Panthers, Seminoles may open 2013 season
Pitt coach Paul Chryst is looking forward to the challenges of the ACC, and he may get his biggest one right off the bat vs. Florida State.
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Pitt could be making its entrance to Atlantic Coast Conference football next season in dramatic fashion.
The Panthers and Florida State are in discussions for a potential Monday night game on Labor Day at Heinz Field to open the 2013 season, an ACC spokesperson confirmed Thursday.
The pairing is "one of the options being discussed" for the league's annual prime-time Labor Day game.
The possibility first was reported by the Orlando Sentinel after Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher brought it up at a Florida State boosters rally Wednesday night.
There are a lot of moving parts involved, though, and nothing will be finalized until the ACC releases its full conference schedule, which should be some time in the middle of February.
One of the biggest hurdles for Pitt would be rescheduling a season-opening game Aug. 31 against Villanova. If everything falls into place with Florida State, though, a source indicated the Villanova game likely could be moved to later in the season.
If the game does take place, it would be a high-profile entrance for the Panthers to the ACC. Florida State won the league last year and followed that by defeating Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl. The Seminoles likely will be ranked in the top 15 of the 2013 preseason AP poll.
Both teams will be breaking in new starters at quarterback next season, which might be a reason for the Panthers to consider starting with a lesser opponent. Pitt coach Paul Chryst, though, never has been one to back down from a challenge.
"He's a competitive guy," athletic director Steve Pederson said last month. "He wants to play good teams and line our team up against good teams."
Pitt is 5-3 all time against the Seminoles, with the last meeting coming in 1983, a 17-16 win for the Panthers.
When Pitt's 2013 ACC opponents were announced last month, the Seminoles' visit to Heinz Field was easily the highlight of the slate. Making it a prime-time game on a night with no other college football action would only up the ante.
In the 90 minutes after the release of the Panthers' ACC opponents, a spokesman from Pitt's ticket office said it sold more than 1,000 season tickets.
"Certainly it's challenging, but at the same time, there'll be a lot of notoriety and focus surrounding all this, and that's good for our program," Pederson said at the time. "That's good for college football. That's good for Pittsburgh, too, that we're going to have such high-profile games right here in our city at Heinz Field."
NOTE -- Chryst announced Wednesday that Pitt's spring game will be played April 12 at Bethel Park High School. "We're pretty excited about that," Chryst said. "Loved last year getting out [to North Hills High School], and thought it'd be kind of neat this year, since we're playing at a nice, beautiful high school, beautiful facility, doing it on Friday night." Pitt will start spring practices March 5 and will have 15 practices between then and the spring game.
First Published February 8, 2013 12:00 am