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February 8, 2012

You know, just before the Memphis news broke I was actually working on a post on Pitt, the ACC, the Backyard Brawl and all the other things. Then Memphis happened and much changed. So I had to junk it and restart.

Heading into this past weekend, there were interesting comments by AD Steve Pederson about moving to the ACC and the future schedules. I didn’t think much of it, other than being water cooler talk. The ACC put out its future plans for the conference layout including the 9-game conference schedule for football.

Pederson went on the media rounds as expected to talk about it. Much like he has said before, they are keeping an eye on things regarding the WVU lawsuit as you would expect.

Pederson didn’t rule out Pitt playing in the ACC this year, but that is tied to West Virginia’s court fight.

“We are following that very closely and continuing to monitor what happens there,” Pederson said. “I don’t know exactly what the future holds.”

That isn’t anything that he really hasn’t said before.

One new tidbit was being upset about already having one hole in the schedule because of the way the Big East let TCU go after having strong-armed Pitt to back out of a game with UCF.

“We actually bought our way out of the Central Florida game,” Pederson said. “That wasn’t our preference. We weren’t consulted on letting TCU out of the league without a waiting period. It really has put us in a very difficult spot.”

Other teams in the Big East are obviously in a similar state. Maybe they didn’t have pay to cancel a game, but they are stuck trying to fill that scheduling hole. Which is yet another reason why the Big East has to fight WVU so hard on leaving.

Then there was the subject of the out of conference schedule/rivalry games.

Pitt has a contract to play Notre Dame through 2015 and will welcome Penn State back onto its schedule for games in 2016 and ’17. Pederson said he hopes to continue both series beyond those dates.

“I would love to play Penn State every year,” he said.

He is not as interested in continuing the West Virginia series.

“We have to evaluate what our options are with teams and who else we want to continue to play,” he said.

I touched on this back when it the move to the Big 12 for WVU was on the horizon. I understand the national and financial implications of keeping ND. Plus, there is no question the Penn State rivalry should happen and — as many of us have maintained — likely will happen within a few more years now that Joe Paterno has passed.

I feel somewhat strongly, though, that the Backyard Brawl should continue. For the same reasons I stated earlier.

Where I think I erred in my evaluation was discounting the impact the comments of WVU’s AD, Oliver Luck, shortly after Pitt and Syracuse had announced they were heading to the ACC.

Jerry DiPaola reflected on some other foot-in-mouth commentsfrom WVU AD Ollie Luck back in the beginning of October including the need for the Backyard Brawl for Pitt.

“I have not had any discussions with the Pitt folks. I have kind of let them be, quite honestly, with all the activity,” Luck said. “But my sense is they will be interested in maintaining the football rivalry with us. We bring 25,000 fans to Heinz Field. We fill it up. Pitt is not filling up Heinz Field on their own, so that game from a financial perspective is pretty important to them.”

Considering that WVU didn’t use their allotment at Heinz Field last year and Milan-Puskar hasn’t been filling up this year, Luck has been on a roll. DiPaola wonders if comments like that will hurt the chances to keep the Backyard Brawl. Pitt will likely have only 3 open dates for the non-con in football once in the ACC — and if it became a choice between playing ND every year or WVU — personal affronts along with a wash on the financials could send the Brawl into hiatus on the football side.

I doubt stupid words would (we are talking utterances from a Hoopie), but the money/exposure issues might. Playing ND is a national game. It is guaranteed big coverage. The Backyard Brawl is a regional rivalry. It is intense. It is often entertaining. But it is still regional, and takes on slightly less importance when it will no longer relate to the conference standings for either. It goes back to being like Georgia-GT and Clemson-South Carolina.

On reflection and given the way Pederson has been talking in recent days, I may have underestimated the personal affront to Pederson, Chancellor Nordenberg and the rest of the Pitt administration over this. That Luck didn’t treat this as a fan/history thing, but that Pitt needs WVU for the money. There’s a definite feeling that the Pitt side is looking at this and asking how is this a good thing to continue?

