Yesterday, Donna left a comment that totally embarrassed and shamed me. NOT because of anything she said, but rather because it marked a glaring omission on my part this year.
Her comment: I imagine there's a story in "The Backyard Brawl"??
Yikes! How can I have done such a lousy job of talking about football, specifically WVU Football 'round here this year that one of you didn't know what THE Backyard Brawl is. I'm seriously thinking I need to be punished somehow!
So, in answer to Donna's question - yes, there is a story behind The Backyard Brawl. It started 104 years ago on a football field when the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) Panthers and the West Virginia University (WVU) Mountaineers first played one another.
Morgantown (home of WVU) and Pittsburgh (home of Pitt) are separated by a mere 80 miles along Interstate 79. Essentially, we are neighbors sharing a backyard. And the game has the feel of a pick-up game in the backyard, with the stories of heroics and tragedy on the field to go along with it.
Most recent years this game is the last home game for the Mountaineers and Senior Night. And on any given night, a huge upset can happen to either team. If you beat Pitt, the rest of the season doesn't really matter - it makes everything better. Or, worse, like in 2007, the Mountaineers were ranked #2 in the country, had only 1 loss, and with a win were going to the National Championship game. It was the 100th Backyard Brawl. Pitt was 4-7. Everyone from the outside looking in said WVU was a 'sure' win. Those of us closer to the situation knew, it's Pitt...anything can happen. And it did. And I just can't talk about the rest of it any more.
In 2009 there was finally some redemption. But just hearing the numbers 13 and 9 in the same sentence still makes my stomach turn.
In 2010, we won again and did so in our Nike Pro Combat best.
And this year, with all of the conference changing, there is a very real possibility this could be the last installment of the Backyard Brawl.
As much as I hate Pitt, I hope the Athletic Director's at the schools find a way to keep the game going. I hate it when they beat us, but I can't imagine a football season without the Backyard Brawl circled on the calendar from the start of the season.
So today, I'm getting ready for the 104th edition of The Backyard Brawl. Everything I wear will be gold and blue; the tailgate food will be the best of the season (deep fried turkey, chicken wings, buffalo chicken dip, homemade pepperoni rolls, and more!); and our season that has been less-than-what-we-hoped-for can be totally redeemed with a win on the field tonight.
Let's GOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Mountaineers!!!!!!