The days of the Backyard Brawl as a conference game are over. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Well, they said they were leaving for next season. I guess West Virginia got something right after all.
The Big East and West Virginia have reportedly reached a settlement that will allow the Mountaineers to depart for the Big 12 for the 2012-2013 season. In total, the Big East will receive $20 million, $11 million from WVU and $9 million from the Big 12. So, right now, if Pitt is in the Big East for next season, we're in trouble with our schedule. Pitt only has 4 scheduled non-conference games (of a now required 6).
But wait, Boise State may jump early? Raise your hand if you think that means Pitt and Syracuse are heading to Idaho next season (hint: it should be all of you).
Meanwhile, Boise State has had talks with the WAC, a source said, about placing the rest of the teams in the league a year early if it were to leave for the Big East in football a year early to replace WVU.
The source said the move is up to Boise State and that the WAC would accept the Broncos a year early if they were to ask.
It's possible that BSU fills in for WVU's or TCU's schedule (both of which had the Mountaineers and the Horned Frogs coming to Heinz Field), but don't bet on John Marinatto allowing that.
Should Boise State come in the Big East for 2012, Pitt is still out a non-conference game. According to Steve Pederson, Pitt is close to finalizing one more non-conference game. So theoretically, our schedule would be set and at that point it's simply waiting for the Big East to release the full schedule. Last season, it didn't happen until the end of February. Expect something similar this year.
So what does this mean for the Backyard Brawl? Unfortunately, this rivalry may be coming to an end.
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.
Hope you get your West Virginia hate in next Thursday when the Mountaineers come to the Pete. It might be the last time for a while.
Ultimately though, this sets a very favorable precedent for the Panthers and the Orange. Now, there's a dollar amount that can be paid to leave the Big East early. Likely what will happen is that Pitt and Syracuse negotiate their way for an exit in 2013 for much lower amount than what WVU paid. The Big East will have their new members in, Pitt and Syracuse will be in the ACC, and everyone can just move on.
Is it still possible that Pitt tries to jump to the ACC for next season? Sure, especially if the Broncos don't come in for next season.
But all reports are showing that the WAC will accept BSU's non-football sports for next season. Part of the money the Big East received from WVU will likely go towards paying off the MWC early fees (around $7-9 million). Expect Pitt and Boise to be in the same conference next season.