The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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August 17, 2012

Reviving the Backyard Brawl

WVU AD Luck hopeful WVU and Pitt will battle again in the future

MORGANTOWN — Don’t write off West Virginia’s football series with oldest rival Pitt yet.

Oliver Luck, the Mountaineers’ director of athletics, certainly isn’t.

He told residents at the Village of Heritage Point that he’s hopeful the two institutions can resume playing in three years or so. Luck already has discussed the matter with Steve Pederson, Pitt’s director of athletics.

As you undoubtedly know, the so-called Backyard Brawl was dropped from each school’s football schedule after the 2011 season. Both are withdrawing from membership in the Big East Conference.

West Virginia is making its debut in the Big 12 Conference this year. Pittsburgh has served notice it will be joining the Atlantic Coast Conference soon.

West Virginia eked out a 21-20 victory over the Panthers in last year’s meeting in Morgantown. But Pitt leads the all-time series by a 60-46-3 margin.

This is the first break in the Backyard Brawl scheduling since 1940-43. That was during World War II when WVU and Pitt, like most colleges, had coaches and players serving in the military forces.

The series actually dates back to 1895. Pitt was known then as Western University of Pennsylvania, and the game was played in Wheeling. WVU won 8-0.

In 1906, Pitt prevailed 17-0, as W.U.P., in Pittsburgh, and they continued to meet intermittently after 1918 when WVU did not play football.

World War I and a widespread influenza epidemic spread throughout the nation.

The series restarted in 1919 with the Panthers winning 26-0 at home, and the rivalry continued without a break through the 1939 season when Pitt won 20-0.

It seems unfortunate after 68 consecutive stagings of the so-called Backyard Brawl (1943-2011) that one of the country’s oldest rivalries had to be interrupted again.

Hopefully, Luck and Pederson will see fit to resume this great rivalry on a nonconference — but annual — basis.

The sooner, the better.

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