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July 26, 2012

So, About the ACC Media Days

Filed under: ACC,Conference — Chas @ 9:52 am

Pitt wasn’t there. But they and Syracuse came up in the conversation. Primarily in the context of how well they fit in the shape of the conference.

In the days before their 2003 and 2004 expansion, the ACC liked that they could claim that all their members were geographically contiguous.  Then they added Boston College and they had an outlier. With the addition of Pitt and Cuse, the connection is reestablished and the ACC really does live up to its name.

And Pitt and Syracuse were natural additions to the league because they fit the profile academically and athletically. He said the geographic fit was perfect as well because the two schools fill a gap between Maryland and Boston College.

Swofford said that it was easy to add Pitt and Syracuse because both schools are so similar to most of the current schools in the ACC and that both have plenty of potential for growth.

“I think what attracted this conference to Pitt as well as Syracuse relates to the balance or athletics and academics, their history of athletics and the potential of that program to grow going forward and the quality of the institutions,” Swofford said. “I know a lot of people are cynical about [the importance of academics] in terms of expansion, but if you sat in and listened to an expansion discussion with our presidents it definitely does matter.

“And Pitt and Syracuse both fit the profile collectively of the other 12 schools in the ACC as far being in the top 100 of academic institutions, their athletic numbers were good in terms of graduation rates, etc., and geographically the two schools have given us the opportunity to be contiguous from state to state, and competitively we felt like they fit well.

“A lot of it was about fit. I mean institutionally and academically as well as athletically and certainly, in this instance, geographically as well.”


On the subject of Pitt and Syracuse’s buyout from the Big East, not surprisingly, the ACC wasn’t helping to pay the freight.

Syracuse and Pitt announced separate agreements last week to pay $7.5 million apiece to leave the Big East for the ACC after this season, and Swofford said Sunday that the ACC wouldn’t help either school with those payments.

Pitt’s move from the Big East to the ACC will more than triple the Panthers’ annual TV revenue to $17 million from less than $5 million, covering the added cost of switching conferences 17 months early.

“When you look at where we are going and the financial impact of this,” Pederson said Thursday, “you can almost just look at the television contract alone and know literally in a very short period of time, probably within the first year, we will be able to make up the difference and get this taken care of.”

I know why the question was asked. WVU got a big hand from the Big 12 to get out of the Big East, so I guess someone has to ask. Still, the circumstances, the money and everything there is so different that there really is no comparison. It’s not like the Big 12 gave TCU money to settle with the Big East. I really don’t think anyone legitimately believed or thought the ACC was or needed to give Pitt and Cuse money to get out of the Big East early.

It’s the same reason that expansiopocolypse delusions from Clemson and FSU fans involved them trying to explain how their team wouldn’t actually pay the $20 million to leave the ACC. That the Big 12 would give them a large chunk to do it. No. WVU was a very special case borne out of necessity with the Big 12’s TV deal. The Big 12 members would have lost money without that 10th member. Expansion to get more money isn’t the same. It’s why Mizzou, Texas A&M and Nebraska didn’t get loans or gifts from the SEC and Big 10 when they left the Big 12.

One of the big issues at ACC Media Days was the situation at Miami. Just as the weekend arrived, Yahoo! investigative pitbull Charles Robinson dropped a piece that strongly implicated Al Golden in continuing Miami’s history of playing fast and loose with recruiting rules.

The latest issues involving Allen are twofold — his having provided improper benefits to players dating back to early in his career at Miami; and his continued improper contact with Miami recruits, which allegedly lasted through his final days working for the Hurricanes in the summer of 2011.

One former Hurricanes staffer told Yahoo! Sports that Allen was used specifically by members of Golden’s staff as an “off-the-books” recruiter. As part of those duties, the staffer said Allen kept tabs on Miami-area kids, including making calls about their recruitment, and on some occasions, supplying improper transportation to and from campus that aided Miami in its efforts to gain a commitment from some prospects.

Golden has strongly denied all accusations. But it adds to the pile of stuff that is hanging over the Miami program with the NCAA investigation. Fit and financially the move to the ACC has been good for Miami. But it does seem as if they are never quite going to get out from under their own sins to be anything more than upper-middle in the conference.

Not sure if Randy Edsall is blaming his disastrous first year at Maryland on it, or if it is just a warning for Pitt and Syracuse. But Edsall is issuing warnings to beware of ayyy-ceee-ceee speed.

