February 16, 2012

Final Brawl Day

Filed under: Basketball,History,Opponent(s) — Chas @ 10:48 am

Apparently this could be the final Backyard Brawl meeting. There’s a little history involved. You may have caught a brief mention of it somewhere. I’m sure ESPN will show it’s usual reserve and sense of understatement on the topic for tonight’s 9pm game.

I’ve been on record of wanting to continue the Brawl. That hasn’t changed, but the hand-wringing does bring out the contrarian in me. [As does lazy writing that opts for short, one-sentence paragraphs to fill the space rather than any sort of actual writing on the topic. Joe Starkey takes it to Ron Cook levels today, with an epic effort of 12 short, one-sentence paragraphs.]

For a better view, this from Ray Mernagh is superior in style and substance.

Pitt fans don’t want to go to WVU anymore because of the behavior of the crowds in Morgantown. That’s fine and it’s also understandable. So don’t go. I’m sure the Pitt players want to continue to go to Morgantown. It’s the kind of setting that gets your juices flowing as a player. It’s you, and your 14 guys/coaches, against the world. It’s a test. It’s what a rivalry should be. It’s what Truck Bryant and Kevin Jones and Jabarie Hinds will relish tonight when they step on the floor and get verbally assaulted by the Oakland Zoo.

The Pitt/WVU basketball series has given us far too many memorable evenings/afternoons to stop it because both are headed to greener pastures. Both programs will continue to be strong in the future and playing each other can only help.

I suspect that Pitt and WVU will end up missing next year in the basketball side, but I believe that going forward there will be an annual game. Unlike the arguments against continuing in football, basketball is an easier sell.

There’s more room on the non-con schedule in basketball. Even as an away game, it is a low cost deal for Pitt to still add a quality non-con game. Neither Pitt or WVU have to worry about recruiting issues in each other’s backyard for basketball. That just isn’t a factor.

Coach Dixon definitely is hedging. Not giving anything away about the future.

“We’ll see what happens,” Dixon said. “Things are changing. A lot of things are going on. When things settle, we’ll go from there. No decision will be made [right away].

“I think it’s been a great experience for us. I’m not the one who makes all the decisions. There’s a history way before I got here. There are a lot more people who have been through a lot more games than myself. It means more to some. We’ll see how everything plays out. We have to see how everything falls.”

Dixon was asked whether he will take into account that the game has been played every year for almost a century.

“Sometimes there are things you can control and sometimes there are things you can’t,” he said. “I don’t know where this one will fall. I haven’t sat down and looked at what we need to do. No decision will be made [right now] for good reasons. We won’t make any decisions at this point. Let’s get all of the information, see where we stand. The biggest issue for us is a football game. That’s what we have to be focused on as a university.”

WVU Coach Huggins has said he wants to continue to keep playing, but he’s not going to make it a big public issue now.

“Honestly, I’d be kind of shocked [if it ended],” Huggins said. “I mean, we’ve been playing since 1904. We’re all looking for good non-conference games.”

Indeed, the WVU-Pitt basketball series has survived changing conferences before. Most recently, Pitt left the Eastern 8 in 1982 for the Big East, while WVU stayed with the same core teams to form the Atlantic 10. Despite the shift, West Virginia and Pitt alternated home games each year until the Mountaineers joined Pitt in the Big East in 1995.

So there will be talks.

“I want to talk to Jamie [Dixon, Pitt’s coach] about it when the season is over,” Huggins said. “Obviously now isn’t the time.”

To give credit to Huggins, he has never shied away from scheduling good teams on the non-con. Home and away.

It really is an annual game that would benefit both sides in terms of non-con SOS and having a low expense road game every other year. Heck, if both sides were smart, they would make sure to schedule the annual game in mid- to late-December. When winter break is taking place, and everyone struggles to fill a home arena. A good way to assure that the attendance gets the boost. Not to mention, it would definitely get picked up by ESPN.

As for the game itself, both teams are struggling and trying to just scrape for wins. Pitt will, once again, try to contain Kevin Jones.

At the same time, Pitt will hope that the the bench actually contributes. J.J. Moore is now admitting that he doesn’t have confidence right now.

Moore has struggled in particular with his 3-point shooting. He is 4 for 31 (12.9 percent) from behind the arc in Big East play.

