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December 3, 2012

Back-to-Back-to-Back to BBVA

Filed under: Bowls,Football — Chas @ 10:05 am

“It will feel good to run out of that tunnel one more time before I take my talents to the next level,” [Ray] Graham said.

“Any bowl, except Birmingham (Compass Bowl),” he added with a laugh. “Three times in a row. I think they may not even allow us in there. Wherever we go, we are going to make the best of that bowl game and have fun. Another win will help solidify the season.”

We all hoped, any place but Birmingham.

So, in the end it comes back to Birmingham. All those hopes for a New York Brawl. Or even a trip to a bowl named for a chain that is a poor-man’s Applebees. Gone. Dashed against the forces of a 6-6 record, and the fervent desire of everyone else to avoid the BBVA Compass Bowl as well.

I get it. All who point out the obvious. That if Pitt didn’t want to go to a third straight trip to Birmingham, then they should have showed up for the first three quarters of the UConn game. Or the first quarter of the Syracuse game. Or finished the job against Notre Dame. There is no question that this team had opportunities. Couple that with the Big East bowl tie-ins, and it is really easy to say Pitt got what they deserved.

Except that it is three bleeping times to the same crappy bowl. And lest anyone forget, Pitt got bumped way down to the BBVA in 2010. They finished 7-5 and 5-2 in conference. Not great, given the expectations, but consider that USF and Louisville finished worse. Cuse had the same record overall, but lost to Pitt. Last year, attempts to evade the BBVA were thwarted by a pissed off Big East because Pitt was heading to the ACC (not an issue as much this year since only Cinci will still be in the Big East by 2014). So, at some point there has to be a balancing out of things. Right?

Apparently not.

It seemed things were going to break right late Sunday. That Northern Illinois qualified for a BCS Bowl meant that Oklahoma wasn’t going. That meant the Big XII pecking order would potentially drop WVU past the Holiday Bowl and within reach of the Pinstripe Bowl. That would allow the Pinstripe Bowl to also reach for Pitt. Something that seemed like a sure bet. A sure sell out and some actual buzz about the bowl. But it isn’t like Pitt was the only one pushing and working the phones. And unlike Pitt, other schools would actually get help from their conferences.

The Big XII was working things hard — and holding out hope for Oklahoma to a BCS bowl. That meant the Pinstripe couldn’t be sure it would get the Hoopies before making the decision on the Big East team. So they took the sure thing with regards to ticket sales.

Pederson said there was talk about reviving the Backyard Brawl between Pitt and West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, but bowl officials opted for in-state Syracuse against the Mountaineers.

The Orange shared first place in the Big East with Louisville, Rutgers and Cincinnati, finishing ahead of fifth-place Pitt. Syracuse also defeated Pitt, 14-13.

“The Pinstripe Bowl felt like they had to move quickly (Sunday), and at that point, they weren’t sure who the other side of the game was going to be,” Pederson said.

“They weren’t 100 percent sure they were going to have West Virginia. They decided to go with Syracuse, which is in their home state. They were good about it.”

The conspiracist in me can’t help but irresponsibly speculate that neither Pitt or WVU pushed too hard for a Big Apple Brawl to actually become reality. With the Backyard Brawl on hiatus for a while, neither would want to really remind/annoy their fanbases about the fact that this rivalry game is dead.

That decision left only one other destination that could keep Pitt from Birmingham. The Beef O’Brady Bowl. If they could work a deal to switch with the BBVA. It wouldn’t be the same kind of competition. A future Big East member in Central Florida instead of Ole Miss. But it would be in St. Petersburg, Florida. It would take place over the winter break. And… it wouldn’t be Birmingham.

And honestly, I have to believe both bowls would have been willing to make the switch. You can not convince me that the people in Birmingham wanted Pitt back for a 3d straight year. They know ticket sales would be even worse than last year which was damn poor. And St. Pete’s local community would be much happier getting ACC-bound Pitt over MACtion from Ball State.

But — and this is again speculation — two things probably worked against Pitt. The first is that it is highly unlikely the Big East wanted to have UCF face Pitt. Too much risk for the potential reward. As much as they would love to see Pitt lose to the incoming UCF Knights. If Pitt beat UCF, it would be a stark reminder of what the Big East is forced to trade down to get. Plus, a game like this would mean continual chatter for the entire game about Pitt leaving the Big East and the overall condition of the conference. They didn’t want that. So, they probably at least made their feelings known about whether they wanted Pitt in that bowl.

