The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

November 18, 2011

WVU and Pitt never should quit meeting

MORGANTOWN — Will next Friday’s rendition of The Backyard Brawl between West Virginia and Pitt in football be the last in the foreseeable future, if not forever?

That’s the burning question as both institutions plan to leave the Big East Conference. The Panthers are heading to the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Mountaineers to the Big 12.

Pitt seems to be waiting to see if it must meet the 27-month exit requirement. West Virginia has a lawsuit against the Big East challenging the bylaw, and that conference filed a countersuit.

So it’s understandable that neither of the ancient adversaries has made a definite decision whether to continue meeting on a non-conference basis.

I would think that the powers that be at both universities would want to continue meeting in all sports — not just football, basketball and baseball.

The football series dates back to 1895. Friday’s nationally televised game will be the 104th in the rivalry, one of the oldest and best-known series.

Pittsburgh is leading by a 61-39-3 margin.

With so much uncertainty in its future, you can bet both teams will be fired up more than ever trying to win this Backyard Brawl.

Making it even greater in immediate importance is the fact the Big East Championship is still up for grabs.

There are numerous reasons this rivalry should not die.

The two schools are so close to each other — a comfortable 90-minute drive. Every game sells out the stadium.

It’s a big payday for the home team and hardly any expense for the visiting team.

Students from both institutions can be accommodated in the stands.

That’s something WVU is going to find sadly lacking as its road games in the Big 12 will cover nearly half the country, mileage-wise.

The two universities could continue cooperating in research and other academic areas outside of intercollegiate athletics, as they have lo these many years.

Each school has at least three spots for non-conference games on their schedules.

I believe it would be a major, major mistake to allow the WVU-Pitt Backyard Brawl to end.

To me, it just makes good sense to continue the series.

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