“The seniors — Nas and Ashton — they tell me every day that I’m a good shooter, so keep shooting,” Moore said. “That’s what I’m doing in practice, shooting and trying to build my confidence back up. Coach is telling me every day how to work on it and get better at it. I’m just taking it in and trying to find my flaws and keep shooting and get better with my shot.”

Forget the shooting. Just look to drive. He’s so hung up on getting his stroke back, that he ignores open lanes.

Starkey sounds like a whiner.

He’s also wrong on one point for sure.

Notre Dame. Maybe not a heated rivalry, I don’t know how it started, but, for whatever reason, Pitt is 6th all time on Notre Dame’s all-time played list.

The continuation of the series has nothing to do with the Big East, Pitt and Notre Dame have always played, then they take a couple years off, then play again.

Comment by Dan 02.16.12 @ 11:34 am

Totally agree Dan regarding ND. Pitt and ND played each other long before the Big East. ND’s preference for playing Pitt has nothing to do with the Big East. ND tells the Big East what to do…not the other way around.

Comment by TX Panther 02.16.12 @ 11:48 am

while not as angry-at-the-world as Cook, Starkey shares the glass half-empty viewpoint

I see no reason why these 2 teams won’t play next year in BB — unlike football, very little of next year’s schedule is completed … and as Chas aptly pointed out, this is a win-win pre-season for both sides.

Actually, I see it as a no brainer.
– a rivalry that should bring the ESPN TV money
– two pretty good programs from top conferences
– away team has all of a 75 minute bus drive

Comment by wbb 02.16.12 @ 11:49 am

I’d take ND on the schedule over WVU. I just don’t get as nostalgic about the hoopies: probably because I’m of the older generation that still considers Penn State to be our archrival. I know. I’m dated, and I’ll probably miss the hoopies when they’re gone. But for now, don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out to play Texas Tech.

Comment by Lee in Altoona 02.16.12 @ 11:53 am

Basketball should be so easy. Plenty of non-con room, especially considering the minimal travel involved. Heck, they played for all those years before WVU entered the Big East. I’d like to see it continue.
Football will be tough.

Comment by JW 02.16.12 @ 11:53 am

This blows. Pitt’s only rival is gone. Why does Pitt need to play a cupcake? Can’t they have PSU, ND and WVU?

Comment by Chris 02.16.12 @ 12:09 pm

I actually like Joe Starkey. Like him on the radio.

I’d like to retract my statement. I guess just reading it, sounded like drabble.

His points are good, but, what do you want us to do. It’s a done deal. We’ll each have 9 conference games. Need a cupcake or two, we have PSU and ND coming. WVU has Maryland, which is one of their rivals.

Hopefully they can work something out, that would be great. If not, I’m looking forward to see what Chryst and Co. can do, and look forward to playing PSU, ND, and Miami, Ga. Tech, Va Tech, Clemson and Fla. St.

I think that if WVU moved to the SunBelt and Pitt moved to the MAC, we’d be upset, but, we both have some pretty exciting things going to happen in the new conferences.

Ya, even taking my blue and gold colored glasses off, WVU will have a little excitement playing Texas, Okie, Okie St.

Bad, that their closet rival will be Iowa St 4 states away. And back to back road trips to Lubbock and Austin will be killers, but, hey, I would be a little excited too.

Still without those glasses, we definitely got the better deal, much better deal.
Geographically, Academically, and frankly Athletically, hoops will be #1, and the ACC football is better than given credit for. It’s actually quite good. Not SEC good, but good.

I feel WVU’s problems arent’ where they are, it’s what could happen. If it ever goes to 16, Texas, Texas Tech, Okie and Okie St. will still be looking at a Pac16.

Another big problem they have, I don’t think Holgersen will be there long. I believe if an SEC or a Big 12 job in TX or OK comes available, he’ll be gone. His name has allready been linked to teams in the south.

All in all, both have some exciting things to look forward too, and, if somehow they could keep it together, great, if not, not losing sleep over it.

I think he wrote the article, because they were all flabergasted the past few days on 93.7 the Fan, because when topic was broached, they didn’t get a lot of upset callers.

Comment by Dan 02.16.12 @ 12:15 pm

Wow, sorry that was so long, I get started and keep going. I will try to be more concise in the future. Who wants to read a book, I get it.

