PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Pitt football fans can kiss trips to Akron, Buffalo, Toledo, and Athens goodbye.
Athens, Ohio, at least.
That’s because Pitt Athletic Director Scott Barnes made a bold statement when he joined “The Fan Morning Show” on Thursday – one that many Pitt football fans will be happy to hear.
“We will not continue to play home-and-home with Group of Five schools,” Barnes said. “We will play them at our place as part of our scheduling plan. We will not play home-and-home.”
Instead, Pitt will only schedule road games against teams from the Power Five conferences – the Big Ten, Big XII, SEC, or Pac-12 – scheduling home-and-home series exclusively with those teams, rather than also scheduling home-and-home series with teams from the Group of Five conferences – MAC, AAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt, and Conference USA.
This wouldn’t necessarily mean the end of games against Group of Five opponents, though. Pitt could still play those teams in bowl games, neutral site regular-season games (a rarity for Pitt), or “guarantee” games in which Pitt pays another program to play at Heinz Field. Such games are more commonly played against FCS programs (recent examples include Youngstown St., Delaware, Old Dominion, and Gardner-Webb), but will occasionally feature a Group of Five team (such as New Mexico in 2013).
Pitt only has two future road games against Group of Five opponents that have already been scheduled – Marshall in 2020, and Cincinnati in 2024.
While Barnes will likely be looking to toughen-up Pitt’s out-of-conference schedules – a frequent goal for athletic directors in the new College Football Playoff age – he doesn’t want to take things too far.
“It has to do with creating the momentum you need,” Barnes said. “You don’t want to overschedule. We’ve got crossover games coming up with the Clemsons, the Florida States. You’ve got Notre Dame in the mix. So, you want to have a chance to bring some balance and a bit of breathing room.”
But, will this mean that Pitt will keep playing Penn State every year after their current series ends in 2020?
Barnes said Pitt’s subsequent series with West Virginia might get in the way.
“It looks like that may be delayed until towards the end of that Backyard Brawl series,” Barnes said. “We continue to have conversations. We would, in a perfect world, love to play every year…our desire is to play Penn State every year. Given the circumstances, we have moved forward with adding the Backyard Brawl, and then working diligently again to renew Penn State later.”
The interview can be heard here: