Pitt in the ACC: A Look Back at the First Five Years

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Pitt officially joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in all sports on July 1, 2013, five years ago last month. Shortly after that the football team played their first game as a member, a nationally televised Labor Day night game against Florida State. The move had been long-anticipated, with the initial announcement coming in 2011 and rumors of Pitt leaving the decrepit Big East for several years prior. The expectancy was palpable that night at Heinz Field with a sellout crowd on hand and a pregame celebration of Pitt’s new conference home. The team even briefly rewarded and enhanced the celebration by scoring on the opening drive of the game to take an early 7-0 lead. It wasn’t to last though as the eventual national champions quickly took control of the game and ultimately won 41-13.  The game was a quick reality check. After the built-up excitement over Pitt finally finding a stable home for athletics, when the time finally came they still had to go out and play the games. I would almost compare it to a marriage. The engagement happened in 2011 when the move was first announced and what followed was a 2-year period of planning and anticipation. The wedding itself happened on Labor Day 2013 and everyone had a great party to celebrate. Unfortunately, there was no honeymoon and after the “wedding” all that’s left is the actually living with each other. Extending this metaphor further, one could say that Pitt is now at the 5th anniversary of its marriage with the ACC. How have the first 5 years gone for Pitt? Where do they fit in the conference hierarchy? How does the future look? These are the questions I look to answer as I go through the first 5 years of Pitt in the ACC.

A Timeline of Pitt’s First 5 Years in the ACC

As a disclaimer, I will only be looking at Pitt football’s first 5 years in the ACC. There is plenty worth mentioning that has happened in the other sports, but the focus here will be on the football team. With that out of the way, let’s start with a brief timeline of Pitt football in the ACC:

  • September 18, 2011 – The ACC Council of Presidents vote unanimously to accept Pitt (and Syracuse) as the 13th and 14th members of the conference.
  • July 1, 2013 – After playing out two lame duck seasons