As the kickoff for the Iowa game approaches, another issue has come up involving the Panthers. Yesterday evening, Pete Thamel of the New York Times reported that Pitt and Syracuse were discussing with the ACC about possibly leaving the Big East and joining the ACC. As of writing this (Saturday morning at 6:20), neither the ACC nor either university has issued a statement stating otherwise or that they are happy with their current situation so it leads us to believe that this actually may be happening.
UPDATE: We've applied for membership. Well...that was fast.
UPDATE 2: UNC AD "World is turning upside down and we want ACC to be in position where we are strong. Right thing to do". Sounds like a confirmation to me. Pitt and Cuse were 2 of 10 schools to speak with the ACC. Brian Ewert from VU Hoops reports that Nova was also one of the 10, but would need FBS football to be considered.
We've known that Steve Pederson and Pitt haven't been happy with Jon Marinatto and the Big East's handling of conference matters. When some schools wanted to accept ESPN's early offer, Pederson was one of the ADs that wanted to test the open market and get more money. When Villanova became a prime target for Big East expansion, Pitt was one of the schools that stopped that move and thought we as a conference could do better.
I wholeheartedly think that this is the right move should an offer from the ACC come to Pittsburgh. Pitt is in top-25 media market, one of the top public universities in the nation, has a football program on the rise, and a top-notch basketball team while remaining solid in non-revenue sports. The ACC will give Pitt a chance to rekindle old rivalries with Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College, as well as form new ones with nearby schools like Maryland and Virginia.
While the ACC is behind the Big East in overall strength in basketball, the ACC has 2 of the most recognized and strongest programs year in and year out in North Carolina and Duke. Imagine Roy Williams or Mike Krzyzewski coming to the Pete to play against the Panthers every year or every two years. And while the ACC is behind in basketball, it is ahead of the Big East in football. Even as the ACC continues to lose it's BCS games, it is still held in higher regard as a football conference thanks to top programs at Virginia Tech and Florida State (throw in Miami as well just out of name recognition).
I love the Big East. I love the rivalries we've made with Connecticut and Syracuse and Rutgers and how important the Backyard Brawl is every single year. I love how Big East basketball is the best conference in the country and every game is a dogfight (except for when Depaul plays). But at the same time, with the possibility of having 20 teams in basketball, there is no way that this conference will survive long.
I know I just wrote a piece on how the Kansas schools and Missouri should join the Big East, but this move is the right move for Pitt. When superconferences are finally formed, chances are the Big East will not be one of them and Pitt needs to find itself in a stable situation. Not that the Panthers would find themselves on the outside looking in, but it would be nice to at least be done and locked in somewhere prior to the realignment shuffle. With Virginia Tech, Florida State, and Clemson each issuing statements on their commitment to the ACC rather than go to the SEC, it is clear that the conference is stable and the members are happy. And even if one of them does leave, that is the only conference that ACC members would leave for whereas the Big East has virtually every school being linked to different conferences.
I think it's a good move for Pitt and I hope that should an invite appear on Pederson's or Mark Nordenberg's desk that they accept it rather than holding out and seeing what the Big East can do member-wise or money-wise through the new media deal because if they wait, the ACC could move on to another school and Pitt could miss out on a golden opportunity to secure it's future.