With Texas A&M likely heading out of the Big XII in the near future, that conference is now aggressively maneuvering to replace the Aggies. Pitt's name has been mentioned in multiple places as a candidate to slide into A&M's slot, and it now looks like those rumors are gaining a little traction.
According to Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com, Pitt is close to the top of the list of potential targets. Here's an excerpt of his report.
Two sources told me today Pittsburgh continues to move up as a Big 12 target, and may even be moving into the lead. Pitt AD Steve Pederson is sending out signals the Panthers are content in the Big East.
But Pittsburgh would bring football and basketball tradition to the Big 12 as well as a large television market in the northeast. Considering Pitt makes about $8 million per year currently in TV revenue, the Panthers would probably love the upgrade in pay in the Big 12 (to between $17 million and $20 million) starting next year - as long as the Big 12 is still together at that point.
Count a local writer among the skeptical the move would be a slam dunk for the Panthers, however.
Paul Zeise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette offers this after saying he gets no vibes out of Oakland that administrators are interested in the move. :
The one thing that Pederson said the school absolutely needs is stability and if the Big East can't provide it, the school will find it elsewhere. But as unstable as the Big East is, or at least seems to be (meaning, the annual "this school is leaving for greener grass" stories always have some legs because the football conference is not on solid footing) - it is still more stable or at least as stable as the Big 12 is. That's why Texas A&M has already apparently jumped ship and Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are thinking about doing the same. You simply can't have a league where one team - Texas - plays by a different set of rules than everyone else and expect it to last. As long as the Longhorn Network exists, the Big 12 will be on shaky ground - so why would Pitt want to go there?
Really, the discussion about a move to Big XII should begin and end here for Pitt. Big pay days are nothing if there's no promise they'll last more than a year or two, and so long as Pitt boasts the clout it does in the Big East, there's no reason for the brass in Oakland to give that up and take a back seat to Texas in the Big XII.
Furthermore, Pitt is attractive enough that it can do better than the Big XII if it ever does decide to jump the Big East ship. No less than Penn State's Joe Paterno has proclaimed Pitt an ideal candidate if the Big Ten ever moves to expand again, and the ACC could offer renewed rivalries with schools like Virginia Tech, Boston College and Miami if it is raided by the SEC as some reports have suggested it might be.
Ultimately, a move to the Big XII would be motivated by short-term gain rather than long term stability. For that reason, it would be pretty shocking if Pitt caved to that temptation and left the relative stability of the Big East for the mess in the Southwest.