The mood of the day after Thanksgiving in Mountaineer Nation always marks a stark contrast to the thanks-filled day of love thy neighbor that is Thanksgiving. (Sometimes, it even changes ON Thanksgiving.)
I've been somewhat quiet here regarding WVU Football this year. Not because I haven't been watching and riding the emotional roller coaster that comes with being a WVU fan, but because I have 1) not had too much unique to say and 2) been writing over at HailWV weekly. Today is the annual Backyard Brawl between WVU and Pitt. As with most rivalry games whether this annual battle means everything or nothing as it relates to post season play, it means everything. Period. If WVU only wins one game in a season, it better be against Pitt.
Today's Brawl will be no different than those of recent years. There is a lot on the line for both teams. With a win, either team remains in the hunt for a Big East Championship and an automatic BCS (Bowl Championship Series) Bowl Spot. With a loss, well, not so much.
But, today's Brawl will be different. If in nothing else, but appearance. Both WVU and Pitt were selected by Nike to wear the next generation in football uniforms this season (other schools such as Boise State and Virginia Tech were also selected). Nike has dubbed these uniforms the 'Pro Combat' series and included elements in the uniform unique to the school and state of the team that will be wearing them. As WVU is the away team today, our uniforms are white, but the gold and blue is there.
The Nike people did their homework, and created WVU's uniform to not only honor West Virginia University, but also the 29 miners that lost their lives this year at the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster. The black smudges on the uniform symbolize the coal dust, and the gold stripe on the helmet symbolizes the miner's hat light that leads them safely. Oh, and those bright gold shoes? They symbolize the canaries that were used years ago to alert miners to the presence of toxic gases.
When the uniforms were debuted, WVU Basketball Coach Bob Huggins introduced WVU's uniform and explained the specific details.
Pitt will also be wearing their Pro Combat Uniforms. As part of the deal with Nike, when a school was selected to debut the Pro Combat Uniforms, they could not wear the uniform prior to the scheduled game when both teams would be wearing them; after that game, a school can wear the uniform as they choose.
I am proud that WVU was chosen to wear these uniforms. I am proud that our state's mining history is being honored. I will be most proud when we Beat Pitt!