Maybe I wasn’t listening well enough, but I didn’t hear much complaining about Pitt getting an invitation to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
I guess fans are just happy it’s not Birmingham — which gets a bad rap, by the way. Most of them are aware that with a losing record (3-5) in the ACC, Pitt is fortunate to have a 13th game on its schedule. Even if it’s a weekday game in Detroit on the day after Christmas.
The per-team payout is $750,000, and only seven bowls pay less. Even the BBVA Compass Bowl will offer Houston of the American Athletic Conference $900,000.
But it’s not about the money. Coach Paul Chryst just wants the extra practices to start making preparations for next season when he’ll have to start over with a new quarterback.
I’m sure athletic director Steve Pederson tried to politic and call in some favors, but he just didn’t have enough ammunition. Even though Pitt owns impressive victories against Duke and Notre Dame, losses to Navy, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Miami — good teams; nothing special — were too much to overcome. Turn around just two of those five, and Pitt’s bowl fortunes would have been greatly improved.
Pitt and Maryland are the only two of 11 bowl-bound ACC schools with a losing conference record. Maryland was targeted long ago for the Military Bowl in Annapolis, Md., for a logical reason of geography. Pitt might have liked that game, but Maryland is playing Marshall (who cares?) and the Panthers get MAC champion Bowling Green (tougher opponent).
Pitt is 29-3 all-time against MAC schools, and one of those was a loss to Bowling Green in the 2008 opener. If Pitt had won that game, it would have won 10 games two years in row (the Panthers also did it in 2009).
That’s history, though. Chryst wants only to live in the moment. A victory against Bowling Green would give Pitt (6-6 overall) its first winning season since 2010 when all the coaching turmoil erupted.
There is a big difference between 6-7 and 7-6.