Could Pitt and WVU be brawling again
For the first time since the series ended in 2011, parties on both sides of the border seem to have some interest in renewing the Pitt-West Virginia rivalry.
WVU Athletic Director Shane Lyons, who replaced Oliver Luck in that position in February, said last week that a renewal of the Backyard Brawl is "on my radar," but a few hurdles stand in the way.
For starters, Pitt needs an athletic director of its own. Chancellor Patrick Gallagher fired Steve Pederson in mid-December, and while various reports have indicated that the University is moving closer to hiring Pederson's successor, no such announcement has been made.
The other issue is the slate of games each program already has lined up for the next few years. Pitt's future schedules show the Panthers with one opening in 2017, two open slots in 2018 and 2019, one in 2020 and at least three in each of the years beyond that.
But West Virginia wouldn't necessarily be a good fit for all of those openings. In 2017, Pitt already has Penn State and Oklahoma State on the schedule and in 2018 the Panthers will face Penn State and Notre Dame, meaning the University likely wouldn't add another opponent from a Power Five conference to those schedules.
Pitt only has one Power Five non-conference opponent on the schedules for 2019 (Penn State) and 2020 (Notre Dame), but West Virginia will face Missouri and N.C. State in 2019 and Maryland and East Carolina in 2020, so the Mountaineers likely wouldn't add another Power Five opponent to their schedules.
WVU is similarly booked for 2021 (Maryland and Virginia Tech) so 2022 could possibly be the earliest time the Backyard Brawl could return, assuming the two schools don't opt to eschew current scheduling conventions.
For his part, Lyons said on MetroNews "Sportsline" that next decade would likely be when the games would happen if they happen.
"It's not going to be two years from now," Lyons said. "We're probably looking at 2022 and '23 to do a home-and-away, but I would love that."
During an ACC coaches spring football teleconference Wednesday, Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi was asked about the possibility of reigniting the rivalry. A native of Youngstown, Narduzzi knows something about the Backyard Brawl
"Obviously, the Backyard Brawl is something I've grown up with," Narduzzi said, while acknowledging that a decision on scheduling West Virginia won't come until Pitt hires an athletic director.
"You obviously love to have those rivalries and West Virginia is a great team in a great conference and we want to play the best. We're always going to schedule the best opponents we can and really embrace future and past rivalries."
Pitt and West Virginia have met on the football field 104 times, with the most recent being a 21-20 Pitt loss in Morgantown in 2011. The series ended on a three-game losing streak for the Panthers, who also lost to the Mountaineers in 2009 and 2010. Prior to that, Pitt beat WVU in 2008 and 2007 but overall the Mountaineers won seven of the final 10 games in the series (2002-11).
Click Here to view this Link.