What's Next For Pitt

Pitt and everyone else in the Big East was waiting to see what would happen with West Virginia--would they be forced to stay in the Big East, or would they be able to go to the Big 12. Thanks to a court settlement, the Mountaineers are Big 12 bound. The Panthers, meanwhile, now have two slots to fill on their schedule.

Steve Pederson said in an interview last week that a lot of the conference shifting—West Virginia bidding to go to the Big 12, Pitt and Syracuse to the ACC—Pitt's future would become a little more clear once a settlement, or a decision was made on West Virginia.

Monday, West Virginia reached that settlement with the Big East. Tuesday, West Virginia released its first-ever Big 12 schedule, as reality set in.

"West Virginia University has acknowledged and agreed that the Court in Monongalia County, West Virginia, will enter a judgment that the BIG EAST Conference Bylaws are valid and enforceable, and will dismiss with prejudice all of West Virginia's claims against the Conference," Big East commissioner John Marinatto said.

"Our membership in the Big 12 offers WVU significant advantages," West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck said. "The Big 12 is a strong and vibrant conference academically and athletically. We look forward to the potential academic and athletic partnerships and financial opportunities that membership in the Big 12 offers."

Now the question remains on what exactly Pitt's stance—do they try a similar plan and sue the Big East? Do they put up the money for the buyout and just go to the ACC? Or, will the Panthers stick around the Big East for 2012. It sounds like it's the latter—Pitt will be staying put for this upcoming 2012 football season. Pitt already was forced to buy out TCU when the Horned Frogs decided to join the Big 12 instead of the Big East. While Pitt was already scrambling to find a replacement opponent, now the Panthers must replace their big rivalry game with West Virginia. Pederson issued the following:

"Yesterday, the Big East communicated to us it had reached a settlement with West Virginia and would work to find us a replacement team for that home game. We will keep our fans informed as that develops."

"Given the conference transitions both schools are currently undergoing, it is difficult to speculate on the future of our series with WVU. Our more immediate focus is on finalizing our upcoming football schedule."

With the emphasis on finishing out the 2012 home schedule, and with the Big East aiming to help Pitt find that next opponent, it sounds like Pitt will be staying in the Big East for at least another year. Pitt could still get out early, but only contingent on a $20 million buyout or a three-fourths vote by the remaining Big East members to kick the school out.

Instead, Pitt is looking for two games. One is a non-conference game to fill Pitt's initial buyout of a Central Florida game, which became the slot for a TCU game. TCU has since joined the Big 12. Now the Panthers have to replace West Virginia, a game typically played on Thanksgiving weekend. This year's Backyard Brawl was scheduled to be played at Pitt this year. It's also likely that Pitt will fill one of their vacant slots with an FCS opponent.

Another scenario could be a team like Boise State coming to the Big East a year early, giving the conference eight football teams again. There's another scenario where Pitt could move one of their road conference games (South Florida, Syracuse, UConn or Cincinnati) to being that extra home game.

Jamie Dixon said Tuesday that his team's Big East schedule won't be released for quite some time, but it's his understanding that his non-conference schedule is almost filled out. He also understands that the first task for moving forward is to get the football schedule in order.

"Nearly all of them," Dixon said. "I think football (schedule) is done well in advance, and ours is done--not as well in advance of football. Sometimes there's things you can control, and sometimes there's things you can't control. I think the biggest issue for us right now is a football (home) game. That's the thing we're going to be focused on as a university.

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