he believes this week's game "will mean a little bit extra" to Harris.
"We had some good rivalries and good games when we were there at Pitt together (against) Penn State," Brookhart said. "Certainly beating them that year at the old Three Rivers was a great accomplishment to build that program we were trying to build."
The now-infamous game Brookhart was referring to is the one Pitt fans love to boast about, and the one that sticks in the craw of Penn State fans and Paterno.
The Lions and Panthers last met on Sept. 16, 2000 at Three Rivers Stadium, and Pitt earned long-lasting bragging rights with a 12-0 victory. Harris was the Panthers' head coach who got the better of Paterno and the Lions, and Pitt fans have never let PSU faithful forget it during the past nine years.
Harris' team this time around doesn't stand much of a chance against the No. 8 Lions, who are favored by 27 points. Still, it would be foolish for PSU to underestimate Harris and the Zips, who almost certainly will be trying to take advantage of the Lions' inexperienced secondary.
Don't be surprised if Akron throws the ball 45 times. It might be in a three-touchdown loss, but the Zips do present problems in the passing game.
Harris has a three-year starting quarterback at his disposal in senior Chris Jacquemain, who passed for 2,748 yards, 20 touchdowns and 14 interceptions last season.
"Coach Harris is very experienced," Jacquemain said. "He has been in plenty of big games. He has helped me as far as reading defenses and picking out their tendencies."
Penn State can expect Jacquemain to line up in the shotgun much of the time and to run a good bit of no-huddle offense. The Zips do not have much of a running game - they lost a 1,300-yard rusher to graduation - so Brookhart and Harris know the only chance they have will be to air it out.
Brookhart commended Harris' "offensive expertise and his abilities to coach the quarterback position at the level he does."
Given Penn State's very questionable secondary, any coach with that kind of track record and an experienced quarterback should be considered dangerous.
The fact that it's a former Pitt coach who undoubtedly would love to stick it to JoePa and PSU once again makes for a most intriguing season-opening story line.