“You have the speed and the athleticism of the Clemsons, the Florida States and those teams like that, whereas in the Big East, there is only one team like that and that team is gone — West Virginia.”

Edsall said it is a pretty simple reason why the conference is blessed with so much speed and so many more athletes than the Big East — the majority of the conference is located in the southeastern part of the country.

But he said since Pitt will be playing more games in southern states the coaching staff can adjust its recruiting.

“There seems to be a lot more speed [in high school football] south of the Mason-Dixon line,” Edsall said. “And if you look up North, there just aren’t as many prospects. Pennsylvania doesn’t produce as many players as it used to, for example, and that’s one of the states in that geographical area [Northeast] that traditionally has.

“So I would think that those schools will have to rethink their recruiting areas and expand their territories down South. They will be able to because they will be playing in states and areas that maybe they never got to play in before in the Big East — like Georgia or South Carolina or even North Carolina.”

Pitt and Syracuse obviously will have to make some adjustments in recruiting, but Edsall said getting the right kinds of athletes is only half the battle, the other half is learning how to navigate through the league and learning the tendencies of new opponents.

Thee is no question that there will be an adjustment. Same with recruiting. It’s why Chris Dokish has been banging the drum so fiercely about Pitt and Coach Chryst’s need to hire someone on the coaching staff with Maryland/DC and/or Southeast recruiting ties (with which I do agree).

There were some grumblings at the ACC media day about the move to the 9-game schedule. During the rumblings of expansiopocolypse, we heard a bit of those. Especially from Clemson and Florida. (Something kind of absurd on its face since the Big 12 also has a 9-game schedule.)

The issue of five or four home conference games in alternating years seems like a very minor scheduling issue. That just requires a little planning. That is nothing like the Big East’s four and three issue that was more about trying to find enough games period when you have to fill out five non-cons.

The complaint really seems to be about only having three non-con games. For schools like FSU, Clemson and Georgia Tech, they are essentially locked in with another out-of-conference rivalry game. Boston College has that concern to some degree with Notre Dame. Pitt will probably have that issue in the future — though not as locked-in — with ND, Penn State and/or WVU.

I don’t see it changing, unless the ACC and Big 10 partner up now that the Big 10-Pac 12 deal fell through. But even then you are still locking in 9 games and going home-and-home.

There were and are some very strong reasons for the  9-game schedule. TV money at the top of the list. That’s nine additional conference games each year. That’s valuable for the TV rights. On a 12 year contract, that is 108 more games for the inventory. That is part of the reason the lone hold-outs — SEC and Big 10 are leaning towards 9 games in the future (especially with the Big 10 network and SEC’s own planned network).

The other is actually being able to play everyone in the conference. An 8-game schedule with divisions and a protected cross-over game means the other six teams on the schedule are home-and-home over a 12 year period. As Pitt will be in the Coastal division, that would mean seeing BC, Clemson, Maryland, and FSU (along with NC State and Wake) once every six years.

The final reason is overall cost certainties for all members. When the NCAA allowed 1-A to go to 12 games, one of the claims was that it would allow for better non-con games. Instead, a lot of programs treated it as a chance to make more money. Adding another home patsy. This drove up the cost of guarantee games. To the point that we now have an embarrassing proliferation of 1-AA games throughout college football in an attempt to fill the need — and maintain profitability. Going to 9 games cuts down on the demand for those

Woooohooo! Good to read some Pitt relevant news, lol.
Edsall’s comments just sound like a bunch of excuses. Maybe he just sucks as a coach.
The ACC really needs Miami to be a good. I think they are going to get slammed by the NCAA. Maybe as bad as PSU.

Comment by notrocketscience 07.26.12 @ 10:27 am

Looks like Miami is gonna get hit hard, I would like to see UNC step up its football program, as well as Pitt. They could be a big rival like UCONN was in hoops then maybe it could crossover to football it might help get recruiting going down south and help the coastal be the stronger of the two divisions, add Georgia Tech to the mix and maybe you have a version of the SEC west happening

Comment by steve h 07.26.12 @ 10:49 am

I am really curious to see what the athletic department is going to do when all of this new money starts coming in (after we pay off the Big East-West. 3x as much, does that mean a free shirt at the beginning of important games so that we can look like we’re united instead of the rainbow we were last year. What do yinz think?

I mean… seriously… PASTEL MUTED NEON COLORS for the student section? Who is the world thought that was a good idea.

Comment by Benzene 07.26.12 @ 11:08 am

“Southern speed” is no joke.