Comment by Dan 02.16.12 @ 12:20 pm

For those of us post 1990 grads, WVU does mean a lot. By far, my favorite week of the year in college football is Backyard Brawl week. I will miss it.

F ND and PSU. Ideally, keep WVU and get PSU – dump ND. WVU and PSU would both be nationally televised games – the reason Pitt likes ND. Both would also bring in similar attendance. I don’t see the benefit of continuing a game a against a team that lives off of it’s legacy rather than reality.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.16.12 @ 12:26 pm

Well at least ND and PSU have a legacy to live off of. So do we. WVU doesn’t

Comment by Tony C 02.16.12 @ 1:23 pm

@Tossing Thabeets — I concur on Penn State but would never pick WVU over ND. ND is a class act, I can’t say the same about WVU. Having gone to both WVU and ND away games, there is no comparison on how ND’s alumni treated us Pitt fans compared to WV. There is a reason why the ACC turned down WV’s request to join the ACC. Conversely, the ACC would take ND in a heart beat.

Comment by MariettaMike 02.16.12 @ 1:33 pm

Tossing Thabeets and DAN you are both right we dont need WVU i would mutch rather fix it so we played penn state every year hate them more than WVU any way and would play ND before thoes red necks any day wvu fans are rude and crude and down right dangeres would rather keep a game with ucon in BB.

Comment by FRANKCAN 02.16.12 @ 1:50 pm

The Hoopies were always an irritant…kind of like crusty underwear that you ended up throwing away and not bothering to even wash it. It’s sad that Pitt has those classless hillbillies as its primary rivals. I would chose State Penn and the Domers in that order. In years when we don’t play either of those two, fill it with the trash from South Appalachia and have the paddy waggons waiting outside.

Comment by TX Panther 02.16.12 @ 1:52 pm

WVU — basketball, yes. Football, would rather play Penn St.

Comment by velvil 02.16.12 @ 1:54 pm

@TX, well, hate to throw them away, don’t want to waste the water to wash, my solution has always been, “hey, they got a couple more days in em'”.

Comment by Dan 02.16.12 @ 2:13 pm

I can’t see why we would continue the WVU games. Five years from now it will look like some bizarre Frankenstein creation of Big 12 vs. ACC. Nobody outside of the I-79 corridor will give a damn. I can see it downgraded to, at best, an ESPN Regional game.

I am curious to see if there is any interest in the PSU game when it comes around. If either team is not competitive when the games occur I can envision this game vanishing forever.

I never thought of ND as a rival. To me the game is more of a marketing ploy. Get some face time on National TV. Maybe you win and cause a bunch of rich, old guys to sulk their way back to their 46’ RVs.

Comment by Yeti 02.16.12 @ 2:15 pm

Lee in altoona you got it penn state is number 1 on the hate list than ND dont need the red necks
like velvil says may be in BBonce every coupe of years but in football it has to be penn state and ND.

Comment by FRANKCAN 02.16.12 @ 2:21 pm

Notre Dame. Maybe not a heated rivalry, I don’t know how it started, but, for whatever reason, Pitt is 6th all time on Notre Dame’s all-time played list.
Comment by Dan 02.16.12 @ 11:34 am

Dan-o, I’m shocked you don’y know our history with Notre Dame. Both teams were national powers on an annual basis back in Pitt’s salad days of the 1930’s. Two legendary coaches, Jock Sutherland of PITT and Knute Rockne of ND. PITT was beating the Irish so often, they discontinued the series for awhile (until Sutherland was out at PITT basically). Imagine that !

PITT was the game ND circled every year back in those days. As we were for most of our opponents in the late 1920’s and 1930’s. See, I always tell you guys, we were ALL born in the wrong time period. haha

One of you genius’s need to event a Time Machine,
so we can go back in revel in PITT’s golden era.

Comment by EMel 02.16.12 @ 2:36 pm

For us new millennium Pitt grads, WVU was always the biggest rival. I understand the history with Penn St but never experienced it myself. And while ND is a big rivalry with us, they also have USC, Michigan, MSU, Navy, Stanford and Purdue as big rivals, too, so I don’t get the same back-and-forth type of hatred with them. I wouldn’t mind playing each team two out of every three years, but by all means I want the Backyard Brawl to continue on both fronts.

Comment by NickW 02.16.12 @ 2:47 pm

If we ever schedule another basketball game in Morganhole, there should be a stipulation.

