For years after the ACC first raided the Big East for Miami and Virginia Tech, Pitt partisans dreamed of a move to the Big Ten. TV markets, however, dictated that Pitt would/will never get an invite. The Big Ten Network is already in the Pittsburgh area because of Pennstate. Ratings themselves don’t necessarily matter. If you have expanded cable, you get the BTN whether you watch it or not. So you’re paying for it no matter what. The B1G gets paid, period. I still prefer the ACC.
In football, we can still maintain a strong northeastern and mid-atlantic presence against former Big East schools Syracuse, BC and VT. We get a better toehold in Florida with the additions of games against FSU and resumption of games against Miami-FL. We can expand our recruiting south to places like the Carolinas. And historically, Pitt hasn’t needed a rivalry presence to recruit Ohio; the River City Rivalry with Cincinnati stretches back less than a decade. Moving to the B1G would open up the midwest more but that’s about it.
There’s no doubt that Big Ten schools have more aggregate football success and tradition at the top than the ACC. OSU, Michigan, Nebraska and Pennstate are among the blue-bloods of collge football. But the ACC still has two blue-blood brands of its own in FSU and Miami-FL and two barons (so to speak) in Clemson and VT.
In basketball, the advantage is clear. In either scenario, B1G or ACC, Pitt loses the access to Madison Square Garden that the Big East provided. But one of the biggest false narratives about Pitt basketball is our supposed reliance on NYC talent. In Ben Howland’s early days, that was certainly true but Jamie Dixon has broadening our recruiting during his tenure, expanding into DC/MD area. The best Pitt team of the past two decades, the 2008-2009 Elite Eight team, had only two players from NYC prep schools (three if you count Don Bosco Prep, which I don’t). Sam Young, one of the most dynamic players on that Pitt team, came from Maryland. As Pitt’s talent level has slowly improved, Dixon’s need to rely on under-talented grinders from NYC has diminished.
Institutionally, Pitt fits equally well in the ACC and Big Ten. We’re a major research university. We’re part of the AAU. Our endowment of $2.5 billion would be the third highest in the B1G, fourth highest in the ACC (if you include ND).
In terms of our enrollment, Pitt would be one of the smallest schools in the Big Ten, third from the bottom. In the ACC, we’re right in the middle. Don’t think that enrollment doesn’t factor into a school’s ability to fill its stadia. When it wins, Pitt can/will fill Heinz Field because the city is also along for the ride. When it loses, well, it looks like Byrd Stadium at Maryland.
Ultimately, money talks. For Rutgers, this move absolutely makes sense when the alternative is staying in a sinking Big East ship. But for Maryland, outside of the money, it’s a bad, bad decision. The same would have gone for Pitt.