WVU is now in a southwest conference. Why give them extra exposure and attention in the Pittsburgh area? Given West Virginia will be facing significantly increased travel costs going to the Big 12, the Backyard Brawl is not only a big economic boost for them as well, it is a nice money saver on one road game every other year.

The economic value is minimal in reality to Pitt with only 3 non-con games, and the potential for 2 spots occupied by other programs that would generate equal if not greater money, exposure and attention. Then the topper would be not having to deal with an asshole like Luck.

I may be in the minority in wanting to see the Backyard Brawl continue, but it seems unlikely to happen unless WVU does a fair amount of damage control with Pitt. That seems unlikely given Luck’s arrogance, and the general Hoopie mood. The idea of trying to make nice with Pitt would stick in their craw way too much for them to want that.

This brings me back to the whole issue of the 2012 season. Paul Zeise had a provocative post suggesting just how eager Pitt now is to get to the ACC in 2012 rather than trying to wait out until 2013 as expected (including by me).

I am now becoming more and more convinced in the conversations I’ve had in the past two days that Pitt will be in the ACC in 2012 and here is why – the school has had enough with the way the Big East has mangled this all and frankly is waiting on West Virginia.

If – or more accurately – when, West Virginia finally declares they are leaving for the 2012 season officially and the Big 12 schedule is announced with WVU on it, Pitt is going to follow them out the door and dare the Big East to stop them.

The bottom line is this – the Big East let TCU out of things quickly and that left one hole in Pitt (and the other Big East teams) schedule and now, with West Virginia leaving, that will leave a second hole in the Panthers schedule and at that point it is time to punt.

Steve Pederson is making the media rounds today on the heels of the ACC meetings (hopefully those of us who are lowly ink-stained types will get our chance to talk to him tomorrow) and the one thing that is clear is he is far more optimistic about Pitt (and Syracuse’s) chances of playing in the ACC in 2012.

And here is the other thing – if Pitt and Syracuse don’t get out of this situation even after WVU leaves, expect lawsuits from Pitt and Syracuse against the Big East and WVU for breach of contract as both schools will lose a marque game which would be a television game and have to replace it with someone from the lower reaches of the Football Bowl Subdivision or Division I-AA.

So stay tuned because a lot of this is going to have to start really falling into place soon – as in within a few weeks.

Bit to chew over on this. First is that it is not that Pitt will go to the ACC in 2012. Just that they now have had a change of heart and don’t feel like playing the waiting game.

The other thing to note is that Zeise states that these feelings being conveyed to him over the past couple days would coincide with the Big East/Memphis negotiations. While Pitt, Cuse and WVU are not allowed to vote on Big East matters (or ACC things at the moment), they no doubt knew what was going on.

That the Big East is taking this action, while doing nothing to help the Big East football schools fill in at least one scheduling gap with the loss of TCU (to say nothing of WVU), has to be pissing off all of the football members. Memphis coming in 2013 does nothing for the 2012 schedule. Pitt (and Syracuse), though, have an option if they need to in taking themselves to the ACC.

Let’s say, the Big East takes $15 million from WVU as a settlement. Pitt can use that as a baseline number and subtract some of their costs already incurred in buying out the UCF game. They would also subtract the cost of having to buy two more games at the last minute if they stayed in the Big East. Then they would pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $12-13 million to head to the ACC.

Lawsuits would be avoided. Scheduling issues resolved, and they are in the ACC in 2012. Obviously this is an oversimplification.

And honestly, like my Syracuse compatriot, I still lean towards the expectation that Pitt and Cuse will be in the Big East for one more year. The difference is that now things are going to get a bit more nasty over the next year regardless.

If I am Steve Pederson, here’s my offer to WVU.
“We will play 3 games at Pitt for every 1 game at WVU”. You need us a lot more than we need you.
Don’t like it? Then stick it where the sun don’t shine!

Comment by Dan 72 02.08.12 @ 10:57 am

I think if WVU leaves, then Pitt will leave because they will have solid legal standing to get out. If Pitt stays in the Big East in 2012, the home football schedule will be horrible with 3 FCS teams.

