One of the first tangible results of Pitt's impending move to the Atlantic Coast Conference came Friday when the conference announced its football schedule pairings for the 2013 season.
Pitt will have home games against Florida State, Miami, North Carolina and Virginia. The Panthers have away games at Duke, Georgia Tech, Syracuse and Virginia Tech. Dates and kickoff times are still to be determined.
Pitt already announced non-conference games against Villanova, New Mexico, Notre Dame and at Navy to round out its 12-game slate.
"I think it'll be great for our fans, great for college football fans to be able to come to Heinz Field and see the quality of the opponents that are coming in," Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson said. "[They will] be able to see our football team play really outstanding teams."
With the Irish and Seminoles visiting Heinz Field, Pitt will be host to two teams that finished the previous season in The Associated Press top 10 for the first time since 2001. Notre Dame finished the season ranked No. 4 and Florida State finished No. 10.
In 2001, Pitt was host to Miami (which finished No. 2 the year before) and Virginia Tech (No. 6). In 2003, Pitt played three teams -- Notre Dame, Miami and Virginia Tech -- that finished in the previous year's top 20.
"Certainly it's challenging, but at the same time there will be a lot of notoriety and focus surrounding all this, and that's good for our program," Pederson said.
As a member of the ACC Coastal Division, Pitt will play its six division rivals -- Miami, North Carolina, Virginia, Duke, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech -- annually.
The Panthers also will play Syracuse every year as their primary crossover opponent.
The eighth spot on the ACC schedule is a rotating crossover from the Atlantic Division. This year, that spot goes to the Seminoles.
"To get Florida State as a crossover certainly is exciting," Pederson said.
It did not take long for Pitt to reap the benefits of such a high-profile home slate.
Ninety minutes after the schedule was released, the school sold 1,000 season tickets, according to a Pitt official.
This year, the Panthers averaged an announced attendance of 41,494 in six home games and did not sell out any games at the 65,050-seat Heinz Field. Pederson is optimistic next year's strong schedule could change that.
"We understand this year was not helpful in that way because the schedule kept shifting, we lost some key games here. In that case, it really worked against us," Pederson said. "So, I think this has kind of renewed the enthusiasm and momentum towards that."
Pederson said coach Paul Chryst was excited about the opportunity to challenge the Panthers in his second year with a difficult ACC schedule.
"He's a competitive guy," Pederson said. "He wants to play good teams and line our team up against good teams."
Despite Pitt's loss to Mississippi in the BBVA Compass Bowl last weekend, Pederson said he feels good about the momentum of the program heading into the offseason.
"The fact that we're moving into the ACC and moving into the ACC with a great home schedule, I think just adds to the excitement surrounding this," Pederson said. "I feel really good about where we are right now and where we're headed. We've got a lot of work to do, obviously, but I think it's going to be fun to be a part of this."
Panthers 2013 opponents
Dates and kickoff times are still to be determined for Pitt's inaugural season in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Sam Werner: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @SWernerPG.