Saw TJ play Cocoa Beach (yes, Major Nelson and Jeannie’s old haunt) a couple of years ago.

Absolutely night and day. Kids in the stands, grandma’s and whoever else were there that night, all said, “wow, TJ looks like they’re running in concrete”.

Now, TJ, Gateway and other local powers have beaten teams from the south before, but that particular night, looked like a Mustang vs. a tractor trailer.

Comment by Dan 07.26.12 @ 11:12 am

“. . . we now have an embarrassing proliferation of 1-AA games throughout college football in an attempt to fill the need — and maintain profitability. Going to 9 games cuts down on the demand for those.”

I disagree with that to some degree. IMHO, it will probably, at least as regards Pitt, keep that need about the same. With 9 conference games Pitt will need to continue to play at least 2 1-AA opponents to continue to pad the W-L record needed for bowl eligibility. It will also drive Pitt, to be more reluctant in the future to continue to schedule their traditional OOC rivals like ND, WVU & PSU as regularly as fans would like to see them. IMHO, the best a Pitt fan can hope for in the future (once current OOC game commitments are completed) will be–

In 5 ACC home game years: 1 of either ND, WVU or PSU on the road + 2 1AA cupcakes at home.

In 4 ACC home game years: 1 of either ND, WVU or PSU at home plus + 2 1AA cupcakes at home.

It is very similar situation to what makes Clemson and Florida unhappy with the 9 game schedule.

Bottom line, I doubt we ever even see Pitt play more than 1 out of WVU, ND or PSU ever in the same year. Personally, I would much rather see an 8-game ACC schedule with Pitt playing 2 of the big 3 each year (1 home + 1 away), or 1 of them plus a random Div 1A opponent for variety. I suspect that random BIG opponent (e.g., Iowa) or other Div1A opponent is going to disappear from future schedules once current contractual obligations are satisfied. Even though the ACC’s 5-4 is much better than the BE’s 4-3 I still hate unbalanced scheduling and only having 3 non-con slots available each year.

If I ruled the NCAA I would require an 8 game max conference schedule in Div 1A with a max of two 1AA opponents allowed, and a minimum of at least two non-con Div 1 opponents, of which at least one would be required to be a BCS conference member (I’d say require 2 BCS non-con games except it would leave MAC-level teams out in the cold). I know such will never happen with so many bowl games and $$s ruling; but, it would make college football far more interesting and exciting for the fans by preserving traditional non-con rivalries and offering more interesting cross-conference games.

Regarding Edsall’s comment–I see it as more of an excuse for his not having a good first year at Maryland than an absolute truth. Also, Pitt in the recent past (even last year) has managed to defensively handle WVU’s speed (20-21 loss) quite well enough to avoid having huge point totals run up. That speed hasn’t been a major problem for Pitt since the end of the Harris and the beginning of the Wannstadt era.

Comment by pitt1972 07.26.12 @ 11:29 am

Pitt 1972,

1-AA are teams like Gardner Webb, Villanova, Delaware…
1-A In addition to the BCS programs includes the MAC, SunBelt, WAC and C-USA.

No way does Pitt play 2 1-AA programs a year in non-con with only 3 available. Yes, Pitt has Delaware and Nova on the future schedules — set before getting the invite to the ACC. For programs like Pitt, BC and others that can’t count on automatic sell-outs regardless of the opponent, Pitt will have to still schedule a home-and-homes with quality teams when they can. It won’t be every year, but it will still be fairly frequent.

Comment by Chas 07.26.12 @ 11:51 am

pitt1972, I hope you don’t think I meant we won’t be able to compete.

My reference to “Southern speed”, is for our recruiting. We need to get some speed, for our own sake and our own team needs.

You are correct, defensively for the most part, we’ve handled WVU.

We definitely to get into the south for recruiting, and hiring a coach to get into that area should be a priority.

Comment by Dan 07.26.12 @ 11:35 am

You don’t have to go far south to find the speed. MD and VA have talent and I believe more schools run the spread down there relative to PA or OH. Only need to pick a few from FL. But, we do need to find a recruiter down south. Focusing on the Midwest (OH) and Northeast (PA and NJ) ain’t going to cut it. Why the hell are we recruiting out West?

Comment by TX Panther 07.26.12 @ 12:01 pm

if you play 2 1AA teams only 1 of those will count towards a win for bowl elibilty. Pitt never plays 2 1AA teams excpet this year because they had no other choice.