As I said before, good riddance to WVU. I recognize all the it’s tradition arguments, but I think the value of playing a national game far outweighs the rivalry aspect of the games. Plus. WVU fans are horrible and any road game in Morgantown is an uncomfortable experience. With only really 2 nonconference games per season, 1 has to go to ND and hopefully the other to PSU. And in years Pitt can’t play ND or PSU, play a Big 10 team like Iowa (great place to go play) or get creative and schedule a PAC-12 team or an SEC team.

Comment by Wardapalooza 02.08.12 @ 11:09 am

Dan72 – I would like your proposal a lot more if it didn’t sound so Paterno-esque.

Comment by dinosaur 71 02.08.12 @ 11:18 am

I believe the Pitt-West Virginia series is probably gone. Your big rivals are usually within the conference that you play in, where you are competing against each other for championships and bowl bids. Virginia Tech was outspoken in their desire to have Pitt in their conference division. They considered Pitt a rival when both teams were in the Big East and they wanted to renew that series. Pitt will develope new rivalrys when they compete year in and year out some of the teams in ACC. In the Big East when Pitt basketball improved, Pitt and UConn developed an intense rivalry. The same thing will happen over time in the ACC.

Comment by Justinian 02.08.12 @ 11:20 am

Great points about WVU made above. They would need to continue to play Pitt to have any presence in WPIAL recruiting. Although we lose our bountiful WV recruiting so maybe it’s just about even.

Comment by Mark 02.08.12 @ 11:23 am

it should be noted that ND also gave back tickets for their game at Heinz this past season.

Comment by wbb 02.08.12 @ 11:38 am

the sooner we’re in the ACC and permanently re-establish the annual Penn State game, the better. Eff WVU!

Comment by scott 02.08.12 @ 11:43 am

Ya, Chas, sounds like it may be done. Someone asked him on one the radio interviews, “now, how about the PSU,ND and WVU rivalries, how will you work those in with 9 ACC conference games?”

His response, (para) “we would love to work on the PSU game continuing, and, hey, ND being a national team, we’re gonna work on that”.

A minute after that, I thought, he never brought up WVU, only PSU and ND.

Comment by Dan 02.08.12 @ 11:45 am

FWIW, I do NOT believe Pitt should bolt to the ACC in 2012 .. even if WVU goes to the B12.

I find it unconscionable that Pitt and Cuse would follow suit and leave the BE with only 5 teams (heck the remaining teams would have to play a home-away with each other to fulfill its schedule)

I both understand and accept the reason for us to join the ACC .. it is an opportunity that is not to be pased up. However, we have been a member of this league for 30 years and our sports teams have benefitted greatly by its assoication (especially basketball.)

You can give me all the reasons in the world about the lack of BE leadership … fine. However, I still do not condone leaving the remaining BE teams so short-handed.

Now, in 2013 when the other teams are coming into the BE .. well, don’t the door hit us in the a__

Comment by wbb 02.08.12 @ 11:46 am

WVU has Maryland and Marshall for their Non Conference. The Brawl is dead essentially on both sides.

Comment by Freebird 02.08.12 @ 11:51 am

Chas – the comments about Heinz Field were not the only personal affronts that Luck lobbed at Pederson and Nordenburg after the ACC announcement. He also went on Pittsburgh radio and called them liars (he didn’t name them, but referred to the administrators at Pitt as liars). I’m guessing that didn’t sit real well either, particularly with Nordenburg.

Comment by Pantherman13 02.08.12 @ 12:00 pm

just went thru rivals top 100 list for 2013. cmon PC…pitt needs to at least get on the list for the 6-7 4 stars from DC burbs in VA and MD.

Comment by scott 02.08.12 @ 12:09 pm

Pitt’s projected ACC schedules are so much better, let’s just a hope a rivalry develops with VaTech or something.

There is constantly this point raised of Pitt-WVU only being a regional game. Hopefully, when Pitt does play them every 3~5 years raises their profile into a prime-time game.

