The clock was ticking away at the Comcast Center and after it became apparent Maryland's furious comeback attempt was over, a Terps fan nudged me and said, "Well, I guess we won't be seeing you ever again." He was right. With all of the good things that will come with being a member of the ACC, Maryland leaving the conference after one year and two basketball meetings between the two schools is quite a shame.
A hundred or so Panther fans packed into Looney's Pub on the edge of campus, and it was much to the dismay of the home faithful. It's kind of like when Penguin fans invade Capitals games or when the Steelers match up with the Ravens. The hatred is there, they don't like Pittsburgh people, and Pittsburgh people do not like them. It is a beautiful built in rivalry , but not meant to be by the world of college football expansion.
The ACC certainly is a major upgrade for Pitt already. They get to play like minded schools with similar athletic programs. A nice perk for the fans were the road trip opportunities to more attractive destinations then what the Big East had. College Park, Chapel Hill, Durham, Charlottesville, the list can go on and on. Pitt getting regional schools like Maryland, Virginia, and Virginia Tech had to have been a great selling point for a number of reasons to Steve Pedersen, Mark Nordenberg, and the rest of the Pitt brain trust.
The College Park trip brought out many people on a Saturday night, but I can only imagine how fun it would be to have the Panthers play Maryland at Byrd Stadium in the fall. College Park is a beautiful campus,and would attract tons of Pitt alums locally, and the ones making the trip from Pennsylvania. On the flip side for Maryland, it's equally an easy and extremely close trip to get to Heinz Field. The two universities are urban schools in two cities that have professional team rivalries built in already. The are similar in size and in athletic prowess, and it's a shame to lose a rival before it ever really got going.
So when I replied to the man sitting behind me as Pitt wrapped up their 18th victory on the season, I said, "Just beat Penn State, and you'll be OK in our book."