Perhaps more so than any school involved in ACC shuffling and expansion, Pittsburgh arrives in the ACC with few, if any, longstanding football rivalries.
The ACC has positioned the Panthers as advantageously as possible, adding them to the Coastal Division roster, where they'll play former Big East opponents Virginia Tech and Miami each season. Another familiar match-up was maintained by designating Syracuse as Pitt's Atlantic Division crossover rival.
Pitt has been handed an attractive first-year conference schedule, which includes home games against Florida State, North Carolina, Virginia and Miami, as well a previously-scheduled game against Notre Dame.
As Jerry DiPaola of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review recently noted, the Panthers also have a historical connection with Georgia Tech. The teams met in back-to-back Sugar Bowls and Gator Bowls in 1955-56.
“Certain schools, not by design or pre-selection, will develop rivalries just because the competition sort of works,” Georgia Tech AD Mike Bobinski told the Tribune-Review. “I don't think you can predict that moving forward. Those things will naturally evolve.”
Pittsburgh is hoping something new develops along the lines of what has happened between Clemson and Boston College after the Eagles joined the ACC:
'Rivalries can develop between unlikely opponents. Clemson and Boston College are separated by 990 miles, but they play for the O'Rourke-McFadden Trophy, named after players from the schools' leather helmet days,' DiPaola wrote. 'The trophy was created in 2008 by the Boston College Gridiron Club, whose members liked traveling to Clemson after BC joined the ACC in 2005. Likewise, Clemson fans enjoyed the trip to Boston.
'The teams have met only 22 times, with Clemson holding an 11-9-2 edge, but they played in the 1940 Cotton Bowl and there were spirited games when Doug Flutie was the Boston College quarterback. In the three games immediately prior to the trophy's inception, BC won all three — in overtime, double overtime and by three points. That's how you build a rivalry.'
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney noted recently that rivalries also develop during the week-to-week course of competition.
“When you only have 12 games and you work hard for those 12, it doesn't matter who the name is, whether it's Pitt or East Bogo Community College,” Swinney told the Tribune-Review. “It's big, and people want to win. That's why they have that big, old scoreboard hanging up. And they keep making it bigger and bigger and bigger to remind me that it matters.”
Another promising development for Pittsburgh is that after 16-year break, the Panthers have scheduled four meetings with Penn State between 2016 and 2019. Officials at both school are hoping for develop a long-term scheduling strategy to continue the rivalry.
The downside to the schedule, since the ACC divided into divisions, is that opposite-division schools that are not designated crossover rivals meet only occasionally - just twice during six-season cycles, once at home and once on the road.
Clemson, then, will soon get to know Syracuse quite well, but will infrequently cross paths with Pittsburgh.