The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

December 11, 2011

Cook expects end to Backyard Brawl

MORGANTOWN — Beano Cook thinks the Backyard Brawl between West Virginia and Pitt might well be a thing of the past.

While he lacks inside information, Cook has kept a close tab on the university for which he served many years as sports information director in the 1950s-60s.

As everyone who’s interested now knows, the Mountaineers are headed for the Big 12 and Pitt for the Atlantic Coast Conference. So both will be leaving the Big East as soon as WVU lawsuits are settled.

Cook, who still lives in Pittsburgh, continues to do some work for the ESPN Network. He makes frequent appearances on radio but no longer on TV.

“Since the two schools are parting company, they could decide to play now and then,” Cook said. “But I don’t think it would be every year.”

West Virginia needed a strong second-half rally to eke out a 21-20 victory over Pitt this season. That gave it a three-game winning streak in the ancient series.

The Mountaineers also had won in 2010 by 35-10 in Pittsburgh and in 2009 by 19-16 on a game-winning field goal by Tyler Bitancort, who’s now a junior.

Pitt last won in 2008 by 19-15 at Pittsburgh. The Panthers lead the all-time rivalry by 40-61-3, dating back to its beginning in 1895.

Cook said, “I thought at one time the Backyard Brawl football series would continue, but if I had to make a prediction now I don’t think it will survive on a regular basis.

“(WVU Athletic Director) Oliver Luck took some pot shots at Pitt when it announced it was jumping to the ACC, and I felt sorry (for Pitt).

“If they don’t play again, I think that would be the reason.”

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Speaking of the Backyard Brawl, it appears to have been the late Russ Franke who first used the term in the 1960s.

That was Google’s response when his name was typed on the Internet recently. Franke was a longtime sports writer for The Pittsburgh Press (no longer in existence).

Cook had mentioned him some time ago as the likely writer who first coined the term.

“Yeah, but we still don’t have positive proof,” legendary Cook said. “Russ was gone when we first brought up the matter.”

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