Pitt in Dire Straits

ACC Commissioner John Swofford confirmed on Wednesday that its presidents voted 7-2 to expand. This means that Miami (Fla.) Syracuse, Boston College, or possibly Virginia Tech instead of BC, are likely headed to the ACC.

If Miami accepts the invitation, and there is every indication that they will, two teams will follow them. A faction in the ACC lead by Virginia is pushing for Virginia Tech instead of Boston College, but that appears to be a minor sticking point.

The Big East Conference convenes its annual spring meetings on Saturday at Ponte Verde, Fl. Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese is making a last ditch effort to keep the Big East intact.

His efforts may be too little, too late.

One scenario has the Big East football playing schools splintering into a league that would include: Boston College, Connecticut, Louisville, Miami (Fla) Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Rutgers, Virginia Tech and West Virginia, but that is a long shot at this point.

Miami seems to have made up its mind and Syracuse and Boston College appear set to follow the Hurricanes.

"I've been involved with this from the very beginning and it's been well known that if Miami goes, Boston College and Syracuse will follow," said Boston College Athletic Director Gene DeFilippo through a university spokesman. "I've said all along we are very happy in the Big East, but we are going to do what we have to, to protect our institution, and that means if (Miami) goes, we go.

The University of Pittsburgh could well be left with its nose pressed against the glass looking in. The Big East would be left with Pitt, West Virginia, either Boston College or Virginia Tech, Rutgers and Connecticut as football members.

An expanded ACC would remain in the Bowl Championship Series, while a depleted Big East would likely be left out of the BCS.

Pitt's options should the Big East lose three teams are limited.

The Big Ten is not proactive when it comes to expansion. If the Big Ten does add a 12th team, Notre Dame is number one on their list followed by Missouri and Pitt.

The remnants of the Big East could add three teams from Conference USA: Louisville, Cincinnati and Memphis. This would make for a super basketball league, but would do very little to enhance the football conference. Miami is irreplaceable in the football league unless the Big East could entice Notre Dame to join in football, which is highly unlikely.

The most logical move for the Big East, if Miami leaves, would be to court Penn State. The Nittany Lions would make sense because they have tremendous travel costs for their non-revenue sports and would renew their rivalry with Pitt in all sports. If that were to happen, the Big East might be able to convince Syracuse and Boston College to stay. You could allow Virginia Tech and Miami to leave if they wanted, but the ACC would still need to add another team.

In reality, Penn State leaving the Big Ten is a pipe dream as long as Joe Paterno is head coach in Happy Valley.

Pitt is faced with the unenviable prospect of dropping into a lesser league in football; which currently looks unavoidable, barring a miracle.

The basketball program still may be in danger if the basketball playing schools in the Big East: Seton Hall, Georgetown, Villanova, Providence, St. John's and possibly Notre Dame splinter to form a basketball league of their own, which is being discussed. They would then probably go after Dayton and Xavier.

The break up of the Big East would also have major recruiting implications for the schools left on the outside.

George Von Benko

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