The University of Pittsburgh was left with little options just a few months ago, scrambling to fill out its 2012 football schedule as well as wondering if there would be some way they could fit in to the ACC starting with this upcoming academic calendar beginning.
"Certainly, in the discussions we've had, they understand what we've been in and how we've tried to approach this and that we've done the things that we were asked to do as part of the league at that time," Pitt AD Steve Pederson said in a March interview with Panther Digest. "That's why I feel we'll arrive at a good conclusion here. They are going forward, and they have a good, bright future. We're on our way to the ACC. We'll have a great, bright future and we're very excited about that. I think that's the way this thing can conclude. I'm hopeful that's what happens."
In hindsight, that is what happened. It took a lawsuit filed by the University on May 11. Today, over two months after that lawsuit, Pitt was granted its release from the Big East, the Big East can settle in on it's future, and the ACC has nearly a full year to promote the additions of Pitt and Syracuse--something that certainly couldn't hurt the images of the two northern schools.
All Pitt needs to do to make this finalized, is to make a cash payment of $7.5 million to the Big East, which includes the $5 million buyout. That's a far cry from the $20 million initially required to just buy out and leave. West Virginia paid that amount so it could exit the conference immediately, and begin play in the Big East. Pitt's move appears to be thnepeta evil one Pederson hoped for all along.
"We're hopeful to reach a good conclusion that is beneficial to everybody," Pederson added. "I think one of the things we feel good about is whether it was Pitt, or Syracuse or our new partners in the ACC. We all try to do the right thing which was to make sure we gave the other schools of the Big East the opportunity to play a full schedule this year.
Pitt will play all six Coastal opponents every year, with three additional Atlantic opponents. One of them is guaranteed for at least the first two years--that being Syracuse. The Orane will be the first crossover opponent, and both schools would have the option of continuing another two-year crossover series. That gives Pitt a total of nine conference games off the bat. Currently, 2013 non-conference games are set to be Villanova and Notre Dame at home with a road trip to Navy.
Certainly, Wednesday night's news is exciting to the fans, but also a relief of certain people in charge. Perhaps the one who showed the most enthusiasm, upon hearing the news, was ACC Commissioner John Swofford.
"Today's announcement that Pitt will be joining the ACC on July 1, 2013 is terrific one," Swofford said. "It's exciting to know that both Pitt and Syracuse will become playing members in the ACC starting with the 2013-14 academic year. I'm pleased that both schools were able to finalize agreements with the Big East. The ACC has long enjoyed a rich tradition of balancing academics and athletics and the addition of Pitt and Syracuse further strengthens this conference. Throughout this past year, we've been preparing to welcome both teams into our membership and we look forward to the future of the ACC with these two schools as prominent members."
Pederson certainly has to feel some relief. After a number of coaching changes and a bit of uncertainty in the 2012 football schedule, followed by trying to learn when the program could begin competing in the ACC, Pederson can move on with some of his duties.
"We have appreciated and enjoyed our membership in the Big East and wish them much success in the future," Pederson said. "We are anxious to compete in our final season in the Big East and look forward to an exciting future in the Atlantic Coast Conference."
But, perhaps it was Interim Big East Commissner Joe Bailey's statement that was most interesting. No admiration of Pitt or Syracuse, but simply a quick note of looking ahead to the future--which just as Pederson said five months ago is what was probably best for all parties involved.
"This is another step for the Big East to take toward a very exciting future," Bailey said. "With the addition of our eight new members, the Big East will be incredibly strong and vibrant."