Coach Paul Chryst and his Pitt Panthers may open their first ever season in the ACC with a bang — or a thud, if you’re a Florida State fan. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the gears have been set in motion to pit the Panthers against the big boys of the ACC, the Seminoles, in a Labor Day showdown at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field. The prime-time matchup would be scheduled for Labor Day and it would open the 2013 college football season.
The pairing is “one of the options being discussed” for the league’s annual prime-time Labor Day game.
Florida State won its first ACC title since 2005 this past season, and then dominated Northern Illinois to take home the BCS Orange Bowl championship as well. Pitt wanted to make the move to the ACC in order to not only increase program exposure, but to increase its level of competition as well.
Playing against what is annually one of the nation’s premier football powerhouses, and on an evening during which no other football games are going to be played, checks both of those desires off the list in one fell swoop.
Of course, this is still a rebuilding program, and Chryst’s squad will enter the 2013 season with a new quarterback following the graduation of Tino Sunseri. It may not behoove the Panthers to get walloped in front of millions of viewers.
However, Chryst is not one to shy away from a challenge. Even if it is posed by one of the nation’s most talented group of players.
“He’s a competitive guy,” athletic director Steve Pederson said last month. “He wants to play good teams and line our team up against good teams.”
What will get college football history buffs going is the fact that these two programs have not met since the 1983 season, when Pitt pulled out a 17-16 nail-biter.
But the picture is not all roses. Currently, Pitt’s opening game is scheduled to arrive on Aug. 31, against FCS school Villanova (no, their football program is not on par with basketball, for those wondering, although it did win the 2009 FCS national title — fun fact). Thus, the powers that be would have to find an open date that works for both teams before slotting FSU into the Labor Day spot.
That being said, the money, national exposure and the chance to upset the cream of the ACC crop all make this potential matchup too enticing not to take on. Should it fail to happen, no one will bemoan a national tragedy or anything, but a real opportunity — for both programs — will be missed.
And it sounds like Pitt’s coaches and athletic department understands that. But will their football team be ready to take on the top team in their new conference on Day 1?
Hopefully, the nation will be allowed to find out on Labor Day.