Morgantown, West Virginia – It’s difficult to even imagine this, but if West Virginia travels to Pittsburgh on September 1st and does anything other than beat the hell out of Pitt, it’s going to be truly devastating for the West Virginia football program and the state as a whole.
West Virginia fans are different. The Mountaineers mean everything to the people of West Virginia. And no matter how many times Neal Brown and his staff explain to their players how important the game is, it’s impossible for most of the players on the team to truly understand the importance of beating Pitt to the state and its people.
Zach Frazier understands. Dante Stills knows what’s up. Preston Fox gets it. Sean Martin, Doug Nester, Wyatt Milum, Zeiqui Lawton and a few others can appreciate how much it means to West Virginia, but players who didn’t grow up in the state living and dying with the successes and failures of the Mountaineers can’t possibly understand.
Especially when playing Pitt.
Players on the team will be excited to play. It’s going to be a massive, exciting atmosphere, and it’s going to be the first game of the season, but how could they ever know how much it means to beat Pitt when they’ve never experienced first hand? Or, alternatively, how could they understand how crushing a loss to the Panthers would be when they haven’t sat in their living rooms in West Virginia as kids, watching their fathers and mothers crying when the Mountaineers lose?
This isn’t an indictment against non-West Virginia native players. Obviously they want to play well and they want to win the game, but it’s implausible to think that they could ever fully realize just how big this game is.
Legendary West Virginia head coach Don Nehlen will speak to the Mountaineers before they take the field against Pitt on September 1st. Hopefully he’s able to somehow convey the passion and meaningfulness of the Backyard Brawl to the players who have never experienced it before.