Comment by mike 07.26.12 @ 12:19 pm

When the new playoff system starts, I don’t know if we will schedule any 1 AA schools that are not already on a future schedule. I have read that strength of schedule will be considered when deciding who the four teams will be. How bad would it suck to lose out on that fourth spot because we played a 1 AA and the team that beat us for that fourth spot did not? Frankly, I’ve never liked those games. They are nothing more than a money grab from the fans. Tune up? It proves nothing to go out and beat teams that have nowhere near your level of talent. It would be more productive to have a full game length scrimmage with your own team. Yes once in a while the 1 AA slays the dragon. That’s even more reason not to play those games. You have a lot to loose if you don’t win, and nothing to gain if you do. There is no dobut in my mind that Michigan’s loss to App State a few years back sent that team into its tailspin. What is wrong with playing Buffalo or UAB as a “tune up” game. Why does it have to be a 1 AA?

Comment by HbgFrank 07.26.12 @ 12:42 pm

TX-Panther–IMO, the out west recruiting is (at least to the degree it is currently going on (year 1 of the Chryst era) simply a function of Chryst’s staff having certain coach and player contacts left from their Wisconsin (or other) immediately preceding coaching jobs. I think it will diminish as 1-3 years go by. Fraud-Graham’s people did similar recruiting (Michigan, Oklahoma, the South) based on where they had just been before Pitt. In addition, when Harris was at the helm he spot recruited a West Coast JUCO or two. Chryst might be resurrecting that approach to fill an immediate whole or two on the roster.

Comment by pitt1972 07.26.12 @ 12:46 pm

I agree about the “Southern speed”! Remember the Dave Wannstadt comment during half-time of the PITT/WVU game in his first year? Sideline reporter asked “Coach, what adjustments for 2nd half?” Wannstadt said “we have to get faster!” It was a classic quote. Hopefully Coach Chryst will have that speed, otherwise we are going to see a repeat of year 1 under DW

Comment by DobieGillis 07.26.12 @ 12:47 pm

Regarding speed, Wisconsin was able to do well against a speedy Oregon team.

Comment by gdodson 07.26.12 @ 12:49 pm

HbgFrank–The problem with playing the better MAC level schools is you have a better chance of being upset and you need to give them a return game at their place. The best you are going to get outn of them is a 2 for 1 deal which makes it harder to schedule 7 home games every year–particularly if you schedule no 1AA opponents at all.

Comment by pitt1972 07.26.12 @ 12:52 pm

gdodson–They did well offensively vs Oregon. Defensively–that was an entirely different story–pretty pathetic, IMHO.

Comment by pitt1972 07.26.12 @ 12:59 pm

I’m all for the 9 game conference schedule. it limits the number of creme-puffs that can be scheduled.

Comment by DobieGillis 07.26.12 @ 1:01 pm

And the 9 game football and 18 game basketball schedule is required as part of the ACC’s TV contract with ESPN

Comment by rayhpgh 07.26.12 @ 2:06 pm

We need speed, speed, speed. We need to get faster on both sides of the ball, we are going to be High-Octain…..yea baby, yea!

We will be fine…as long as we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot like we have done for a majority of our losses over the last 6 years!

Comment by Marco 07.26.12 @ 3:17 pm

DobieGillis–I do understand that 9 is required by TV contracts. That doesn’t mean I have to like it, though,–was just doing some wishful thinking. Along those lines (wishful thinking continued)–

1st preference 8 ACC games as previously noted.
2nd preference 10 ACC games
Last/least preference–any sort of unbalanced schedule.

Comment by pitt1972 07.26.12 @ 5:07 pm

In the words of The Stache, ” We have to get faster.”

Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Digdug 07.26.12 @ 6:16 pm

Pitt will recruit them bigger, faster, and stronger. We’re talkin East German type freakish athletes without the drugs. What am I talkin about? Chryst focuses on 3 stars and coaches them up to 5 stars by their senior year. But you can’t teach speed. We need some speed in skilled positions. Foster…come on down!

Comment by TX Panther 07.26.12 @ 6:31 pm

You’re the next recruit on the Blather is right.

Comment by TX Panther 07.26.12 @ 6:34 pm

I just noticed the counter on the right menu bar… quite nice!

Comment by Benzene 07.26.12 @ 7:16 pm

Speed kills when TG was here his 2 classes were speedon offence that was what he recruited .
It was not size but speed the WR were mostley small fast ones and his LB were recruited with speed in mind.
if they are still on team when we get to ACC
maybe we wont be far behind in the ACC.