Either way, they have to win games or else the only rival Pitt will have is youngstown state

Comment by ArmPitt 02.08.12 @ 12:10 pm

Pitt owes the Big East nothing at this point particularly after the way Providence has handled things. If WVU walks, Pitt and Syracuse need to follow the Hoopies out the door. The party’s over.

Comment by TX Panther 02.08.12 @ 12:21 pm

If I had my preference I would like to see us play 2 out of 3 of ND, PSU and WVU each year in the OOC plus one lower level opponent. That way we would play each of those three traditional opponents 2 out of every 3 years.

Comment by pitt 1972 02.08.12 @ 12:39 pm

PITT-wvcc will never be anything but a regional game on TV, since no wvcc games are national. Hell they just got TV’s in recently, albeit black & whites only.
PITT – rent a win

Is fine & dandy (noticed i used both together) with me. A little more on the dandy side than fine. And that would mean the Pgh. media doesn’t have to cover the hoopies anymore. What a shame, shame, shame. Ollie will be very upset.

Hey but enjoy the trips to Ames, Lubbock, Stillwater, Lawrence, Manhattan (no, not that one) and all those other thriving metropolitan areas.
Just be sure to take those Applebee’s & Chili’s coupons with you Ollie.

Comment by Emel 02.08.12 @ 12:52 pm

I will miss the Backyard Brawl. Regional rivalries are fun.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.08.12 @ 12:54 pm

Screw WVU. Why should we help them recruit our backyard. Go recruit Texas, Holgorsen.

Comment by Lee in Altoona 02.08.12 @ 1:00 pm

I’ve been watching Pitt for 30+ years, and while there have been some good ones with WVU, I’ve never understood why people think it’s such a big rivaly. It definitely seems to be more of a rivalry to the Hoopies than to Pitt fans, but PSU, ND, Miami, and VT are bigger rivalries for Pitt IMO. Besides, in recent years the brawl has devolved into a nasty, negative example of bad sportsmanship and lack of class, mostly on the part of the fans below the border. I say good riddance to the Brawl – we don’t need it.

Comment by Steve 02.08.12 @ 1:04 pm

The Backyard Brawl ending would be an absolute travesty. It’s a game that needs to be played at least every other year. It’s sad what conference expansion has done to the traditions of college athletics.

Comment by Pitt Rob 02.08.12 @ 1:14 pm

Huh?? Regional rivalry?? There’s got to be more audience than that! Just ask any WVU fan, they are a “NATIONAL brand”!!

Comment by JCE 02.08.12 @ 1:25 pm

I don’t care at all about not playing WVU…I’ve always considered PSU our real rivalry game. Put that on the schedule every year or at least regularly and I’ll be happy as hell. Plus you can’t pass up on playing ND every year…f WVU!

Also, I feel bad for the remaining Big East football teams, but Pitt should (and will) absolutely bolt for the ACC at the very earliest opportunity! Let’s get our ACC rivalries started! If that screws over those other teams left in the BE, so be it.

Comment by CJK 02.08.12 @ 1:32 pm

i’m pretty ambivalent about continuing the rivalry with the hoopies. true, it is currently our biggest rivalry game. but the arrogant comments by luck and hoopie fans on other sites leaves a bitter distaste in my mouth. they act like a game with them is only in our best interests. i suspect it will become even more important to them in the future for local recruiting. but i also don’t want to treat them the way the nitters treated pitt. still, given that, we will only have three ooc games. i strongly support including nd a psu for two of them if possible. (thank you dan (?) for posting the video showing the fan interest before the fight song was changed.) psu has historically been the biggest game on the schedule. let’s hope it becomes an annual game again.
as for nd, we may not be their biggest rival, but we are a long term rival. like it or not, nd will always have national significance.

Comment by pittkeith 02.08.12 @ 1:47 pm

We should end the WVU series. Period! End of story! Why help them with eastern recruiting?

We should restart Penn State series and schedule it on the Thanksgiving weekend. This would end the regular season with only the ACC championship game and the bowl game after it.