All hoopies entering the WVU Asbestos Coliseum, should be required to leave all coinage at the doors, as they do their tiny brains.

Comment by EMel 02.16.12 @ 2:50 pm

Hey MEL!!! Ya, I knew we had history, wasn’t sure how that started.

I know we were pretty much a Big 10 team back then, and even got invited to join once.

Or were about to be asked, and Mich St or someone joined instead???

I don’t remember it, but was told stories many times by my Dad and uncles about Pitt-Fordham three times playing to 0-0 ties, both national powers!!!! ha ha 36′-38′??? 35′-37′???

Comment by Dan 02.16.12 @ 3:16 pm

As one of the elder Pitt guys on this site, not only do I not want to play WVU again in anything, I don’t want to hear their name or their problems.
I don’t care if they are replaced with Carnegie Mellon or Towson!

Pitt favored by 3 points tonight in Vegas

Comment by Dan 72 02.16.12 @ 3:48 pm

Dokish with a terrific article on Panther Lair..on his feelings (positive) on next year’s basketball team. He is almost word for word on my feelings and the very informed discussion on this post. Hope someone posts a link. Go Pitt….kick the living crap out of the Snakes!

Comment by Dan 72 02.16.12 @ 4:23 pm

Ask Tony Dorsett which games he got up for!

Comment by CompLit 02.16.12 @ 4:56 pm

Comment by PantherP 02.16.12 @ 4:58 pm

@ Dan-o

Oh yea the Pitt- Fordham series was a big National game back then. Fordham had the 7 Blocks of Granite and PITT had the Dream Backfield.

They played to 0-0 ties, in back to back seasons.

If you loved defense, this was a titanic struggle.

Comment by Emel 02.16.12 @ 5:02 pm

Notre Dame is a nice nonconference opponent, but will the Irish want to play Pitt after their annual series ends in 2015? That series was borne of the schools’ Big East ties.

Read more: Starkey: Sad goodbye to Brawl – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review link to

Just read the Starkey POS.
WTF, does this guy actually get paid to write this totally inaccurate tripe.

“That series was borne of the schools’ Big East ties”
First off, what is borne, is writing in olde Englsh these days. haha
2nd and most importantly, PITT has been playing ND since 1909. 1909 folks. That’s just a tad, mind you, a tad before Pitt started playing in the BigEast for football in 1991. I know some of you are math challenged, and without using your iphones for a calculator, that’s 82 years BEFORE PItt joined the BigEast for football.

Pitt and ND have played 67 times, with 54 of those, before there was EVEN a BIgEAst football conference. It took me about a minute to research that. Yet a paid professional couldn’t or wouldn’t or did and this fact would have altered the point he was trying to make in the article so he made up a factoid of his own. To fit the agenda of the article.

That folks is called yellow journalism.

Hail to Pitt !
Veritas et Virtus !

Comment by Emel 02.16.12 @ 5:13 pm

One final point about future non-con opponents.


Those games help in recruiting immensely. They are also sellouts.

Pitt vs wvcc

That is a sellout sometimes. However hillbillies do not add much to local economy when in town, mcdonalds & burger king are busy most of the time anyway, as is Motel 6. And the Parkway West gets bogged down with abandoned jalopies which Penn Dot has to tow away at much taxpayer cost.

Comment by Emel 02.16.12 @ 5:30 pm

+ abandoned couch disposal…

Comment by CompLit 02.16.12 @ 6:22 pm


2:50PM + 5:30PM

Comment by Gordo 02.16.12 @ 6:40 pm

We don’t have room to play a school that can’t even get in the ACC or Big Ten.

Comment by Tony C 02.16.12 @ 7:06 pm

EMel good job good points

Comment by FRANKCAN 02.16.12 @ 7:31 pm

when is JR day some schools have had 30 players in all ready us 3 or 4 were is the RB coach
he needs to get off his ass he seams slow to act ohio state will eat his lunch he needs to recruit even if he doesent like to and i say one more time were is the RB coach what the hell how long does he need is he in fear winsconsin will take who he hires agein. he is not giveing me a good vibe what do you think DR. TOM

Comment by FRANKCAN 02.16.12 @ 11:23 pm

Your comments would be taken more seriously if
you could spell and learn proper grammar!

Comment by Pitt1969 02.23.12 @ 12:44 pm

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