- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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When it comes to “Moving Day” in the ACC blog, Pitt and Syracuse are old pros. Been there, moved that. I spoke with Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson recently to get his take on how the program’s move to the ACC went (yes, technically it’s still in progress with basketball, but we’ve got football tunnel vision over here). Here’s what Pederson had to say about Pitt’s move to the ACC and what he thinks Louisville will add to the conference this fall:
From a football perspective, how did you think the first season in the ACC went?
Steve Pederson: We were really pleased with the first season. It was a great year for the ACC in so many ways, with Florida State winning the national championship and Clemson winning the Orange Bowl. I guess we got it started off winning the first bowl game out of the gate, but to have 11 teams in bowl games and so many do well was terrific. For us, it was all new to a large extent. Playing in new venues, playing teams we hadn’t played a lot. It was fun to renew some of the Virginia Tech-Miami, those kinds of games, too, that had been great games for our fans. I’d say the first year in terms of the overall conference was terrific.
What are some of the tangible benefits for you guys? How much of an increase did you see in attendance or revenue, things like that?
SP: Attendance was up, which leads to revenue being up. Overall interest … I’ll give you an example. We [recently] announced our schedule for next year, and immediately people were excited about that. This year, we had Florida State, Notre Dame and Miami on the schedule. This year, the reaction of our fans was, 'What a great schedule.' That’s one of the great advantages of being in the ACC. Every game is a brand name, and every team is an appealing team to see. From that point, our fans have been excited about that. And I think recruiting has gone well; it’s a good conference to recruit to. The overall perception of the conference is really good right now.
When you look at what’s going on in the NCAA, with the push for the Power Five to have more autonomy, do you exhale that you’re in one?
SP: One of the things we felt all along is that if your goals are to be among the very best, then you have to be connected to the very best. That’s where being in one of the Power Five conferences, the competition is in everything you do, but the benefits from being in that are significant, and the opportunities from being in that are significant. And we know that. We’re thrilled to be in the ACC. It’s a perfect fit for Pitt.
How do you think Louisville will fit in?
SP: Oh, I think Louisville will fit in great. It’s interesting that the transition for us has been exceptional, and I know it has been for Syracuse, and Notre Dame as well. Louisville will experience the exact same thing. Certainly, [the Cardinals are] committed to competing at a high level. They’ll be just as thrilled with getting to be a part of it as we are.
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