Pitt has home in ACC ... eventually

Jerry DiPaola
| Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012

Six weeks before the start of spring practice and less than seven months before the first game, Pitt remains unsure where it will play the 2012 football season.

The ACC announced Friday that Pitt, which is leaving the Big East, will play in its Coastal Division with Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia and Virginia Tech. Syracuse, also leaving for the ACC, will compete in the Atlantic Division with Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Maryland, N.C. State and Wake Forest.

Also, the Pitt basketball team will play an 18-game ACC schedule that includes an annual home-and-away series with Maryland. The start date for all of these matchups remains unknown.

"The sooner, the better," said Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson, who attended ACC winter meetings this week as a non-voting member. "Everybody is a little on hold until we see what all shakes out. Everyone is anxious to get this done and anxious to get moving forward."

When Pitt and Syracuse announced in September they would leave the Big East, both schools hoped the move would be finalized in time for the 2012-13 school year. But Big East commissioner John Marinatto has been steadfast in holding the universities to their contractually negotiated 27-month waiting period.

A month later, West Virginia said it would leave the Big East for the Big 12 and filed a lawsuit to make that happen this year. The Big East countersued, and the matter is working its way through the judicial system.

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."

Pederson is unhappy that the changing face of the Big East opened a hole in Pitt's 2012 nonconference football schedule. Pitt had to cancel a scheduled nonconference game against Central Florida to accommodate TCU, which said it was joining the Big East. When TCU backed out last year to join the Big 12, the Big East allowed it go without penalty.

"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."

When Pitt moves to the ACC, it will play a nine-game conference schedule in football, leaving room for three other 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.

He also denied that there are plans for West Virginia and Pitt to play the Backyard Brawl every other year, with the Mountaineers playing Maryland in the in-between seasons. According to the News Tribune of Keyser, W.Va., defensive back Jarrod Harper, who signed this week with the Mountaineers, said coach Dana Holgorsen mentioned that possibility while recruiting him.

"I never heard that," Pederson said.

Additional Information:

By the numbers

The six opponents Pitt's football team will face each season in the ACC's Coastal Division, its all-time record against them and the most recent times the schools have met:

Opponent, Record, Last meeting

Duke, 9-8 ,1976

Georgia Tech, 5-2 ,1976

Miami, 9-22-1 ,2010

North Carolina, 3-4 ,2009*

Virginia, 3-2 ,2007

Virginia Tech, 4-7 ,2003

* -- Meineke Car Care Bowl

Coming up

Pitt's nonconference opponents for the 2012 football season:

Date, Opponent

Sept. 1, Youngstown State

Sept. 15, Virginia Tech

Oct. 6, at Buffalo

Nov. 3, at Notre Dame

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