Yinz about to see Mountaineer Nation invade the kittens’ litter box on September 1st so lets give some credit to Shane Lyons, the athletic director at West Virginia University. West Virginia and Pittsburgh’s rivalry has been revived with the return of the Backyard Brawl after an absence of ten years.
As a direct consequence of this, the 105th version of the Backyard Brawl will take place in Pittsburgh on September 1 at seven o’clock in the evening in the venue that is now known as Acrisure Stadium and will have a very special dinner guest on hand. Who is it? Why it’s ESPN’s College Gameday! Pregame show presenter Rece Davis will be joined by the regular team of commentators Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, and David Pollack at 6 p.m. that night in Pittsburgh.
It will be the city’s first appearance since 2005 on the College Gameday Road program, which will be the 422nd time it has been broadcast. Consequently, it was high time that they made the trip to Pittsburgh. It was also about time that the Backyard Brawl between West Virginia University and the University of Pittsburgh was brought back, which was also about time that perhaps the College GameDay Crew to empower the whole country to recognize this match for the heated and lengthy rivalry that it has become.
This will be the 105th version of the Backyard Brawl. Take it into consideration. How many of the nation’s universities have played football games against the school that is their most dreaded opponent? Any? Perhaps, perhaps not! This is what makes the Backyard Brawl so unique, and the fact that College Gameday is also taking place at the same time makes it even more of an event.
An important disclaimer comes before this. Although Pitt holds a commanding lead in the series, with a 61-40-3 overall advantage, the Mountaineers have actually prevailed in the most recent three matchups between the two schools, which were held between 2009 and 2011.
But wait! There’s more! Who would have thought that the first game of the Backyard Brawl would not take place in Morgantown or Pittsburgh? The very first matchup between West Virginia University and the University of Pittsburgh took place at Wheeling, West Virginia, in 1895, and the Mountaineers came out on top with a shut out of 8-0. When West Virginia University and Pitt met for the second time in 1898, Fairmont, West Virginia was the site of the game.
Another first, the 1921 edition of the Backyard Brawl was the very first college football game that was ever aired on the radio. As it turns out, a broadcaster by the name of Harold W. Arlin announced Pitt’s 21-13 victory over West Virginia University on the AM station KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
WVU will have three games scheduled on Thursday evenings during the course of the season, and one of them will be the Backyard Brawl. The Mountaineers will also compete against Virginia Tech on September 22 at 7:30 p.m. at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Virginia. On October 13, the Mountaineers will host Baylor at 7 p.m. in Morgantown.
I’m curious about head coach Neal Brown’s thoughts on games played on Thursday nights. Brown stated, “In all honesty, I’d rather not play both of those games, particularly on the road, within the span of one season, but that is what it is,” in reference to the contests against Pitt and Virginia Tech. “I do think that opening the season with the Backyard Brawl has been beneficial to us because when we came back after the bowl game, it was a motivator for the players,” the head coach said. Indeed, it was the case.
Consider the outstanding wideout Bryce Ford Wheaton, for instance. During one top heavy victory over the Panthers in 1965, his granddad, Garrett Ford Jr., ran roughshod over the opposition with a score of 63–48. The Backyard Brawl also featured participation from Ford’s son. That being said, the Ford-Wheaton family hopes to improve upon their current record of 4-2-1. It was reported that he said something along the lines of, “As soon as the bowl game ended and we reported back to campus, we were already locked in on Pitt.” “There is a ticking clock in the room, and it never stops. You’ve got to get it right, because according to Coach Brown, this clock doesn’t stop for anybody. You have to strive to improve on a daily basis.”
The fact that Ford-Wheaton and his team members at WVU have never participated in the Backyard Brawl serves as a significant source of motivation for him. “We’ve never played in it before, but the history is still there, and we know what it means to this state and this team,” said Ford-Wheaton. “We know what it means to this state and this team.” “We need to go out there and be ready,” the captain said.
That shouldn’t present any difficulties at all!