When college basketball season rolls around and media days get underway usually the talk surrounds conference players of the year, what team is voted as the preseason favorite, and coaches are left to ask questions about the kind of team they are expected to have for the upcoming year. When you are Pitt Head Coach Jamie Dixon you don’t have that luxury. Instead, you are left to answer more questions about conference realignment than your own basketball team. Dixon appeared in front of the media for the first time since it was announced that Pitt would be leaving the mighty Big East for the ACC sometimes in the future and surprisingly Dixon said there was no ill-will towards him or the University when fielding questions.
Jamie Dixon joined 93.7 In Pittsburgh with Vinnie and Cook to talk about how good they feel about their preseason ranking in the Big East, whether or not it was awkward at Media Day having to answer questions about realignment, if not knowing the future of the program is concerning, and what kind of opportunity he thinks playing in the ACC presents.
How he feels about the team’s preseason ranking in the conference:
“Given we have lost three players, three very good players I think the other guys all above us have a lot more returning guys than we have but I think going by our history and what we’ve done we seem to replace very good players with very good players again. I think we’re in position in that regard. I think our guys are ready, they’re younger, but they are ready to seize the opportunity. Getting picked fourth in our league probably means you’re probably a top ten team in preseason stuff. It just again shows the strength of the conference really.”
Whether or not Media Day was awkward for him:
“No I mean people were trying to use the word awkward or strange, it wasn’t. It’s been talked about so much. I hesitate to use the word relief but I think we’ve been dealing with this for so many years and talk. I use the example of Jay Wright and I used to talk about this all the time what was gonna happen? Are they gonna add football? Are they gonna build it up to 1A football? What could happen? What would happen? All the rumors that were out there. Then once it finally did happen there was nothing you could really talk about because we rehashed it over and over about what could happen. Anti-climactic. I guess in some respects we knew it was down the road and ‘inevitable’ is the word that’s been used. Everybody was asking questions and hoping someone would say something controversial. I leave that to Coach Boeheim. He seems to do a better job of that and gives better quotes than me in that regard so I think the timing now is the question of when that is going to happen and like I’ve said all along when they’re ready and when they need to get us to move on and when they have their teams and their full schedule for football that’ll be the time that we move. We understand that and that’s gonna be good for everybody. We’ll be ready then.”
Whether or not he is concerned that he doesn’t have a clear future of what is going to happen with the program:
“I would think probably everybody else that’s probably the thinking if you include everybody generally speaking. I don’t think it’s gonna affect us either way. I guess you would like to know with some time and some warning as to when it’s gonna be. I wouldn’t like to find out in June I guess that we’re gonna be playing the ACC that next fall so I guess that would be important. We’ll survive it, it’s not gonna kill us, and we’ll survive it. We’ve gotta look out for their interests and we’ve gotta look out for our interests so we will try to do both at the same time. Not always possible but we’re gonna try and do it at this point.”
On the kind of opportunities available by moving to the ACC:
“The main thing we’ve always sold at Pitt was the opportunity to play in the best conference in the country. That is what we’ve loved about the Big East. It’s the best basketball conference in the country, I don’t think anyone can really argue that now. Our goal was to build into the best conference in the country and I think we had something to do with that. What we need now to do is build the ACC into the best conference in the country for basketball and that’s our selling point. I think as time goes on I think the ACC has the opportunity to do that with Syracuse and us joining it. Hopefully we can swing the balance of power over to the ACC once we get there. That’s a couple of years away.”