As for Notre Dame, I can take it or leave it.

Comment by John In South Carolina 02.08.12 @ 1:47 pm

Forget WVU. Bring on PSucks baby.

Comment by omar 02.08.12 @ 1:48 pm

ps for those upset about losing the end zone seats–
i sympathize. i have a whole different perception on play development when sitting there. i like it. but don’t think that you can sit in the open end zone. those seats are only pulled out for large capacity games.

Comment by pittkeith 02.08.12 @ 1:50 pm

I think most of you are forgetting one important area of concern. Wins are what brings a program to prominance. We will already be playing teams superior to those in the Big East. Pitt will not schedule, nor they should, PSU,ND,and/or WVU each year. Everybody in college football schedules a few creampuffs to build their existing schedule. It’s done for an easy 8-10 wins in college basketball each year, and is done in college football as well. RPI means nothing in college football, wins do. If Pitt could go undefeated in the ACC(obviously I doubt it’s going to happen anytime soon), they would go to the national championship game if they win their 3 out of conference games. Nobody in the NCAA schedules 2 or 3 out of conference games that are potential top 20 teams each year…….Pitt shouldn’t do it either. Now bring in PSU at a 2 year clip, then ND at a 2 year clip, etc…. then you have your answer. Forget the hoopies. It does help them slightly in recruiting and you want them out of our territory.

Comment by beanboy 02.08.12 @ 1:53 pm

I’m not even excited about Penn State anymore. I was very upset that Joe PA chose to the 100 year old series, but after this many years, who cares.
The kids in school today didn’t grow up with the Pitt-Penn State game. They in all probability never saw Pitt and Penn State play in football. Even if it’s resumed I doubt it will ever have same intensity, as in the 70s and 80s when the teams were fighting to be the best team in the East. I remember when Foge’s Pitt team during a dissapointing year, blew out Penn State by 30 points and Joe Paterno was calling his players a bunch of babys.

Comment by Justinian 02.08.12 @ 2:01 pm

When you join a conference you go all in! The object is to win the conference championship. You can’t worry anymore about past rivals. You need to win the games that matter.

Comment by Justinian 02.08.12 @ 2:07 pm

another year for Lumpy!

Comment by wbb 02.08.12 @ 2:26 pm

Justinian, I totally agree about the PS series. For what JOEPA (RIP) did to the series, I as a long time Pitt season ticket holder and fan could care less, the rivalry is dead.
I hope it never resumes.

Comment by frankarms 02.08.12 @ 2:45 pm

93.7 said Pederson was going to have a little impromtu gathering with some news media.

Is this allready done, and Lumpy getting an extra year was the news???

Thrilled he got the extra year, will def help us.

Didn’t think the ad needed to call a mini presser for this info.

Anyhow, I missed it, was just wondering if that was it.

Comment by Dan 02.08.12 @ 3:09 pm

Lumpy getting another year is great news, but it would seem strange to have the AD make that announcement rather than the head coach.

I haven’t heard anything else, though.

Comment by Pantherman13 02.08.12 @ 3:18 pm

Good point. The head football coach should make the announcement about lumpy. Any news or rumors on the new RB coach? I’d be happy with the former RB coach who coached Dion Lewis and Shady McCoy.

Comment by dish 02.08.12 @ 5:00 pm

Might be an A.H., but a man of his word,
“I can guarantee you we won’t be playing in that conference, we will be in the Big 12 next year”.

WVU-Gone!!!!!! Now we have another open date, what’s that, UCF, TCU and WVU.

If we end up staying in the BE for 2012, this ought to be one hell of an exciting home schedule!!!!!!!!!

Perhaps NW Missouri State, and Elon have an opening!!! LOL

Comment by Dan 02.08.12 @ 5:03 pm

Maybe we’ll play UCONN and Rutgers home and home!!

Comment by Dan 02.08.12 @ 5:05 pm

Oh, wait, WVU hasn’t cancelled our end of the year game, yet, so, maybe we’ll still be playing them this year???

