In reviewing the comments in our first Pinstripe Bowl post and those on Twitter, it seems that most of Pitt's fans are pretty united. While there's been some complaining, it seems the majority is on board with the Pinstripe Bowl as an attractive option for Pitt's football team. If that translates into ticket sales and people attending, that's nothing short of a great thing.
Part of the reason Pitt gets passed over by bowl games is because of the past travel history. That changed last year with the Military Bowl but the reality is that one year of sales isn't a trend. The Panthers need to constantly get people to the game year in and year out to start being considered as a program that travels well. Last year, Panthers fans were none too pleased about being passed up for a Tier One bowl. So far this year, the reaction seems more positive.
Here are my thoughts on some of the positives/negatives. Just for fun, I'll throw out some grades attached to these (grades after the applicable section). Would love to hear other perspectives, too.
First, the good. For those only interested in a day trip or maybe a short overnight trip, the location is ideal. With no regard to opponent, if you're only interested in being able to make the game and can't get too much time away from work/real life circumstances, you're likely really happy with the deal. Same for students mostly strapped for cash. A day trip to New York is the most practical option when comparing that bowl to Pitt's other potential landing spots in the Sun Bowl (El Paso, TX), TaxSlayer Bowl (Jacksonville, FL), or Russell Athletic Bowl (Orlando, FL).
Practical for Shorter Trips: A
Along those lines, it's going to be easy to get there as well. Traveling to a further destination such as the Sun Bowl or the Russell Athletic Bowl would have been more costly. You not only can cut airfare out of the equation, but it's also not a terribly long drive. Now, at about six hours, it's not that short. You've got to go clear across the state to get there and then some. It's almost two hours longer than last year's destination in Annapolis. But it's still a drivable trip and will be easy for Pittsburghers to make it.
Ease of Getting to Destination: B
Another thing about the bowl to like? It's a very winnable matchup. Northwestern poses a threat, but at 6-6 and with no great wins this year, is a team that Pitt should beat. If you're like me and think the team needs to show results on the field, you'll be glad to know that the Panthers have a great chance to get a ninth win for the year, which would inch the program forward a bit more.
Winnable Game: B+
And, I mean it's New York City, right? There's lots to do/see and not a bad little getaway trip. If you're only going up for the day, there's not as much appeal for that. But if you're going to be in town for a few days, there's plenty of attractions. New York beats other spots (i.e. El Paso) like a drum when it comes to having things to do.
Finally, along with that is the game is played in Yankee Stadium. It would be great to walk around the home of the Yankees and take in the sights a little. Playing in Yankee Stadium will be better than playing in plenty of other bowl homes, to be honest.
There are, of course, things that aren't so hot, too.
First, the weather. Being in New York might be kind of cool, but exploring the City in 30 degree weather probably won't be as much fun as going in the summer. Part of the allure of a vacation during the winter months is getting somewhere warm and, well, that ain't it. It's not only a cold-weather City, but the game is not in a dome. There are only 2-3 bowl games played outdoors in cold-weather cities and, well, there's a good reason for it.
Expected Weather: D- (I mean, it's not the north pole)
Next, there's simply not much prestige associated with the bowl. While the Bowl has hosted programs like Notre Dame and Penn State, it's also seen the likes of Boston College, Rutgers, and Syracuse. Last year's game? Duke and Indiana. The Bowl has only been around since 2010, so it has a ways to go to catch other bowl games. Of the four main options for Pitt, this was the least attractive in terms of being a name brand. Sure, it's a Tier One Bowl for the ACC. But it pales in comparison to the others.
Brand Name: C-
While a P5 opponent, Northwestern just isn't wildly attractive as an opponent. I know, I get it. Pitt isn't exactly a powerhouse, either. This has nothing to do with Pitt's standing and isn't a slight to the Wildcats program on a historical level at all. Northwestern, after all, won ten games as recently as last year. But in terms of this season, if you're the type of fan that wants to see a great opponent, you're going to be a little disappointed here. Northwestern was the height of mediocrity this year and (much like they may feel about Pitt), they just aren't all that intriguing/thrilling of an opponent. That's particularly true since Pitt could have been facing West Virginia in the Russell Athletic Bowl game.
Opponent Intrigue: C-
Also, while making a day trip to New York City is very practical, this isn't exactly an ideal game for those that like to really soak in the Bowl game and make it a vacation. I went to the Sugar Bowl once in the 1990s to see Florida-Florida State and it was incredible. The amount of people there for an entire week was insane. If you like to make your Bowl game a vacation, while you'll find plenty to do, it will also be an expensive (and cold) trip.
Practical for Longer Stays: D+
Finally, the day/time just isn't ideal. On a weekend, a lot of people could make the trip a bit easier. But it's smack dab in the middle of the week on a Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. So unless, you're getting up at the crack of dawn then leaving right after the game, you're going to be taking at least two days off of work. If like me, you'll be off the entire week, it's a non-factor. But for those saving vacation days, in the middle of the week like that, it's hardly an ideal situation.
And even for those not making the game, it's on a weekday at 2:00 p.m. so it means taking a half day off of work or trying to avoid hearing about it until you can go and watch later. While the time might be good for those traveling since they can leave afterwards and still get home around midnight, it's awful for a lot of people that want to watch it. Now, it is good in that it comes a few days after Christmas and isn't right up against the holiday when it might be harder to get away from family and relatives. But in terms of that day/time in general, a lot of people obligated to work will likely have to miss the game, I'm guessing.
Overall, there's a lot to like and dislike here. I'll be off the entire week, so while it's doable for me, just not up my alley. In general, I'm not much of a bowl person and it would take quite a bit to go. But for those that just wanted to be able to make the trip, it will fit a lot of schedules.
The Russell Athletic Bowl against West Virginia was the best scenario for my money. Great opponent, rivalry game, Orlando, etc. But they also got to take Miami, who is not only in the state, but has the same record as Pitt and beat Pitt head to head. Then there's the TaxSlayer Bowl, where Georgia Tech ended up in a game against Kentucky. New Year's Eve bowl in Florida? Shoot, even I could have been talked into making that trip. Even the Sun Bowl, which has a weaker location in El Paso could have (excuse the pun) pitted Pitt against Stanford.
But as I said earlier on Twitter, your perspective of what you want out of a bowl determines how you feel about the Pinstripe.
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