Comment by FRANKCAN 07.26.12 @ 7:33 pm

Regarding WVU and the Big 12 paying $10M of the $20M owed to the Big East, that was a $10M loan from the Big 12 to WVU , which will be paid back over a couple of years reducing WVU TV money share until the money is re-paid.

Comment by spindler's spirit 07.26.12 @ 7:51 pm

Ok, how about this: We schedule 2 of the traditional three ND, WVU and PSU every year, one at home and one on the road. This leaves room for one cupcake ever year while giving Pitt the opportunity to pretty much maximize home attendance. (Apology if someone already said this earlier.) One caution in thinking about automatic wins over cupcakes: Two words: Appalachian State.

There is a drawback with this plan. Pitt might want to schedule other teams also: Old friends like Navy, someone we owe payback to (when Pitt gets really good) e.g. Ohio State, or someone that we only rarely have played if ever such as Texas or UClA.

Comment by opfim 07.26.12 @ 10:37 pm

Maybe I’m just crazy…but I feel like this Robinson guy with Miami is just sitting around looking for another story to make his name, trying to pick up on any possible “NCAA violation.”

Oh well, I’m interested in how Pitt is gonna work in the ACC. I feel the division we were put in is definitely the harder of the 2, but that will also lead to bigger games and better television exposure. Sadly the 9 game conference schedule is problematic…when are we ever gonna get that OOC date with WVU?

Comment by Adam 07.27.12 @ 2:03 am

NC & SC are beautiful states, esp NC. Away games will give fans chance to explore both. You roll through the very cool town of Asheville & the mountains into the Piedmont to the Triangle. If you have vac time keep going east to the remote OBX, Hatteras & Ocracoke are the most beautiful beaches on east coast. In SC Greenville is a beautiful town. These new venues are fantastic opportunities for Pitt fans.

Comment by Old School Panther 07.27.12 @ 7:09 am

Old School Panther … maybe you should be promoting downtown Pittsburgh at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela

Comment by wbb 07.27.12 @ 7:29 am

About Randy Edsall’s comments, have a lot to do with the style of play he’s used to coaching. He, much like Dave Wannstedt, likes to use a traditional Power I, run the ball and play tough defence. The trouble comes when you don’t have the speed on the corners to match up. When your opponents are making big plays and scoring, it’s tough to catch up with plodding offence.

Comment by Justinian 07.27.12 @ 9:32 am

Adam, I don’t care if we play WVU or Penn State. We’re in a new conference now and we’ll be renewing the series with Virginia Tech, Boston College, and Miami. If you recall we had some pretty good games with Virginia Tech and Miami during the Walt Harris era. It will be interesting to see new rivalries develop with North Carolina and Maryland. Instead of looking back, we need to look forward. The kids today know nothing about the Pitt Penn State rivalry.
Hopefully we can finish up in the Big East with strong seasons in football and basketball and then embrase the move to the ACC.

Comment by Justinian 07.27.12 @ 9:44 am

Not too many people remember that we are 6 and 0 against BC and Va Tech in the last 3 season we played them.

We were 0-3 against Miami in the final 3 BE matchups. They dominated us at Heinz in 01 and 03 just like they did a couple of years ago. We did give them a good game at Miami on a Thursday night in 02, however, losing by 7 pts. (could have tied the game in the final minutes as a Ruterford pass was almost pulled in by backup WR, Yogi Roth .. as I remember.)

Comment by wbb 07.27.12 @ 10:20 am

@wbb Let’s see – polluted water, orange cones, horrible parking situation, & cold weather vs. oceans, sun, & southern cooking. Not much of a contest!

Comment by The Big A 07.27.12 @ 11:12 am

@ Old School Panther, you got it right. I live in the DC area and have yet to exhaust the potential weekend venues that are located from Virginia down through the North Carolina mountains. Last year we did a guys golf weekend at Primland Resort just outside of Blacksburg up in the mountains of Virginia. UNBELIEVABLE golf combined with the mountain vistas seen from the course made for a fantastic weekend. Good place to do a golf plus VA TECH away game weekend.

Comment by Dr. Tom 07.27.12 @ 11:18 am

Dr. Tom, Charlottsville is also beautiful and has a cool vibe. Fripp Is. is about 2 hour from Clemson and is a well kept secret. Course is right on the Atlantic, nearly tame deer and gators in the water traps.

Comment by Old School Panther 07.28.12 @ 12:56 am

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