More importantly, both BBVA and Beef are TV Bowls owned and operated by ESPN (which is also why it would have been possible for this trade). So what the local chamber of commerces, hotel chains, ticket sales and people in the respecitve cities want, is secondary to what Bristol says. Pitt in the Beef Bowl probably wouldn’t make much of a difference beyond a couple tenths of a point on a Friday night bowl game.

A Pitt-Ole Miss bowl game is a more compelling, and likely to draw decent enough ratings for an early Saturday, post-New Year’s Day Bowl than anything else they could put out there.

“We’ve been given a great opportunity to play a quality program like Ole Miss,” first-year Pitt coach Paul Chryst said in a statement Sunday. “I know they finished the season strong and looked impressive in winning the [rivalry] Egg Bowl against Mississippi State. We are appreciative of the City of Birmingham and the BBVA Compass Bowl for giving us the chance to play one more game this season.”

…And once this game is over, may we never set foot in this city again.

The other reason that going to Birmingham is better than St Pete is that it will be much easier for Pitt to get in their 15 bowl practices. Between the early date of the BoB Bowl and Finals week, they would have probably only gotten in 10-12 practices.

Comment by ej 12.03.12 @ 10:17 am

I really don’t like how bowls are set up these days..
It’s pre-determined… Big12 #7 v BigEast #4.

Back in the day… 30 years ago when only 15 bowls…. the bowls had to woooo the teams to pick their bowl… also back in the day, the bowl money went to the team not the league. Albeit Pitt was independent, if was the same for any other team. Back then, there were no tv deals for leagues or teams.
But, I’d still like to see bowls “compete” for teams… bidding so to say. If so, Pitt would not be back in Birmingham again.
But then again, I don’t think there should be 35 bowls…. 25 if just enough.
Frankly, 6-6 teams don’t deserve to go to a bowl.

Comment by Joe D 12.03.12 @ 10:32 am

“The conspiracist in me can’t help but irresponsibly speculate that neither Pitt or WVU pushed too hard for a Big Apple Brawl to actually become reality. With the Backyard Brawl on hiatus for a while, neither would want to really remind/annoy their fanbases about the fact that this rivalry game is dead.”

A little birdie told me that Pitt politely (and quietly) turned down the opportunity to play WVU. Interesting if true, sounds like we are really cutting ties to the Hoopies. HTP

Comment by pittbluegold 12.03.12 @ 10:35 am

I am alright with Birmingham. First I do like Birmingham. Having grown up in Pittsburgh, B’ham has always made me feel at home when I am there. More importantly, my son is a surgeon there and he was on the phone immediately to make sure I would be coming down to visit and go to the game. It don’t get much better than that.. a weekend with my sons and Pitt football. HTP!!

Comment by The Turk 12.03.12 @ 10:50 am

Link to article on bowls by Forde of Yahoo sports.
He call Pitt going to Birmingham for 3 straight years as cruel and unusual punishment… lol
The article is spot on..–college-football-s-bowl-season-a-jumbled-mess-053704636.html

Comment by Joe D 12.03.12 @ 10:55 am

If the Athletic Dept. honestly chose Birmingham AGAIN over playing against WVU in New York City… I don’t even know.

Comment by 85 12.03.12 @ 10:56 am

I was having a great morning until I read the Stevie P comments. What a dbag – he knows the fans would love to have seen the Pinstripe happen and he gives a response that suggests he gave a half asssed effort to explore making it happen (IMO). As I have told anyone that will listen, i will not be donating money to anything Pitt until he is fired.

Comment by pittfan92 12.03.12 @ 11:22 am


Comment by DC33 12.03.12 @ 11:25 am

If true that SP turned down Pinstripe, shows completelack of understanding of PR. Misses on Big press articles every day, putting Pitt on the front page with the Steelers.

Maybe it’s time to move on, but nothing gets the juices flowing like a rivalry game.

We also know that we would travel better to NYC and not be quite as embarrassed by the empty seats. We have a pretty good alumni base in Philly and NJ, but I guess they don’t count.

I sure hope the little birdie was wrong.

