Aside from the fact that they were bolting from a conference that is barely treading water in the deep, shark-infested ocean that that is BCS-level college football these days, there were a lot of benefits for the Pittsburgh Panthers moving from their long-time home in the AAC.
One of the advantages of the move was that it could create some fresh, new rivalries for the fan base to get excited about, and could hopefully fill up Heinz Field a little better on Saturdays. Actually, it’s not a matter of whether or not the move “could” fill the stadium. Now, as we’ve recently come to find out, that actually seems to be the case.
Pittsburgh Athletic Director Steve Pederson recently shed some light on how season ticket sales have been going since the announcement of this upcoming season’s schedule. And, if his estimate is correct, then it looks as if the ACC move may have been a better idea than we originally speculated.
According to the AD, 11,000 tickets is all that separates the school from being able to announce a sell-out of the 2013 season. That’s how close the school is to ridding themselves of their season ticket allotment for the 65,000-seat stadium they currently share with the NFL‘s Steelers.
For all the trials and tribulations that the program has seen recently, this is tremendous news for a program looking to climb its way back into a prominent national spotlight.
Pederson did speculate on some reasoning as to why those numbers are so good, and this is where we go back to that whole “fresh, new rivalries” statement from earlier.
While discussing the statistics during the ACC meetings, the man in charge of Pitt athletics stated, “Almost the minute since we announced it (the Labor Day contest against the Florida State Seminoles), the whole feeling in the city of Pittsburgh was something special.”
And, there’s the key words. Or in this case, team. Playing in a conference such as the AAC was undoubtedly getting stale to the Pitt faithful, especially as the conference began to die a slow death. No more Miami. No more Virginia Tech. They even lost their annual famed “Backyard Brawl” against the West Virginia Mountaineers. There was nothing left to get excited about.
Of course, the announcement of an immediate matchup to start things right off in their new ACC home against one of–not just the conference’s, but the entire country’s–premier brands in college football was going to get people just a tad optimistic that things were going to go back to the way they used to be. They’re headed back to the days where Pitt regularly took on national powers, on the nationally televised stage.
Now yes, this is new and we still have to give it a few years to see if the trend can keep up. But for now, especially with all things considered lately, this is a great sign for the direction of the program as a whole.