Okay, so technically you can't have a Q&A with a bowl game, so the title's a little misleading. But recently, the good folks at the Russell Athletic Bowl (formerly the Champs Sports Bowl) were kind enough to reach out to me for a Q&A session about Pitt's 2012 season.
I weighed in on the offense, Pitt's schedule, and best/worst case scenario for the Panthers.
Now, you can read my ramblings on this blog every day, but they also responded to a question I threw back at them. It's one that most fans are asking around bowl time - what does their bowl committee look for when selecting a team? You can check out their answer and the Q&A after the jump.First, the entire Q&A can be found here. Now, to their response about selection criteria - specifically, that of Matt Repchak, their Director of Digital Media:
Answered by Director of Digital Media Matt Repchak: There’s a bunch of different criteria that our selection committee members consider, and we don’t mandate that any one item be given more weight than others year-to-year. The most important things are team performance – who they beat and who they didn’t. We break that down a little bit further into home vs. away, record vs. ranked teams and common opponents, etc. Beyond that, we also consider some tangential items such as history (or lack thereof) in Orlando, recent bowl appearances or fan excitement. Sometimes one team and its fans can be so psyched about coming to our game that it makes the difference between they and another team with a comparable on-field resume. A lot of reporting in November and December focuses on ticket sales, but it’s somewhat misleading. We don’t talk in the room about ticket sales. We DO talk about putting together a matchup that is compelling for both sets of traveling fans as well as Orlando residents. We want to put on a game that people want to see, so "ticket sales" is somewhat reductive compared to those intentions. First and foremost, though, wins and losses are what gets a team on our radar.
Fairly interesting stuff about the ticket sales maybe not playing into it quite as much as we think. The thing I'll say, though, is that while on-field performance definitely matters, the part about a compelling matchup counts as well, as he states.
Bottom line is that even if Pitt finished second in the conference, they're not guaranteed for this slot. An 8-4 Pitt team could easily be beaten out by a 7-5 squad if they have some star players worth seeing or if their opponent could be considered somewhat of a rival.
But regardless, I really think Pitt could have a shot at this game. They've got some star power with Ray Graham if he's healthy and Pitt is a good brand name in Florida where Dave Wannstedt really made some inroads in recruiting. But we're a long way from talking about bowl matchups, so we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
The good news? Notre Dame is no longer eligible to take the Big East's bid since they went to the game last season.