Comment by gc 12.03.12 @ 11:32 am

“I’m happy for, certainly, the seniors,” Chryst said Saturday. “Their window’s closing and they’ve earned the right to extend it. And that is pretty cool.”

Read more: link to

He didn’t say “neat”!

Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Digdug 12.03.12 @ 11:36 am

Take the positive approach. St Pete is
no garden spot and the game is played in
a terrible ( for FB) some. Playing an SEC
team In B’Ham is a good thing given the painful
season we just lived through.

Comment by JR 12.03.12 @ 11:36 am

The biggest thing I hate about the BBVA is the date — if it were played at any point along with all the other bowls, I’d be resigned to our fate. But really, the Saturday after all but pretty much two other teams have played their games? The day of NFL playoffs? Ugh.

Comment by JW 12.03.12 @ 11:50 am

Pitt is in the BBVA again. Let’s be grateful for the extra practice this bowl game affords Pitt’s returning players. It also affords Pitt’s seniors a chance to get scouted for NFL teams. .

Living in Atlanta like other Pitt alumn’s and fans, we only have a short drive to see Pitt play Ole’ Miss. Nice.


Comment by MariettaMike 12.03.12 @ 12:20 pm

I know Ole Miss will probably travel better but are they annoyed that Pitt will have home field advantage since Birmingham is, after all, the Panthers winter home?

Comment by Pitt Dad 12.03.12 @ 12:24 pm

Neat to play a team we’ve not met before. Cool if we could actually schedule a series with Ole Miss. The eye candy in Oxford is well worth the trip south.
At 6-6, we had no leverage.
SP was an idiot before this and will continue his idiocy after.
Ole Miss will give us a taste of southern style football. Speed, speed , speed. Then more speed.

Comment by SFPitt 12.03.12 @ 12:25 pm

SP is SP. But there is no way he turned down the Pinstripe Bowl in order to go to the BBVA. You guys are pretty ridiculous to even think so.

The BBVA birth is squarely on the players who were up and down all year and the coaches who let them be up and down all year. You know if Pitt beats the teams they should have (Cuse, YSU, and UConn) and closes out the ND game, then Pitt is in a BCS game.

Comment by Wardapalooza 12.03.12 @ 12:47 pm

ESPN will get what it deserves, a bowl filled with empty seats. I appreciate there may be a few Pitt fans within easy access to B’ham and thanks to any fans who make the trip and support the Pitt team, but honestly what is ESPN thinking. Forget the local cities and organizers, this decision was ESPN and theirs alone. They will get an empty stadium and absolutely no buzz and have themselves to thank for the poor showing.
Agree that its nice to see Pitt play a new team and with all the hoopla about the SEC, any team from this conference will be a meaningful opponent, especially if Pitt is able to do the unthinkable and win 3 in a row for the first time this year.
Hope the seniors find a way to enjoy their last dance in college football and that Graham/Shanahan/Jacobsen/Turnley absolutely shine and get the attention of NFL scouts.

Comment by Taxing Matters 12.03.12 @ 12:49 pm

Any grounds for us to petition the NCAA for another year for Shayne Hale?

link to

Thought he played a great game on Saturday and he finally is becoming the player everyone expected him to be.

Comment by AZPanther 12.03.12 @ 12:50 pm

Politics, the buddy system, BE revenge, ooh wait forgot money, ESPN, TV, after New Years, take your pick.

At least the players know where everything is. Chryst will make sure the players have fun.

Comment by frank MD 12.03.12 @ 1:02 pm

I would have really loved to see Pitt play WVU in New York. I would have seriously considered going up to the game. It would have been a much better TV draw. But overall, I’m just happy they became bowl eligible and they have all the added practices. Continuing the bowl string also helps a little for recruiting. Too bad they’re stuck in a BBVA do over and over.

Comment by Panther Pride 12.03.12 @ 1:09 pm

Hey all…Happy 5th Anniversary of 13-9!!!

Chas, I think you should do a link dump/story on it every December 1. We should never forget!

Comment by Joe 12.03.12 @ 1:31 pm

Is it less prestigious to go to 3 straight BBVA Compass bowls or win the CBI tournament?

Comment by OrlandoAlum 12.03.12 @ 1:39 pm

This line of thinking is incorrect:

“I have to believe both bowls would have been willing to make the switch. You can not convince me that the people in Birmingham wanted Pitt back for a 3d straight year. They know ticket sales would be even worse than last year which was damn poor.”

