Pitt caught in no man's land

September, 4, 2012
9/04/12
1:00
PM ET
The comments from both Big East and ACC fans began as soon as the final score was announced.

Youngstown State 31, Pitt 17.

Big East fan sentiment: "Pitt is not a member of the Big East!"

ACC fan sentiment: "Is it too late to take back Pitt's invitation?"

Big East associate commissioner Nick Carparelli's sentiment, via Twitter: "The #BigEast will be a better football conference on the field next year than it has ever been!"

That brings us to the precarious spot both Pitt and Syracuse are in this season, their last one as Big East members before shipping off to the ACC in 2013. Do their successes and/or failures reflect on the Big East or the ACC?

Because late Saturday night, Pitt appeared to be homeless. Nobody wanted any part of that debacle. After so many high hopes headed into the season, Pitt notched the first loss in school history to an FCS member AND the worst loss in all of college football in Week 1.

Of course, there are some who may say Pitt fits right into the ACC, which has had one member school lose to an FCS team in each of the last three seasons: Duke to Richmond in 2011; Virginia Tech to James Madison in 2010; Virginia to William & Mary in 2009. The Big East, on the other hand, had a 57-game winning streak over FCS opponents and was the only FBS conference without a loss to an FCS school since 2004. Until Saturday.

As for the point Carparelli made, the Big East only had two losses in Week 1, and both were to schools jumping ship for the ACC. The harder truth, however, is that incoming Big East members went 1-6, including embarrassing losses by Houston and Memphis -- also to an FCS team. Those six losses were by an average of 18 points.

While the vexing question of who should take ownership of Pitt and Syracuse has been tossed around by fans and the media, neither team is looking ahead to the ACC. They cannot afford to. As Syracuse coach Doug Marrone said on the Big East call Monday, "We're excited about playing the schedule we have to play this year and what comes after that we’ll look forward to later on."

Both are trying to win a final championship, and both are members of the Big East. But what happened Saturday reinforces a point many observers have made since both schools ambushed the Big East last September.

Pitt and Syracuse have not really held up their end of the bargain for football. So what that leaves the ACC -- a league many perceive to be a notch below the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 -- is two programs that very may well water down what already is a watered down league in football.

Syracuse has made one bowl game since 2004. Pitt has struggled to back-to-back BBVA Compass Bowl appearances and has not played in a BCS game since 2004. In the Big East preseason media poll, Pitt was picked to finish fifth; Syracuse to finish seventh. That right there is what the ACC is getting come 2013.

In most cases, it is fruitless to look ahead to the future. But not in this situation. Yes, the Pitt and Syracuse results this year count in the Big East standings. But they reflect much more on what the ACC is getting.

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