Pitt fans were hoping (even expecting) that an 8-4 season would get them into the ACC's Tier One bowl games. But on Sunday when the conference's representatives were selected, the Panthers were on the outside looking in.
Losing out to the likes of Miami for the Sun Bowl wasn't terrible. The Hurricanes had the same record and beat Pitt head to head. They also figure to be a markedly better draw in the south than Pitt would be. What was sort of frustrating for fans, however, was seeing Pitt passed up for the Music City Bowl (Louisville), Pinstripe (Duke), and Belk (North Carolina State). At 7-5. all of those schools have worse records than the Panthers and Pitt also defeated both Louisville and Duke head to head.
North Carolina State is particularly annoying because of their weak non-conference schedule and miserable 3-5 conference mark. On the surface, for teams like Pitt (who aren't contending for a playoff spot), there seems to be little motivation for scheduling more difficult matchups outside of wanting to fill the seats for home games. That North Carolina State got picked over Pitt really speaks to how poorly Panthers fans travel to bowl games and also how much of a draw the bowl felt it would be for Wolfpack fans.
The bowl thing isn't an exact science. And my stance is generally that beyond the Playoff and the major bowl games, most of these others sort of all blend together. You can bet, however, that the University's athletics department, which has to stump hard for these games, isn't real thrilled seeing the program passed up like this after having a more successful season than these other schools.
As Sam Werner said recently on Twitter, Pitt's best bets right now look like the Military Bowl (Annapolis) or the Independence Bowl (Shreveport).