The Beef O’Brady’s Bowl lost its Big East tie-in since we didnt have enough eligible teams and there were no AQ schools left so they had to settle for Ball State. You bet the Beef Bowl would have rather had Pitt, but there was no chance that Birmingham was going to trade Pitt out of their bowl game to land Ball State or some other MAC or Sun Belt team. A Sun Belt team would have traveled better than Pitt given the proximity but I’m not sure who was available. I know if it was a straight Pitt for Ball State trade, BSU would have probably brought even less fans to Birmingham than Pitt would have. So, why would the BBVA Compass want that? They may not be happy with getting Pitt again but they were the best available option. Pitt wont buy any tickets but we are a brand name team and Ole Miss fans will travel in much greater numbers to see their team play Pitt than they would if they were playing some MAC or Sun Belt team. Not only that, Pitt/Ole Miss is not a bad game for TV purposes. Its post-Jan 1 time slot is a bit bizarre but that game serves as lead in to Wildcard Weekend and its the only football game on TV. The ratings are pretty decent. And Pitt plays Rutgers at 11AM on ESPN2 so it could end up being a good sports day for ESPN in Pittsburgh that day. There just wasnt enough incentive for BBVA Compass/ESPN to trade Pitt out of the game.

Comment by SMF 12.03.12 @ 2:11 pm

The Big East would not have allowed Pitt to drop to the Beef ‘O’ Brady without somebody (ESPN) putting some extra money on the table .. the BBVA pays the BE team $900,000 – the BoB pays $537,500 .. no way the BE was going to take a $360,000 hit to total bowl revenue .. BTW – last year Pitt’s total bowl revenue was about $960,000 – 21st in the nation .. should be about the same this year or a little higher …

Comment by Hoopzebra 12.03.12 @ 2:37 pm

Mike McGlynn makes national headlines by calling out Suh for dirty play during Colts-Lions game. He is actually doing a nice job for the Colts.

Comment by The Turk 12.03.12 @ 3:21 pm

Pitt would have been a 13.5 point underdog to WVU.
The game would be a boon for the hoopies and not much for Pitt fans.

Birmingham. is a winnable game against an average Ole Miss team and after the trauma of this season, let’s just get it over with.Let’s especially celebrate the departure of one, Tino Sunseri. JOY TO THE WORLD!

Comment by Dan 72 12.03.12 @ 5:02 pm

lol Dan 72


(I have the radio on in the background and as I type this, Handel’s Messiah is playing 🙂 )

Comment by Emel 12.03.12 @ 5:29 pm

They do call Birmingham;

the Pittsburgh of the South.

But 3 years in a row

(strange but true, Wisconsin has gone now to 3 straight Rose Bowls, ikr not quite the same)

Comment by Emel 12.03.12 @ 5:35 pm

Pinstripe as I noted the other day was created for Syracuse. Now way they weren’t going there as long as they were bowl eligible.

ESPN would not have allowed it.

And it’s not like Cuse is going to fill up Yankee Stadium. They only had 30K at Met Stadium (new Giants Stadium) on a beautiful fall day in Sept when they played (at that time) #3 USC at Met.

P.S. Hopefully the Compass Bowl won’t be changing affiliation to the ACC anytime soon.
Oy vey !

Comment by Emel 12.03.12 @ 5:41 pm

Going back to Alabama

Fits in good with our year long theme on Pitt Blather.

That being ……Groundhog Day (the movie)

Pitt should invite Andie McDowell to the game, I’ll sit with her and show her a good time, lol

Comment by Emel 12.03.12 @ 5:56 pm

2 years ago… pinstripe with Syracuse had 38K… played kansas state I think… that surprised me. Rutgers was there last year and it brought in 38k…
I looked it up… whether the numbers are true are a different story.
I think yankee stadium is 54k capacity.

Comment by Joe D 12.03.12 @ 7:07 pm

Heard a rumor today from a die hard PSU guy. Bradley to WVU as defensive coordinator.