Comment by Dan 02.08.12 @ 5:07 pm

I agree with Dan home and home against BE teams is a possibility.

Comment by steve 02.08.12 @ 5:13 pm

@Steve, just killin’ some time at the office.

Great sites,, and if you’re a college football junkie.

Anyhow, killin time, went on and pulled up WVU’s 2012 schedule. They have Marshall, James Madison and Maryland listed with their little helmets.

This in itself is not a big deal, they just don’t have the BE conference schedule up. They also did this with the Big 12. They have “TBA” listed, quite normal when they are not sure, so nothing significant of them not having a little Pitt helmet at the end of the year since it’s a conference game.

With my own thoughts though, Big 12 says they are going to have a 9 game conference schedule.
So, that’s 9 games, plus the 3 mentioned, that’s 12!!!!

So, to play Pitt this year, they would have to cancel another game, like they did with Florida State and pay another $350,000-$500,000, of one of those 3.

Not cancelling Marshall, I believe the that’s a governor mandated game.

Not cancelling James Madison, that was put together to be played at FED EX field in D.C..

Maryland??? Doubt it, their next big rival next to us. Would they dump Maryland to keep Pitt on the schedule, I highly doubt it.

Come to think of it, ya, we may have seen the last of the Mounties.

As of now, we have 4 games scheduled.

Youngstown St and Va Tech at HOME
Buffalo and ND AWAY

Looks like 6 BE conf. games. Who needs two????

Comment by Dan 02.08.12 @ 5:31 pm

Dokish reporting that the bears have hired former tampa bay coach tim holt. This means the runors that bostad was hired can die

Comment by Pk 02.08.12 @ 5:45 pm

WVU sucks we dont need them i would rather
play ND and penn state
And cant wait to play in the ACC bring on miami
and VT even DUKE. Thoes will be good times no
more big least no more UCON.

Comment by FRANKCAN 02.08.12 @ 5:51 pm

I don’t think we should be worrying about what games we should keep moving forward. We need to get our affairs in order, build a strong football program and then choose who will have the privilege to play us in our house.

Comment by Yeti 02.08.12 @ 6:55 pm

I’m all for movin’ on. I’m not sure if I heard this correctly, but I think Steve was quoted as saying we wouldn’t pay more than the exit fee, so???

Don’t forget, WVU is not really getting scorched for 20 million. Texas and the other teams in the conference will all kick in a buck, because the tv contract that will be signed, and why WVU was needed so badly, will compensate that money and then some.

Comment by Dan 02.08.12 @ 7:17 pm

Screw the loyalty thing too, perhaps if the BE had let Pitt and Syracuse have votes as a conference member, then you kind of kick it around.

We have no say in anything, we don’t any of them anything.

However, Pedersons words have scared me off of thinking Pitt and Cuse will be off to the ACC early. His words yesterday seemed like a possibility. But, if we’re not paying more than the 5m exit fee, then it doesn’t look good.
Also, we don’t have anyone to help us pay to exit early. The ACC said it is content to wait, do they’re not gone pony up anything.

At least we have Va. Tech at home and ND on the road!!!

Comment by Dan 02.08.12 @ 7:20 pm

247 Sports is reporting that WVU is “close” to a $20M settlement with the Big East. When that happens, Pitt and Cuse are gone to ACC this for 2012.

Comment by HbgFrank 02.08.12 @ 9:05 pm

I’m sorry, but for me I’d much rather have Pitt play WVU every year than PSU. I was 11 the last time Pitt and PSU played and I’ll be 27 the next time they play. Joe Pa ruined the rivalry for me. We have played WVU every year I’ve been alive and that is a game I believe should be played every year. The thought that next thursday may be the last game for either bball or football in the series for a while is a sad possibility.

Comment by Pitt Rob 02.09.12 @ 12:00 am

Can’t wait for the ACC games to start.

Comment by Sammy 02.09.12 @ 8:09 am

[…] Quite a bit more diplomatic than his earlier claims of how much Pitt needed the game. […]

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