Steve Pederson is left scrambling to find non-conference opponents with the departures of TCU and West Virginia. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Another day has passed and still we know nothing of Pitt's football schedule for next season. About the only things known right now are that Pitt will likely be in the Big East (unfortunately) and there are currently four non-conference games - two home against Youngstown State and Virginia Tech and two on the road against Buffalo and Notre Dame. We also know that Pitt will likely have six or seven conference games depending on whether or not a school like Boise State can join the Big East for 2012.
Steve Pederson has said that Pitt is close to finalizing a non-conference game for next season to replace the TCU game and I think expect an FCS team.
The scheduling quirk for Pitt next season is that they are scheduled to face only two Big East teams at home. As things stand now, Pitt is scheduled to face Rutgers and Louisville at home and travel to Syracuse, South Florida, Cincinnati, and Connecticut. Should the conference not get a school to come in for 2012, it will be interesting to see if t the schedule is adjusted so each school plays three at home and three on the road.
Assuming all that happens and Boise State doesn't join for 2012, Pitt finds itself without a 6th non-conference game. The Panthers would have six home games in that scenario, so another game at Heinz Field isn't mandatory. But they may want a 7th as Pitt would likely want another one to offset revenue losses from playing two FCS opponents.Sean Keeley over at Syracuse blog Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician found a list of schools looking to fill their non-conference schedules. They include:
Arkansas, Florida State, Hawaii, Houston, Middle Tennessee State, Missouri, Nebraska, North Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, UAB, Louisiana-Lafayette, and UTEP
There appear to be some good opportunities for 2012. But the problem is not so much with this year - it's with upcoming seasons. Pitt is booked until the 2016 season.
2013: Villanova, NC State*, @ Virginia Tech*, @ Navy, Notre Dame
2014: Delaware, @ FIU, Iowa, Akron, @ Notre Dame
2015: @ Akron, @ Iowa, Notre Dame
2016: Penn State, @ Notre Dame, ?
2017: @ Penn State, ?, ?
*slated to become conference games should Pitt move to the ACC in 2013
As you can see, the Panthers will need to trim some of these opponents if the team is able to leave for the ACC early. 2016 is a while away, but particularly interesting.The school has tried to get Penn State on the schedule for years, so it's hard to see them ditching that game. They've also made Notre Dame a clear priority. So will Pitt try to keep both or will they go the route of trying to find reschedule one in order to get an easier opponent?
The other thing is that in looking at the schedule, it doesn't offer much in the way of potential home-and-homes, which Pitt would need to offer if they were to play a school like Arkansas or Nebraska next season. If they were, the return trip couldn't be until 2017 at the earliest.
In the end, where does that leave Pitt for a 6th non-conference game for 2012? Playing a home game against a team like North Texas, UAB, or Middle Tennessee State is very possible.
And you thought the home slate couldn't get any worse for next season...