Comment by SFPitt 12.03.12 @ 8:11 pm

Bradley knew…. 😉

Anyway, here’s one guys ratings of the bowl games….looks about right….–ncaaf.html

Comment by Jackagain 12.03.12 @ 9:56 pm

tom is tied up until 2014 ,basketball schools waiting for their part of exit fees then gonesvilles theres arumor

Comment by paul shannon 12.03.12 @ 10:13 pm

Here’s one for Imma man….LOL

“With one game to play, quarterback Tino Sunseri is thinking about a Pitt future that doesn’t include him.

The Panthers are playing in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Jan. 5. It would be Sunseri’s 39th consecutive start, the longest such streak at Pitt in 20 years.”

link to

Comment by Jackagain 12.03.12 @ 10:17 pm

just think…WVa switched to the big 12 so they can play the ‘cuse in a bowl game. Even though Pitt has to go to Ala…they get a new opponent in ole miss.

Comment by markp 12.03.12 @ 10:27 pm

Taxing Matters you are smoking crack if you think this bowl will have empty seats. Three hour drive from Oxford to Birmingham. Two hour drive from Atlanta. This might as well be a home game for the Rebels. Get your tickets early Marietta Mike, we might be the only two Pitt fans there.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 12.03.12 @ 11:41 pm

lmao markp…..that is hysterical.

Cuse vs Wvcc is a bigeast matchup that wasn’t even a ticket in demand for a decade or longer.

Gotta love ESPN/ i hope they draw less than 20k and it has a piss poor tv rating.

Would not be surprised with Cuse leaving for the ACC and Buttgers for the L1G (Little 11) that the Pinstripe thing will be H-I-S-T-O-R-Y.

Comment by Emel 12.04.12 @ 12:24 am

Dan 72 not saying you are incorrect, but WVU being a 13.5 point favorite over us is a an absolute joke. I’d feel pretty confident in Pitt’s ability to keep the game within 2 scores.

Comment by Vulcan Rob 12.04.12 @ 12:26 am

Senior quarterback Sunseri thinks Pitt football’s future bright

Read more: link to

Yes I totally agree, I’m glad Sir Tino agrees that him graduating will boost Pitt’s football future.
Cudos ( I’ll put in a good work with Art Rooney Jr. so they’ll sign you, lol)

Comment by Emel 12.04.12 @ 12:41 am

@Paul Shannon
Both rumors makes sense and while I agree with Jackagain that anyone at PSU with a pulse knew, the witness lists in the Spanier, McCurly, et al trials will tell us whose testimony is deemed to be essential. If Bradly ain’t on there, he’s in the clear. Unless some secretary rats him out.
Big East basketball schools leaving is a legal and brand recognition quagmire.
If they leave, they won’t be as brand attractive as they were with the Big East name.
That name will be a stumbling block in departure negotiations I suspect.

Comment by SFPitt 12.04.12 @ 7:59 am

Bradley always had the reputation of being an excellent recruiter. Was hoping he would find his way onto the PITT staff. HTP.

Comment by DC33 12.04.12 @ 8:33 am

i believe basketball schools hold the brand,not commenting on whether bradley new or not, hes under contract

Comment by paul shannon 12.04.12 @ 10:51 am

Bradley may be contractually bound but only if he wants to get that money. Otherwise he can forego the money and take his chances..unless he signed an ironclad non-compete.
I certainly think anyone in the football complex knew what was going on….not water under the bridge yet.
The civil cases at PSU are waiting for Spanier and McCurley and the AD et al to call each other liars under oath in the criminal matters.
I suspect there are administrative assistants at PSU wearing out the adult diaper sections of Giant as they await delivery of subpoenas.
That went on for far too long in front of too many noses for it to have not found its way into e-mails etc..
Would you lie to save Spanier or a dead man?
But assuming Bradley somehow did not know and assuming he is contractually bound in some form or fashion, then the only job he must be able to take must be a HC.

Comment by SFPitt 12.04.12 @ 1:45 pm

, just rather u print it

Comment by paul shannon 12.04.12 @ 3:07 pm

Atlanta Panther
Don’t know the capacity but a Jan bowl game after the national champ has been crowned sounds like 60%-70% capacity to me. Pitt alone will probably send 15k of their 20k ticket allotment back. Good luck re-selling these.
Maybe there are more Panther fans in Atlanta than I realize, and if there are, I hope to see all of them and their friends at the game.

Comment by Taxing Matters 12.04.12 @ 3:43 pm

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