Speculation over whether or not the Pittsburgh Panthers would jump from the Big East to the ACC this season can all but stop now that Pitt AD Steve Pederson uttered an emphatic "no" when asked the question by Jerry DiPaola of TribLive.com.
The word was "NO" — maybe the most emphatic "NO" I have heard in my life (and, believe me, I have heard it more often than I care to remember).
Pederson did not explain his answer, because there was no need. It was in response to my question about Pitt possibly considering paying more than the required $5 million Big East exit fee to flee to the ACC.
That would close the door on both Pitt and the Syracuse Orange jumping ship in 2012, and it might put a serious damper on the schools leaving before the 27-month period required by Big East bylaws. Both schools' athletic directors are now on record as saying they would not pay the kind of money that West Virginia paid for an early release to their new home, the Big 12.
The big question for Pitt and Syracuse now is: Who will they play to fill those two open spots on their 2012 football schedules?