Ah, but for style of play you might not find many teams closer. Iowa State would have fit right into the Big East with its emphasis on defense and toughness and lack of emphasis on flash and style and offense.
"Yeah, they're similar to Pitt,'' Smith said. "They're always scrappy and tough.''
Part of that, of course, has to do with location and history and all that. You just don't get a lot of five-star recruits aching to spend four years in Ames, Iowa, just as you don't find an avalanche of the same yearning for an extended stay in Morgantown.
It might be even tougher in Ames, because at least in Morgantown there's the lure of one of those fast-paced offenses with a young, dynamic coach. At Iowa State, the face of the program is Paul Rhoads, a defensive guy through and through.
"They do have similar-style players,'' Smith said of Iowa State and Pitt. "Those guys at Pitt always played us tough and I know Iowa State will, too.''
Of course, for those bemoaning the loss of a rivalry, there's still something to hang your hat on for the time being.
Rhoads is no newbie to West Virginia. Before arriving at Iowa State in 2009, he spent a year as the defensive coordinator at Auburn, where he lost 31-17 to WVU in Morgantown. The previous eight years he spent at Pitt.
And for much of that time, Rhoads' defenses did not fare well against the Mountaineers. Between 2003 and 2006, the Panthers stood by and watched as West Virginia scored 54, 45 and 45 points in three of the four games.
But then it was Rhoads' defense that inexplicably did a 180, held perhaps the best West Virginia offense ever to just nine points and knocked the Mountaineers out of the national championship game in 2007.
So if you're looking for a link to the past and Pitt games bygone, there it is. It's not much, but these days and in the future, it will probably have to do.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at twitter.com/dphickman1