The ACC inched closer to playing actual college football today. They did this by doing four things: Adopting an 11 game schedule, adding Notre Dame on a one-year basis, pushing the start of the season back to September 12th and adding a big, fat coronavirus caveat.
“The ACC board of directors voted Wednesday to proceed with an 11-game football season that begins the weekend of Sept. 12 — and includes FBS independent Notre Dame playing a full league schedule — but only if public health guidance allows.” (Emphasis added)
Heather Lyke was quick to temper expectations, with a statement she released just minutes ago:
“The announcement of an ACC scheduling model is an important first step as we continue to build a framework to safely play the 2020 season. The focal point of our planning has been, and will continue to be, the health and well-being of our student-athletes. The ACC’s Medical Advisory Group has been an exceptional resource in helping us plot a course in an ever-changing health environment. We will remain vigilant as we work through the additional details that need to be resolved before a season can commence.”
So in essence the ACC has given its the states in which its member institutions reside 45 days to to get their collective acts together. The Vegas action on whether or not the ACC states actually can get their acts together would be hot — if casinos were taking bets on COVID (and who knows maybe they are).
But we’ve had time to talk about Coronavirus, and I’d prefer not to reopen that converstaion. In fact, I’ll shut it down if you try. Instead- despite our Athletic Director’s prudent words of warning – lets wallow in the prospect of actually having an honest-to-goodness college football season, and one that in some ways harks back to a simpler era when teams were not scheduled as cupcakes, wins were not rented, and colleges took their best 22 and lined ’em up against their rivals best 22 and let things rip.
That’s exactly what I would expect to happen, given that the ACC has dissolved both divisions, and declared that ahem Clemson and the other team with the top conference winning percentage are going to meet in the ACC championship.
Of course Pitt now plays Clemson…so there is that.
But yea, assuming the season gets played and assuming the schedule more or less provides parity then the top two teams in the ACC will play in the championship for maybe the first time, ever.
Here is what’s been released regarding Pitt’s schedule. No times or dates yet. My comments are in italics:
- Louisville – Home. This won’t be a hot take, but this one adds some old Big East flavor. Louisville surprised a lot of people last year. Can they do it again?
- NC State – Home. A team we haven’t played since Pitt posted a forgettable loss in 2017. I caught a little bit of NC State vs Syracuse last season, and watching the Wolfpack QB made me thankful we have Kenny Pickett.
- Note Dame – Home. Keeping rivals together. Notre Dame probalby also lobbied the ACC to keep this one as they love to recruit WPA. I for one am glad they kept it as I think we can beat them this year.
- Syracuse – Home. Thank you ACC for preserving the least heated rivalry in college football.
- Virginia Tech – Home. No surprises here. Sets up a revenge game after last year’s beat-down in Blacksburg. Also Pitt fans would have howled if we had to go down there two years in a row.
- BC – Away. If Pitt loses to the Eagles this year many many Pitt fans will turn against Pat Narduzzi.
- Clemson – Away. Optimists will say that the ACC begrudgingly realizes that Pitt may be the real deal this year and this a ratings play. Pessimists will say that Pitt was given Clemson on the road to help make sure they don’t make the ACC championship. I say that’s why they play the games.
- Florida State – Away. I’d trade this game for a game against Duke for many reasons, but winability isn’t one of them. An undisciplined team in a party town in a coronavirus dumpster fire of a state is a recipe for disaster.
- Georgia Tech – Away. On the surface it seems like we got the short end of the stick by having to travel to Atlanta two years in a row, but if you think about how Narduzzi and co., have been recruiting Georgia this road trip isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
- Miami – Away. Yes it’s a long road trip, but we were supposed to play them on the road anyway. This will be the third year since we beat them so we are due for one more loss before we have a shot again. Might as well take the L down there.
And while I’m at it, here is a way-too-early W-L prediction:
- Louisville – W – Satterfield is a good coach but he won’t have an answer for Pitt’s D in just his second year at the helm.
- NC State – W – They were bad last year and won’t be good enough this year.
- Note Dame – W – This is our year.
- Syracuse – W – Will their O-Line be better than last year? Our D-Line will be.
- Virginia Tech – W – Revenge is a dish best served cold.
- BC – W – See Virginia Tech.
- Clemson – L – Lightning never strikes the same place twice.
- Florida State – W – They are two years away from being the Florida State of old.
- Georgia Tech – W – We won’t take them as lightly as we did last year.
- Miami – L – Because Pitt
- +1 – W – PSN saying Miami of Ohio is in play here. Given that we now have ten conference games, a regional MAC opponent makes a lot of sense, if they can make it happen. A wrinkle is that ACC has mandated that travel to the non-con has to be in-state, which really only leaves Penn State and Temple as options. Penn State at Lincoln Financial Field anyone? We could only dream…and yes this year Pitt beats ’em.
That’s a 9-2 season for all you optimists out there, against a legit schedule. Heck even if we win eight that’s an accomplishment.
Of course we could just as easily end up at 5-6. Notre Dame is more talented than us. Justin Fuente will have VT humming. Florida State is still Florida State. And what if against all odds we did get Penn State as our +1? Sure my Pitt bravado says we’d win, but for crying out loud, Penn State is GOOD. And then there is the injury wildcard. If either starting safety goes down our defensive effectiveness drops by half. The same can probably be said about corners. We’ve got little depth at wide receiver. And the offensive line is going to be a question mark until it isn’t.
So yes, I was drinking the kool-aid on the defensive line on Sunday. And yes, I’m still pretty optimistic about the team, but after being a fan for twenty three yeras, I’m not quite sure I’m ready to go all in on in on Pitt just yet.
Still, at least we have a plan for the season. Now all we need is for it to happen, and if it does that would be tremendous for many reasons. Keep your fingers crossed and wear your masks people.
Hail to Pitt