Pitt's ACC not as rosy, but some good news

Jerry DiPaola
| Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012, 11:24 p.m.

Pitt's ACC parachute, intended to carry the football program away from the Big East to a safe, secure landing spot, has developed a few holes.

Maryland, an ACC founding father, moved to the Big Ten this week, and it may not be the only school looking to leave.

Florida State, the highest-ranked ACC team (No. 10) in the Associated Press poll, might bolt if Big 12 officials offered an invitation, according to longtime college football analyst Mike Huguenin.

“There is a reason Maryland and Florida State were the only teams to vote against raising the exit fee to $50 million,” he said. “Florida State is certainly not wedded to the ACC.”

Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski told Sports Illustrated this week the ACC is “vulnerable right now. I'm concerned about our conference.”

Huguenin, who lives in Orlando, Fla., and has covered college football for nearly three decades, said some Florida State fans are envious of riches other schools, especially in-state rival Florida, take to the bank.

“Florida makes boatloads more money (in the SEC),” he said. “Big 12 teams make more than the ACC schools.”

Despite such dire speculation, there is some good news for Pitt. The conference's Coastal Division, where the Panthers will compete beginning in 2013, isn't that tough.

While the Big East has two 9-1 teams — Rutgers and Louisville — and 7-3 Cincinnati, five of the six Coastal schools have lost at least five games. The exception is North Carolina (7-4, 4-3), but the Tar Heels are facing a bowl ban this season and the forfeiture of 15 scholarships over a three-year period for NCAA violations.

The Coastal representative in the ACC Championship game Dec. 1 against Florida State will be Georgia Tech (6-5, 5-3) after Miami (6-5, 4-3) slapped a bowl ban on itself in an attempt to lessen upcoming NCAA sanctions.

Georgia Tech started 2-4, losing to Middle Tennessee, 49-28, and giving up 40 or more points in three consecutive games for the first time in school history. Defensive coordinator Al Groh was fired at mid-season.

“As mediocre as Pitt has been this year,” Huguenin said, “if I'm a Pitt fan, I'm thinking the Big East is horrible, and we struggled in it, but we're going to a league that really isn't that good either.

“I don't think Pitt will contend for a division title, but I think Pitt can go to a bowl game next year.”

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jdipaola@tribweb.com.

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